Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland capital and is jam-packed with tourist attractions, fascinating museums, and traditional Irish cuisine – the perfect recipe for discovering the rich history and good craic of Dublin.
This 3 day Dublin itinerary guides travellers to the main highlights such as Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin Castle and Trinity College. To make the most out of your trip, add on extra days to make a 5 day Dublin itinerary to explore the seaside towns of Dublin Bay.
This Dublin itinerary offers tips on how to get around, where to stay and how to save money on your trip.
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Travel Guide: 3 to 5 Day Dublin Itinerary
Best time to visit Dublin
To try and catch the best of the temperatures in Ireland, the best time to visit Dublin is June to August with the busiest months being July and August due to school holidays. Dublin is expensive for accommodation and airfares in the peak periods so if you can travel out of season and are happy to risk the weather, you will see the benefits in your wallet.
Dublin will have an influx of visitors around St Patricks Day with parades, street theatre, concerts and a whole lot of guaranteed fun.
How to save money in Dublin
Save on attractions – Buy a Go City Dublin Pass
If you intend to explore Dublin’s extensive attractions, it is worth investing in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5-days Dublin Pass. This gives you access to more than 35 sites from Guinness Storehouse to 14 Henrietta Street. Click to buy your Dublin Pass by Go City.
Save on transport – Invest in a LEAP Cart
Leap Cards are a handy way to pay ahead for 1, 3, or 7 days saving you money on your single fares. You can grab a TFI Leap Card from most shops, major transport centres, or online. The cards can be used across Dublin’s public transport systems (Bus, LUAS, DART) by tapping in and out.
Best way to get around Dublin
Buses in Dublin
DART – Dublin’s Coastal train
LUAS – Tram in Dublin
The LUAS (Irish word for speed) is a light rail transport system that connects suburban areas of Dublin on two tramlines (Green and Red), which run through the city centre. Check the map and timetables on LUAS website.
Taxis in Dublin
Hop-On Hop-off Bus
The open-top Big Bus Dublin Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour is a fun, hassle-free way for visitors to see the main sights of Dublin whilst listening to the live guide, or audio which is translated into several different languages.
Explore Dublin on wheels, grab a 1-day or 3-day Dublin Bikes card which allows you to easily collect and return bikes from dedicated stations around the city. The tickets are €3.50 for 1 day €5 for 3 days and give you the first 30 minutes of each journey for free then rental charges kick in.
How many days do you need to visit Dublin?
Dublin is a compact city with an abundance of galleries, museums and attractions, it’s easy to fill 3 days in Dublin and would be an ideal length of time to stay in the city.
If you can afford the time, it’s definitely worth tagging on additional days to explore the coastal area of Dublin Bay. I’d recommend extending your stay to 4 days or 5 days in Dublin to get a taste of adventure.
How to reach Dublin
Dublin has an international airport with scheduled flights from 44 airlines. I chose to come by ferry and bring the car as were heading off on a road trip around Ireland. Not only is this a more sustainable option, it meant we were not limited to packing and avoided dealing with car hire.
Irish Ferries offer cruise and fast ferry services between Holyhead and Dublin and Pembroke in South Wales to Rosslare. Fare starts at £119 each way for a car and driver. It is worth upgrading to Club Class, read my experience on Irish Ferries. To book, visit www.irishferries.com
Best eco-friendly accommodation in Dublin
BUDGET | Jacobs Inn Dublin
Amazing hostel in the heart of Dublin with pod dorms, private rooms, and a cool bar with live music. This hostel uses efficient water systems, a ban on single-use plastic and 100% renewable electricity.
MID-RANGE | Hendrick Smithfield Hotel
Located in the arty neighborhood of Smithfield, The Hendrick Smithfield Hotel has achieved Gold in Leading Energy and Efficiency Design. The rooms have edgy interior designs, and The Henrick Bar is a cool hangout.
LUXURY | Wren Urban Nest
READ my blog with tips on cheap places to stay in Dublin
DAY 1 | Dublin Itinerary
This incredible 3 days in Dublin itinerary will mean jam-packed days. Be ready with comfy walking shoes and lots of energy.
Take a Dublin walking tour
As always, my starting point of any city is a free walking tour to give you the tales of Irish writers and poets, and the history of rebellions, all in a non-formal way. The Irish are known for the craic, and the free walking tour in Dublin was delivered with humour.
The guides are paid on a tip basis depending on what you think the tour is worth. Each city is different so it’s always worth checking at your hostel. For this tour I paid 10 Euros, which is still much cheaper than a private tour. The only downside is sometimes you can get big groups so if that bothers you, then look into a private walking tour of Dublin.
