Trinity College in Dublin

Is Dublin Worth Visiting? 15 Reasons to Visit [2024]

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Is Dublin worth visiting?

Absolutely! Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a city steeped in history and renowned for its craic (fun) and ceol (music). It’s a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Ireland or planning a trip to Europe. While the Irish have a reputation for their love of drinking, Dublin offers much more than just a pint of Guinness.

The city’s rich history can be traced back to the Viking era when they settled along the River Liffey that flows through the city center. The river divides Dublin into the Northside and the Southside.

The Southside is often seen as more affluent. Contrary to negative misconceptions, the Northside is an authentic part of the city, with excellent bars and interesting neighborhoods. As you explore Dublin, you’ll cross the Liffey and discover both sides of the city are diverse and vibrant.

15 Reasons Dublin is Worth Visiting

Dublin is 100% worth visiting. While it’s not a large European city like London or Paris, it’s all the more charming. It offers plenty of history, culture and the bonus of some of the most welcoming people of any European capital.

From the British occupation to the tumultuous 20th century, Dublin has evolved into a thriving modern metropolis, attracting many leading tech companies who are headquartered there.

1. A Rich History

Trinity College in Dublin

Unearthing Dublin’s past is a delight for history aficionados, from the Vikings to the British Occupation. The history of Dublin is one reason Dublin is worth visiting.

Delve into the Viking era at Dublinia Museum. The immersive exhibit is worth visiting to explore the roots of the city. For a history tour with a twist, climb aboard the roaring Viking Splash Tour for an amphibious adventure aboard a converted WW2 DUKW.

Trinity College is a serene oasis in the middle of the city and home to one of the most visited attractions in the city, the ancient Book of Kells.

For a unique perspective on Irish emigration, the EPIC Museum on the banks of the River Liffe is a must-visit, particularly if you’ve got some Irish heritage. It tells the poignant story of the Irish diaspora and the trials and triumphs of those who embarked on new horizons.

Kilmainham Gaol is an evocative site central to Ireland’s struggle for independence. Traverse its corridors and cells on a guided tour and discover the pivotal role this former prison played in shaping the nation’s destiny.

A journey down Dublin’s memory lane awaits at the charming Little Museum of Dublin right on St. Stephen’s Green in the centre of the city. It houses a collection of U2 memorabilia for fans of Dublin’s most famous musical sons.

2. Interesting Architecture

Poolbeg Chimney

Dublin is a peaceful city to walk around in and soak up the architecture. With ancient to modern bridges and buildings, it’s another reason Dublin is worth visiting. A guided walking tour can help you discover the details. 

You can discover Dublin’s treasured Georgian buildings throughout the city. One of the best streets to visit is Henrietta Street. Constructed by the Anglophone Protestant elite over three centuries ago, it later became home to working-class Dubliners in the aftermath of the Great Irish Famine in 1845. 

Henrietta Street was derelict for many years, but there has been renewed interest in preserving the city’s heritage and along this historic street you’ll find the Tenement Museum.

While Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty and Dubai has the Burj Khalifa, Dublin has its Spire on the main thoroughfare, O’Connell St. 

Most Dubliners are unimpressed by this 120 metre, stainless steel monument and will tell you the true symbol of Dublin is the Poolbeg Chimneys. Gritty, hardworking and in the past, industrial.

Originally part of the Poolbeg Power Station which ceased operation in the 2010s, these iconic red and white chimneys remain an integral part of the city’s skyline. 

The best souvenir or Dublin keepsake to pick up is a print of these chimneys, by an Irish artist at the Jam Arts Factory in Temple Bar.

3. Vibey Music

Dublin is a musical city, and it’s one of the top reasons it’s a city worth visiting.

Whether you want to experience some soul-stirring traditional Irish music, sing along to global pop stars and rock bands on their international tours, or dance the night away to the latest techno, Dublin has a lot going on for the discerning music lover.

