My Two Days in Dublin
Last month, my friend told me she was going on a work trip to Ireland, but would have a ton of gaps in her schedule. We joked around for a bit that I should tag along with her. Wouldn’t you know I found a round-trip ticket to Dublin at a good price and I spontaneously went to Ireland for the first time!
We spent a day in Dublin, one day in Kilkenny, two in Northern Ireland, and finished up with an additional day in Dublin. What a whirlwind, and a great way to see some new cities that hadn’t really been on my radar before.
My first day I experienced a few transportation-related delays so all I got to do was visit the Guinness Storehouse Tour and do a bit of walking around the city center before dinner. My second day, I spent a lot of time at Trinity College Dublin, viewing the Long Room and the Book of Kells. I had a classic fish and chips for lunch, and walked by the Liffey, which had a ton of impressive new buildings going up—Dublin is booming! My final half-day in Dublin, I spent some time relaxing in beautiful St. Stephen’s Green and exploring the Temple Bar neighborhood. It was all so wonderful!
Hopefully, you have a more straightforward schedule than I did; I’ll put together what you should see if you only have 2 days to fit it all in.
When You Go to Dublin: Day One
Take your first morning to get acquainted with the city. It’s not really that big, but there are lots of totally cute windy roads to lose yourself in. Ride a hop-on, hop-off bus if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, or just choose a part of town to explore the zigzagging streets. Don’t miss St. Stephen’s Green, a peaceful park where you can catch a moment of quiet, especially nice if you’ve been traveling for a few days. Just off the green, visit the very popular Little Museum of Dublin. The dynamic and energetic 30-minute tour is a great way to end the morning before you tuck into lunch.
Don’t skip a classic plate of fish and chips or shepherd’s pie for lunch. You can find tasty, inexpensive options at just about any pub. Walk along the River Liffey and take some photos of the soaring Samuel Beckett Bridge and the historic Ha’penny Bridge, built in 1816.
After lunch, visit Kilmainham Gaol for a unique experience – for over 120 years the jail held people convicted of petty theft all the way up to severe crimes and political prisoners. All visits are conducted by a tour guide who is an expert on the topic. Alternative: Also a downer, but closer to the city center is the Jeanie Johnston Tallship & Famine Experience. Many American visitors to Dublin are on a genealogical pilgrimage to find their ancestors. This ship is of particular interest to those who have forefathers who emigrated during the Great Irish Famine.
To lighten things up, and finish off the day, take the Guinness Storehouse Tour. The tour is extensive so allow about 2 hours for it all. Refresh yourself with an early evening pint (they also have soda if that’s what you need). Make sure to buy your ticket in advance and note what their closing hours are (they have longer hours in the summer).
Have dinner in The Liberties neighborhood and find out what real Dublin is like outside the Temple Bar area. Or, find a nice spot closer to your hotel. For the best experience visiting the Long Room, you will want to get up fairly early.
When You Go to Dublin: Day Two
Start your day with a Full Irish Breakfast (sometimes called a fry-up), and then go back to bed because that’s a lot of food. Kidding! You will need your energy: go hit the streets!
The first thing you should do after breakfast is visit Trinity College Dublin. This college is home to the Book of Kells and the Long Room. Buy a ticket for the earliest slot you can. These historic buildings weren’t built with modern hordes of tourists in mind, and they get packed quick. Here’s what I did: buzz through the Book of Kells museum and head straight for the long room. It’s amazing! The remarkable thing is that those books are still used by students at Trinity College today! After you have a chance to look around the Long Room and learn about its history, go back into the Book of Kells exhibit to find out more about why it’s such an important artifact.
Note: The Book of Kells has been removed for maintenance until March 2020 but there is still plenty to see and I still recommend this on your itinerary.
After the Book of Kells, make sure to stop by and take a photo of the popular Molly Malone statue. This would also be a good place to grab lunch.
After lunch, there are many more things to do in Dublin, but your time will be growing short. I’ll include some of these here, perhaps pick a couple from the list that stand out to you.
- National Leprechaun Museum – an offbeat walk-through tour experience that just might exceed your expectations
- Christ Church Cathedral – Dublin’s oldest cathedral with an interesting crypt. If you visit this, you definitely should tack on nearby…
- Dublinia, an interesting peek farther back into Dublin’s medieval and Viking history.
- The Jameson Distillery Bow St. tour – if you enjoyed the Guinness tour on day 1, add this onto day 2!
- Irish Whiskey Museum Experience – if you want a whiskey experience that isn’t brand-specific this is another option for you.
If that sounds like a lot to cover in 2 days, you’re right. Feel free to omit recommendations and take it all at your own pace. Just remember that most of Dublin’s attractions highly encourage buying tickets ahead of time, so go ahead and do that for the things you want to prioritize.
A note on The Dublin Pass: These passes aren’t always a good use of money, depending on what your itinerary looks like. After you select which attractions you want to go see, tally up the cost of all the entrance fees and then compare it to the price of The Dublin Pass!
Where To Stay:
If you’re only in town for two days, it’s important to stay in the city center to save time getting from place to place. If you’re in the city center, you can walk or bus pretty much everywhere!
- Staying by St. Stephen’s Green promises to be scenic and peaceful. The Fitzwilliam Hotel is vibrant & beautiful.
- Dublin can be very pricey! I found the Trinity Townhouse Hotel to be a good value for the location.
- If you want to save money and you’re into the hostel life, this one has a fantastic location on the river, good price, and has a seriously cute vibe!
Have you been to Dublin? Anything else readers should squeeze into their 48 hours? Let me know in the comments!
All photos by Staci Jackson and Rachel Christensen for The Voyageer.