See the Book of Kells at Trinity College
Trinity College and the Book of Kells are a must-see in Dublin. Take a wander around the campus and spot the mix of traditional and modern statues. Remember this is a living academic institution so avoid freshers week as some buildings are closed to the public.
The Long Room Library at Trinity College houses over 20,000 books of rare and original books and marble busts, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned by sculptor Peter Scheemakers. The Long Room is nicknamed Harry Potter’s Library, however, this is only because it looks similar, as the scene was actually filmed in Cambridge, England.
Now for the pièce de résistance at Trinity College, The Book of Kells. This mystical 9th-century illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament is written in ornate Latin by monks and is a national treasure. No photography allowed, just memories!
// Open 7 days a week, various times depending time of year. Tickets are available online on the Trinity College website. If you wish to do Trinity College and Dublin Castle together, check out the Fast-Track ticket with the Dublin tour guide.
Visit the National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland has a whopping 54 rooms housing over 16,000 pieces of Irish and European art dating from 1300 to the present day. It was inaugurated in 1854, opened ten years later, and has continued to receive collections over time from people such as Hugh Lane, Chester Beatty, and WB Yeats. This exhibition is definitely worth a visit.
// Admission to the permanent collection is free. Open 7 days a week. Check the National Gallery of Ireland website for more information.
Visit the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
National History (Merrion Street) and Archaeology (Kildare Street) are two of the National Museum of Ireland museums located a short walk from the National Gallery of Ireland. They are extensive collections and was only able to visit my favourite sections in the Archaeology museum due to time constraints.
The National Museum of Ireland Archaeology takes visitors way back to specialise in Irish and other antiquities dating from the Stone Age through to Bronze Age and to Late Middle Ages. There are some truly fascinating pieces in the gold collection found around Ireland.
// Open 7 days a week, times vary. Admission to the permanent collection is free.
Learn about WB Yeats at the National Library of Ireland
On the other side of the Leinster House is the National Library of Ireland which houses more than 12 million items including books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, prints, maps, drawings, ephemera, music, and digital media. It is a wonderful source of documents to trace Ireland’s life and comes with a genealogy advisory service.
For visitors wanting to learn about WB Yeats, the award-winning exhibition is well-curated and depicts his life, family, work, and how the political situation played a part.
// Open 7 days a week, times vary. Admission to the permanent collection is free.
Dine tradIrish at The Oval Bar
The Oval Bar, located just off O’Connell Street, has a warm and welcoming vibe. The charming Victorian-era pub spreads over three floors has character, and is a great place to watch the games on the big screens. The menu is traditional cuisine and is famous for Irish Stew and Seafood Chowder, both of which are recommended.
DAY 2 | Dublin Itinerary
See Irish art in Hugh Lane Gallery
Hugh Lane, an art collector and philanthropist, of Irish descent was raised in England and on the Continent. His ground-breaking vision to hold the first exhibition of Irish Art came to fruition in 1904.
Hugh Lane Gallery, officially Dublin City Gallery, houses a beautiful collection of paintings and sculptures in the 18th-century Charlemont House. Visit the fascinating Francis Bacon’s Studio which was relocated with his archive of books and photographs following a donation by an heir and executor of his estate. The Hugh Lane Gallery is a manageable size and a pleasure to see.
// Hugh Lane Gallery is FREE to enter. Open 6 days a week (closed on Mondays).
Visit 14 Henrietta Street
14 Henrietta Street brings the story alive of Dublin’s riches to rags with a guided tour. The history starts with the grandeur of the Georgian Townhouse which was owned by The Right Honorable Richard, Lord Viscount Molesworth, and tales of entertaining elites, lavish reception rooms with fine fabrics, and separate stairs to the servants’ quarters.
With political turmoil and the Great Famine, the demand for cheap housing increased and the beautiful townhouses were adapted by landlords to separate tenement slum dwellings for up to 100 people. In the 1930s amidst the poor housing crisis, new communities were being built to disperse the city folk to the dream of clean air.
14 Henrietta Street opened as a museum in 2018 and is still undergoing further restoration. The tour animates the layers of history within the house through video and vibrant narrative from the guide.
// 14 Henrietta Street is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Tours of the house start at 10 am, every hour. Outdoor walking tours run Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11.30 am and 2 pm. Pre-booked tours are €10.00 for an adult or FREE with Go City Dublin Pass.
Visit EPIC Irish Emigration Museum
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is an interactive museum covering the history of the Irish diaspora and emigration to other countries. Hear the stories, and immerse yourself in discovering how the Irish culture has had a big impact around the world. The EPIC museum is located in Dublin’s Docklands, and is well worth a visit!
Walk along the River Liffey
As you walk along the River Liffey towards Temple Bar there are a few landmarks you should take note of from bridges, memorials and important buildings.
