20 great things to do in Dublin

Explore green spaces, then relax with a pint of the black stuff

20 great things to do in Dublin The colourful Dublin Castle - © Alys Tomlinson/Time Out
By Time Out editors and Sulakshana Gupta

1. Experience Dublin as the locals do

Despite its unsavoury reputation in past years, Temple Bar is one of the city's most charming neighbourhoods and residents are trying hard to keep it that way. Cobblestone streets, bars, cafés, art galleries and architectural splendour harmoniously blend with old streetscapes and eco-friendly schemes. Among the cultural attractions are Dublin's only art-house cinema at the Irish Film Institute, the Gallery of Photography and the Project Arts Centre.

2. Sip a perfect pint at Kehoe's

If all you came to Dublin for is the Guinness, then camp out at Kehoe's. The bar's friendly staff keep the mugs full and on a busy night the crowd huddles around the stairs - neighbourhood tavern style. The elegant wooden fitting has an old-school character and the snugs are delightful, which makes drinking here a rich experience. But a word of advice, the bathrooms are to be avoided if you fear small spaces.

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3. Brush with royalty at the Dublin Castle

This isn't how you'd imagine a castle in the traditional sense. There's no moat, no drawbridge to lower against invading hordes, no turrets from which to pour boiling oil. It's more a collection of 18th-century administrative buildings, albeit fine ones, built on a medieval plan of two courtyards. Dublin Castle hosts grand diplomatic or state functions, and occasional performances like concert recitals. The beautiful interior is accessible on a pay-per-view basis, but you can wander freely around the castle.

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4. Warm up with some Irish stew at the Porterhouse

The wooden décor may be excessively rustic, but Dublin's oldest microbrewery pub, the Porterhouse, makes up for that with the quality of its beer. The pub only sells its own label of beers, but the stouts, lagers and ales are better than any mass-produced beer. The Oyster Stout, made with real oysters, is very good. The excellent pub food, Irish stew, and bangers and mash will fill you up without breaking the bank.

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5. Join the St Patrick's Day parade

St Patrick's Day on 17 March (www.stpatricksfestival.ie) offers the perfect excuse to drink, if you need one. The parade exhibits some of Europe's best street performers and there's a four-day gala of world-class entertainment. Spring is when 12 Points! Festival of Europe's New Jazz (www.improvisedmusic.ie/12points.php) comes to town. If you're a film buff, then July and August are the months of free Saturday night movies at Jameson Movies on the Square (www.templebar.ie). Finally, the Dublin Writer's Festival (www.dublinwritersfestival.com) offers a feast of readings, discussions and public debates.

6. Stroll around peaceful Trinity College

Sunday morning is the best time to visit this intellectual hub, before the students are awake and while the bells toll for morning mass throughout the city. Trinity College is an oasis of peace and beauty. Its campus is a mix of classical and contemporary buildings interspersed with elegant gardens. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity boasts stellar alumni, including playwright Oscar Wilde and Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. During the summer, enthusiastic students give 30-minute guided tours.

7. Dine in style at Peploe's

Fridays are fun times at Peploe's. Lunches are popular with local heroes, business gurus and the cultured set of the city. The location is fabulous, and the rooms are decked out with wood, murals and crisp table linen. The established venue serves classic dishes like French onion soup, Caesar salad and smoked salmon with dill sauce, and the wine list is good and long. Hugo's, on the other hand, is the new kid on the block, but is attracting a following with its international menu and expansive list of wines from around the globe. The staff are friendly and efficient, and on a warm summer evening drinking a glass of crisp rosé in the elegant surroundings is a delight.

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8. Get inspired at the Science Gallery

You always expect great things from Trinity College and the innovative Science Gallery certainly doesn't disappoint. It takes a fresh look at applications of science in real life, making white hot technology accessible to everyone. Don't be surprised if you see exhibitions of techno-thread clothing, displays of robotic art and debates about the future of bio-fuels and the efficacy of anti-depressants. They've even harnessed nanotechnology to inscribe their logo on the face of a diamond.

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9. Watch the Six Nations Rugby tournament

The Six Nations Rugby tournament is among the highlights of the Irish Sporting Calendar. Home games are played at Croke Park and the whole city gets caught up in the excitement. Even if Ireland's not playing, match days are one big party and tradition demands that you quarrel over the goals at a local pub.

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10. Savour delicious seafood at Aqua

Given the coastal location, fish is the order of the day: Dover sole on the bone, baked sea bass, pan-fried halibut and slow-cooked organic salmon. Aqua's distinctly urban appearance is softened by gorgeous sea views and a warm, cosy bar in front of a casual, uncluttered dining room – the venue for a great Sunday lunch to the sound of live jazz. On bright, sunny days, save time for a nice stroll around the harbour.

