2 days in Dublin

2 Days in Dublin: 9 Things to do in Dublin

Ireland

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Dublin is one of those places that almost everybody wants to visit. There’s something about vibrant Irish hospitality, intimate Irish pubs and exquisite Irish landscapes that makes people crave being there. That was certainly the case for me.

The significant history of the city is another reason that I’ve been so eager to visit Dublin. Having studied The Dubliners at university and gone on to learn about Ireland’s fight for independence from the British, I was enthusiastic about seeing where the historic events I’d read so much about had unfolded in real life.

Yet, despite being so close to Ireland, and being regularly offered up cheap tickets to Dublin by the internet, I delayed visiting for years. Last year, I finally said enough is enough and booked a trip to celebrate my 23rd birthday and the new year in Dublin.

I generally like to spend more than 2 days visiting a city, especially if it’s a place completely new to me. In order to really get a feel for a place, see the central landmarks, understand the history, explore some of the neighbourhoods, sample a variety of the local cuisine, you need to spend a good while there, I believe.

In fact, I actually did spend more than 2 days in Dublin. I spent 5 days there, spending many an evening wandering around and absorbing the atmosphere of its labyrinth streets. However, during my time there, I went on two full day trips outside of the city and 1 day I spent celebrating the new year. This meant that when it came down to it, I really only had 2 full days actually sightseeing in Dublin.

So, is 2 days in Dublin enough?

I wouldn’t say that 2 days sightseeing Dublin is definitely enough time. I definitely missed out on some of the main landmarks and would love to go back again.

However, if that’s all the time you have, and you prepare yourself for a long, full-on 2 day Dublin itinerary, you can have a great time and feel like you’ve seen a lot of what the city has to offer.

So, do you accept the challenge? If so, great! Here’s everything you need to know in advance of your 2 days in Dublin:

Getting to Dublin

Getting from Dublin airport was probably one of the most stress-free airport transfer experiences of my adult life.

The Airlink Express is an absolute godsend. It’s around £6 for a ticket and travels quickly from the airport into the city in no time at all.

However, try to buy a ticket in advance because Dublin bus drivers don’t take contactless card and only accept the exact change, meaning you could be left in a bit of a pickle.

Where to stay in Dublin

Even if you’re only spending one or two days in Dublin, I would recommend staying over the night previous to your main days sightseeing so you can get up bright and early and see as much as possible. This is an especially good idea if you like taking pictures without swarms of people walking into you- or your shot!

The Croke Park Hotel

I stayed at The Croke Park Hotel during my stay, and it was pretty much perfect. From the moment I entered the lobby -sophisticated, modern and sweet-smelling from all the candles that were dotted about- I knew I’d be right at home there.

The facilities were excellent: I had a massive TV in my room, an extraordinarily comfortable double bed, a huge sparkling bathroom with both a bath and a shower that was restocked everyday with fluffy towels and a set of mini shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and body lotions.

The service was also excellent. Upon arrival, they give you a hot flannel at reception and checking out, they provide you with bottles of water. Calling the reception at any time for extra towels, tea or cutlery, I found the receptionists to be extremely polite and obliging.

Although I was initially concerned about the location of the hotel being slightly North of the city centre, this didn’t end up being a problem for me at all.

Overall, I had a great experience staying at The Croke Park Hotel and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. Click here to find out more about the hotel.

If you’d like to stay in a more central location, or want to peruse all the options available, click here to explore all hotels in Dublin.

Getting around Dublin

If you only have a short time to spend in a city it’s important to figure out in advance how to get around so as not to waste any precious minutes getting confused.

Public transport is always the most stressful part of navigating a new city, so here’s a small breakdown with some information (and opinions) about each option.

Temple Bar, 2 days in Dublin

Buses in Dublin

The Dublin buses are relatively cheap to use and on the whole, function as you’d expect.

However, be aware that bus drivers in Dublin usually only accept the exact change for your journey. This meant that I spent a lot of time getting Euros out at an ATM then going to a shop to get some small change, which would hopefully be the right amount to use on the bus.

I also found Dublin buses quite hard to navigate. They didn’t have route maps displayed on the bus stops and the timetables didn’t show every stop, so it was hard to know which bus actually went were.

Obviously, I could use my phone to work out a route for me, but I find it easier and more satisfying to see an overall map of the buses in the area and their routes and stops along the way. This is probably because it’s what I’m used to in London!

