On my recent trip to Ireland, I was able to travel around to quite a few sites around the country. I went to the Ancient East region to tour gardens and estates, even all the way up to Northern Ireland to see the Causeway Coast. But when you’re planning a trip to Ireland you can’t miss a stop in their capital city. Here’s my guide for what to do if you’ve got 2 days in Dublin.
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And make sure you read my Ireland packing list post before your trip!
Dublin Day 1
Book of Kells
One of the most famous sites to see will be the Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin. The Book of Kells one of the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts, it’s from the 9th century and records the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. There are no photos allowed of the book, making it really special to see in person since it’s not all over social media.
After walking throughout the Book of Kells exhibit, you’ll end your tour in the Long Room. This library is probably one of the most recognizable sites to see in Ireland. It’s a beautiful library that features nooks filled with books, and busts of famous authors lining the rows. 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books line the walls of this hallowed space.
I highly recommend buying your tickets in advance with a timed entry reservation. Tickets cost €11 to €14 depending on the season and children under 12 are free. You can buy tickets at the door, but you’ll likely wait in a lineup, which can be especially long during popular travel seasons.
I would estimate that you should allow yourself about 45 minutes to an hour to enjoy the exhibit. It also depends on how much time you spend looking at the artifacts and then in the gift shop.
After you’ve visited the Book of Kells and the Long Room Library, you can wander around the Trinity College campus. They also offer guided tours of the campus, but you can only purchase tickets when you arrive at the campus front gate. You can buy a combo ticket for €15 that includes the Book of Kells and Long Room Library. You can also show your Book of Kells ticket and add on a guided tour for €4.
After lunch, I recommend visiting EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum. While I’ll admit the name doesn’t quite inspire thoughts of a cool museum, this one is really well done.
EPIC features multiple rooms that each showcase a notable Irish person or movement that tells the story of the 10 million Irish people that left the country and impacted the world. It’s a very modern museum that has lots of hands-on activities to help engage you with the story. They even have a passport stamp booklet that’s perfect for kids!
Again, you can skip the lines and buy your tickets in advance. This also means you’ll gain entry if they stop line-entry during busy times. You can also get a ticket in advance with Get Your Guide and it comes with the skip the line and an audio guide for about the same price as buying your tickets directly online.
Do you know the answer to these three most asked questions for Ireland: when to go, what to see, and what to pack? Check out my Ireland planning guide post!
Temple Bar District
For dinner, I’d recommend Roberta’s. It’s in the Temple Bar district and has an awesome bar dining atmosphere. The food is also great and it’s the perfect setting to close out your day in Dublin.
Now that you’ve had your fill of museums and dinner, it’s time to enjoy some Dublin nightlife. One of the most famous bars in Dublin is the Temple Bar. It’s definitely a tourist spot now, but the bar itself is still quite picturesque and worth a stop in.
The area surrounding the Temple Bar is known as the Temple Bar District and worth exploring on your first night in the city. I loved all the live music options and really enjoyed seeing all the beer bottle tops mixed in with the cobblestone road.
Note: Like any major city, The Temple Bar area of Dublin can get a little rowdy at night. Little kids might hear or see things that aren’t exactly family-friendly. I would also caution women to be alert to their surroundings if traveling alone at night.
Dublin Day 2
Walking Tour Dublin
After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, head out for a walk along the streets lining the River Liffey. Visit Dublin has some great self-guided walking tours on its Dublin Discovery Trails app. If you have a few hours, you might book a guided walking tour or a food tour of Dublin.
Dublin Sights to See
- Jeanie Johnston – replica sailboat that helped transport people to the Americas during the Irish famine
- Famine Memorial statues – commemorate the Great Irish Famine of the mid 19th century
- Ha’Penny bridge – famous bridge recognized for its iron arches
- Samuel Beckett Bridge – a beautiful, modern bridge across the River Liffey
- Dublin Castle – historical castle also Irish government office
- Christ Church Cathedral – beautiful Gothic/Romanesque cathedral you can walk past or pay for admission inside
- St Patrick’s Cathedral – another beautiful church, also the tallest church in Ireland
- Temple Bar – famous pub and looks pretty during the day and night
- Trinity College / Book of Kells – so much history and a unique exhibit only seen in Dublin
- City Hall – a beautiful example of 18th-century Georgian architecture
- O’Connell Street – aka Connell Street is the main thoroughfare of Dublin filled with shopping, bars, restaurants, and monuments
- Irish Houses of Parliament – former headquarters for the Parliament of Ireland and later it became the Bank of Ireland
- Grafton Street – picturesque pedestrian-only city shopping street district
- St. Stephen’s Green – public park featuring Fusiliers’ Arch near Grafton Street
- National Gallery of Ireland – free art museum in a beautiful building
- Kilmainham Gaol – former prison that housed many Irish revolutionaries
Finally, visit one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, the Guinness Storehouse. This seven-floor museum/entertainment district is a must-visit for anyone heading to Ireland. The museum is actually built to be the largest pint glass in the world! You can see how Guinness makes their famous beverage and enjoy some great food and plenty of Guinness pints during your visit.
For dinner, dine at 1837, one of the four restaurants at Guinness Storehouse. You can try the famous pairing of Guinness and oysters at 1837. I went for the Guinness beef burger, and a friend got one of their flatbread pizzas.
While your admission includes a free pint of Guinness, I highly recommend spending another €6 for a Stoutie. You’ll have your photo taken and get a pint of Guinness with your face printed on the foamy head.
To end your night, you’ll want to head up to the Gravity Bar. It’s very popular and offers an amazing 180° window views over the city of Dublin. While it can get crowded, it’s worth a visit.
Again, I recommend buying your tickets in advance to skip the lines when you arrive. You can buy directly from the Guinness site or from Get Your Guide.
Do know that the Guinness Storehouse is not near the main city center of Dublin. I took a cab there but you could walk. You’re looking at about a 2-3 km walking distance that could take you 30-40 minutes depending on where you’re located in the city. If you walk be sure to get a photo in front of the famous Guinness gates that surround the complex.
These activities should give you a great taste of Dublin when you’re planning your 2 day Dublin itinerary. You’ll be ready to head back to your hotel or off to your next destination with a good feel for this capital city of the Emerald Isle. I’ll be publishing my Dublin day trips post soon, so feel free to leave me a message if you’re wondering where else I went while in Ireland.
Where to Stay in Dublin
If you’re looking for where to stay, I stayed at The Morgan and The Davenport and enjoyed my stay at both places. The Morgan is a modern hotel with a hipster feel and located in the Temple Bar District.
The Davenport has a bit more of an old-world feel but with modern furnishings. It’s located near Trinity College, but further away from the river, Temple Bar District, and Guinness Storehouse.