One Day in Dublin: A Relaxed Self-Guided Tour (A Local’s Guide)

The Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

One Day in Dublin: A Relaxed Self-Guided Tour (A Local’s Guide)

‘I was in Dublin once, only for a day though and I don’t really remember it’. This is something I am sad to admit that I hear all too often when people tell me about their stopover in Dublin. Now, I do understand, that many of those who have just one day in Dublin City often want to tick the stereotypical ‘Irish Experience’ off their bucket list. And, to be honest, I don’t blame them.

We Irish sure do know how to have a good time and as a result, it is easy for tourists to fall down the ‘Temple Bar Trap’ so to speak. Without even having the opportunity to experience the ‘real’ Dublin because all their time is spent in the bars. So, what if I told you that you could experience both. Yes, that’s right in just 24 hours, you can tick most of Dublin’s leading tourist attractions off your bucket list and then still have time to party the night away in Temple Bar. Don’t worry if drinking isn’t your thing, I have plenty of alternative suggestions for you to enjoy!

1 day in Dublin Layout

I wasn’t all too sure how to divide this post up, as a local, I know the most convenient way to walk around the city. And considering you only have 1 day in Dublin, I wanted to come up with a stress FREE way for you to see all the highlights, without feeling as if you were doing a marathon or a sprint. My solution was to break the day up into morning, mid-day, evening and night-time activities. You will be glad to hear that all experiences are of walking distance of each other, making it easy for you to do a self-guided tour of Dublin in just one day.

Getting from Dublin Airport to the city centre

An Air Coach runs from the airport into the city centre and at the time of writing costs €12 for a return ticket.

Alternatively, the 41 Dublin bus route is 24 hours and will transport people from Lower Abbey Street to the Dublin Airport and vice versa. This is a much cheaper option and is available on the Leap Card.

Dublin Bus, On O'Connell Street, Ireland
Dublin Bus, On O’Connell Street, Ireland

Getting Around Dublin City

Public Transport is the easiest way to get around the city. Services include the bus, Luas and the DART. The easiest way to pay is via the leap card click here to find tourist rates.

Dublin Bikes is another great way to get around the city. It’s FREE for the first 30-minutes. Download the app here (Android/IOS).

Getting a Taxi is another option, however, they can be rather expensive. If you need a taxi it’s best to download the FREE Now app (Android/IOS).

Local Tip: To hail a taxi or stop a bus (at bus stops), you must place your hand out towards the road. Otherwise, they will drive on by.

Where to Stay in Dublin

Below is a list of possible accommodations to stay in on your trip to Dublin. I have personally never stayed in any of them as I live in Dublin. I can, however, point you in the right direction in terms of Budget.

Budget-Friendly Hostel: Abigail’s Hostel

A Good Location Hotel: The Moxy Dublin City Hotel

A Good Location/Trendy Apartment: Locke Zanzibar Aparthotels

Now, I know they are all rather expensive, If you stay a little further outside the city you will for sure get a better deal. Some Area’s with good public transport routes include Rathmines, Terenure and Dundrum.

Where to stay in Dublin Pricing Map

What to pack for Dublin

Ireland is known for getting 4 seasons in the one day, that is why it is best to follow this Ireland packing list for a detailed guide. I have, however, listed down below some essential items needed for a trip to Dublin.

  1. Waterproof Jacket
  2. A Day Bag (<- Also my favourite)
  3. A Windproof Umbrella
  4. Travel First Aid Kit
  5. Water Bottle (The Tap Water is Drinkable)
  6. Camera

One Day in Dublin: Spend the Morning Exploring College Green & Beyond

Dublin Sunset - Stephens Green
Dublin Sunset – Stephens Green
the Molly Malone Statue
Molly Malone Statue, Dublin, Ireland

Stop 1: Stephens Green, Grafton Street & Molly Malone

I’d highly suggest waking up bright and early to take on Dublin’s beautiful city park, St. Stephen’s Green. The green is one of the many beautiful walks in Dublin. It is a lovely place to begin the day as it helps clear the mind and have you feeling fresh for a fun-filled day of activities. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to loop around the park depending on which root you take.

Once you have enjoyed the peace and quiet of the green it is time to head toward Dublin’s main shopping district, Grafton Street. However, Grafton Street is not only known for its high-end retail stores. It is also the place to go to see Dublin’s thriving music scene, with buskers from all over the country singing and performing for the public.

As you walk towards the end of Grafton Street take a sharp to the left turn Suffolk Street, here you will find the famous Irish statue, Molly Malone. Take a moment to catch a snap with Molly before making your way to college green.

One Day in Dublin Trinity College Dublin Through a Bicycle Wheel
Trinity College Dublin Through a Bicycle Wheel
Long Room, Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin
Long Room, Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin

Stop 2: College Green, Trinity College & The Book of Kells

College Green is home to one of the most iconic universities in all of Dublin, Trinity College. If you are looking for free things to do in Dublin, then walking around the grounds of Trinity is a good option.

