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3 days in Dublin – Itinerary for first-time visitors

Dublin, in Ireland, is steeped in history, home to castles and cathedrals, crammed with culture and buzzing with craic. Here’s how to spend an unforgettable 3 days in Dublin…

Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
Temple Bar, Dublin

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Looking for a great city break destination? You can’t go far wrong with Dublin, one of my top choices in Europe for many reasons, not least that the city has an incredible vibe. Dublin is an excellent option for travellers of all ages and interests, plus, there’s an itinerary to suit any budget.

Three days in Dublin is the perfect length of time to enjoy the sights, soak up the culture, the cathedrals and the castles. You’ll also have plenty of time to explore the pubs and bars the city is so famous for and enjoy the craic.

If you’re planning your first trip to Dublin, are keen to see the city’s highlights and discover some of it’s lesser known attractions, here’s everything you need to know together with some money saving tips for your visit.

When to visit Dublin

The best time to visit Dublin, in my opinion, is shoulder season. March to May, or, September to October. During these months, you’ll experience lower crowd levels, pleasant temperatures, and cheaper hotel and accommodation prices.

While summer can be a tempting time to visit, both the city and its attractions will be incredibly busy. The same can be said of St Patrick’s day but that’s a whole other story and an experience that shouldn’t be missed if you get the chance.

Getting to Dublin

It’s easy to get to Dublin. Inexpensive flights are available from throughout the UK and Europe. An extensive range of airlines fly here, and my top choices include British Airways, Ryanair and Aer Lingus. To get the best deals on flights compare cheap prices with Skyscanner flight comparison site.

The flight time from London is just 1 hour 25 minutes, making it the perfect destination for a few days away without spending too much time in transit. Stena Line and Irish Ferries both operate sailings into Dublin from the UK.

Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin
Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin

How to get to the city centre from Dublin airport

There are a few different options for getting into the city once you’ve arrived at the airport. The Airport Express Airlink Bus offers two routes, which drop visitors off throughout the city, and these buses leave every 10 minutes. This is a fast option which travels through the Dublin Tunnel to reach the city centre. A single ticket is just €6 Euros per adult.

There is another shuttle transfer service which is offered by Aircoach and operates 24-hours a day from the airport. If you are considering purchasing a Dublin Pass for your stay, you’ll receive 15% off this service. Prices vary depending on where you are stopping but start at €7 euros one way.

If there are more in your group a private transfer might be worthwhile if you’d prefer to travel in style. When split between a group this can sometimes be a cheaper option. Finally, if you need to get to your destination as quickly as possible, consider a taxi or uber. A standard fare is around €20-30 into the city centre.

Custom House, Dublin
Custom House, Dublin

How to get around Dublin

Once you arrive, getting around the city is easy, because it’s so compact. You can travel between most attractions by foot, or take a hop-on hop-off (HOHO) bus.

There are a few to choose from including the Do Dublin Bus and the Big Bus Open-Top Tours. If you have a Dublin Pass, you’ll can get a free one day sightseeing bus ticket. This a great thing to do earlier on in your stay as it’ll give you a good orientation of the city. Taxi, Uber and bike hire are also options.

How to save money in Dublin

One of the best ways to save money on a trip to Dublin is with the Dublin Pass. It will give you free entry to over 30 attractions, including some of the top landmarks, tours and sightseeing listed below in our Dublin itinerary.

It’ll be worth it if you intend to pack in a lot of attractions during your visit. You can check the cost of each individual attraction against the overall cost of the pass before your visit to see if it’s worthwhile.

One way that I like to save money on a trip is by staying in a self-catering apartment. This gives you the option of preparing your own meals which helps your budget even more. While you’ll want to enjoy some meals in great restaurants, you can save a fair amount of your Dublin budget by preparing breakfast and lunch each day.

Finally, if you can, I’d recommend walking around the city as much as possible and avoid using taxis on your trip. Dublin is a compact city and you’ll experience so much more by foot. But if the weather’s pants, this is Ireland after all, you could take advantage of the hop-on hop-off bus included in the Dublin Pass.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Where to stay in Dublin for 3 days

When it comes to looking for somewhere to stay in Dublin, it’s worth thinking about a serviced apartment. SITU Serviced Apartments are a great way to get more bang for your buck, especially for larger families or groups of friends. Apartments are usually cheaper than a hotel, and have more space.