Samuel Beckett Bridge
Samuel Becket Bridge is a wonderful piece of architecture by Santiago Clatrava inspired by the shape of the Irish harp with a cable suspension swing bridge forming strings from one edge of River Liffey to the other. Built in 2009, the bridge takes the name of Samuel Beckett, a Dubliner who won a Nobel Prize in literature.
The Famine Memorial
On Custom House Quay you will stumble upon some eerie-looking figures which are collectively called ‘Famine’. Designed and crafted by Rowan Gillespie, The Famine Memorial was erected in 1997 to recognise a tragic period in Ireland’s history.
The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 was caused by a blight pathogen to the potato. As Ireland’s staple crop, the devastation rippled through the country killing 1 million people and forcing many to emigrate to escape hunger and poverty. The Potato Famine changed the demographic of Ireland as the population fell by 20-25%.
The Custom House
Custom House is a prolific neoclassical building dating back to the 18th century. The interior was destroyed when the IRA seized Custom House in May 1921during the War of Independence. The dome and the interior were reconstructed in the 1980s and are now used as government offices.
O’Connell is the most famous bridge in Dublin as it is wider than it is long and is at the heart of the city. Originally Carlisle Bridge was in this place and was replaced by O’Connell Bridge when construction began in 1791.
Opened on 19 May 1816, Ha’penny Bridge was the first iron bridge in Ireland and the first dedicated pedestrian bridge to cross River Liffey.
The bridge got its nickname from the toll fee paid by pedestrians who crossed the bridge. The official name is ‘Liffey Bridge’ since 1922, although this isn’t commonly used.
Have a drink in Temple Bar
Temple Bar is one of the oldest areas in Dublin and also some of the oldest bars in the city which are mainly frequented by tourists now which has inflated the prices. Even still, Temple Bar is a happening spot in the evening with live Irish music and good craic.
Alternatively, wander around the cobbled streets, have a nosey at the vintage shops, and Saturday Food Market, or marvel at the community-led art project down Icon Walk.
Wander up O’Connell Street
Visit GPO Post Office
The GPO is the headquarters for An Post in a magnificent Georgian building. The building was inaugurated in 1818 and is the oldest working Post office in the world. It is famous for being the stronghold of the Irish Volunteers’ 1916 Rising against British Rule, and you can learn more from the Witness History Museum if you have enough time.
Look up at the Spire of Dublin
The Spire of Dublin’s glimmering stainless steel structure is really hard to miss as you wander up O’Connell Street. The Nelson Pillar was on this spot from 1809 until the bombing in 1966. After many proposals for ‘The Pillar Project’, a competition was launched with a winning design. With some planning delays missing the millennium deadline, the 120-metre-high Spire of Dublin was finally erected in January 2003 close to the GPO.
Dinner at Brannigan’s Pub
Brannigan’s Bar is located on Cathedral Street on the corner of O’Connell Street. With a traditional menu, you can savour the taste of Irish Stew and a pint of Guinness in a lively, friendly atmosphere. If you wander upstairs whilst a football game is in full swing, you can’t miss the testosterone of cheering supporters happily singing (or commiserating).
With new ownership in the late nineties, the pub was renamed after the infamous local Garda (policeman) James Christopher Brannigan better known as ‘Lugs’ Brannigan.
DAY 3 | Dublin Itinerary
Explore Dublin Castle and Gardens
Historically, Dublin Castle was constructed in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement. It was the centre of the English and later British Royal Government for over 700 years. Following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government.
The surviving medieval structure of Dublin Castle is the Record Tower built under the orders of King John of England. Visitors can see the excavation site of the Viking and medieval parts of the castle, the Gothic Chapel Royal, and the State Apartments.
Within the castle complex are three memorial gardens with statues. Dubh Linn Gardens depict patterns representing sea serpents cut into the lawn and overlooked by Chester Beatty Library Museum.
// Dublin Castle is open seven days a week including Bank Holidays from 9.45 am to 5.45 pm (last admission at 5.15 pm). There is an admission fee. There is an admission fee or enter FREE with Go City Dublin Pass. The guided tour lasts 1 hour and the self-guided is 30 minutes.
Visit Chester Beatty Gallery
The world-renowned Chester Beatty is located by the Dubh Linn Garden with three floors housing a huge collection of exquisite manuscripts, books, decorative arts, prints, and drawings from cultures and religions from his travels across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe with his wife, Edith.
Don’t miss the miniature drawings and micro carvings by Chen Zhongsen – ask a member of staff to give you the history of his years in forced labour, and how he taught himself to create such delicate pieces, it actually blew my mind!