For an authentic taste of Ireland’s musical heritage, a pilgrimage to The Cobblestone in Smithfield is a must. This cosy venue hosts live music sessions featuring talented local musicians, providing an intimate setting to immerse yourself in the melodies of Ireland while enjoying a delicious pint.

If you’re in search of the latest in Irish musical talent, Whelans is the go-to spot, with a diverse lineup every evening. For world-renowned acts, the intimate Olympia Theatre, the jewel that is Vicar Street, and the huge 3Arena are all worth looking up.

LGBTQI+ and allies will love The George, and electronic music lovers should try Wigwam, The Button Factory, Yamamori Tengu and Lost Lane. Whatever your musical jam, you’ll find it in Dublin.

4. Beautiful Art

National Gallery of Ireland

Dublin is the cultural hub of Ireland, where lovers of art will find many treasures. Start with the National Gallery of Ireland. Not only is the building a stunning architectural masterpiece, but it houses a remarkable collection of 14,000 artworks.

A hidden gem awaits within the walls of Dublin Castle—the Chester Beatty Library. A haven for rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts. Explore the intriguing range, from ancient Egyptian Books of the Dead to contemporary Chinese woodblock prints.

In historic Parnell Square, the Hugh Lane Gallery is a must. Here, the highlight is Francis Bacon’s Studio, meticulously preserved within the gallery. Step into the world of this iconic artist and experience the inspiration that fueled his masterpieces.

5. The Theatre & Film Scene

Theatre productions in Dublin are a testament to the city’s creative spirit and one of the top reasons Dublin is worth visiting.

Immerse yourself in the world of Ireland’s greatest playwrights at the historic Abbey Theater, a cultural landmark established over a century ago. It was the first state-subsidised theatre in the English-speaking world.

Don’t miss the Project Arts Center, at the edge of the touristy area, Temple Bar. This theater showcases the talent of Ireland’s young and emerging artists and is a platform for innovative and thought-provoking productions. 

The cosy ambiance of Best Seller Wine Cafe is worth seeking out, too. Enjoy a carefully curated selection of wines, while seeing small plays at this hidden gem.

Delve into the world of film at the Irish Film Institute (IFI), a cultural treasure hiding in plain sight in Temple Bar. Since its establishment in 1943, the IFI has been at the forefront of promoting film culture in Ireland. 

6. Delicious Drinks

Gravediggers Pub Dublin is worth visiting

Globally acclaimed for its exceptional drinking establishments, Dublin is home to some of the world’s finest pubs and bars. With an abundance of options, it’s probably the top reason Dublin is worth visiting.

The iconic Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s top tourist site and it is worth visiting, particularly as it culminates in a pint at the Gravity Bar with lovely views over the city. 

Whiskey enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Jameson Distillery. Partake in guided tours, tastings, and even cocktail-making classes. Don’t forget to grab a bottle of Jameson Whiskey as a memento to take home.

While the lively Temple Bar area boasts a multitude of bustling tourist pubs, if you want a more authentic (and cheaper) experience venture away from this area to some Dublin favourites like Grogans, Mulligans of Poolbeg Street, O’Donoghues, Frank Ryans and Walshes of Stoneybatter.

Try the Hacienda in the north inner city, where a simple bell ring may grant you entry, provided the owner approves. One beloved gem is The Gravediggers. Located in Glasnevin, this Irish pub has been around since 1833.

Three generations of the Kavanagh family continue to operate the bar, where conversation and a quiet pint of Guinness take precedence. There is no TV.

For those seeking modern cocktail bars and speakeasy-style venues, Dublin offers an array of options, including Peruke & Periwig, Fidelity, The Blind Pig, the Big Romance and Sitting Room Delahunt. 

Sports enthusiasts will also find plenty of establishments to catch a match, be it rugby, football or Gaelic sports. The Back Page, the Square Ball and Sinotts are ideal spots to soak up the lively atmosphere on game day. 

