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 traveling through the British Isles is that the tourist attractions have limited hours, usually opening at 10 am and closing at 5 pm. We didn’t make it into Dublin until 11 am, so we really had fewer than 24 hours. I will add-on our must-sees for next time, which will make for a fun and full Dublin in a day for you. We love that the city is vibrant, meandering along the River Liffey with an extensive history. Unlike most large cities, Dublin has a low, open skyline, with buildings over 11 stories not allowed. I hope you are inspired by our trip to spend your own one day in Dublin.
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Things to Do in Dublin in One Day
This historic jail is one of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions. It is also not in the main tourist area. The prison is a museum that brings to life much of Ireland’s history, such as the civil wars and rebellions. It also explores the transport of prisoners to Australia. We headed there first thing because it was the thing I most wanted to see in Dublin. 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! Buy your tickets online before you visit.
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. However, it is a pretty small museum, and some of it was not appropriate for children. We enjoyed the sculptures and grounds more than inside of the museum.
The Viking Splash Tour
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 that would interest my kids. The tour took us throughout South Dublin and into the Grand Canal Harbor. We got 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.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
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 of explaining all the precise 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 stunning 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. There is also one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. We are Potterphiles, and it is erroneously believed that this library was used in the movies. The real library is at Oxford University. Read more about our search for Harry Potter in the UK.
The Guinness Factory Tour
Since we decided to spend our next day in Ireland on the outskirts of the city, we did not get to do this tour, but I hear it is excellent, even for kids, and I would love to return to do it. I am not a beer drinker, but must genuinely admit, the Guinness is outstanding here and much smoother and less bitter than in the US. IT IS NOT A MYTH! So, good, I ordered my first beer for myself, ever!
Getting Around Dublin
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. You can get any money you have left returned at the end of your trip.
Where to Stay in Dublin
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 in Dublin
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 storytelling.
Day Trips Outside of Dublin
On my last day in Dublin, I spent the day exploring the area outside of Dublin. Just a short taxi ride outside of Dublin, I explored Malahide Castle (Book your tickets) and Howth. The fishing village of Howth and a walk to the lighthouse was delightful.
Check it out more about Howth in Learning Escapes’ Day Trip from Dublin to Howth. I know that I will visit it more in-depth when I return! We hope to return to Ireland in the future to take a road trip along the western coast.
Dublin City Pass
If you are planning to explore many museums, a Dublin City Pass allows skip-the-line access and entrance to many museums. Explore if a Dublin City Pass is right for you.
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.