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11. Catch some traditional Irish sounds at the Cobblestone

The Cobblestone is a gem. The musicians' corner downstairs attracts traditional players whom you would pay to see elsewhere, and the paying venue upstairs rarely books a duff band. It often showcases traditional and folk music. Overall, it's cosy, while eschewing unnecessary frills; if you want to avoid excessive paddy-whackery in favour of a genuine traditional Dublin pub atmosphere, come here.

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12. Discover a well-kept secret at the Cake Café

In a concealed courtyard, the Cake Café is an adorable venture that has already won itself a loyal following. The air inside is warm with the smell of heavenly own-made cakes, biscuits, pies and cupcakes, sandwiches, great salads (caramelised pear, blue cheese and walnut) and some more ambitious hot dishes. Everything is served on artfully mismatched crockery and the staff are delightfully welcoming. A hidden treasure.

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13. Stroll through the Dubh Linn Gardens

If you don't want to pay to get into Dublin Castle then stroll around the Dubh Linn Gardens hidden behind. It's the original place of the dubh linn (dark pool), from where the city drew its name and was recently landscaped into a garden. Though most tourists don't know about it, it's extremely popular with office goers as a lunch venue. Sometimes, it's also used as a helicopter-landing site.

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14. Get arty at the Dublin Fringe Festival

The Dublin Fringe festival (www.fringefest.com) is as established an event as its Scottish counterpart. Usually a mixed bag of performances in September, the festival is dedicated to promoting new companies, and showcasing experimental material. The emphasis, of course, is on the unusual and the performances are innovative.

15. Lunch at Dunne & Crescenzi

This is not a tourist-snaring pizza counter. Dunne & Crescenzi is the original and probably still the best Italian café in town, with two adjoining spaces on South Frederick Street. Both are small, dark and can feel a touch on the claustrophobic side. But the food is simply wonderful: the tasty, fresh and simple lunches include cured and smoked meats, salads and panini. Lunches are accompanied by a full wine list. The heart-warming coffee will match any brew that the European mainland has to offer.

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16. Drink excellent espresso at the Bald Barista

Buzz Fendall is a man on a mission – to bring amazing coffee to Dublin. Bald Barista, a busy friendly café, is his gift to the city. Beans are sourced directly from individual farmers in Brazil, Sumatra and Ethiopia, and are freshly ground on site. Of course, there's more to the place than just coffee – snacks and lunches are served on the slickly appointed mezzanine dining area or the diminutive terrace.

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17. Style up your wardrobe

Loft Market, a New York-style indoor fashion market attracts local fashion junkies and hip students on the trail of individual, one-off looks, which are the stock in trade of the young designers and artists who share this space. There are plenty of vintage items of clothing and jewellery on sale.

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18. Eat stellar food in Chapter One

Everyone loves Chapter One for its affordable fine dining experience. The choice is spectacular: Irish-caught yellow fin tuna with fennel and squid braised in saffron, and Connemara mountain lamb with rump glazed in mustard and white truffle honey are among the delights. You can follow them up with Irish raspberry poached meringue, almond and pistachio cracknel, and lime anglaise. The menu speaks for itself.

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19. Get lost in music at Andrew's Lane

Formerly one of the few playhouses on Dublin's south side, Andrew's Lane has reopened as a music venue. It may be missed by theatre lovers, but is attracting fans and gaining a strong reputation on the city's music scene. So far, the fare has tended towards the left-field end of the spectrum, with arty electronica acts from the likes of Matmos and Venetian Snares wooing the more adventurous punters.

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20. Sink your teeth into a burger at Bobo's

You would usually associate giant greasy burgers with the Americans. But Bobo's has gained quite a reputation for turning out some fine patties. This excellent little diner serves up peerless organic burgers, 'proper chubby chips' in old-fashioned buckets and delicious malts, shakes and juices.

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By JNI Matt - Feb 23 2012

Dublin is great! If you're looking for a job in Dublin see this awesome website: http://www.jobsnewsireland.com/

By Marshall - Feb 20 2012

My sister and I are coming to Dublin for 4 days 3 nights on the 3rd March. We want to make the most out of the sites and bars and any possible music events! Any suggestions?


By kennedy - Feb 5 2012

very good info for a man from Zambia

By Joe Gallagher - Nov 29 2011

Six nations matches are NOT played at Croke Park.