The Talbot Spire Apartments are in the perfect location for enjoying the city and are less than 20-minute’s walk from Temple Bar and around 15-minutes from Trinity College. Hotels in Temple Bar will be the priciest so if you don’t mind a few minute’s walk you’ll save yourself some euros.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

3 days in Dublin – the itinerary

So that’s the practical stuff done, now onto my Dublin itinerary and how to have the best time in the city. Of course, this itinerary can be tweaked to fit your personal travel preferences.

Days one and two include the most popular Dublin attractions and I’ve set out this itinerary with the shortest walking routes to help you make the best of your time.

For those with more time, day three will take you to some of the lesser known things to do and there are also ideas to explore further afield with day trips from Dublin. Especially good if your flight’s not until the evening.

Dublin itinerary – day 1

Trinity College, the Old Library and the Book of Kells

Library at Trinity College, Dublin
The Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin

If you do just one thing in Dublin, pay a visit to Trinity College. Trinity College is an academic institution and regarded as the finest university in Ireland. The courtyards are home to statues of famous Irish citizens and pleasant to wander but the highlight is the Long Room in the Old Library and the Book of Kells.

The Old Library is also known as the Long Room due to it being over 200 ft long. The library dates from the eighteenth century and is home to over 200,000 books which are displayed over two floors. The Old Library has to be one of the most iconic sights in Dublin and for literary lovers this could well be the highlight of your three days in Dublin.

Book a guided tour for fast-track access to see the Book of Kells and Dublin Castle.

Housed in the library is a section of the Book of Kells, a ninth Century decorated copy of the four gospels and Ireland’s greatest cultural artefact. The most famous medieval manuscript in the world attracts visitors from across the globe.

Entry to both the Book of Kells and the Long Room are included in the same ticket. You can buy tickets directly from the Trinity College Dublin website, or in person when you visit, although I don’t advise this as you’ll waste at least 45 minutes queueing. Alternatively take a walking tour which includes fast track access to the Book of Kells as well as Dublin Castle.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Coffee and cake at Bewley’s

Bewleys, Dublin, Ireland
Bewley’s, 78- 79 Grafton Street, Dublin, D02 K033

After Trinity College it’s just a few minute’s stroll to Grafton Street, one of the most famous streets in Dublin. It’s popular for shopping, dining and street entertainers. But we’re here for coffee and cake at Bewley’s.

Think parlour palms, stained glass panels, dark mahogany furniture and the most decadent of pastries. Bewley’s is a Dublin institution with excellent coffee, fabulous pastries and a wonderful ambience.

Coffee and pastries at Bewley's, Dublin
Coffee and pastries at Bewley’s, Dublin

Afternoon Tea Vintage Bus Trip

If you’d rather see the city whilst you scoff your tea and cake you can take a step back in time and experience Dublin in a unique way. Enjoy afternoon tea on board a fully restored 1960s vintage double-decker bus. Tours depart from Temple Bar at 11:00, 13:15 and 15:30.

Book here Afternoon Tea Vintage Bus Trip

St Stephen’s Green and a clutch of museums

Continue on to St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely public park in the city centre. Consider spending a couple of hours at one of the free art and history museums. Your options include the National Gallery of Ireland, National Museum of Ireland of which there are two, one for Archaeology and the Natural History museum.

Behind the National Gallery you’ll find Merroir Square, where you can see Oscar Wilde’s statue and his house. Alternatively, enjoy The Little Museum of Dublin, which shares the story of this incredible capital city. (from €8 or free with Dublin Pass)

For lunch, head to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, where you can buy a picnic to enjoy in the park. The park is perfect for strolling around, and you’ll get to see various fountains, plants and plaques commemorating historical events that happened here.

St Stephen's Shopping Centre, Dublin
St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, Dublin

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

The Molly Malone Statue

Molly Malone Statue, Dublin
The Molly Malone Statue in Dublin

After lunch head back towards the city passing sweet Molly Malone’s statue. The fictional Dublin resident, and subject of one of Ireland’s traditional songs, tends to move her pitch around. Usually located in Grafton Street, she’d wheeled her wheelbarrow to outside the tourist information office on Suffolk Street when we visited.

According to the song she sold ‘cockles and mussels alive, alive O, she died of a fever and sure no one could save her’. Looking at her polished bronze breasts it would appear many have tried…

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

The Irish Whiskey Museum

Bottles and glasses of whiskey at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin
The Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin

After paying your respects to Molly head to the nearby Irish Whiskey Museum which offer guided tours and interactive tastings. You’ll learn about the history of Irish Whiskey and the Irish name for it – Uisce Beatha. Note Irish whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ unlike Scottish whisky.

