Ireland is a country that needs several weeks, if not longer, to explore truly, but sometimes you don’t have the time for that. Whether you have a layover in Dublin or only 24 hours in Dublin before you start the rest of your Ireland trip, there are still plenty of things to do in Dublin in one day.
I always start each of my trips to Ireland in Dublin, so I’ve put together a one day in Dublin itinerary based on some of my favorite parts of the city. You can choose to do all of these or pick and choose to make up your own day.
I didn’t put a specific time for each activity, as I know everyone starts their day at a different time. However, I encourage you to start as early as possible to get the most out of your Dublin one day trip before you head off on a longer journey, such as a 10 days in Ireland itinerary.
How to Spend One Day in Dublin
Here’s a sample itinerary for how to see Dublin in a day.
Morning: Stroll Around the Empty Town
This map lists all the stops I have on this itinerary to see where you’ll be going and how far apart they are (most are pretty close). It’s easy to visit Ireland without a car, especially in Dublin, so you don’t need to worry about renting one for this itinerary.
Walk Around St. Stephen’s Green
I love walking around Dublin before the day really starts, so enjoy some quiet time when you first get up by heading to St. Stephen’s Green. This beautiful park is in the middle of town and reminds me of New York’s Central Park (but on a much smaller scale), so it’s a nice way to start the day when looking for what to do in Dublin for a day.
The serene area is the perfect place to start the morning after breakfast and is one of the best walks in Dublin. There are a few old brick buildings left that I loved admiring and a ton of ducks (so watch your step).
I saw people reading, painting, and people-watching here when I strolled around. It’s a relaxing place to go to get away from the hustle of Grafton Street just next door which will start as the day goes on.
Admire St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Paying a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a great way to spend the morning during your one day in Dublin, especially during Dublin in the winter. This beautiful cathedral was first founded in 1191 and continues to stun visitors every year, as it’s the largest cathedral in the country.
There are many famous burials on the grounds, such as Jonathan Swift of Gulliver’s Travels. Book lovers will love to add this to their list of what to see in Dublin, Ireland in 1 day.
The cathedral offers daily tours for a small fee for those who want to go inside it. They also have a daily choir singing which I encourage you to check out while you’re there, which you’ll want to add to your Ireland bucket list.
Hours are from 9:30 to 17:00 on Monday-Friday and 9:30 to 18:00 on Saturdays, with Sundays reserved for worship. Admission is €8.00 per adult.
Mid-Morning: Discover Dublin’s History
There is plenty of history in Dublin, so I encourage you to take a few hours to learn about it when you’re in Dublin for a day.
Walk Across Ha’Penny Bridge
The first time I visited Dublin, I walked right over it without knowing it held significance. Originally there were no bridges over the River Liffey, and ferries were in charge of getting people back and forth. They were in bad condition, so they were ordered to be fixed or have a bridge constructed.
The city built the bridge in 1816, and anyone crossing had to pay a ha’penny (British half penny). The toll was eventually dropped in 1919, and now thousands of people cross it every day on their way around town, so this is a must see in Dublin in one day.
Thinking about getting a Dublin Pass for your time in the city? Read my Dublin Pass review first!
Visit the General Post Office
A few minutes away from the Ha’Penny Bridge is the General Post Office, and this is another unassuming building unless you know what you’re looking at.
The post office is the home of the famous 1916 Easter Uprising. A group of Irishmen wanted to end the rule of Britain in Ireland and decided to revolt with weapons. Britain sent in thousands of armed troops to fight back, and the battle took place right in the city’s streets.
Unfortunately, the British had more troops, and the Irish had to surrender. Over 500 people died during the six-day battle, and several thousand were injured. Many parts of Dublin were left in ruins after all the heavy fighting, and you can still see the bullet holes in this building.
You can now visit the Witness History Museum at the building to learn more about what took place here. There’s also a cafe on-site to get drinks and snacks when you get hungry. I consider this a must-see in Dublin in one day with its essential role in history.
Admission to the museum is €15, and it’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
See the Book of Kells at Trinity College
While this is one of the more popular things to see in Dublin in one day, I do think it’s worth visiting. The Book of Kells is from around 800 AD and this Irish landmark is now located in the Old Library at Trinity College. This book has beautiful medieval illuminated manuscripts in it, which draw people from all over the world to see it.
This library has the infamous Long Room, which is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The admission price is worth seeing that alone in my opinion, so put it on your Dublin 1 day itinerary.
You’ll want to buy your ticket online in advance, as this tends to book out far during the popular months. If you want to combine this with another attraction such as Dublin Castle, there are also package deals.
Tours happen from May through September from 9:30-17:00 on Monday through Sunday. From October through April, you can visit from 9:30-17:00 on Monday through Saturday and 12:00-16:00 on Sunday. Admission is €16 for adults.
Noon: Try Local Food
Take the midpoint of the day to fuel up and get ready to see the rest of the city. Lunch is also a good time to look at your list of what to see in Dublin in one day. This way, you can see if you want to make any changes based on how you’re feeling when making a list of what to see in Dublin in 1 day.
Eat Lunch at a Local Pub
There are plenty of tourist restaurants in the city, but I recommend stopping at a local pub instead for lunch. My friend from Ireland recommended putting Grogan’s Pub on my Dublin 1 day itinerary for my last trip, and it was perfect – small and full of locals. They’re famous for their toasties, which are essentially ham and cheese sandwiches that pair amazingly with beer.
Just a tip – if you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, you’ll want to get to the pubs early and expect a wait.
