Ireland’s capital, Dublin is a trendy European city, but is also one that’s steeped in history and local folklore.
To make the most of your 2 days in Dublin, you’ll need to plan your itinerary well in order to see all the best bits in the time you have.
Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you and have created this 2 days in Dublin itinerary, which is perfect for first time visitors and those seeking an historic and fun weekend in Dublin.
Is 2 Days In Dublin Enough?
First things first though, is 2 days in Dublin enough time to see everything you want to? Yes and no.
2 days in Dublin is enough time if you just want to see the city’s main highlights. However, if you want to see some of Dublin’s lesser known sights and hidden gems, or if you want to go on some day trips to other parts of Ireland, then you’ll want to extend your trip by at least another 2 days.
But when you’ve only got 2 days in Dublin to spare, here’s how to make the most of it…
2 Days in Dublin: How To Have The Best Weekend in Dublin, Ireland
Visit Trinity College Library and The Book of Kells Exhibition
No trip to Dublin would be complete without marvelling at the dusty tomes within the Trinity College Library and Book of Kells exhibition, so let’s start there.
The University of Dublin’s ‘Old Library’ was built in the 18th century and is stacked floor to ceiling with original clothbound books, oak bookcases and sliding ladders akin to something you might read about in a Harry Potter novel or see in a Beauty and the Beast adaptation.
There are some 200,000 of the library’s oldest books here – undoubtedly a must for literary fanatics. But arguably the most famous artefact within the college is the Book of Kells: a 9th century manuscript, which depicts the four Gospels of the New Testament.
It’s a wonder to behold and a definite must for all first time visitors to Dublin.
Wander around historic Dublin Castle
Another historic sight to see within Dublin is the 13th century Dublin Castle, which served as the headquarters of English and British administration in Ireland for centuries.
The castle is imposing and a bizarre mix of turrets, portcullises, gothic spires and modern architecture. Inside, there are stately rooms galore where you can marvel at intricate cornicing, marble pillars, vaulted ceilings, dazzling chandeliers and period furniture.
The castle is open seven days per week and you can even get free entry with the Dublin Pass.
Drink tea and put your feet up at The Winding Stair Bookshop
If you love books, tea and cake as much as us then you’ll love the idea of a café that’s housed within a bookshop overlooking the River Liffey and famous Ha’penny Bridge.
The Winding Stair Bookshop is one of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in Dublin and sells all kinds of popular books and unique finds including vintage books.
But it also doubles up as a café. There are a couple of cute little tables and chairs by the window and your teas and coffees will arrive in mismatched yet charming teacups. You can also choose from a range of homemade treats like flapjacks, brownies and tiffins to indulge in too.
This charming little gem in the heart of the bustling city of Dublin is perfect for people watching and putting your feet up during a busy day of sightseeing.
Enjoy a pint of Guinness or local whisky at The Temple Bar
It’s time to end your first day in Dublin with a pint or two of Guinness (or whisky!) from the now famous Temple Bar pub.
So the story goes that during the 18th century, the Temple Bar area was the place to be if you were after a night of drunken debauchery with a local prostitute!
But as the years sailed on by, the area fell into disarray, which resulted in bargain rents for homes, boutiques and bars. Thus, The Temple Bar itself was built.
Arguably, the best news for the owners of the bar came in 1991, when the Irish state got involved to modernise and rejuvenate the entire Temple Bar area of Dublin, making it a popular place to be once again.
Today, The Temple Bar in all its bright red glory is an Irish institution. Inside, you’ll find well over 450 bottles of rare whisky (Ireland’s largest collection apparently), various artefacts depicting the area’s history and a bizarre bronze statue of James Joyce, which looks only slightly out of place among the tourists, locals and drunken conversations.
Join a guided tour around Kilmainham Gaol
A visit to Kilmainham Gaol where multiple Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were imprisoned and executed, is both an educational and bewitching experience.
During your visit, you’ll be told about the jail’s history and shown a short video about its famous prisoners before being guided around by a local expert.
While the prison might look olde-worlde outside, the inside is a haunting display of tiny cells, imposing watchtowers, sparsity and appalling conditions.
Guided tours start as early as 9.30am and must be booked in advance to guarantee your spot. But one thing’s for certain: it will definitely bring part of Ireland’s gruesome history to life for you!
Drink a pint (or two!) of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse
After all those gruesome tales and haunting images, I think we need a bit of fun now don’t we? Thankfully, the Guinness Storehouse is but a mere twenty minute walk away.
While there are two bars here including one with panoramic views across the city, you can also join various events including brewery tours and tasting experiences.
