Buzzing year-round with locals and tourists alike, Dublin has a rich cultural heritage that spans millennia. Built up along the banks of the River Liffey, this is Ireland’s largest city and also its capital. Worried about fitting in all the sights while you’re here? A weekend offers just about enough time to tick off all of the city’s greatest hits. From its quaint castles and cosy bars to the historic theatre scene and string of first-rate city-centre restaurants, this itinerary highlights the very best things to do in Dublin right now. So, enjoy your weekend, and as they say in these parts, enjoy the craic!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Dublin
How to do Dublin in 48 hours
Ireland’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud has been one of the city’s top dining destinations for nearly four decades. If you’re in the mood for an impeccable gourmet experience, this is the place. Using only the finest local produce, its specialities include blue lobster ravioli coated in a coconut lobster cream and grazed loin of sika deer with civet sauce. Save room for dessert, as the peanut parfait with salted caramel and popcorn ice cream is to die for.
See a play at The Abbey Theatre. Founded as a national theatre for Ireland by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904, their manifesto was ‘to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland’. Since then, many award-winning Irish playwrights have presented their work here. Today’s co-directors have even grander plans to bring in more international acts as well as export their own creations abroad.
Visiting The Book of Kells Exhibition and Old Library at Trinity College Dublin is a must. Written around 800 AD, the Book of Kells contains a finely decorated copy of the four gospels in Latin and has been on display at Trinity since the 19th century. The Book of Kells is Ireland’s most significant cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript, and draws more than 500,000 visitors each year.
Grafton Street is a pedestrian shopping street known for its brilliant buskers. Wander up to Dublin’s famed Brown Thomas department store or stop for a chat with the Flower Ladies of Grafton, who bring both wit and colour to the corners of Chatham, Harry and Duke Streets. At the top of Grafton Street you’ll find St Stephen’s Green, a park where you can watch the swans swimming in the pond or people-watch from one of the benches.
Nestled inside the walls of Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library Museum houses a rare collection of ancient manuscripts, artworks and rare books collected by traveller Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875–1968) throughout his long life. Established in 1950 and bequeathed to the city of Dublin upon his death, this is the only Irish institution ever to win the European Museum of the Year award.
The Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s number-one tourist attraction, is not just a brewery, but also an impressive interactive museum. Learn about the Guinness family and how the story of Ireland’s famous beer is interwoven with the history of the city itself. Be sure to head to the rooftop bar for a panoramic view from one of the highest vantage points in the city, and don’t forget to try your hand at pouring your own perfect pint of the ‘black stuff’.
Saturday night is the ideal time to visit the bustling Temple Bar area, chock-full of restaurants, bars and dinky boutiques. Meander the cobblestone streets, cross the Ha’Penny Bridge, and then pop into the Oliver St. John Gogarty’s pub to listen to traditional Irish music at the upstairs bar. Sing-a-longs with the house band are encouraged.
Take a 25-minute Dart train north to have tea or a late breakfast at the Avoca Café at Malahide Castle, which boasts a gorgeous outdoor terrace with striking views over the estate gardens. Eating at Avoca always feels like a treat, with an ever-changing but consistently delicious array of artisanal produce from Ireland and abroad.
One of the oldest castles in Ireland, the 260-acre Malahide Castle and Gardens dates back to 1175 and was home to the Talbot family for more than 800 years. Baron Milo Talbot was a passionate traveller and collector of plants from around the world. Definitely spend some time at the walled garden and interactive exhibition, but it’s also worth a visit to the charming seaside village of Malahide and its marina just a short walk away.
The quirky Little Museum of Dublin is housed in a landmark 18th-century Georgian townhouse. Unlike other museums, it consists of just a few rooms filled with artefacts that provide insight into the history of Dublin and the people who helped shape it. Guides are included in the entry fee.