Dublin is one of Europe’s most interesting and historic cities; in fact, you could spend days here and still discover attractions and hidden gems all over the city. However, there are certain circumstances that might limit your time in the Irish capital; maybe you’re using Dublin as a point of entry into Ireland or you’re on a short layover before heading to another destination.
While spending a single day in Dublin isn’t ideal, it is entirely possible to enjoy the city in such a short amount of time. Luckily, Dublin is relatively compact with a small central area and you can cover a lot of ground in just one day. To maximize your 24 hours in Dublin, take note of the following tips:
- Stick to central Dublin. There are enough attractions here to keep you occupied for the day.
- The city center is easy enough to navigate on foot. If you must use public transport, a cheap and reliable option is to use the Dublin Bus Another alternative would be to rent a bicycle from Dublinbikes and see the city on two wheels.
- If you have luggage with you, it’s best to leave it at a Dublin luggage storage locker for a more seamless and hassle-free experience.
The best way to start your day is to fuel up and there’s no better option than to have a hearty Irish breakfast for your first meal of the day. Meant to keep you energized throughout the day, the full Irish breakfast is comprised of baked beans, sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, and black or white pudding. If you’re unsure where to get your meal, check out Culture Trip’s list of best places to get Irish breakfast. Once you’re full and energized, you can start with your long day of sightseeing and exploring.
The first stop in your 24-hour itinerary in Dublin is none other than the Dublin Castle. The center of British rule in Ireland during the 1200s, this medieval castle is steeped in history and a necessary stop when in Dublin. While at the castle, don’t forget to see the Chester Beatty Library, which hosts an impressive collection of literary works, manuscripts, paintings, artworks, and more. Access to the library is included in your entrance ticket to the Dublin Castle, which you can book here.
Once you are done exploring the castle, the next thing to do is to visit the two main cathedrals in the city – the Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. First is the Christ Church Cathedral, the older of the two and serves as the official seat of Dublin’s Roman Catholic archbishops. It is one of the city’s main centers of worship and regularly holds religious events and gatherings.
The Christ Church Cathedral is also a prominent tourist attraction. It holds the tombs of important figures in Irish history and houses underground crypts that draw a number of visitors. Additionally, the cathedral’s Synod Hall is home to Dublinia, a realistic exhibition of Dublin during the time of the Vikings.
A 10-minute walk from Christ Church Cathedral will bring you to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is arguably the most renowned cathedral in the entire city. Named after Ireland’s patron saint, the cathedral is a significant religious institution in the city and a place of worship for Catholics. The building has been in operation for over 800 years and legend has it that St. Patrick himself baptized people in the very site where the church stands.
Once you’re done exploring, refuel for the second half of your day. You can have lunch at O’Connell Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, as this will be the base for the second half of your day. There are a number of quality restaurants in the area but we do recommend having your lunch at Flanagans Bar & Restaurant.
After you enjoy lunch, take your time wandering around the area; O’Connell Street is home to some historic monuments and landmarks, including the General Post Office (GPO), the Parnell Monument, James Joyce Statue, and the Spire. Continue walking for another 15 minutes or so until you reach the Trinity College campus.
Founded in 1952, Trinity College is one of Europe’s leading educational institutions and has gone on to become a famous tourist attraction in Dublin. While it’s popular for a number of reasons, the main highlight of the campus is the Old Library, particularly the Long Room, which currently houses the renowned “Book of Kells”. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript written in the Latin language and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. This manuscript is a true work of art and is the library’s main draw, attracting both locals and tourists.
After you’re finished exploring the campus, you’re done with the sightseeing part of your day trip. Now, the only thing left to do is to take it easy and unwind. First up is to try the world-famous beer that Ireland is most known for at the Guinness Storehouse in St James’ Gate. A ticket to the Guinness experience gives you a tour of the brewery, where you learn about their history and the process that comes with producing Ireland’s finest beer (and you get to drink some Guinness, too). There are also two on-site restaurants, namely 1837 Bar & Brasserie and Arthur’s Bar, where you can have your dinner before you proceed with your evening plans.
After you’ve stuffed yourself with some proper food and beer, the next thing to do is to check out the city’s nightlife scene. For some booze and socialization, there’s no better place to check out than the Temple Bar district (not to be confused with the bar of the same name), which is regarded as Dublin’s social center. In this district, you can find all sorts of bars, pubs, and restaurants where you can spend your last evening in the city. Note, however, that the area is geared towards tourists so expect some large crowds and higher prices.
If you’re not into partying too much, you can look for other less-touristy areas in the city; there are plenty of local pubs that are far away from the noise and partying. For more options for a night out in Dublin, check out this nightlife guide published by TimeOut.