Taxis in Dublin

After a few attempts navigating the city by bus, I did give in and end up using probably a few too many taxis.

I mainly say too many because like the rumours say, taxis in Dublin are extraordinarily expensive, even compared to London prices. Yes, you read that right.

The main taxi service in Dublin is called MyTaxi, which you can use by just hailing a cab on the street or ordering one via the app. The reason why this is so expensive is down to the all the extra fees, which it took me a while to figure out.

The base fee for a taxi journey using MyTaxi is €3.80 during the day, and €4.20 at night. Pretty doable, right? I thought so until I was wondering why I was being charged a base fare, the fare for my journey and then an additional €4 each time.

This extra €4 turned out to be a combination of a €2 booking fee for using the app and a 2x€1 extra passenger fee, for travelling with two extra people (I stayed in Dublin with my two friends FYI, I didn’t just randomly drag strangers along with me).

This means that in total, every taxi was at least €7.80, plus the distance travelled.

DART rail and Luas in Dublin

There are also a couple of other ways to get around Dublin, including using the DART electric rail system or the Luas tram system.

The DART railway hugs the Eastern coast of Dublin and can be used as an easy way to get out of the city to the coast for a day trip. I used the DART railway to get to Howth, where I spent a day doing the Howth cliff walk. It was around €6 each for a return ticket from Dublin Connolly, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

The Luas is the light-rail tram system in Dublin. The name ‘Luas’ means ‘speed’ in Irish, which I find amusing considering trams are infamously quite slow. The tram runs on two lines that mainly run along the River Liffey. I know it’s useful for visiting attractions that aren’t in the centre of the city such as Kilmainham Gaol. However, the tram wasn’t very useful for me because there wasn’t a line that accessed the north of the city, where my hotel was located.

Temple Bar, 2 days in Dublin

Things to do in Dublin in 2 days

Hop-on-hop-off Bus Tour

I’ve never taken a hop-on-hop-off bus tour as I’ve always preferred the idea of exploring a city myself without any guide. However, when time is up against you, it’s an excellent way to see a lot in a short amount of time.

A ticket is usually just under €20, which initially seems like a lot of money. However, keep in mind that buying a ticket for a bus tour also means that you won’t have to worry about navigating and spending money on public transport.

The DoDublin green bus tour has much more frequent buses than the City Sightseeing tour, meaning you won’t be waiting for too long in the cold at bus stops!

The Guinness Storehouse

During my time in Dublin, I probably saw the word ‘Guinness’ more than any other word that exists. Guinness and Ireland are pretty much synonymous, which is probably why the Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction.

The St. James Gate Brewery has been the home of Guinness since 1759. Arthur Guinness signed a lease for the site of 9,000 years, meaning it won’t be going away any time soon either. 3 million pints of Guinness are brewed every day at the brewery, which is probably why they can afford to give each of its visitors a pint on the house!

The seven floors of the exhibition are shaped around a giant pint, which would hypothetically contain 14 million pints of Guinness if filled. During your time at the storehouse you’ll learn all about the art of Guinness, what goes into its making that creates its distinctive taste, the history of Guinness and why it’s so significant to the Irish people, as well how to pour the perfect pint.

You’ll also get to visit the multi-sensory Tasting Rooms, and on the top floor, you’ll reach the Gravity bar, where you’ll enjoy your complimentary pint with panoramic views of the city.

Prices are around €20 depending on the time that you book your slot. I would recommend booking well in advance to avoid disappointment as a lot of the tourist attractions in Dublin book up days or even weeks in advance.

Guinness Storehouse, 2 days in Dublin
Guinness Storehouse, the most popular attraction in Dublin

Jameson Distillery Bow Street Tour

Another one for the drink-lovers out there is the Jameson Distillery Bow Street Tour, an absolute essential for any whiskey fan.

Bow Street is the home of Jameson whiskey, established in 1780 by John Jameson himself. This is the original site where Jameson Irish Whiskey was distilled until 1997 when it became a visitor centre. You have the opportunity to take a tour of the distillery, experience traditional Irish whiskey making and most importantly, try the whiskey straight from the barrel.

Prices are again around €20 and you can buy advance tickets here.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin. It was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and was modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge, meaning several more colleges were meant to have been established throughout the years but never were. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland and widely considered to be the most prestigious university in Ireland.