Instead of looking up somewhere to eat online, I recommend asking a local. They’ll tend to point you towards more traditional Irish food, as most people don’t want to visit from America just to eat American food (or shouldn’t!).
Afternoon: Factory Tour or Hurling
If you go to the Guinness Storehouse from Grogans, you’ll have about a 30-minute walk to get here, although it’s flat the whole way. You can also take the bus or the Luas, but you’ll still need to walk part of the way since it’s not a direct drop-off.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Even if you don’t like the dark stuff, you’ll find the tour of this giant building fascinating, so you should put this on your one day in Dublin itinerary. You’ll learn about the history of the Guinness family and how it became the popular beer it is today.
You can either go on a guided tour or do a self-guided tour, which I chose, but again book this in advance as it’s popular. I recommend allowing at least a few hours to go through the whole museum.
As you walk through the exhibits, you’ll have a chance to pour your own pint so they can teach you the proper way. At the top is your reward, where your admission ticket gets you a pint of Guinness at the bar overlooking all of the city.
The Storehouse is open from 2 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday through Sunday. You can get basic admission for €15 or upgrade your experience to include an extra pint and a table reservation at their restaurant for €24.
Watch a Hurling Match
The first time I was in Dublin, the GAA Hurling semi-finals were going on at Croke Park. I’d never seen a game before, much less knew how the rules worked, so we bought tickets. There was so much excitement around the area, with people coming from all directions in their team’s colors chanting and cheering.
If it happens to be hurling season when you’re there, I highly recommend getting tickets to a game, whether it’s a professional team or not. Hurling is the perfect activity to add to your list of what to do in Dublin in one day.
We sat in the student section since it was cheaper, but I ended up loving the energy of everyone in there. The rules were a bit confusing at first, but I now have a general idea. This is a fun idea for both adults and when doing Dublin with kids.
If there isn’t a game going on when you’re there, you can also take a tour of Croke Park and visit the GAA Museum. This is a fun idea for sports lovers looking for what to see in Dublin in a day.
Evening: Visit the Local Pubs
The evening is the best time in this city, so enjoy exploring the nightlife when in Dublin in 1 day!
Walk Through Grafton Street
There’s always something happening on Grafton Street, but the night is bustling. This street is the main shopping street in Dublin, so if you need anything last minute for your trip, you can likely find it here.
What I love most about this street is the busking you’ll see all day long. A fun fact about Dublin is local musicians will take turns playing original songs or covering popular ones, and many now-famous singers had their start here.
You never know when you’re looking at the next Damien Rice or Ed Sheeran, so take some time to enjoy their performances during your 1 day in Dublin.
Visit the Local Pubs
What would be 1 night in Dublin without going to the pubs in Dublin? Even if you don’t drink, it’s worth it to visit for the atmosphere. I love nothing more than striking up a conversation with a local at a small pub.
That said, I discourage you from going to tourist places like Temple Bar when seeing Dublin in a day. For a more authentic experience, head over to Mulligans on Poolbeg Street. This pub is my favorite one in the city and a fun way to end the night. Mulligans was packed wall to wall with people who just got off work and were relaxing with a pint with their friends.
I also recommend visiting The Old Storehouse, where they had the original Guinness factory. If you know Ireland’s demand for Guinness, you’ll easily see why they had to move out of here to a larger location fast. It’s now a bar which has Irish bands playing live music, and you may learn some fun facts about Ireland while you’re there.
Having a pint of Guinness while listening to live Irish music was one of the items I wanted to check off my Ireland bucket list, so I was glad to find this place during my visit to Dublin in one day.
Last-Minute Tips for Dublin in One Day
Here are some tips for spending one day in Dublin.
How to Get Around Dublin
Exploring Dublin on foot is easy to do, so I don’t recommend renting a car for this. I was pleasantly surprised that public transportation was better in Ireland than I had expected. You can even get by without a car if you’re in Dublin for three days.
If you only have 24 hours in Ireland and are coming from the airport, you can take a bus or the Airlink, and these will both drop you off in the city center.
Taxis are available throughout the city if you need to get somewhere fast, which might be beneficial if you only have a day in Dublin. Just note that they are the most expensive option. You can also take the Luas, a light rail tram that runs through certain parts of the city.
Buses run all day long and are a better choice when not going somewhere that’s a straight shot (like the Luas), and are fairly inexpensive. The last option is the DART, an electronic train that runs above the ground. This will get you to places further outside the city like the suburbs, although you may not have time for this if you only have one day in Dublin.
You can also grab a pass for the Big Bus Dublin, which will drop you off at 32 different points of interest. Busses go by every 15 minutes, so you’ll just wait at the pick-up point for the next bus when you’re done with one attraction. I’ve used these in various cities in Europe and always find them helpful when visiting a city on a time limit.
Where to Stay in Dublin
There is so much to see in Dublin that I recommend spending a full day exploring and then getting a hotel for the night (maybe a hotel with a private balcony in Dublin?) before you go on to your next adventure. If you need to book a hotel room for the night, you have a variety of options in the area to choose from when looking for the best area to stay in Dublin.
Here are a few I recommend:
- The Maldron Hotel Kevin Street has a beautiful view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and is near other attractions you can walk to. (rates start at 120 Euros per night)
- The Morgan Hotel is right by Temple Bar and has a pool to enjoy at the end of the day. (rates start at 140 Euros per night)
- Aloft Dublin City is a modern hotel with a cafe, market, and pub with live music. (rates start at 170 Euros per night)
There are also many bed and breakfasts in Dublin to stay at if you want a more charming stay.
No matter what you decide to do in Dublin in one day, you’ll love exploring this lively city during your trip.