Discover how the tradition of the ‘wake’ came about and the different methods of distillation and how they affect the flavour. Of course there are tastings too. It’s a fascinating and fun way to learn about Irish whiskey. Tours start from €20 or for a few euros extra at €28 enjoy a traditional Irish brunch after your tasting in their contemporary cafe.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Sunset over the River Liffey and the Ha’Penny Bridge

Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin
Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin

Spend a few moments this evening watching the sun set over the River Liffey. The river flows right through the heart of the city and time spent enjoying views of Dublin as the sun slips below the horizon is time well spent.

You’ll get great views from many of the bridges which cross the River Liffey but the most picturesque, and probably the most famous, is the Ha’Penny Bridge. The pedestrian cast iron bridge was built in 1816 and offers fabulous views of the city.

Temple Bar

I’d recommend taking a quick look around Temple Bar before dinner today as it can get a lot busier later in the evening. Also there’s a fair bit of street art in the area which is good to see before it gets properly dark. This installation by SUBSET highlights climate change and focuses on the use of microplastics.

Street art by SUBSET in Temple Bar, Dublin
Street art by SUBSET in Temple Bar, Dublin

If you are looking to enjoy a special dinner tonight, book a reservation at Cleaver East in the Clarence Hotel. The restaurant offers the best Irish cuisine made from local ingredients with an Asian twist. A three course meal comes in at around €35 plus drinks. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.

6-8 East Essex Street, Dublin

For the rest of the evening, it’s time to enjoy the pubs, bars and buskers in Temple Bar of which there are many. Regardless of when you visit, the pubs here are always busy, and you’ll be guaranteed a fun night out in the city. Enjoy the craic on what has hopefully been a fabulous start to your 3 days in Dublin.

The Temple Bar, Dublin
The Temple Bar, Dublin

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Dublin itinerary – day 2

Dublin Castle and the Medieval Quarter

Dublin Castle, Ireland
Dublin Castle, Ireland

Day two of your Dublin itinerary starts in the Medieval Quarter at Dublin Castle  which dates back to the year 1204. The castle was the seat of British power in Ireland until the civil war in the 1920s, nowadays it houses government state rooms and two museums – the Garda (Irish Police) Museum and the Revenue Museum.

Visitors can see the excavations of the Viking and medieval areas of the castle, the Gothic Chapel Royal along with the State Apartments. In the grounds you’ll be able to see Dubh Linn, or black pool gardens, which the city is named after.

Buy a ticket for either a self-guided visit of the castle or guided tour. For Dublin Pass holders the self-guided tour is free, alternatively upgrade to a guided tour for just £3.

Check the official website before your visit as occasionally the castle is closed for private events. Nearby you’ll find the Chester Beatty Library museum which is also free to visit.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral is just a five-minute walk from Dublin Castle and it’s one of the city’s must-see attractions. The Cathedral dates back to 1028 and is the older of Dublin’s two medieval castles. The other is St Patrick’s which we’ll visit later.

Explore the crypt – it’s the larges cathedral crypt in the British Isles – and contains a number of monuments, a silver collection and a mummified cat and rat (discovered in an organ pipe). The beautiful nave and main building are where you’ll find the organ, Musician’s Corner, a variety of tombs and medievel floor tiles.

You can visit Christ Church Cathedral as part of a self-guided tour, or by guided tour (additional fee) which are available most days at set times (check website for times). You can purchase tickets in advance here.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

If you’re not museum’d out by now head to nearby Dublinia. This fascinating museum is a historical recreation museum that highlights the Viking and Medieval history of the city and is connected to Christ Church Cathedral by a walkway.

The self-guided tour is included in the Dublin Pass. Finish off your morning exploring Dublin’s old city walls, parts of which date back to the thirteenth century.

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

St Patrick’s Cathedral

If you want to visit another cathedral, start your afternoon by visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin’s second medieval cathedral. St Patrick’s was founded in 1191 to replace Christ Church Cathedral, although this never happened, and the two remain in co-existence.

It’s thought that Saint Patrick baptised people from a well on the site over 1500 years ago. Jonathon Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, and once dean of the cathedral, is buried inside. The stained glass window and interior of the cathedral are impressive and can be seen on a self-guided visit from €7.50 for an adult ticket. An audio guide is available for an additional fee.

