Founded as a Viking settlement in the 10th century, Dublin is still compact and quite small for a major city. It’s also a flat city, which, combined with its size, makes it very walkable. It’s a clean city with a lot going on and lots to see.
Unlike many European cities, Dublin doesn’t have an underground metro system. It does have very good public transport buses and a tram system, but if you’re staying in the city center, it’s much easier to travel by foot. I walked around Dublin during a weekend there and felt safe and at ease.
To get you started, here are seven fabulous things not to miss while exploring Dublin on foot.
1. Trinity College
Trinity College is a great place to start. As Ireland’s oldest University, this is a historically important building, and it’s also unusual, as visitors can tour while students study and go about their college days. Most visitors who come here want to see The Book of Kells, a medieval religious manuscript, beautifully illustrated and produced around A.D. 800. But the library itself is also an incredible sight to see, and the rest of the campus is fascinating.
Pro Tip: Try Trinity Trails
Once at Trinity College, you can buy a ticket for a guided walking tour of the college. Trinity Trails is a great option, as your guide can talk you through the sights and explain what you’re looking at. They can also point out anything interesting that you might miss on your own.
If you prefer to wander around at your own pace, you can buy a self-guided walking ticket and take your time.
2. Irish Whiskey Museum
As you’re walking around Dublin, you can have a little tipple here and there, and the Irish Whiskey Museum is a good place to begin. It’s only moments away from Trinity College on foot and makes for a great introduction to Irish whiskey (or a continuation of love for the drink you might already have). You can learn about the history of Irish whiskey, taste a few samples, including an aged whiskey, and bring home a souvenir.
Pro Tip: Buy Tickets In Advance
This is a popular attraction, and you’ll need to have tickets already purchased before you arrive to make sure your tour is at a time that suits you. Since you’re walking the city, you don’t want to have to head back this way later if you can’t get in when you arrive.
The tour takes an hour and 15 minutes, so give yourself an hour and a half to take your time.
3. Temple Bar
Temple Bar is a small area in Dublin city center known for its traditional pubs and live music. But there’s more to Temple Bar than pints of Guinness and Irish music. It’s worth spending a little bit of time here to stroll down the Icon Walk, a couple of side streets that have been taken over by community artists and made into an open air gallery, and to browse the vintage shops. If you visit on a Saturday, there’s a street food market here where you can try street food and buy local produce.
Pro Tip: Have A Drink At The Temple Bar Pub
Wrapped around the corner of the street as you wander down, The Temple Bar Pub welcomes you to the area. It’s the most photographed pub in the city, and a visit to Temple bar isn’t complete without a drink inside this iconic pub. Once inside, soak up the atmosphere and try a few whiskeys. Visit in the evening and you might catch some live Irish music. But as part of your walk in the daytime, it’s a great place to stop for a drink and take some photos.
Editor’s Note: Want to experience Dublin through its Guinness? Here are Samantha’s favorite places in Dublin to have a pint.
4. Dublin Castle
A short walk from Temple Bar brings you to Dublin Castle. Built in the 13th century on the site of a Viking settlement, the castle has had a controversial history and was the headquarters of English, and then British, administration in Ireland for centuries. Following Ireland’s independence, the castle was handed back to the new Irish government in 1922. That means 2022 marked a hundred years of the castle being back in the rightful hands of the Irish. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction and a great place for a wander.
Pro Tip: Buy Guided Tours On Site And Self-Guided Tours In Advance
It’s an unusual rule and system, but it seems it’s due to the number of people who prefer to take the tour by themselves.
If you want to book a guided tour, which includes a tour of the State Apartments, the Chapel Royal, and the Medieval Section, you can simply buy your tickets when you arrive at the ticket desk. However, if you prefer to wander around on your own and take your time, you must buy self-guided tickets in advance from the castle’s website. These tickets sell out fast, so make sure you’ve booked ahead.
5. St Patrick’s Cathedral
As the largest cathedral in Ireland, St Patrick’s Cathedral is a significant historical building and a meaningful place of worship. This site has been a place of worship for a long time, long before the cathedral we see today was built, but it was officially elevated from church to cathedral in 1212. Everyone is welcome at any time, though an entry fee is charged. It’s a beautiful cathedral with stunning interiors, and it’s worth taking an hour out of your walk for.
Pro Tip: Entry Gets You A Free Tour
Guided tours run regularly throughout the day, for free after you’ve paid for entry to the cathedral. The tours aren’t bookable — simply ask at the ticket desk when you arrive and they’ll tell you when the next one will start. Then you just wait in the designated place for your guide.
Editor’s Note: If you like the sound of “free,” here’s a list of free activities in Dublin.
6. St Stephen’s Green
St Stephen’s Green is a lovely city center park where you can have a rest amid your walking. Take some time out on one of the benches or, if it’s a nice day, on the grass. There’s a lake with ducks, a bandstand where music is sometimes performed, contemporary and historical sculptures, and lots of beautiful displays of plants and flowers. It’s a moment of calm amid the busy city and a popular place for people to take a stroll and sit and relax for a while.
Pro Tip: Consider Touring The Green Mile
You can book a guided tour of the park for up to 20 people at a time, but this has to be booked at least a month before you visit.
Alternatively, guided tours of The Green Mile, a promenade-type stretch of the park, run regularly from The Little Museum of Dublin next door (also a great stop off on your walk if you have time). You can also download a free audio guide to take you around the park by yourself.
7. Grafton Street
You can end your walk of the city on Grafton Street, Dublin’s most famous shopping street. This is where you’ll find high-street stores, boutiques, designer names, bars, and restaurants. It’s also where Dublin’s fancy hotels are located, so you can end your walk here and go back to your hotel after doing some shopping — or walk a little farther and land back where you started at Trinity College. Dublin is a city of music, and you’ll see and hear buskers performing on the street as you wander around.
Pro Tip: Eat Lunch Or Dinner On Grafton Street
Whether you start your walk in the morning or the afternoon, Grafton Street is a great place to finish off and enjoy lunch or dinner. You’ll find Chinese street food, fast food, Italian ice cream, and a chocolate café. Alternatively, eat in one of the many bars on this street for an authentic Dublin dining experience.