A mix of a modern big city and a quaint historical town, Dublin has everything you could ask for. The city still bears the scars of the country’s fight for independence in 1919, so history buffs can find lots of places to see, stories to hear, and museums to explore. The city is the queen of literature, and you’ll find many odes to great writers of the age in the names of streets, pubs, and museums. But this city doesn’t live in the past. Today, it thrives, as shown by its new restaurants, bars, museums, arts, and nightlife. You won’t run out of things to do during your three days here, especially if you leave the tourist-filled central part and actually interact with locals. But embrace the live music, the old streets filled with new stores, and the Guinness. If you have 72 hours to spend in Dublin, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Get your history on and nosh on some classic Irish foods.
Morning: Visit the Dublin Writers Museum
A literary fanatic’s heaven, this museum boasts the history of Ireland’s most prolific writers, with artifacts from their lives and panels describing their accomplishment. You’re better off coming to this museum if you’ve already got some interest in literature or poetry—the exhibits aren’t particularly interactive as much as they are informative. But hey, when in Dublin, a UNESCO city of literature, start cultivating your appreciation for literary greats like James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and W.B. Yeats. Plus, there’s a little garden and some grand decorated rooms filled with—you guessed it—books. If you really want to do a deep-dive into Dublin’s literary history, an Irish literature tour is the way to go.
Lunchtime: Take a secret food tour of Dublin
What better way to get to know Dublin than to sample all the foods it’s known for? A local guide will lead you on secret food tour to the city’s best hidden gems, where you’ll sample dishes like Irish stew, battered cod, local cheese, and artisanal ice cream.
Afternoon: Visit the National Museum of Ireland and tour the Guinness Storehouse
Taxidermy enthusiasts rejoice! At this museum, you’ll find two very stuffed (get it?) floors of stuffed animals. Upstairs holds the animals native to Ireland. (Hint: there are a lot of birds and deer.) As you walk through different species of baboons interspersed with opossum babies and other rodents whose names we definitely can’t pronounce, you’ll marvel at the world’s biodiversity and wonder how many species the earth actually has. This museum has occasionally been called the Dead Zoo. (You can imagine why.) Although the specific Dublin connection isn’t all that clear, stepping foot inside feels like entering a very climate-confused jungle. Just go with it.
Once you’ve had your fill of stuffed animals, you’ll want a drink. If you weren’t already a Guinness expert from nights at the pub, here’s your chance to become a professional. At the heart of the world’s largest pint-shaped building lies all of the information you ever wanted to know about Guinness—and more. Smell the barley roasting; feel the water; see the bubbles. A tour of the storehouse is as close to being inside a beer bottle as you can get. For the full Dublin experience, you can learn how to pour your perfect pint. They also teach you the best way to drink the beer (yes, this is a thing), samples included. The skybar offers 360-degree views of the whole city, so even if you’re not a beer drinker, it’s worth it.
Evening: Dinner in Dublin’s Northside neighborhood
The laid-back charm of this neighborhood is quintessentially Irish, but the restaurants here are high-quality and delicious. You’ll find a vast array of ethnic dishes to choose from, but we think your first dinner in Dublin should actually be breakfast. There’s nothing like a full Irish breakfast to satisfy your hunger, so dig in and enjoy.
Late night: Drop into Temple Bar
Step into the Temple Bar and prepare your ears. Live music rings out in this noisy bar at all hours of the day, and you’ll hear more international accents than Irish ones. Temple Bar doesn’t draw too many Dublin locals, and is more of a tourist watering hole, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t at least drop in. Once you tire of the statue-filled beer bar, head out to the rest of the area. Whether you’re on a pub crawl or just walking around, explore the nearby pubs and clubs, many of them complete with flowers in the windows and even more live music. You’ll always have somewhere to go, and if you get lost, just follow the music (and the tourists).
Explore Ireland’s gorgeous scenery on a day trip outside of Dublin.
Morning and afternoon: Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
Getting outside of Dublin and exploring Ireland’s gorgeous countryside is a must, and no trip is complete without a guided day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. A local guide will offer an entertaining and informative narrative as you make your way through several of the country’s scenic towns. Once you make it to the cliffs, you’ll have the chance to walk around, explore, and grab a bite to eat for lunch.
Evening: Dinner in Dublin’s Georgian neighborhood
A day trip is bound to work up an appetite, and you’ll need some dinner once you make your way back to Dublin. If you’re seeking something hip and trendy, look no further than the Georgian neighborhood of the city. You’ll find plenty of wine bars and some of Dublin’s most popular restaurants here. Plan ahead and make a reservation or pop in somewhere and grab a seat at the bar. No matter what, you’re bound to have a delicious meal and plenty of cocktails to quench your thirst.
Spend your last day in Dublin perusing some rare books and checking out a cool, old castle.
Morning: Stop at the National Library to see some rare books
Picture enormous rooms of books and irritable people who shush you when you talk. That could only mean one thing: you’re at a library. Home to the largest collection of Irish works in the world, Ireland’s National Library stores the literary treasures of a lifetime. You can’t get past the front desk of the reading room unless you’re a registered researcher—which is sad, because the room itself is painted a bright turquoise. You can, however, go in and look, explore the Yeats exhibit downstairs, or, if you have any Irish ancestry, you can stop by the family genealogy room to explore your roots. A guided literary tour is another great option. Lockers are available to store bags and coats (which they strictly enforce, so don’t try to sneak anything in).
Lunchtime: Munch on a late brunch
Did you know Dubliners know how to do brunch? They do, and brunching during your stay here is a must. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, the pancakes here come with your choice of toppings ranging from Nutella to berries to white chocolate chips. If a tall stack isn’t really your thing, eggs, sausage, and baked beans always reign supreme when it comes to a classic Irish meal.
Afternoon: Walk around Dublin Castle for a slice of history
We’ll rip off the bandaid—you won’t find princes or princesses in this castle, but you will find gorgeous apartments and the inauguration chambers for each of Ireland’s presidents. Basically all of Ireland’s history of governance has taken place in this building. You could take a guided tour, but we recommend exploring on your own with the help of the pamphlet they give you. And if you happen to overhear bits of the person leading the guided tour… well… you can’t help what your ears hear. Make sure you look up! The intricately decorated ceilings await. While here, you’ll also get to see a throne in the middle of a city. And don’t forget to stop by the Chester Beatty library.
Evening: Dinner and drinks in the Southside
This neighborhood is on fire. The vibe here is not your typical stuffy pub full of old men drinking Guinness. Instead, you’ll find a trendy mix of Michelin-starred chefs, cozy Italian joints, tiny and crowded French restaurants, and vegan cafes all bustling with happily fed customers. It’s eclectic in the best way possible and the perfect way to end your stay.