Ireland’s capital Dublin is not that big and you can easily walk everywhere. However, if it’s your first time in the city and you are staying for a few days only, it can be tough to decide where to go first.
So here are the best 10 tested-and-tried tips from my recent visit. Hopefully, these will help you to spend an eventful, yet budget-friendly sightseeing day in Dublin…
1. Get yourself a Dublin Pass
The first thing you should get in order to get the most out of your day is a Dublin Pass. This will not only help you decide where to go and which attractions to see, but also save you a lot of money. You can easily order this pass online and then pick it up from the tourist office in Dublin.
For adults, the pass currently costs 52 Euros for one day. But with special promotions, which happen quite regularly, the Dublin Pass costs even less.
I got myself a one-day pass and although it was already a bit late when I picked it up (around 11 am), I still managed to squeeze in most of the attractions listed on the Dublin Pass website. In this end, I saved 39.50 Euros with the Dublin Pass!
2. Learn all about Dublin’s famous “Easter Rising” right where it happened
I planned my sightseeing tour around Dublin strategically, so my first stop was the closest attraction to the Discover Ireland office where I picked up my pass (14 Upper O Connell Street, Dublin 1).
The new GPO Witnessing History exhibition is housed within Dublin’s General Post Office – for a good reason. Back in April 1916, the building acted as the headquarters for a handful of rebel leaders who initiated the so-called “Easter Rising”. This uprising, which was against British rule and demanded Irish independence, lasted several days. Even though the revolt was eventually crushed down by the British army, it paved the way to the establishment of Ireland as an independent state just a few years later.
Learn more about this incredible uprising in the brand new exhibition. Opened as recently as March 2016 to mark the rising’s centenary, there are a range of interactive highlights such as a really cool film about the events.
Normal entry to GPO Witness History: 10 €
3. Get an overview of Dublin on the Hop on Hop off Bus
Next, jump on a Hop on Hop off bus tour around the city. If you’re lucky, you’ll get Dublin Dave as your guide, who will share some incredibly entertaining stories, for instance about his two Irish grandpas.
He will also point out some film locations. For example those of the 1996 film about the most famous Irish independence leader Michael Collins, who was portrayed in the film by Irish actor Liam Neeson. You may also spot some locations of the other films that were shot in Dublin, such as Once or Sing Street.
Normal entry Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour: 19 €
4. Grab a cold one and enjoy the view at the Guinness Storehouse
By now, you should have got pretty thirsty. And since we’re in Ireland, where drinking beer in the pub is an official pastime, there can only be one answer: The Guinness Storehouse! Conveniently, a visit to Dublin’s Number 1 tourist attraction is included in the Dublin Pass, too.
Even if you don’t like beer, it’s worthwhile to look behind the scenes of one of the largest breweries in the world.
If you do like the taste of the dark Guinness beer, don’t forget to grab your free pint at the top floor of the huge exhibition and enjoy the 3D panorama view of Dublin.
Normal entry Guinness Storehouse: 20 €
5. Be in awe at Dublin’s impressive cathedrals
From the Guinness Storehouse, you can easily walk to Dublin’s famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Your bus guide will have already shared some insightful facts about the history of both St. Patrick’s Cathedral and nearby Christ Church Cathedral. Now, you can explore them at your own pace, but I would recommend a quick visit only. After all, there is so much more to see today!
Normal entry St. Patrick’s Cathedral: 6 €
6. See the filming location and original costumes from TV series The Tudors in Christ Church Cathedral
Based on the reign of King Henry VIII (portrayed by Dublin-born Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his six wives, The Tudors (2007-2010) used several filming locations around Ireland, including Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Kilruddy House and Ardmore Studios.
The cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for weddings, coronations and baptisms. Meanwhile the crypt was used for burials taverns as the interior of the Tower of London. The crypt also currently houses a small exhibition with the original costumes used for filming The Tudors.
Normal entry Christ Church Cathedral: 6 €
7. Brace yourself for the landing of the Vikings in Dublinia
Take the spooky corridor from Christ Church Cathedral and you’re right in the middle of another fascinating exhibition: At the Dublinia experience, you’ll learn more about how the Vikings came to Ireland. You will especially like this if you’re a fan of the Vikings TV show and planning on seeing the filming locations on a half-day trip to Wicklow County.
Dublinia is not only about the Vikings though. While you walk from room to room and from era to era, you’ll get a really good overview of Dublin’s long and eventful history.
Normal entry to Dublinia: 9,50 €
8. Take a selfie with your favourite Irish actors at the National Wax Museum
From Christ Church Cathedral, the National Wax Museum Plus is about a 12 minute walk away. Contemporary Irish acting heros, such as Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Pierce Brosnan await among the all those famous Irish faces that you will meet here.
If you’re absolutely wanted to, you could also take a selfie with Ireland’s most famous twins – the singers with the crazy hair known as Jedward.
Normal entry to the National Wax Museum Plus: 14 €
9. Learn more about the little things that made great Irish history at the Little Museum of Dublin
Finish off your day of sightseeing at the Little Museum of Dublin. There are just a few rooms in this typical Dublin town house, but there is a lot more than meets the eye.
Therefore, it makes sense that entry is by guided tour only. The tour guide (in my case called Patrick), will provide you with a lot of insight about the history of Dublin and Ireland, such as the economic roller coaster ride that took Ireland from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest and back.
On Thursdays, the museum stays open until 8 pm, on all other days bear in mind that the last guided tour is at 4 pm.
Normal entry to the Little Museum of Dublin: 7 €
10. Save and relax at dinner
After all that Power Sightseeing, it’s time for a hearty dinner. Choose between traditional Irish pubs or modern world cuisine. Dublin has both.
Another eating place I can highly recommend is the Italian restaurant Honest Pizza (12 Dame Court, Dublin 2). You won’t get a discount with the Dublin Pass here and it’s not the cheapest option, but overall I thought the prices were ok. A 3-three course dinner will set you back around 20 Euros. But if you like mushroom truffle pizza and a baked banana doughnut with nutella as much as I do, this will be money well spent! 🙂
Enjoy! You’ve earned it!
So… how much did I save with the Dublin Pass?
Although it requires quite a tight schedule, I found that the Dublin Pass was worth its 52 Euros. After all, I would have spent 91.50 Euros had I paid for every single attraction separately. So that’s a saving of 39.50 Euros!
More Dublin Sightseeing Tips
… if you’re in town for a bit longer!
Tip 1: The brand new Emigration museum EPIC Ireland is a must-see! Entry is 14 €, so not exactly a bargain. However, I found that the extensive, interactive exhibition was well worth it! There is so much to see and experience, EPIC Ireland is really not a place to rush through, so it’s probably best that it’s not included in the Dublin Pass.
Tip 2: Dublin’s national museums, which house the country’s greatest treasures, are all FREE to enter! They include the National Gallery, the National Library, the Irish Museum of Modern Art as well as the National Museums of Archaeology, Decorative Arts & History and Natural History.
Tip 3: Sandeman’s FREE Walking Tour, which works on a tip-only basis (give as much as you like), is great to get a first overview of the city.
Disclaimer: I receive a small affiliate fee if you purchase a Dublin Pass through the links in this post.