Some of the buildings date back as far as 1592. No matter how many times I stroll the ground of Trinity, I always feel as if I have stepped back in time.

It’s a truly unique experience. And the building kind of gives off Harry Potter Vibes.

Once you have finished exploring it is time to pay a visit one of the top tourist attractions in all of Dublin, the Book of Kells. The world’s oldest book lies right on the grounds of Trinity College and is visited by over 500,000 visitors each year.

Those who purchase tickets to the Book of Kells exhibition can also visit Trinity’s famous Long Room free of charge. The whole attraction is one of my favourites things to do in all of Dublin.

Don’t forget to Book your tickets nice and early to avoid disappointment.

1 Day in Dublin: Take a Mid-Day Stroll through Historic Dublin

The Spire, Dublin, Ireland
The Spire, Dublin, Ireland
The GPO, Dublin, Ireland
The GPO, Dublin, Ireland

Stop 3: The GPO, O’Connell Street & The Spire

Once you have finished walking around the stunning grounds of Trinity College it is time to start walking towards Dublin’s General Post Office, otherwise known as the GPO.

Now, because this is only a 1 day Dublin itinerary we do not have time to enjoy the museum inside the GPO, it is, however, nice to get a picture of the Historic building. The GPO played a big role in Ireland’s fight for independence and if you look really hard the bullet holes from the 1916 rising can still be seen on the building’s exterior.

A little further up O’Connell Street (Dublin’s most famous street) lies the new modern symbol of Dublin’s fair city, The Spire.

When the government announced the plans to build The Spire the public made a mockery of it. However, we quickly learned to love the monument as it can be seen from all angles of the city, making it the perfect meeting point for gatherings.

The Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
The Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Stop 4: The Ha’Penny Bridge & Temple Bar

Once you had a glance high in the sky at the Spire, it is time cross the River Liffey using the famous Ha’ Penny Bridge. This is the Bridge seen all over Instagram and is the gateway into the Temple Bar District.

Temple Bar is an old cobblestone quarter that the most famous spot in Dublin for tourist. It is where the Irish personality, music, and tales come to life. The most popular building who be the official Temple Bar Inn, a red brick pub seen on most postcards and information brochures. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Dublin Hidden Gems like Find Rory Gallagher’s Guitar.

This may be a good time to grab a bite to eat, consider eating in the delicious Elephant Castle, or if you fancy designing your own cheesecake, check out the Mad Egg.

Please note, that mad egg is before the crossing of the River Liffey, see google maps for reference.

Christchurch, Dublin, Ireland
Christchurch, Dublin, Ireland

Stop 5: Go for a stroll by Dublin Castle, Christchurch & St. Patricks Catedral

Once your Tummy is all full up, it is time to walk towards Dublin Castle. You may be surprised that there is only one section of the castle that in fact looks like a real-life castle. Nonetheless, it is still a significant building in Irish history. You can go inside the castle for a fee, although I suggest skipping this step due to time restrictions.

Following the royal visit, it is time to walk towards the stunning Christchurch Cathedral. The Medieval Cathedral will make you feel as if you are stepping back in time with its a truly unique architecture. Continuing on the with the Medieval theme, a few minutes down the road lies Dublin 2nd Medieval Church, Saint Patricks Cathedral. This is one stunning building, with a beautiful garden adjacent to it.

24 hours in Dublin: Spend the Evening in the home of the Black Stuff

Stop 6: The Guinness Storehouse

The final stop on today’s self-guided tour of Dublin brings us to the home of the Black Stuff, The Guinness Storehouse.

This is my favourite attraction in all of Dublin. And, that is even a little controversial, as I’m Irish, but I’m not all too fond of the taste of Guinness. My point is, that anyone can visit the famous storehouse without having to like the taste of the Black Stuff! Visit for the brilliant storytelling, to have a laugh trying to pull your own pint and for the phenomenal 360 views of Dublin.

If this sounds like a fun-filled evening, book your tickets now as they sell out fast.

Sunset on the River Liffey
Sunset on the River Liffey

Things to do in Dublin in One Day: Night Time Shenanigans

There are many things to do at night in Dublin, whether you want to enjoy some time on the town or take part in some lesser know activities. I’ve listed down my favourite down below.

Things to do in Dublin at night

  • There are many beautiful places in Dublin to watch the Sunset. The sky lights up in beautiful colours along the River Liffey. Or, if time allows, you could check out some of Dublins walks, there are many that offer some epic sunset locations.
  • If drinking isn’t your scene, why not consider going to see a comedy gig in Vicar Street. Or, visit one of Dublin’s best hidden gems, the Stella Cinema, a vintage cinema complex that transports you back in time.

