First Time in Dublin | Top 10 Things to See

As a city with a human scale and a rich historical and cultural heritage, Dublin provides visitors with plenty of things to do. From must-see heritage sites to unique attractions, Dublin has something for everyone. So much so that planning your first time in Dublin can be overwhelming, whether it’s a quick one-day visit or a longer trip to the Irish capital.

But do not panic. I have been living in Dublin for over 10 years, and I’m here to help you with your bucket list by highlighting these absolute must-dos for first-timers.

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Best Resources Online to Plan Your Trip to Dublin

  • Where to Stay | Check for the best deals on hotels and B&B, and Hostelworld for even more affordable options.
  • Things to Do | GetYourGuide has tons of guided tours available and skip-the-line tickets. Context Travel offers private, full-day tours led by local experts.
  • Internet | Check Dublin-based WiFicandy for portable Wi-Fi devices and access 4G Internet during your trip.

More Travel Resources

1. Trinity College and its Magnificent Old Library

Founded in the late 16th century, Trinity College is the oldest and most prestigious university in Ireland. Its buildings in neoclassical style can be admired from the inner courtyard. A paid guided tour is organized by students for those who would like more information about the venerable institution.

Trinity College, Dublin

Its library is one of Dublin’s most famous attractions and a must-visit: the largest in the country, it houses the most famous medieval manuscript in the world, the Book of Kells. In the Long Room, one of the oldest libraries in Dublin, thousands of books rest on their shelves as if frozen in time, under a towering wooden vaulted ceiling.

2. Temple Bar

This district, once notorious, is now the international showcase of Dublin and a must-visit. Its pubs with colourful facades along cobbled streets attract visitors in search of the Irish experience. However, few Irish dare to venture into its establishments, labelling them as tourist traps.

The Temple Bar, Dublin

Nevertheless, there are plenty of other things to do in Temple Bar, a neighbourhood appreciated by Dubliners for its cultural vibrancy. It features concert halls, theatres, and art galleries worth a visit, along with numerous restaurants, cafés, vintage shops, and craft stores.

3. Dublin Castle

Rebuilt in the 18th century following a fire, Dublin Castle was the centre of command of British rule in Ireland for several centuries. Your guide will open the doors to the beautiful chapel and lavish State Apartments that once hosted balls and banquets for the social elite. The St. Patrick’s Hall, adorned with its banners, is particularly dazzling.

Dublin Castle

A visit underneath the current buildings is also part of the tour. There, you’ll discover the underground remains of the medieval era, recalling the violence and dangers that the population had to face.

4. The Guinness Storehouse

When in Dublin, one name is impossible to escape. It’s that of Guinness. The famous Dublin beer has conquered the world and left its indelible mark on the city.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

A massive brick building houses the Guinness Storehouse, a kind of interactive museum celebrating the dark beverage. Here, you’ll learn about the beer-making process, the history of the company, and the genius behind its famous slogans. The tour includes a free beer with a panoramic view of the city.

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5. Kilmainham Gaol

The jail in Kilmainham, an iconic site in the struggle for Irish independence, is where many Irish nationalists were held and executed before its definitive closure in 1924.

Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

Now rehabilitated, Kilmainham Gaol offers a guided tour that provides a deeper understanding of Irish history and Ireland’s journey towards independence. Due to high demand and limited group sizes, it is highly recommended to book your visit online several days or even weeks in advance. A must-visit in Dublin for history enthusiasts.

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6. Grafton Street and the Creative Quarter

Connecting Trinity College to St Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street is Dublin’s quintessential shopping street. Along this chic and entirely pedestrianized street, you’ll find Arnotts, a luxury haven in Dublin, and Bewley’s, a famous café with stunning interior décor established in 1927.

Visit Powerscourt Centre in Dublin while on your self-guided tour of the city

The shopping experience continues in the nearby Creative Quarter, a must-visit area to include to your self-guided walking tour of Dublin. This commercial district spans from South William Street to George’s Street and from Lower Stephen’s Street to Exchequer Street. It hosts designer and Irish craft shops, vintage clothing boutiques, as well as cafés and restaurants with unique atmospheres. Don’t forget to explore George’s Street Arcade, one of Europe’s oldest shopping centres.

7. The Cathedrals of Saint Patrick and Christ Church

Saint Patrick and Christ Church are the two Anglican cathedrals in Dublin, located less than 500 meters from each other. Saint Patrick, built in honour of the patron saint of Ireland, is the final resting place of Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, who served as the dean of the cathedral.

The colourful tiles inside St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

As for Christ Church, it offers a guided tour that opens the doors of its bell tower to visitors. You can even ring the bells. Don’t miss the tomb of Strongbow, who led the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century, and the exhibition of the Christ Church treasure in the crypt of the building.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

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8. O’Connell Street

Formerly known as Sackville Street, O’Connell Street was renamed in 1924 to honour Daniel O’Connell, who campaigned for Catholic Emancipation.

The General Post Office on O'Connell Street, Dublin

Along this long and pedestrian-friendly street, you’ll find two of Dublin’s most recognisable landmarks: a 121-metre-high needle called “the Spire” and the General Post Office (GPO). The grand building was the headquarters of the rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916 and now houses its own Easter Rising museum.

9. The Teeling Distillery

A symbol of the rebirth of Irish whiskey, Teeling is the first distillery to open in Dublin in 125 years, reviving a family tradition dating back to the 18th century. The Teeling brand has since received numerous accolades for the quality of its whiskey.

Teeling Distillery, Dublin

The alcohol making process is showcased throughout the tour of the facilities, from fermentation to distillation in large copper stills. The guided tour usually concludes with a whiskey tasting. Not to be missed, Teeling has firmly established itself as one of the must-do distillery tours in Dublin.

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10. The Irish Museum of Archaeology

Whether you are visiting Dublin on a budget or not, this Dublin free museum on Kildare Street offers the opportunity to explore mysterious Iron Age bodies discovered in Irish bogs. You can also see unique religious artefacts from the Celtic era and early Christian communities in Ireland. Fascinating finds from Viking Dublin are also on display.

Here is the list of 10 must-see attractions for your first time in Dublin. Of course, there are other places to discover, and this list is here to assist you in your search. Check out my Dublin city guide for more things to do and see in the Irish capital.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link, I earn a little money at no extra cost to you.


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