Who said anything about it being too early for a pint of Ireland’s most famous ale?
Enjoy a late lunch or early dinner at The Pig’s Ear
It’s probably time to soak up some of that alcohol now with a slap up meal.
The Pig’s Ear on Nassau Street is one of those places that is quickly becoming the worst kept secret in the city. Locals rave about it, tourists hear about it from a friend of a friend of a friend, and quickly, word spreads.
Although this top-rated restaurant has an unassuming appearance from the outside, the atmosphere inside is sophisticated yet relaxed – and the food really is incredible.
If you come here for lunch (between 12 and 2.45pm) or in the early evening (between 5.30 and 6.15pm), you have the option of ordering a two or three course meal from select dishes for a fraction of the cost of a dish from the a la carte menu.
Scott and I decided to go for a two course meal each and cheekily share the starter and dessert between us while having separate mains. We’re happy to say that the staff didn’t turn their noses up at this like some popular restaurants do.
At the time, I went for the duck, which was very meaty and accompanied with a deliciously creamy sauce. While the dessert was a fun fruit cheesecake layered within a glass jar and carried inside a retro pink and white candy bag.
It was the most novel yet delicious dessert we’ve had in a long time. Amusingly, a couple on the table behind us ordered the same dessert – and clearly tried to smuggle theirs home as a souvenir!
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Where To Stay In Dublin For 2 Days
For just 2 days in Dublin, you’ll want to stay somewhere central or close to bus and Luas connections.
Here are some central hotels to consider, which all have breakfast included in the price:
- McGettigan’s Townhouse: Charming 3.5-star hotel above a traditional Irish pub near Christ Church Cathedral | Check Prices | Read Reviews
- Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre: Cheap and cheerful 3.5-star chain hotel near Trinity College; perfect for a couple of nights | Check Prices | Read Reviews
- Hotel Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin: Upscale 4-star hotel with comfortable rooms; just a 10 minute walk away from Ha’penny Bridge | Check Prices | Read Reviews
- Wynn’s Hotel: 3.5-star hotel near Abbey Theatre; the rooms are a little outdated but they’re okay for a short stay | Check Prices | Read Reviews
- The Dawson Hotel: Luxurious 4-star hotel close to St Stephen’s Green; ideal if you’re celebrating a special occasion during your weekend in Dublin | Check Prices | Read Reviews
Getting Around Dublin
There are several ways to see the sights during your weekend in Dublin, Ireland.
The city has an extensive bus network including the frequent Airlink Express, which is easily the best (and cheapest!) way to get to the city centre from Dublin Airport.
Dublin also has a convenient tram-like system called ‘Luas’, which is a great way to get around the city cheaply and conveniently. You can buy single and return tickets from vending machines found on the platforms.
However, watch out for Luas strikes! We were unfortunate enough to arrive in Dublin during some city-wide strikes and had to rely on buses for most of our trip.
If you plan on seeing some of Ireland’s coastal cities then you’ll probably want to use the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), which hugs the Irish Sea coast for most of its journey.
You can also buy The Dublin Pass, which lasts for between 1 and 5 days. This not only gives you free entry into some of Dublin’s top sights including the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Castle, but also lets you on the Dublin hop-on hop-off bus.
We personally don’t think it’s worth getting for just 2 days in Dublin (unless you’re going to use it extensively for every attraction and the hop-on hop-off bus). However, it starts to make more sense financially the longer you’re in Dublin for, so it’s definitely one to think about should you want to extend your trip.
Day Trips From Dublin
If you want to spend longer in Ireland and use Dublin as your base, then there are tons of fantastic day trips and half day trips from Dublin you can also add to your itinerary.
We recommend checking out Get Your Guide, which is full to the brim with Dublin tours and activities.
Here are a few recommended day trips from Dublin:
- Giant’s Causeway: This legendary National Trust place needs no introduction and can be combined with visits to Belfast, The Dark Hedges (a Game of Thrones filming location) and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in just one day.
- Powerscourt Estate and Waterfall: Stunning gardens and with a majestic waterfall nearby just 45 minutes south of Dublin.
- Wicklow National Park: Whether you want to embark on a hike or simply drive past the rolling hills and mountains of Wicklow National Park, this is a stunning half day trip from Dublin. You can even combine it with a trip to Powerscourt Estate if you want to as the estate sits on the edge of the park.
- The Battle of the Boyne Site: Found just under an hour north of Dublin is the historic landmark, where in 1690, an epic battle broke out between the Protestant King William III of England and the deposed Catholic King James II on the banks of the Boyne river.
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