Best places in Dublin to have a drink

  • Temple Bar is the place to go if you are hoping to listen to some Traditional Irish Music with a modern twist. I must warn you that the district is insanely expensive and you won’t find much Irish hanging about in the pubs. But… It certainly lives up to the stereotypical ‘Irish Experience’.
  • Another great spot for traditional music is just across the street from Temple Bar, Dame Lane. The prices here are slightly cheaper, only slightly though and you may find a local or two jamming out to the great music scene.
  • If you are looking for a nice chill place to have a few drinks with the possibility of having a little boogie as the night progresses. The make your way to Dawson Street, home to some modern bars with little dance floors.
  • For those wanting to dance the night away then the Night Clubs on Harcourt Street is the place for you! It is a whole street dedicated to late-night dancing. If you are brave, you may even find yourself in coppers, dancing the night away until 5 am. Now, you have been warned, coppers can get CRAZY at night, so come prepared.

Stopover in Dublin Map & Suggested Timetable

Suggested Timetable

8.30am – 9.00am: Breakfast

9.00am- 10.00am: Saint Stephens Green

10.00am – 10.30pm:  Grafton Street & Molly Malone Statue

10.30am – 12.00pm: Explore the Grounds of Trinity College and visit the Book of Kells

12.00pm – 1.00pm: GPO, The Spire & Ha’Penny Bridge.

1.00pm – 2.00pm: Lunch Break in Temple Bar

2.00pm – 3.30pm: Dublin Castle, Christ Church & Saint Patricks Cathedral

3.00pm – 5.30pm: The Guinness Storehouse

When is the best to visit Dublin?

July and August is by far the busiest time of year to visit Dublin due to the typically good weather and schools being on their summer holidays.

June and September are considered the months with the best weather yet the best off peak crowd levels.

Halloween originated in Ireland. There are many Halloween celebrations that take place across the country. Including many events in the city centre.

In November/December time the city is highlight in Christmas lights. It is a truly magical time to visit.

St. Patricks day is on the 17th of March, the streets are packed with those celebrating. March is quite an expensive time to visit, but it is also one of the best months for an eventful trip.

I, however, do not recommend visiting in January or Feb, these months tend to be cold, and we sometimes even get some snow. The days are also very short with it getting dark around 4pm.

Helfire Club Horses Dublin
Helfire Club Horses Dublin

Have more time in Dublin?

If you are considering spending more time in Dublin then check out my 2 days in Dublin post to further help plan your trip to Ireland. One of the best things about Dublin is the cities location. Dublin is the perfect place to begin or end you Ireland Itinerary. Or, you could base yourself in Dublin and visit some of Ireland’s top attractions on Dublin Day Trips. Below are some of my favourites:

The Cliffs of Moher is Ireland’s leading tourist attraction. It is possible to visit the famous cliffs on a short day trip from Dublin. The drive takes 3 and a half hours in Total.

The Causeway Coast is another popular Day Trip from Dublin, day tours give visitors the opportunity to explore the beautiful Giants Causeway and Game of Thrones filming sites.

Wicklow National Park is just a 50-minute drive from Dublin City. Most will visit the iconic Glendalough to discover some of the best walks in Wicklow. Book your day trip here.

A little lesser known day trip from Dublin is the stunning Stairway to Heaven trail.

You can even explore beautiful towns such as Kinsale on a Dublin day trip. This is the perfect day trip for those looking to catch a glimpse of West Cork.

Walks in Dublin

Another great thing about Dublin is the cities close proximity to the ocean, mountains and surrounding counties. On Dublin’s doorstep there are many wonderful walks to explore. Like, the Hellfire Club for example, this is a nice place to go for a walk in the mountains and enjoy the amazing views.

Or, the nearby Ticknock is a great place to go for a short brisk hike or to watch the sunset over the city.

If you are looking for an uphill walk that is accessible via public transport then consider hiking up Killiney Hill. The walk is nice and easy and offers insane views of both Dublin and Wicklow.

Many of those visiting Dublin tend to get the DART to Bray, a beautiful coastal town in County Wicklow. The journey takes just under 40 minutes and the most popular thing to do in Bray is the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk. It’s also a nice place to grab a bite to eat before returning to the city.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any further questions be sure to reach out to me on Instagram. As Always, happy travels and see you in the next blog!

Planning a Trip to Ireland? Check Out My FREE resources!
How to Spend One Week in Ireland – According to A Local
Don’t Make These Ireland Travel Mistakes
Dublin Guides
How to spend two days in Ireland’s Capital
15+ Amazing Day Trips from Dublin
Free things to do in Dublin
Ireland Hiking Guides
Hiking Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven
Walks in Wicklow
The Hellfire Club – Best View of Dublin
Ticknock Walk: The Dublin Mountains
The Bray to Greystones Walk
Wild Atlantic Way Guides
Things to do on Inis Mór
Things to do in Kerry

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