The museum is named after Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a highly successful American mining engineer, collector and philanthropist. He was born in New York on 7 February 1875 into a family of Ulster-Scots, English and Irish ancestry. This extraordinary man supported the war effort by contributing a large number of raw materials to the Allies. He also gifted paintings to the National Gallery, a collection of swords and arms to the Military Museum in the Curragh, and bequeathed his unique collection of manuscripts and books to the Chester Beatty Library.
His contributions were duly recognised as he was knighted by the Queen, he was the first person ever to be made an honorary citizen of Ireland, and the first private citizen in Irish history to be accorded a state funeral.
If you need a bite to eat, the Silk Road Café in the atrium is highly recommended. The chefs create Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes to represent the theme of the Chester Beatty museum. The cakes are worth saving room for too!
// Admission is free, donations are welcome. Open 7 days a week. Closed Mondays from Nov – Feb. Check Chester Beatty website for more information. Receive a special offer gift with your Go City Dublin Pass.
Visit Kilmainham Goal
The fascinating guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol takes 1 hour and is one of the best things to do in Dublin. The journey takes visitors through the courthouse to the gaol, then on to the execution yard.
Opened in 1796, Kilmainham Goal was known as Dublin’s ‘New Gaol’ for petty criminals where men, women and children as young as 5 years old were incarcerated together. It wasn’t long before the prison housed rebel leaders and Irish Republicans who fought during the War of Independence and Civil War. The prison finally closed in 1924 and reopened in 1971 with a haunting story to tell.
If you are particularly interested in learning more about the 1916 Easter Uprising, you may wish to consider booking a tour with a private guide to visit Dublin’s rebellion sites such as GPO and Kilmainham Gaol.
// Kilmainham Gaol is open all year round, except the 24th- 27th of December. Access to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Visit the Irish Museum of Modern Art
Located opposite the Kilmainham Gaol, the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) is home to a wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art by Irish and International artists. Set on 48 acres of land, the gallery building is the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham and holds events, talks and workshops to benefit the community.
Pour a pint in the Guinness Storehouse
Located at the Guinness Brewery at St. James’s Gate, take a self-guided tour of the 7 floors in the Guinness Storehouse. Learn about the 250-year history of Guinness, how it is made, clever advertising campaigns and finish with a pint of Guinness. For the Academy experience, you can learn the art of pouring a perfect pint of the black stuff using the six-step ritual.
Eat in The Brazen Head
The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub as it was established as a hostelry way back in 1198. Located on Bridge Street, the bar stretches back with adjoining rooms and a covered outdoor yard retaining the original features and vintage pieces making you feel like you are stepping back in time.
Their ‘All Day Menu’ offers delicious Irish dishes, the Beef and Guinness Stew with a pint of the black stuff was a winning combination. To really get you in the mood, hang around for the traditional Irish live music every night from 9 pm and Sunday afternoon sessions.
The Brazen Head is famous in Dublin with locals and tourists alike, it gets very busy so it is best to book your table.
5 Days in Dublin | Explore Dublin Bay
If you can spare an additional two days to explore Dublin Bay, it is worth tagging onto your 3 days in Dublin to make this a 5 day in Dublin itinerary. There are many seaside towns along this stunning coastline, and after much research, Dalkey and Howth offered adventure, nature and history.
DAY 4 | Visit Dalkey
Located 40 minutes away by train from Dublin, Dalkey is a charming seaside town with a fascinating history that you can delve into with a performance tour around Dalkey Castle taking you back in time.
Dalkey is home to many celebrities making this a desirable place to live, and you may be lucky to see Bono or Enya in one of the many cafes, pubs or restaurants.
Walks along Coliemore Harbour, Dillon’s Park, Sorrento Park or Killiney Hill offer magical views of Dalkey Island. For the adventure-seekers, you must head out on a kayak passing seals to explore Dalkey Island, and the ruins of St Begnet’s Church and burial ground.
DAY 5 | Visit Howth and Ireland’s Eye
To take a day trip to Howth from Dublin, the train will take 30-40 minutes, and this is one town you can’t miss exploring. Get an early start from Dublin if you wish to make the most of the Howth Cliff Walk which can take up to 1.5-3 hours depending on the path and your fitness.
The highlight was the boat trip to Ireland’s Eye that departs from Howth West Pier. It’s a small island with nesting seabirds such as gannets, cormorants, gulls and puffins. Stumble upon the historic martello tower and ruins of The Church of the Sons of Nessan.
Discover more about the days gone by with a visit to Howth Castle, and St Mary’s Abbey. Being a fishing town, you should sample some of the local catch with a pint of Guinness or take a stroll along Howth harbour with a waffle cone from Ginos.
PIN FOR LATER – THE PERFECT 3 TO 5 DAY ITINERARY