Sights First-Time Visitors Should See in Dublin
Updated: December 05, 2023
AAA Travel Editors
No trip to Ireland is complete without touring Dublin Castle, which sits atop an ancient Viking settlement. King John of England originally had the 13th-century castle built as a military fortress, according to Dublin’s Office of Public Works. It also served as the seat of English and British administration in Ireland from 1204 until Ireland’s independence in 1922. Today, the government uses the palace mostly for state dinners and other important events, but it’s also open to the public for tours.
When exploring Dublin Castle, you’ll get the chance to see diverse artwork, Irish furniture from the Georgian and Victorian eras, detailed plasterwork ceilings designed by Bartholomew Cramillion, neoclassical statues and sculptures, and stunning crystal chandeliers.If you enjoy biking, consider taking the tour, which takes you to Dublin Castle, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse. This tour takes around two hours and starts at $35.95 per person.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is next on the list of sights to see in Dublin. Built on a site where St. Patrick is said to have baptized new Christians in 450 A.D., the cathedral takes up an entire city block. The structure’s massive size provides plenty of opportunities to admire its 330-foot-tall spires and intricate gothic designs from the streets.
Inside the church is just as beautiful and ornate. The gothic-style columns, high-rise arches and 21 altars fill worshipers with a sense of awe. Take your time as you admire the cathedral’s beautiful stained-glass windows and the compelling stories of faith and history that they tell.
Entrance is free if you attend a worship service, but to tour the cathedral as an attraction, you’ll have to pay an admission fee of 8 euro per adult (or 7.50 euro if you purchase online).
flickr / CC BY SA/Doug Kerr
The Guinness Storehouse
Ireland is well known for Guinness, the traditional Irish dry stout. The legendary Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the perfect place to explore the beer brand’s history and even learn to pour your own pint of “the black stuff.” It’s no wonder the brewery has attracted millions of visitors over the years, including popular actors like Tom Cruise, music artists like Usher and royalty like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Discover the science behind crafting Guinness beer on the fourth floor’s Guinness Tasting Experience, or enjoy panoramic views of Dublin and delicious food in the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor. You can enjoy a self-guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse starting at 26 euro.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Wicklow Mountains National Park officials estimate that around 1 million people visit the park every year. Located south of Dublin, the national park features 20,483 hectares (around 79 square miles) of gentle uplands, gorgeous mountains and sparkling lakes. You may also catch sight of Irish wildlife like sika deer, goats, peregrine falcons and pine martens.
It takes at least several hours to truly enjoy Wicklow Mountains National Park. To start, venture behind the Information Office to see butterflies, bees, birds, and dragonflies flitting around the sensory garden.
Next, take a drive down the park’s scenic roads or go for a private walk around the hills. At some point during the day, you should also visit Glendalough, a glacial valley and home to one of Ireland’s medieval monastic sites. You’ll enjoy walking through the monastic ruins and touring the Glendalough Cathedral, Round Tower, St. Kevin’s Church, the Monastic City Gateway and St. Kevin’s Cross. And if you keep walking, you’ll get to see remains of the valley’s former lead mines.
Admission to the national park is free, but keep in mind that all nearby parking lots charge a fee.
Visiting a prison may not sound exciting at first, but once you step foot into Kilmainham Gaol, you’ll feel the weight of its impactful history. Kilmainham Gaol has held prisoners for many different reasons — from petty theft to protests for Irish independence.
The only way to access the old prison is through a guided tour, which typically lasts an hour. Tickets cost 8 euro per adult, and since it’s a fairly popular tourist attraction, it’s a good idea to book your tickets ahead of time. The museum recommends arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled tour starts as latecomers won’t be able to join once the tour starts.
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA/Pilgab
St. Stephen’s Green and Iveagh Gardens
In the center of Dublin, you’ll find a green oasis called St. Stephen’s Green. The public park offers locals and tourists an opportunity for calm and quiet reflection in the middle of the busy city. As you walk around the park, be sure to stop and enjoy the sculptures that pay tribute to important aspects of Irish history.
If you enjoy the flora and fauna at St. Stephen’s Green, you’ll love the nearby Iveagh Gardens. Also known as Dublin’s Secret Garden, the property began simply as the Earl of Clonmell’s lawn in the late 1700s but grew in size and splendor to host the extravagant Dublin Exhibition Palace in 1865.
As you tour Iveagh Gardens, be sure to stop by some of its restored features such as the Yew Maze, the fountains and the Rosarium.You can see St. Stephen’s Green and the Guinness Storehouse on the same day by taking the . Ticket prices begin at $24 per person.
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA/Sitomon
Bookworms and history lovers alike will enjoy browsing Marsh’s Library, Ireland’s oldest public library.
Step inside the 18th-century building to explore its hidden garden and numerous Enlightenment-era bookcases. Or attend the various exhibitions to learn fascinating historical stories behind the library and its books.
If you have young children, they’ll particularly enjoy the library’s many activities and treasure hunts for kids.
Admission tickets cost 5 euro for adults and 3 euro for seniors or students. Children and teenagers under 18 can enter free of charge.
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AAA Travel Editors
AAA Travel Editors are AAA Travel Experts.