One Day in Dublin: How to Experience the Best of the Capital

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Many other locals will tell you that 24 hours is far too short a time to spend in Dublin. While I don’t think they’re wrong, I know that many people don’t always have the option to spend as long as they’d like in the city. Today, I want to give you the best advice that will help you explore Dublin in a short time.

If you only have 1 day, or less, to spend in Dublin, this is the guide for you. I want to impart some of the knowledge I have gained in nearly a decade of guiding people in the city. Below is, in my opinion, the best way to approach a limited stay in Dublin and what you can realistically see, with itineraries.

So many people come to Dublin for a very limited time, be it on a layover or a cheap flight. When this happens, people often don’t know what they can see or do. But as long as you put a little bit of preparation in and find out what’s on offer, you can really get a lot out of a short time in Dublin.

The best way to spend your day in Dublin…

How to Explore Dublin in One Day In Dublin – Or Less

Even if you’re only here for a day, I think you can still see a lot in Dublin. The airport is close to the city center and there are multiple transport links to get between the two. Dublin also has plenty of accommodation for people looking to stay in the city.

This means that you really shouldn’t be stuck when it comes to some of the more practical issues of travel in Dublin.


Though the price of accommodation has been increasing all around Ireland in recent years, there are still options available to suit most budgets. If you are looking for a room or a bed in Dublin for just one night, there should be plenty of options for you.

With a more limited amount of time in the city, it is probably better to stay as close to the city center as possible. That way, you won’t be spending even more of your limited time commuting around. If you want some specific neighborhoods, that are not the city center, I like the following:

  • Smithfield
  • Stoneybatter
  • Ballsbridge
  • Portobello

If you want more information on where to stay, I have plenty of detailed information on these places and more, linked here.Opens in a new tab.


The transport links all around Dublin have been improving a lot in recent years. While, there is still a lot of work to be done, it should be easy enough for most visitors to get around Dublin, and to the airport and back, without a car.

Dublin Bus has servicesOpens in a new tab. that will run regularly throughout the day to the airport and the city center. It costs €7.00 for each leg of the journey. This service is really one of the best options when it comes to quickly and reliably making your way to catch your flight.

When you are exploring Dublin, you might not even need to use any sort of transport while you are here. The city is walkable. If you do want to venture a little further away from the compact city center, there are usually good transport links around Dublin.

I have a full guide to the Irish transportation system here.Opens in a new tab.

What Can You Do in Dublin For a Few Hours

photo of people walking on street
There is plenty to see in the hustle and bustle of Dublin..

If you are only in Dublin for a few hours, there are still plenty of things that you will be able to see and do. The city has countless excellent restaurants and pubs for you to enjoy. If you are looking for some nice traditional Irish food to warm you up and keep you going on a longer voyage, you’re in luck.

In this article, I go into detail on my recommendations for DublinOpens in a new tab.. It includes a map of some of my favorite places to eat, drink and enjoy the best of what the city has to offer.

There are also plenty of activities that you will be able to enjoy, even if you are only here for a couple of hours. Many people in situations like this choose to go somewhere like the Guinness Storehouse. While that is a fantastic option, there are other ways to get more bang for your buck while you’re here.

If you are only have time to go on one activity in DublinOpens in a new tab., I think that it should be a walking tour. Of course this depends on the weather. Going on one of these tours, will give you a much better understanding of the city and its history. You can really squeeze a lot in on one of these excellent tours!

Also, you should know that there are plenty of options for day trips out of the city. If you want to see some of the beautiful Irish countryside, you can definitely do that in a day from Dublin. I have a list of some of the best Day trips from Dublin, using public transport hereOpens in a new tab..


For this guide, I’m going to assume that you will be able to spend a full 24-hour period in Dublin. Obviously, once the rubber hits the road for plans like this, things might have to change. But I still think this is a good way to organize our itineraries for a 1-day stay in the capital.


Joy of Cha - Breakfast
Breakfast at the Joy of Cha

One of the best ways to start your day in Dublin and get a great sense of the Irish culture is to have a traditional Irish breakfast. This hearty meal consists of huge amounts of fried food, including rashers(a cut of bacon), sausages and blood pudding.

If this meal sounds a little intimidating for you, there are usually plenty of other options, including vegan ones, available in most establishments today. There are plenty of great places where you will be able to find amazing breakfast food in DublinOpens in a new tab..

First Activity

As mentioned previously, I think that walking tours are among the best things to do in Dublin city. There are a number of companies that offer free tours throughout the day. These are tips based tours that cover the history of Ireland, focusing on Dublin, and talk about the culture, politics and general atmosphere in the city.

There are a couple of companies that I regularly guide with and here is the link again to find out more information on themOpens in a new tab.. Most of the guides you will get in Dublin are locals, with a passion for their city. This is the best way to find your feet in Dublin and get a sense of how you want to spend the rest of your time.