Some of Dublin’s trendiest venues are on the outskirts of the city centre, such as Hen’s Teeth, an art gallery-cum-café hosting cool evening events, and the Bernard Shaw, with its delectable food truck area.

7. Wonderful People

Another great reason Dublin is worth visiting is the people. Irish people are renowned for their friendliness, it’s true. Dublin, however, is a bustling capital, so it’s worth noting that the friendliest encounters are found outside of the city. 

In rural parts of Ireland, you’ll experience drivers waving, strangers stopping for a friendly chat and genuine inquiries about your day.

Dubliners may have a more modern and impersonal attitude in comparison, but by international standards, Dubliners remain remarkably friendly. 

Whether in shops or pubs, striking up a friendly conversation with a stranger is not unusual. However, be prepared for the distinct and dark Irish sense of humour, tinged with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

8. Intriguing Literature

Swenys Pharmacy James Joyce Ulysses is one reason Dublin is worth visiting

From Ulysses to Normal People, Dublin is a city of literature. Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker are just a few of the famous writers born in Dublin. Dublin is truly worth visiting for book lovers.

The Museum of Literature Ireland is a fantastic stop to go on a journey through centuries of Irish storytelling and it’s even home to ‘Copy No. 1’ of Ulysses. The James Joyce Centre, nestled in an authentic Georgian terrace house, pays homage to the life and works of the influential writer. 

Sweny’s Pharmacy, featured in Ulysses, is a living museum where visitors can purchase the iconic lemon soap featured in Joyce’s masterpiece.

The Book of Kells is usually at the top of a Dublin itinerary, but Marsh’s Library is a hidden gem worth visiting. One of Ireland’s oldest libraries, it dates back to 1701 and has an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, including works by Jonathan Swift and William Shakespeare. 

To experience Dublin’s literary scene in a unique way, join the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, where pints and Irish literature converge!

9. Peaceful Green Spaces

Dublin’s green areas are one of the top reasons to visit the city. The Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest city parks, is a quick hop from the city center.

Established in 1662, the park houses Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the president’s home), and the US ambassador’s residence.

Visitors can leisurely stroll or rent a bike to explore the park, discovering attractions like the Victorian Walled Gardens and Tea Rooms, where a delightful cake and tea break awaits.  

Fallow deer roam the park. Farmleigh House is one of the quietest spots in the city. The Irish Edwardian architecture, meticulously maintained grounds, gardens, the clock tower and boathouse make for a real hidden gem in the city.

St. Stephen’s Green is a wonderful spot where you’ll find tourists and locals strolling and enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the city center. 

Just across the road, Iveagh Gardens is a historic gem featuring original Georgian elements, rustic grottos, fountains, woodlands, a maze, rockeries, and a rosarium. 

If the weather is pleasant, pack a picnic or grab a sandwich from Green Bench Cafe around the corner for a lovely Dublin afternoon. 

Another oasis away from the urban bustle is the National Botanical Garden in Glasnevin. It’s right beside the iconic Gravediggers pub, too, which combines for a perfect off-the-beaten-track Dublin day.

10. Tasty Food

Ireland may not be home to the world’s great cuisines, yet Dublin is a very exciting city to dine around.

A Dublin food tour led by a local guide is a great way to sample and learn about the local cuisine.

The most famous dish is coddle, a pauper’s food of boiled potatoes and meat that originates from famine times. If you ask a local, you’ll get mixed reactions on whether you should try it or not, but if you do, try it at Gravediggers pub!

If you want to start the day off well, begin with visiting popular breakfast and brunch spots like The Fumbally, Herbstreet, Brother Hubbard and Juniors. 

Bread 41’s delectable baked goods are worth queuing for. If you’ve indulged in one too many pints, a full Irish breakfast after a night out is a must. 

For coffee enthusiasts 3FE, Two Boys Brew and Two Pups are must-visit destinations. Dublin’s best sandwiches can be found in 147 Deli, while Leo Burdocks, established in 1913, offers a classic fish and chips.

