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The 12 best free things to do in Dublin

Looking to save some cents? Here’s our guide to the best free things to do in Dublin – including parks, museums and more

Written by
Elizabeth Smith

Looking for free things to do in Dublin? The Irish capital isn’t exactly the most budget of destinations, but there are plenty of activities here that don’t require splashing the cash, so you can save those hard-earned euros for a meal at one of its best restaurants

For starters, there's the architecture; Dublin is packed with gorgeous buildings that are completely free to stroll past and gawp at (and snap photos of). Then, you've got the plenty of parks and green spaces, and the government-subsidised free entry into several museums, and you're spoilt for choice. Here are the best free things to do in Dublin right now. 

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This guide was written by Elizabeth Smith, a writer based in Dublin. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Places to visit in Dublin for free

  • Museums
  • History
  • price 1 of 4

Today, St. Stephen’s Green provides a peaceful refuge from the bustle of Dublin city centre. But this large Victorian park is also a symbol of Ireland’s fight for independence. As you stroll through the grounds, observe the 1916 Easter Rising plaques, appreciate the Great Famine memorial, feel your way through the garden for the blind, feed the ducks, and learn about Irish leaders and artists. Other revolutionary hotspots include the Kilmainham Gaol prison at Croke Park and the GPO post office, which Irish rebels used as a base.

Pay your respects at the Garden of Remembrance
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2. Pay your respects at the Garden of Remembrance

The National Botanical Gardens are one thing, but for fresh blossoms and quiet reflection nearer the city centre, head to the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square. Designed by Daithi Hanly, it’s dedicated to all those who have lost their lives in the quest for Irish freedom. The ‘Children of Lir’ sculpture signifies rebirth and the pool is decidedly non-denominational to welcome people of all backgrounds.

Wander the national exhibits
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3. Wander the national exhibits

All of Dublin’s government-run museums and galleries are free. Locals favour the Natural History Museum, also known as the ‘Dead Zoo’, for its weird and wonderful taxidermy display. The National Museum for Archaeology has an impressive collection of gold pieces, while items at the Decorative Arts & History Museum paint a clear picture of Irish life through the ages. If you prefer fine art, head to the Caravaggio, Monet and Turner exhibits at the National Gallery of Ireland or the contemporary wonders at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Cross the Ha’Penny Bridge
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4. Cross the Ha’Penny Bridge

The River Liffey bisects Dublin into north and south, growing wider the further downtown it flows. The Ha’Penny Bridge has helped pedestrians cross since 1816 when it replaced the fee-funded ferry service. Its cast-iron and arch ribs are just as magical at night as they are when the sun shines. Lucky for present-day visitors, it doesn’t cost a ha’penny to cross.

Take a self-guided street art tour
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5. Take a self-guided street art tour

Artists from around the world have left their mark on Dublin, enlivening the streets with powerful sculptures and colourful murals. Temple Bar and the Italian Quarter are prime places to start a self-guided walking tour. Just be sure to wander the side streets and back alleys, too.

Browse the treasures at Chester Beatty Library
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7. Browse the treasures at Chester Beatty Library

Once you’ve investigated Dublin Castle, amble over to the gardens where the Chester Beatty Library is located. Despite its diverse array of manuscripts, religious texts, artworks and artefacts, this spot flies surprisingly under the radar. It’s more museum than a library, and frankly, it’s one of the best in Europe. Be sure to bliss out in the rooftop ‘meditation garden’.

Snap some doortraits
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/William Murphy

8. Snap some doortraits

To say inner-city Dublin was Insta-worthy would be an understatement. Discover postcard-perfect doors that date back to the 18th century along Henrietta Street, Leeson Street, Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square. The vibrant colours, elegant knockers and lattice windows are so remarkable they’ve made their way into a tourism campaign for the city.

People-watch at the Temple Bar Farmers’ Market
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/William Murphy

9. People-watch at the Temple Bar Farmers’ Market

The cobbled streets of Temple Bar are always chocka, and you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to wander these atmospheric parts at night. The weekly farmer’s market is when the cultural quarter really buzzes, though. Every Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm, stalls selling cheese, baked goods and (of course) oysters set up shop under Meeting House Square’s permanent canopies. It’s the ideal place to sit back and watch the real Dublin unfold.

Stroll along Dollymount Strand
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10. Stroll along Dollymount Strand

This city’s not your classic beach mecca – it’s often freezing, for a start – but Dublin’s coastline is certainly beautiful. Embark on a three-mile trek along Dollymount Beach on North Bull Island and watch as kite surfers catch the breeze and migratory birds build nests. The sea air and sand dunes provide a refreshing contrast from city life. Keep your eyes peeled for brave Dubliners out for a chilly swim in the bay.

Catch some live music at the pub
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11. Catch some live music at the pub

From Rory Gallagher and The Chieftains to Bono and Hozier, Ireland has given us some big names over the years. There’s something special about your first Dublin show – so if you haven’t seen live music here before, do. Crash a gig at O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row or Whelan’s on Camden Street to hear some trad tunes for free. If they aren’t quite your thing, head to Dublin Sessions to see what else is on. You can even get an impressive performance from the buskers on Grafton Street.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites

Spread across 40 acres of central Dublin, Trinity College (or ‘Trinners’) is Ireland’s oldest university. As you enter through the wrought iron gates, urban commotion fades as you step back in time. Celebrated alumni include Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first female president. You may have to pay to enter the Book of Kells and Long Room Library, but touring the campus art gallery and drinking at the cricket field’s Pavilion Bar is free.

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