The architecture of Trinity College is extremely beautiful and wandering around the campus feels actually quite peaceful considering it’s located slap-bang in the middle of the city centre. I would definitely recommend taking a walk around the college to soak up its history and beauty.

Trinity College Campus, 2 days in Dublin
The beautiful Trinity College Campus in the centre of Dublin

The Book of Kells and The Long Room

The main attractions for tourists at the Trinity College are the Book of Kells and the Old Library, in particular The Long Room.

The Book of Kells is a Gospel book containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, believed to have been created in 800 AD in a Columban monastery. It is drawn largely from the Vulgate, a 4th century Latin translation of the Bible, although several passages are drawn from even earlier versions of the bible. It is regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. Two of four volumes of the Book of Kells are on public display, which you can visit with a ticket. Unfortunately, during my visit, it was closed due to a technical difficulty.

With your ticket to see the Book of Kells, you can also visit the Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library. Visiting the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin has been on my bucket list for longer than I can remember. As a literature graduate, it’s probably not surprising that I have a thing for libraries. Especially old, magnificent libraries. The moment that I saw a picture of the Long Room, I knew I had to see it for myself.

The reality of visiting The Long Room was just as incredible as I had imagined. It’s 213 feet long, home to over 200,000 books and lined with spectacular marble busts of great philosophers and writers. The only downside is that it’s extremely hard to take photographs in there because of how busy and dark it is.

I definitely recommend getting a ticket in advance because the queue for the ticket office was about half a mile long extending all the way around the campus. Click here to skip the queues and get an advance ticket to the Book of Kells and Dublin Castle combined.

Long Room, 2 days in Dublin
The 200ft Long Room at the Old Library of Trinity College, Dublin

Visit some of Dublin Museums

Like any capital city, Dublin has some incredible museums on offer that give you insight into some of its rich history.

Here are some of the notable museums that I would recommend giving a go during your time in Dublin. Obviously you won’t have enough time to see them all in just 2 days, but you can pick and choose which sound the most interesting to you.

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum features 1,500 years of Irish history, focusing primarily on the 10 million Irish people who emigrated from Ireland over the years. The museum tells the story of mass Irish emigration and how it shaped both Ireland and the rest of the world.

With 20 interactive galleries, the Irish Emigration Museum is currently the world’s only fully digital museum and was shortlisted for European Museum of the Year in 2018, so it sounds like it’s definitely worth a visit. You can get affordable tickets in advance here.

The Little Museum of Dublin

Often considered one of Dublin’s most popular museums, The Little Museum of Dublin is definitely one to put on the list. The museum tells the story of Dublin’s 20th century and gives an intimate look into the city’s culture and history over three floors of a Georgian townhouse that overlooks St. Stephen’s Green.

The little museum of Dublin is as small as its name suggests, meaning there is limited capacity and operates on a guided tour basis. Book your tickets via the website in advance to avoid all the slots getting booked up!

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

Having been open since 1890, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology features incredible artefacts dating from 7000 BC to the 20th Century across seven different galleries. From Europe’s biggest collection of prehistoric gold to a journey through prehistoric and Viking Age Ireland, there’s something for all history nerds. The best part is that it’s completely free!

Other Museums in Dublin

Obviously, there are far more museums in Dublin, including the National Wax Museum or even the National Leprechaun Museum. However, I believe that when it comes to museums, you have to choose what to visit based on your own interests, whether it be history, art, music or anything else. These are just the few that really piqued my interest and I would definitely try and visit them all on a return visit.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is an area on the south bank of the River Liffey in Dublin and is deemed the centre of Dublin’s nightlife. It is primarily known for being home to some of Dublin’s most famous and popular pubs. However, it is also the location of a number of cultural institutions such the Irish Photography Centre, The Irish Film Institute and the New Theatre, among others.

One of my favourite experiences in Dublin was wondering around Temple Bar because it’s one of the most colourful, busy and vibrant areas of the city. Exploring Temple Bar and wandering in and out of the pubs for a pint of Guinness makes for an perfect afternoon in Dublin.

Temple Bar, 2 days in Dublin

During the festive season, Temple Bar is even more special, in my opinion. Festive decorations, fairy-lights and Christmas trees adorn the the streets spectacularly and make the whole place even more colourful and warm.