By Darius - Nov 26 2011

Try the famous Fish and Chips at Fusco's of Cork Street...
Freshly cooked crispy light cod and chunky chips with a smatter of salt and vinegar...YUM.Cant wait for next time.

By Very nice site! - Nov 18 2011

Very nice site!

By Dec - Nov 2 2011

Take a tour of dublin city and learn about the city and its history from a dublin taxi driver www.dublinbytaxi.com.

By Barry - Oct 29 2011

@tina - theres only one game being played during your stay, its a provincial match between Leinster and munster.. ive attached a link to the ticket site for the match.. although i will warn you the tickets have been selling very fast..
" http://www.ticketmaster.ie/event/1800471EB3632366?artistid=33312&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=225 "

I hope you enjoy your stay in our beautiful city. One of my favorite quotes i like to think discribes this city " the beauty of life is happening all around, you just have to open your eyes to see it"
Barry (Proud Dubliner)

By mickey - Oct 26 2011

rugby games were only played in croke park while the aviva stadium was under construction. those games are now played in their own stadium and croke park is currently only home to gaelic games, which don't seem to make an appearance here.

@tina-rugby world cup just ended last weekend so there won't be any games on while you are there

By Jay - Oct 17 2011

I have heard of a "drink with a local" scheme where a Dubliner buys you a pint of guiness and gives you a history about their city. It's a tourist kind of thing. Have anyone done/heard of this?

By Tina - Oct 16 2011

Visiting Dublin the first week of November. Are there any rugby games being played then?

By dave - Aug 12 2011

good article,as mentioned before rugby is played at the aviva and youd be doing well to score a goal in a game of it!!!,you should try catch a gaa game at croke park during the summer

By maire ni dhabhaigh - Aug 10 2011

Rugby union games are played at Aviva stadium Landsdown road, not at Croke Park.

By Kev - Aug 8 2011

the Rugby isn't played at Croke Park anymore, that was only temporary while Landsdowne Road was being redeveloped. Anyone who visits during the summer should see about taking in a Hurling or gaelic Football match.They're much more particular to Ireland than Rugby is anyway

By Alan Fanning - Aug 1 2011

More info and contact details on http://www.dublin1.webs.com

Alan Fanning
By Alan - Jul 31 2011

Through the Irish Tourist Board Dublin City have introduced a new initiative for visitors where they can meet certain members of a local group of Dubliners (volunteers) who will take visitors out for a coffee,a show or to see a visitor attraction at no charge.

By Davie - Jul 29 2011

Im going to Dublin to watch the football at the weekend of the30th of July. Is there any good pubs that dont rip you off near the centre.

By geeta - Jun 13 2011

I want to visit Dublin end Nov or first week december.what will be weather like,
I am an visual folk artist where can I meet artist there?

By Dearbhalla - Feb 2 2011

You forgot The Pepper Pot in Powerscourt Townhouse.. Most definitely the best coffee, sandwiches, cakes in Dublin's cafe scene with seriously friendly staff and a cool/oldy worldy atmosphere to boot.

By B from Dublin - Feb 1 2011

A few corrections: the IFI is not the only art house cinema in Dublin - the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield (Luas Tram stop Smithfield) also screens a great selection art house movies in a beautiful new complex.

Six Nations Rugby has moved home to Landsdowne Rd, it was only temporarily played at Croke park, which is the home of Gaelic football and Hurling (GAA)
And finally as a Dublin resident somewhat appalled to see the Porterhouse recommended, but maybe that's what visitors like....

By John Doe - Jan 15 2011

Re #2. Never say Key-oes. The correct pronunciation is "Kyos" in one quick syllable

By Keith Aleshire-Rezendez - Dec 6 2010

Can anyone recommend the best area of Dublin to stay. We are going to a concert at Croke Park, but also want to do a lot of sightseeing.

By shinny - Dec 5 2010

Great list of things to do! If you're planning a visit to Dubllin check out cheap deals and discounts websites which are springing up everywhere (similar to ones you see in the US or UK). The latest one in Dublin is called dealrush.ie and gives out discounts to restaurants, hotels, things to do etc.

By Ramil - Nov 20 2010

Im goin' Dublin on saturday, the review comin on 25 Nov....

By Ellen Aleshire - Nov 18 2010

Great information thank you!

By Wood Sprite - Nov 8 2010

A wonderful place to visit
Please Visit www.reverbnation.com/johnnybonkers

By Chicken Man - Nov 3 2010


By Angela - Aug 1 2010

A Must do - the free Walking Tour around Dublin. Our guide was Chris Lee - an eighteen year old law student - he was excellent - interesting and passionate about the city - although not all the facts were true - a little bias against the English - he kept us enthralled!