The walking tours of the city are typically between 2.5-3 hours. The start times for most of these tours are as follows:

  • 9.30am
  • 10am
  • 11am
  • 2pm
  • 3pm

Even if you can’t make one in the morning, there should be options to do another one later in the day.

There is also the option of going to Kilmanham GaolOpens in a new tab.. This is one of the best attractions in the city, but it often books out months in advance. However, there are usually last-minute cancellations most mornings that become available on their website. Make sure to check it out.


If you want to spend your morning inside, there are plenty of other activities that you can experience in the city. There are many different cultural tours and attractions. There should be something to suit everyone.

I think that the morning is usually the best time to see some of the more important historical sights in Dublin. This way, you will not only have more energy to take them in, but you will also be better able to beat the crowds!

Visiting Trinity College is a must for many visitors to Dublin. If you are hard pressed for time, you can just spend it exploring the campus, which is a gorgeous part of the city. If you want to see the Book of Kells and the library however, you might have to wait in line. Make sure to book your ticket online in advance.

There are other places to check out in the city, aside from the likes of Trinity College and Dublin Castle. Some of the best museums in Ireland can be found in Dublin and they are usually free to enjoy. The likes of the National Archaeology MuseumOpens in a new tab., Collins BarracksOpens in a new tab. and the Chester Beatty LibraryOpens in a new tab. are all worth seeing.


Irish Street Food
You might need to get some food on the go…

If you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, don’t worry. The food scene in Dublin has improved a lot in the last decade or so. Every few months it seems like a new crop of restaurants open up and the city has more and more options for food all the time.

With a more condensed itinerary in Dublin, you might want to stick to a quicker meal that you can have on the go. While Ireland doesn’t really have the same kind of street food culture that you might find in other parts of the world, there are local equivalents.

The mighty Chicken Fillet Roll is ever popular with students and is a cheap option to have if you are rushing between tours. You might prefer to get international cuisine, like sushi, made with local Irish ingredients. However, the most famous Irish fast food is easily fish and chips.

Normally, people will eat this later in the evening, but you’re on holiday and only have a few hours in the city. I’ll allow it! There are plenty of pubs and restaurants that offer this meal as a sit-down dish, but if you want to find the authentic meal, you have to go to a chipper.

For all the information you might need to get the most out of Irish street food, I have created a guide to it, linked here.Opens in a new tab.


The Dead Zoo is one of the most popular museums in Ireland among locals…

If you were brave enough to have a cheeky pint during lunch, you might start to get a little more curious about some aspects of Irish drinking culture. While there are plenty of negative stereotypes about the Irish and alcohol, Irish people have been drinking less and less each year for decades.

There are plenty of brewery and distillery tours around Dublin that offer great experiences to guests. There is a reason why the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

If you visit the Storehouse, you will not only learn about the drink itself, but you will also get the chance to learn about this company, its history and the impact its had on Ireland as a whole.

There are of course plenty of sober alternatives for you in Dublin. The Vintage Tea TourOpens in a new tab. of Dublin serves the most popular drink in the country: Tea! Believe it or not, we drink more of that than almost any other country in the world.

There are also too many museums and attractions to see in a week when in Dublin. So if there was something that you really wanted to see in the morning, but didn’t, now might be the time.


The Brazen Head Pub Interior
The Brazen Head Pub in Dublin is a great place to chill out in the evening…

One of the best things to do in the evening in Dublin is to enjoy the city’s pub scene. It is famous all over the world for a reason and it is genuinely one of the best aspects of living in Dublin.

If you don’t want to drink any alcohol in Ireland, don’t worry, you will still be able to experience Irish culture regardless. Going to a pub (or “public house”) can be a great way to meet locals, have some food and listen to some amazing live music even without drinking. Pub culture is a part of Irish culture.

If you want more advice on how to enjoy Irish pubs without drinking, I have a full guide to the best non-alcoholic options available, linked here.Opens in a new tab.

For most visitors to the city, the choices for pubs can seem a little overwhelming. As such, many people stick to the Templebar district. While you can absolutely have a great night out here, you won’t really meet many locals. In fact many will be disappointed if you just stay there.

If you go just a street or two away from the madness of the Templebar area, you will find some of the best pubs in Dublin. These will be places that people from all walks of life in the city enjoy and frequent. I have some of my favorite pubs in Dublin, with a map of all of them, linked hereOpens in a new tab..

Sample Itineraries

TimeCity FocusNature Focus
10amWalking TourTrain to HowthOpens in a new tab.
2pmNational History MuseumWalk Along Cliffs
4pmGuinness StorehouseTrain to Dublin
7pmDancing Show in Irish PubOpens in a new tab.Music Session
2 Sample itineraries for a short, 24-hour stay in Dublin…


Jack Redmond has been a tour guide in Ireland for the past decade. Having received a national guiding qualification, he has brought thousands of travelers all over the island of Ireland.

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