Book here for St Patrick’s Cathedral

Teeling Distillery

Near to St Patrick’s Cathedral you’ll find the Teeling Distillery. Experience the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of a fully operational distillery on a fully-guided tour followed by a tasting of the award-winning Teeling range.

Book here – Teeling Distillery tour and tasting

The Guinness Storehouse

Finally, finish off the day’s sightseeing at one of the city’s most visited attractions, the huge seven-storey, Guinness Storehouse. It’s located on the site of St James’ Gate Brewery where Guinness has been brewed since 1759.

Your visit includes a self-guided tour where you’ll learn about how Guinness is made, about the founder and a history of the brand’s advertising. Your visit is rounded off with a pint of the black stuff, of which over 50 million barrels a year are produced at St James Gate.

Barrels at Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

You can spend as much time as you want in the museum but be sure to end your visit at the seventh floor Gravity Bar, with its fabulous views over Dublin.

Here you’ll enjoy the freshest pint of Guinness you’ll ever lay your hands on with a stunning Dublin backdrop. Even if you’re not keen on Guinness it’s a must-do on your Dublin itinerary.

As this is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin I recommend that you buy your tickets online. This saves you money compared to buying them on-site and gives access to the fast track queue. If you’d like a free Guinness included then this skip the line guided tour for €25 ticks that box. Free entry and access to the fast track queue are included in the Dublin Pass(but not the pint!)

I’d recommend using the hop-on hop-off bus to get back to the city centre. Walking distance to the Guinness Storehouse from both the cathedrals is around 20 minutes.

After another busy day of sightseeing head for dinner at the lively Hairy Lemon cafe bar. You’ll enjoy delicious food while listening to traditional Irish music and slick Irish banter from the friendly staff. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.

Hairy Lemon cafe restaurant, Dublin, Ireland
Hairy Lemon, 42 Lower Stephen’s Street, Dublin

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability  

Dublin Itinerary – Day 3

The Jeanie Johnston tall ship

The Jeanie Johnston tall ship, Dublin
The Jeanie Johnston tall ship, Dublin

Today is the final day of your fabulous 3 days in Dublin. Before you head home, make sure you take in some attractions north of the river. Take a walk along the Liffey to the Jeanie Johnston tallship.

En-route you’ll pass the impressive Customs House and the Famine Memorial. A little further past the ship is the Samuel Beckett Bridge, one of Dublin’s modern architectural sights.

If you’re wondering why the ship is in pretty good condition it’s because this is a replica of the original famine ship which was built in Quebec, Canada, in 1847. The three-masted sailing ship transported emigrants between Ireland and North America during the great famine.

An estimated one million people died and another million left for a new life in America, Canada or Australia. Some, like my own ancestors, travelled to Liverpool, England. I have roots in Dublin which is why I found this part of our visit so fascinating.

A visit to the replica Jeanie Johnston gives a glimpse into Ireland’s 1845-1849 famine and life on board for the emigrants and crew. The ship sailed 16 voyages to North America not losing a single person on any of her voyages.

The ship houses an interesting museum with a 50-minute guided tour. Check tour times before you visit. Your visit is included in the Dublin Pass or costs €11 for adults and €6 for under 12s. A combined ticket with the EPIC Emigration Centre will save you €5 per person.

The EPIC Emigration Museum

EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, Dublin
EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, Dublin

Across the road from the ship you’ll find the EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.  Over the centuries many Irish people, it’s estimated over 9 million since the 1700s, have emigrated from Ireland. EPIC tells of Irish emigration around the world and the reasons and stories behind it.

Follow an interactive pathway through the museum encountering personal accounts of the journeys taken and new lives begun all around the world. Afterwards enjoy lunch at one of the food stalls in EPIC, where you’ll find a wide variety of offerings.

Entry is included with the Dublin Pass or you can buy tickets here for €16.50 Adult / €8 6-12 yrs

And that brings to a close this epic 3 day Dublin itinerary. I hope my Dublin guide and itinerary has given you an idea of how much you can do with 72 hours in the city.

Of course, this itinerary can be adjusted or extended to fit the length of your stay, and you can add other attractions that take your fancy during your visit. See below for some ideas – there are plenty of options.

Dublin Walking Tours

Themed walking tours are a great way to discover more about a place through your own personal interests and learn from a local guide.

