From ancient monuments, to medieval artifacts Dublin is full of fascinating things to do. After visiting these incredible places during the day, you can enjoy the wonderful nightlife and great food at one of Dublin’s famous pubs. It doesn’t matter how you like to vacation, Dublin has something for everyone.
Recently we had the chance to visit the gorgeous country of Ireland. We spent about 10 days driving around and exploring the country. We spent the first 2 days, as well as the final day, of our trip in Dublin. Compared to most European cities, Dublin is relatively small. It’s easy to get around and the people couldn’t be any friendlier.
You can easily fill a couple of days seeing everything Dublin has to offer. However, I do recommend renting a car and driving outside the city. The country is too gorgeous to stay in Dublin the whole time. However, while you’re in Dublin here are a few things you absolutely have to do. I promise, you’ll be happy you did.
Travel Tips When Visiting Dublin
Before you head across the pond, here are a couple of tips that will help with your planning.
Getting There – I constantly see fare sales to Ireland, so it’s pretty inexpensive to visit. I’d recommend using Google Flights to search for airfare. They have a great feature that shows you historical prices so you can compare current prices. You can also set up an alert and Google will notify you when prices drop.
If you’re looking to redeem your points, there is a great sweet spot if you’re flying to Dublin. Off-peak flights on Aer Lingus start at just 26,000 miles, round-trip, in economy from the East Coast. From the West Coast, it’s just under 33,000 points round-trip. You can also score one-way business class seats starting at just 50,000 points each way. You can transfer points to the Avios program from either Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program or American Express’ Membership Rewards program.
Getting Around – The best way to get around Dublin is either in a rental car or a taxi. Ireland doesn’t allow you to hire a private car through popular ride sharing apps, so these are your two best options. Taxis are plentiful, so if you’re planning on staying in the city, that’s probably your best bet.
If you do rent a car, be sure to pay extra for insurance. Most insurance companies, including credit cards that offer rental car insurance, don’t cover vehicles in Ireland. It’s not difficult driving on the other side of the road but it takes a little time before you feel comfortable. During our trip, I misjudged a turn and smashed the side mirror into a stone wall. When we returned the car, they simply noted the damage and we were off to the airport.
Where To Stay – There aren’t very many hotel options if you’re looking to redeem your points for a free night. If you’re looking to redeem points, I would recommend using a card (like the Capital One Venture Card) that has the option of using your points to “erase” travel purchases at a fixed rate. I would also recommend booking your stay through Hotels.com whose award program gives you credit for staying at any hotel. Both are great options for staying at any one of the great independent hotels in Dublin.
Money – When you’re traveling abroad you always to want to make sure you don’t pay foreign transaction fees on your purchases. Make sure you have a credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, that won’t charge you these fees. If you need cash, I would recommend using the SoFi Money account. This allows you to withdraw cash internationally for a nominal fee. This way, you only withdraw what you need and you avoid paying the hefty fees if you get foreign currency from your local branch before you go. There are ATMs everywhere in Dublin, so you won’t have a problem finding one.
Things You Have To Do
Dublin is such a fun city to visit with some wonderful things to see and do. If you’re going to Ireland, I would definitely spend the majority of your time outside of the city. There are so many incredible things things to see, you won’t want to miss any of them. In fact, one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been was Skellig Michael. It’s an island off the southwest coast of Ireland that you don’t want to miss!
Like most people, we only spent a couple of days in Dublin before we headed out to explore the rest of the country. If you have a similar itinerary, here are a few things I would highly recommend seeing while you’re there.
Trinity College Library
For me, this was the highlight of everything we saw while we were in Dublin. The library was built in the 1700s and inside was absolutely gorgeous! You don’t have to be a book lover to enjoy strolling down the halls of The Long Room. Seeing those beautiful arches and shelves covered with vintage books is just beautiful.
Within the Trinity College Library is an exhibit that contains the Book of Kells. This is a 9th century medieval manuscript that documents the four Gospels found in the Bible. This book is one of the most famous artifacts in all of Ireland and is amazing to see. I would strongly recommend purchasing your tickets before you go. This will guarantee you an entrance time and you can avoid standing in a long line. This is especially beneficial when it’s raining outside.
This is an old Irish prison that was used during the 1800s to house criminals of all kind. From famous rebellion leaders, to petty criminals, this prison had them all. There’s just something about old prisons that I find fascinating. Whether you’re a history lover or not, this is another place you have to visit.
The only way to walk the halls of the prison is on a guided tour that lasts about an hour. This is an incredibly popular attraction and often sells out. I would strongly recommend buying your tickets before you go. You can purchase tickets up to 60 days in advance of your visit.
Newgrange is a monument and tomb that is over 5,000 years old. This is a World Heritage Site and there are actually two different monuments you can visit. The other is called Knowth. The only way to visit these sites is by purchasing a tour at the visitors center. As part of the tour, you’ll be able to go inside the chamber at Newgrange. You’ll be amazed at how these monuments were built thousands of years ago.
Newgrange is located about 30 minutes north of Dublin, so you’ll want to plan your day accordingly if you’re going to visit. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. If you don’t have a rental car, there are several companies that provide inexpensive day tours if you want to visit.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I’m a sucker for old churches and St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a beautiful one. Built over 800 years ago, this church is located in the heart of Dublin. You do have to pay a small entrance fee to get in but it’s definitely worth it. I’m always amazed at the incredible workmanship of those who built these magnificent structures.
There’s no need to purchase tickets ahead of time, so I would wait until you get there in case your plans change. If you don’t have time to go inside, I would recommend that you’d at least walk the grounds for a few minutes to appreciate it’s beauty.
With Ireland being a relatively small country, it’s easy to get outside of the city and see some of the popular sites. Here are two day trips I would recommend if you weren’t planning to leave Dublin.
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland is a beautiful country with a rich history. There are several day trips you can take to some of the more popular sites. We took one that let us visit Belfast and Giant’s Causeway that I would highly recommend. There are others that will take you to some of the filming locations from Game of Thrones.
Cliffs Of Moher – The Cliffs of Moher are located along a beautiful stretch of the west coast of Ireland. They are absolutely breathtaking and worth every minute of your visit. You do need to purchase a ticket to view the cliffs. If you aren’t booking a day trip tour, you can just wait until you get there to buy your tickets.
Visit A Local Pub
Dublin pubs are world famous and you have to visit on while you’re in town. Our local tour guide recommend we go to a traditional downtown Irish pub called Murray’s. It was so much fun and recommend you go and check it out! The food was excellent and they have free entertainment while you eat. Each night they have live Irish music and each weekend they also have a show with traditional Irish dancing.
We were lucky to be there on the weekend and the entertainment was fantastic! This is a very popular pub amongst the locals, so you’ll want to get there early or you can expect a decent wait.
If you’ve never been to Ireland, you need to add it to your bucket list. Dublin is an exciting city with no shortage of things to do while you’re there. You should definitely plan on spending a couple of days here during your trip. Have you guys been to Dublin before? Is there something I missed that you would highly recommend? If so, leave us a comment below and let us know!