However, be aware that if you visit Temple Bar on New Year’s Eve, like I did, the prices will be extraordinarily hiked up. A single double vodka soda at one pub came to €17, which was absurd even for a Londoner like me. I ended my evening at The George, a gay nightclub, which was absolutely fabulous and much less expensive.

Temple Bar, 2 days in Dublin
The infamous Temple Bar in its Christmas get-up!

Dublin’s Cathedrals

Dublin has some incredible cathedrals to explore. The ones featured below are some of Dublin’s most prominent and magnificent cathedrals. Surprisingly, however, both of these are Anglican cathedrals and not Catholic due to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral -pictured below- is Dublin’s oldest building, having been founded sometime after 1028. It’s been a destination for pilgrims for nearly 1,000 years and is home to the famous 12th Medieval crypt, where you can visit the famous mummified ‘cat and rat’ that is known locally as ‘Tom & Jerry’. It’s an absolutely stunning marvel of architecture and history.

Buy advance tickets here or visit the reception desk to get combined tickets for the Cathedral and Dublinia, the connected museum that gives visitors insight into Ireland during the Medieval period.

Christ Church Cathedral, 2 days in Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral, the oldest building in Dublin

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was founded not long after Christ Church Cathedral, between 1220 and 1260, in honour of Ireland’s patron saint. It’s one of the few remaining buildings left from the Medieval period and is the largest cathedral in the country.

The cathedral boasts stunning stained glass windows, including one that tells the story of St. Patrick’s life in 39 images and exquisite Gothic architecture. It is also the resting place of Jonathon Swift, writer of Gulliver’s Travels, who was the dean of the cathedral in the 1700s.

Learn about the cathedral’s opening hours, events workshops and ticket prices on the website here.

St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephen’s Green is a typical city park, surrounded by gorgeous Georgian townhouses and notable buildings such as the historic Shelbourne Hotel, the Little Museum of Dublin and Iveagh House. The park is home to a number of significant memorials, busts and statues, a large lake and seagulls the size of small dogs.

Although I’m sure that the park would be extraordinarily pleasant during summer, with over 3.5km of pathways to wander, the aesthetics of St. Stephen’s Green isn’t the main appeal, but the part it played in Dublin’s extraordinary history.

Having been a site for Irish insurgents from the Irish Citizen Army to take up position against the British Army during the Easter Rising of 1916, walking through St. Stephen’s Green feels like you’re walking through Irish history.

St. Stephen's Green, 2 days in Dublin
One of the many memorials in St. Stephen’s Green

Kilmainham Gaol

Although Kilmainham Gaol isn’t right in the centre of the city, it is extremely accessible either by Luas tram or via the hop-on-hop-off bus tour, so you shouldn’t find it a problem including it in your 2 day Dublin itinerary.

Kilmainham Gaol operated as a prison in Dublin from 1796 to 1924 and now functions as a museum. It is one of the largest unoccupied Gaols in Ireland and is significant for detaining famous political leaders such as Charles Parnell and the 1916 Rising leaders.

Kilmainham Goal can only be accessed via a guided tour and you have to reserve your time slot via the website ahead of time to be guaranteed entry, as it gets booked up way in advance. There are also temporary exhibitions available at the museum, so take a look at the website to see if there’s anything that piques your interest.

St. Stephen's Green, one day in dublin, things to do in dublin
The interior of Kilmainham Gaol.

To find out more about the Irish Civil War, visit Ireland Before You Die’s post on 11 historic sites of the 1916 Rising.

More than 2 days in Dublin?

Dublin day trips

If you have more time in Dublin, I would 100%, undoubtedly spend at least one of your days on a trip exploring further afield from the city.

During my time in Dublin, I spent one day visiting Howth, the seaside town, reachable by train or bus from the city.

On another day, I went on a Wild Wicklow tour of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, which was absolutely phenomenal. Both of these day trips probably made up my favourite days of the trip.

Find out more about these days out in my post on day trips from Dublin.

Coastline view at Howth Cliff Walk.
one day in dublin, things to do in Dublin
Guinness Lake at Wicklow National Park.

Thanks for reading my post about what to do during 2 days in Dublin, including my top 10 things to do. I hope you enjoyed it- if you think I missed out something important, don’t hesitate to comment below.

If you’d like to take a look at more of my city guides, have a read of my 3 day itinerary for Barcelona or my ultimate guide to Krakow.

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