You can taste authentic modern Irish cuisine at favourites like L Mulligan Grocer, The Pig’s Ear, Spitalfields and The Winding Stair. 

Dublin’s dining scene is always evolving. Explore a variety of cuisines, such as contemporary Mexican at 777, Chinese at Hang Dai, Big Fan Indian at Pickle, Middle Eastern at Shouk, or Italian at Grano, Terre Madre, and Rosa Madre. 

Vegans will love Cornucopia, while meat lovers should try FX Buckleys or London favourite, Hawksmoor.

For the best people-watching spot, L’Gueleton is the place which also serves delicious French classics. 

Dublin is also home to delightful Michelin Guide-approved restaurants, including the renowned Chapter One and Liath. 

Etto, Uno Mas and Forest Avenue are favourites among locals.

11. Great Shopping

Shops on Drury street in Dublin

Dublin’s city center is compact compared to other European capitals, making shopping a breeze. You don’t have to lug shopping bags too far! Brown Thomas on Grafton Street is Dublin’s premier department store, and is home to luxury designer brands like Chanel and Hermes.

But for unique finds and local shopping experiences, explore charming boutiques and artisan shops throughout the city. 

The Irish Design Shop on Drury Street is worth a stop. Discover pottery at Arran Street East, creative fashion at Om Diva and exquisite jewellery at Chupi in the delightful Powerscourt Shopping Centre. 

Don’t miss the prints at Jam Art Factory in Temple Bar or the diverse book selections at independent bookshops like Gutter Bookshop and Book Upstairs. 

Kilkenny Design on Nassau Street is the ideal place to pick up souvenirs as it’s a one-stop-shop for Irish design.

12. A Beautiful Coast

A jaunt on Dublin’s coastal DART train is another of the best reasons to visit Dublin. The toughest part is choosing whether to go north or south! 

Heading south, Killiney awaits with scenic walks to Dalkey. While Dublin is no tropical paradise like the Maldives, swimming in the cool Irish sea is still a favourite pastime of locals and some hotspots are Vico Baths and the 40 foot in Sandycove. You might even bump into Irish celebs like Bono or Enya.

If you opt to go north, the picturesque town of Howth beckons with a hike across Howth Hill and charming seafood restaurants for lunch. 

Lambay Island is privately owned but offers guided tours, outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching. It’s a haven for retreats, from yoga to writing, making it a peaceful and hidden gem of Dublin.

Closer to the city center, enjoy the best view of the beloved Poolbeg chimneys on the Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk, where you can also witness stunning sunrises over the Irish Sea if the weather is nice and you’re willing to go early.

13. Great Base for Day Trips

One reason Dublin is worth visiting is that from Dublin, the rest of Ireland is on your doorstep. Belfast, Cork, Galway and even the Cliffs of Moher are possible to visit in a day. 

You might even opt for an epic multi-day roadtrip.

Closer to the city, the Hellfire Club, a derelict building atop Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains, is a fascinating spot with a haunting history. Originally a hunting lodge, it gained notoriety for wild parties and rumoured occult practices. Today, you can explore the atmospheric ruins with panoramic city views. 

Add a stop at one of Dublin’s legendary pubs, Johnny Foxes, which is nearby.

For nature lovers, neighbouring County Wicklow is the Garden of Ireland. Hike the ‘Fancy Mountain’ trail that leads across a mountain with Lough Tay and Luggala deep in the valley. 

Luggala, until recently, was home to Garech Browne of Claddagh Records, son of Guinness heiress Oonagh. It attracted renowned artists and musicians throughout the 20th century. 

The tragic death of Garech’s brother, Tara Browne, inspired The Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life.” A visit to Glendalough, a sixth century monastery in a stunning glaciated valley, is a must, too.

14. The Quirks

Dublin has some quirky and even downright bizarre things that are worth seeing. On Aungier Street, the Lidl supermarket sits atop a Viking settlement, with archaeological remains dating back to the 11th century featured under a glass floor.

