Dublin, Ireland – The Perfect Itinerary for First-Timers

There are only a few places I would say this about, but I think everyone should take a trip to Ireland once in their lifetime. Many Americans make the pilgrimage back to Ireland in search of their family’s history, but even if you’re like me, with no real ties to the country, this is a place that will capture your heart. So with that grand introduction, let’s get started on your adventure in Dublin.

Dublin is a relatively small city, so if you’re feeling motivated, you can certainly see a lot of the sights in a day. Most first-time visitors will start in Dublin and then head west to explore the countryside. This itinerary has that traveler in mind, however this schedule will also work if you’re planning a weekend visit.

8:00am – If you’re looking for something hearty, head towards St. Stephen’s Green to enjoy your first traditional Irish breakfast at Hatch & Sons.  If you want something lighter, go for a scone with jam.

9:00am – Once you’ve got a little caffeine in your system head out for a quick morning walk around St. Stephen’s Green. A tranquil and lush park in the center of the city that only takes 10 minutes to get from end to end.

9:15 – 11:45am – Morning Walking Tour

Exit the park and head down Grafton Street to find a bustling street just waking up. If you’re looking to do some shopping, you may want to head back to this part of town later in the day.

Hopefully the luck of the Irish is on your side and the weather is perfect for a walk around the city. If it’s raining, or you just don’t want to do a lot of walking, you may want to consider the hop on hop off bus.

Don’t forget to enjoy Dublin’s colorful doors as you make your way through the city!

Stroll by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. St. Patrick himself is said to have baptized people from a well on the grounds, so a Cathedral was built here to honor him. The Cathedral started construction in 1220 and took 40 years to finish.

From there make your way by Dublin castle, St. Patrick’s older sister having opened in 1204.

Keep an eye out for Molly Malone’s statue on Suffolk Street (she’s the one wearing the revealing top;)). Molly, the attractive fishmonger who sold cockles and mussels, has become a legend due to the popular song about her (dubbed the unofficial anthem of Dublin). 

We’ll end our morning walking tour at Trinity College, Ireland’s most prestigious University. It’s cool just scoping out the grounds to see what the university scene in Dublin is like, but the main attraction tourists come for is the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a colorful gospel manuscript that is over 1200 years old. The library that houses the book is a historian’s dream, and anyone who loved the world of Harry Potter will also enjoy this setting.

12:00 – 1pm – Lunch

For lunch there are plenty of pubs and cafes to pop into around the University. Kilkenny Cafe or the Porterhouse Central are two good options. Although you typically think of Guinness in Ireland, Mike and I really enjoyed the microbrews at the Porterhouse.

1:15 – 4:30pm – Afternoon Walking Tour

Next on the list is the Guinness Storehouse at St James’s Gate. First get your picture in front of St. Jame’s gate and then head inside. You can either tour the premises with a a group, or make your own way up to the Gravity bar learning about the history of the infamous drink. On the top floor is the Gravity bar, with a 360 degree view of Dublin. Get yourself in line for a glass of the good stuff. If you ask nicely, the bartenders will teach you how to pour the perfect pint.

*If you prefer Whiskey to Beer, you can always check out the Jameson Distillery instead.

From the Guinness Factory, it’s time for a walk along the river Liffey heading towards O’Connell street.

With every step you take down O’Connell street, you’ll feel like you’re transporting yourself to a a different time in Ireland’s history surrounded by the great novelists and poets of this country’s past. You’ll pass the Millennium Spire and the General Post office and appreciate the juxtaposition of the old and new in this city. Keep your eye out for the James Joyce statue.

4:45pm – the wee hours – Dinner and Pub Culture

Head back to your hotel for a change and a rest. Tonight’s dinner is at the Winding Stair for upscale Irish comfort food. If you’d rather head straight to the Temple Bar area there are plenty of pubs to enjoy dinner at as well! The Brazen Head is another popular choice as it is the oldest pub in Dublin and you’re sure to find live music.

No matter how old or how young (or how jet-lagged) you are, you have to stay out a little later than usual to soak up the Irish pub culture. Wander through the Temple bar area and head into a cozy a pub with live music and enjoy an evening of good “craic.”

End your evening with a night-cap at my husband’s favorite pub, the Celt!

Dublin may be smaller than cities like London or Rome, but its history, music, pubs, and people make it just as memorable. My Dad always says there is a little Irish in all of us, and once you’ve visited Ireland, I know you’ll feel the same.

What else would you include on the itinerary? I’d love to hear!

Happy Travels!



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