My kids, my husband and I had the privilege of visiting Ireland for a quick stop on our way over to the United Kingdom. Here is how we used our 24 hours in Dublin, Ireland’s capital city. One tough thing about travelling through the British Isles is that the tourist attractions have limited hours, usually opening a 10 and closing at 5. We didn’t actually make it into Dublin until 11 am, so we really had fewer than 24 hours, but I will add-on our must-sees for next time, which will make for a fun and full 24 hours for you. We love that the city is vibrant, meandering along the River Liffey with copious history and, unlike most large cities, a low, open skyline, with buildings over 11 stories not allowed.
This historic jail is one of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions. It is also not in the main tourist area. The jail is a museum which brings to life much of Ireland’s history such as the civil wars and rebellions, as well as the transport of prisoners to Australia. We headed there first thing, because it was the thing I most wanted to see in Dublin and I had heard that the lines could be long. Unfortunately, three weeks before we traveled they changed their ticketing system and they were sold out by 11! So, you must buy your tickets online before you visit which you can do through the title link.
Because the museum is away from the rest of Dublin, but across the street from the gaol, we decided to explore it. My oldest son loves modern art and the museum is free, so it is worth a visit, but it is a pretty small museum and some of it was not appropriate for children. We enjoyed the sculptures and grounds more than inside the museum.
When we first visit a city, we love to take a tour to get an overview. When I was researching Dublin, I came across this tour in an amphibious craft and knew it was something my kids would be interested in. The tour took us throughout South Dublin and into the Grand Canal Harbor, accompanied by a healthy dose of history from our very knowledgeable guide and a lot of laughs. We were turned into Vikings, even roaring at threatening people walking by. Although we received a discount to take the tour, I can honestly say that this was my children’s favorite part of our visit to Ireland, along with our hotel, and the adults loved it too!
St. Stephen’s Green
The Viking Splash Tour departed from the edge of St. Stephen’s Green, so it gave us easy access for a visit to the park. I love peace in the middle of a city and this was one of my favorite parts of our day. From there you can walk to the lively Grafton Street to grab some lunch.
Although the youngest in our group didn’t love this exhibit, it was very interesting for the other three of us, who are all Christian and book lovers. After missing out on Kilmainham Gaol due to not buying tickets online, I booked tickets to the Book of Kells from my mobile phone on the bus ride over. This small use of data saved us a queue of over an hour, so I am so glad I did it! The museum did a great job at explaining all the precision work that went into creating this medieval copy of the four Gospels, created in the 9th century. There are only four pages presented at a time and you cannot take pictures, but they are very beautiful to see. Included in your entrance fee is a stroll through the aptly named Long Room of the Old Library (circa 1700). Few things make me as happy as old books and there are also busts of great philosophers and writers and one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. We are Potterphiles and it is believed that this library was used in the movies, but although it looks a lot like the Cambridge library that was used, this is a myth.
Since we decided to spend our next day in Ireland in the outskirts of the city, we did not get to do this tour, but I hear it is great, even for kids, and I would love to return to do it. I am not a beer drinker, but must truly admit, the Guinness is very good here and much smoother and less bitter than in the US. IT IS NOT A MYTH! So, good I actually ordered my first beer for myself, ever!
Dublin is an easy town to navigate by bus, which will save you a lot of money compared to taxis. You can pick up a Leap card at most service stations or online and get any money you have left over back at the end of your trip.
Where to Stay
We chose to stay on the outskirts of town because it was on our bucket list to sleep in a castle and we wanted to see the shore in Ireland. We all loved our choice of Clontarf Castle Hotel which is a 10-minute bus ride into town. You can find a hotel in the middle of town or book at Clontarf Castle Hotel through Hotels.com, which is how I booked my hotels for this trip. You can read about our stay here.
Where to Eat
You can find great restaurants and pubs along the bustling Grafton Street or the Temple Bar area. One fun place to visit is Dublin’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head Pub, which has live music and story telling.
We got lucky and had decent spring weather for our whole UK visit, but it often rains.
You can take a free walking tour of Dublin, read about it on Eostories.
We hope to return to Ireland in the future to take a road trip along the western coast. One of my favorite places I got to visit quickly was Howth. Check it out at Learning Escapes’ Day Trip from Dublin to Howth. I know that I will visit it more in depth when I return!
Have you been to Dublin? What was your favorite part?
This post contains affiliate links to help support my travels. This means that if you book a hotel through these links, I get a small commission, but be assured, my opinions are not swayed by this. This is where I stayed and how I felt.