St. Michan’s Church houses an eerie crypt with mummified remains, some over 400 years old. Visitors can tour the crypt to see preserved coffins and skeletons. Legend has it that the mummies inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whitefriars Street Church is home to the heart of Saint Valentine.

15. Convenient Location

Dublin is worth visiting not only for its own charm but also because of its excellent location. With its accessibility and well-connected transportation options, Dublin can be an easy stopover for travellers coming from or heading to the USA & Canada, the UK, mainland Europe, and the Middle East. 

Whether you’re looking to explore Dublin as a destination in itself or to break up a longer journey, the city’s connectivity makes it a convenient choice. 

You can easily spend a few days immersing yourself in Dublin’s culture, history, and nightlife before continuing your travels to other exciting destinations.

Where to Stay in Dublin 

As you plan your Dublin trip, consider these centrally located accommodation options:

Budget: The Hendrick Smithfield

Dublin city center

If you’re on a budget then you can’t go wrong with The Hendrick Smithfield in cool neighborhood Smithfield, only a 10-minute walk from the city center.

👉 Click here to check availability at Hendrick Smithfield

Mid-Range: Iveagh Garden Hotel

Dublin Castle

Iveagh Garden Hotel is a 4-star, art-deco style hotel in an incredible location near St. Stephen’s Green and walking distance to Dublin Castle. This eco-friendly hotel also has a restaurant and bar on site. 

👉 Click here to check availability at Iveagh Garden Hotel

Luxury: Shelbourne Hotel

Shelbourne Hotel St. Stephen's Green

For a 5-star experience, book your luxurious stay at Shelbourne Hotel. In addition to luxe rooms, this hotel also features an elegant Irish restaurant, a bar, and a drawing room turned lounge where daily afternoon tea is served.

When you’re not out exploring the city, you can indulge in spa and beauty treatments at the proeprty. 

👉 Click here to check availability at Shelbourne Hotel

FAQ: Is Dublin Worth Visiting?

As you decide whether or not Dublin is worth visiting, you might also be wondering:

How many days should you go to Dublin?

For a first-time visit to Dublin, 2-4 days in Dublin is a good starting point to see some of the city’s highlights. However, the number of days you should spend in Dublin depends on your personal preferences, interests, and the activities you plan to do.

Is it better to visit Dublin or Edinburgh?

Both Dublin and Edinburgh offer captivating experiences for visitors, boasting rich histories, vibrant pubs, and delightful dining options.

While Edinburgh is more budget-friendly than Dublin, the latter offers a livelier atmosphere and easier accessibility by air. Explore the charm of these two remarkable cities and indulge in their unique offerings.

Is it better to go to Dublin or London?

Dublin and London are both worth visiting but are not really comparable. London has a population of nearly 9 million to Dublin’s 1.5 million and London is 1,572 km² whereas Dublin is 117.8 km² in size!

Dublin is better if you want a more compact, quaint and intimate city. However, Dublin and London are two of the most connected cities in the world with nearly 50 DAILY(!) flights between the capitals, so why not do both if you have time?

Is Dublin expensive? 

Dublin can indeed be considered expensive, particularly when it comes to accommodations and dining in the city center. The cost of living is high compared to other European cities.

However, the cultural experiences, historic sites, and warm hospitality that the city offers make it a worthwhile destination. It’s also possible to explore Dublin on a budget by seeking out free attractions, enjoying the city’s natural beauty, and sampling its affordable pub fare.

Keep in mind that prices can vary dramatically depending on the time of year and location within the city.

Final Verdict: Is Dublin Worth Visiting?

Dublin is a city that is absolutely worth visiting. Its history, friendly people, delicious food, stunning architecture and arts scene combine for a wonderful city break. 

But pack an umbrella — although the weather is mild, it can rain quite a bit! 

About the author: Kaz is a former luxury travel consultant and founder of The Honeymoon Guide based in Dublin, Ireland.