The Famine Memorial, Dublin
The Famine Memorial, Dublin

>>> Looking for a hotel in Dublin? Check hotel rates and availability 

Day Trips from Dublin

If you have more time to spend  then you might want to consider these day trips from Dublin.

This Dublin to Giant’s Causeway and Titanic exhibition full day trip will take you on a visit to the Titanic Experience, Giant’s Causeway and the Game of Thrones filming location of Dark Hedges. Or you could just take a train or coach to Belfast for the day

Enjoy a Galway and Cliffs of Moher Day Trip taking in lively Galway on Ireland’s west coast and the stunning Cliffs of Moher.

A Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges, Dunluce & Belfast Tour  Discover Northern Ireland’s dramatic coastal route on a day trip to the Giant’s Causeway from Dublin. Visit the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, and spend some time in Belfast..

Glendalough, Wicklow, & Kilkenny Full-Day Trip Travel south to Kilkenny, then pass through some of the beautiful countryside in the Wicklow Mountains making your way towards Glendalough.

Ready to plan your trip to Dublin?

Tips for visiting Dublin

Dublin is an incredible city to visit at any time of the year. Here are a few of my top tips to save you time and money on your visit:

  • Use the hop-on hop-off bus with your Dublin Pass to take you to attractions that are further away, such as the Guinness Storehouse.
  • Get the Dublin Pass for a day or two of your trip, and you’ll be able to enjoy a hassle-free trip with 35 attractions included in the price. It’s worth working out if it’ll save you money beforehand but if you’re planning to visit a number of attractions then it’ll be worthwhile.
  • Prepare yourself for the weather in Dublin, which can get quite chilly at night in the shoulder season. It’s worth packing a light rain jacket if you are planning to be out and about all day long and a warm coat for winter.
  • To save money, consider purchasing breakfast and lunch from a local supermarket, and if you are staying in an apartment, preparing meals in your kitchen.

Dublin, along with Galway on the west coast, are fabulous European cities and make for a perfect city break. As you can see, there is heaps to see and do in Dublin, and you could spend far more than three days here. It’s the perfect destination for visitors of all ages and on all budgets, and whenever you choose to go, I hope you’ll love Dublin and everything it has to offer.

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Kathryn Burrington

Friday 11th of December 2020

Looks fabulous! I've wanted to visit Dublin for a very long time but still not made it yet. Hopefully, I'll get there before too long, I've heard so many great things about it.

Suzanne Jones

Friday 11th of December 2020

This was my first visit and it definitely won't be my last! I hope you get there before too long


Thursday 10th of December 2020

I learned a lot about Dublin from this post. I didn't realized how closed is Dublin from the UK and you can even go by ferries. The Long Room in Trinity College is truly impressive. I would also like to get some pastry from the Bewley's. Of course it will be awkward to rub Molly's chest for a fortune. lol.

Suzanne Jones

Friday 11th of December 2020

The long room is stunning and I agree best not rub Molly's chest!


Tuesday 8th of December 2020

I didn't' realize how short the air travel from London was. I would love to make a stop here on my next visit to London. That library is so beautiful so I can see why so many go there. When Molly Malone’s statue appeared on the list, it immediately made me think of Game of Thrones! Not sure if you watch the show but there is a scene where this is so familiar.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

It's not far at all to Dublin from London. There are some filming locations which are doable as a daytrip from Dublin so the city might just have to go on your bucketlist!

Jeff Albom

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

I loved Dublin. The Guinness Storehouse was quite interesting. I wish I had visited the Old Library but ran out of time. I did, though, visit the leprechaun museum.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

I was intruiged by the Leprechaun museum but never got to visit - that's one for next time!


Sunday 6th of December 2020

Great guide for anyone who is traveling to Dublin for the first time and covered everything. I have been to Dublin four times now, its ok but now I discovered places outside the Irish capital, I rather go to those places now. My favourite places are checking anywhere which serves excellent Irish breakfast with a pint of the Guinness and checking out the amazing doors dotted around the centre. I think the disappointment for me was the castle and that 400ft metal pole in the middle of the shopping street. However love the locals, always get a warm welcome when I go there. Also glad to read about the Emigration museum, that must be new and something I would like to check out on my next visit.

Suzanne Jones

Monday 7th of December 2020

This was my first visit to Dublin so I wanted to build an itinerary for the first time visitor. When I go back I'll definitely be exploring further afield as there's so much in the area to see and do. The Emigration museum was fascinating - I highly recommend it, especially if you're visiting with children as it's very interactive.

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