How to Spend 36 Hours In Dublin

How to Spend 36 Hours In Dublin

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“When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.” – James Joyce

Overflowing with charm like a pint glass at a local pub, Dublin will leave an indelible mark in your travel journal—and in your heart. The city, much like the people who call it home, is full of character and personality. You’ll find proud displays of Celtic heritage throughout Its cobblestone streets, and lively craic (Gaelic for good times) around every corner. You’ll also find over a thousand years of history, a melting pot of cultural traditions, and a few of the finest brews you’ll ever taste. To make the most of your time in Dublin, we’ve put together two 36-hour itineraries: one that takes you to the best parts of the city, plus a few hidden gems, and another for travelers who’ve been before and want to experience the city from a new perspective.

36 Hours in Dublin: For the First Time

Brick facade in the trendy district at Temple Bar in Dublin

If you're spending a couple of days in Dublin for the first time, you’re in for a treat. You could spend weeks in this city and feel like you’ve only scratched the surface. Because of this, it’s important to strike a balance between seeing the city’s best sights and attractions without spending too much precious time waiting in line. Here’s a first-timer itinerary that will help you make the most of your time here.

Day One: Morning

The best way to get a sense of the city is with a tour along the River Liffey. Spilling down from the Wicklow Mountains and cutting through the center of the city, life in Dublin revolves around the river. Stroll along the scenic Bachelors Walk on the north side and then board a covered boat that brings amazing views in any weather. 

Discover Dublin’s famous bridges like the arched O’Connell Bridge, the white wrought iron Ha’penny Bridge, and the harp-inspired Samuel Beckett Bridge. You’ll also sail by an impressive blend of historic buildings and modern architecture. From the imposing 18th century Custom House to the sleek steel facades of the Docklands, it’s fascinating to take in a city that has clear reverence for its past alongside a confident vision for its future.

Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin has a harp-inspired shape.

Day One: Afternoon

After your morning tour, grab a bite and a pint at O’Connells. Its vaulted ceilings echo the nearby bridge, its menu is hearty and authentic, and its patrons are always happy to chat and share their favorite things to do and see in Dublin.

Trinity College library Long Room, Dublin, Ireland

After lunch, it’s off to Trinity College for a look at the absolutely breathtaking Old Library. Make your way through the stunning Long Room, where approximately 200,000 volumes are stored. Amongst the most treasured relics here is the Book of Kells—considered the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. This cultural treasure—created over 1000 years ago (around 800 AD) by monks from the Scottish island of Iona—contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. Enjoy the self-guided exhibition before catching a glimpse of the book for yourself

Day One: Evening

The Temple bar in Dublin at night.

It’s tradition to take in Temple Bar on a night out in Dublin. Considered the cultural heart of the city, Temple Bar is located along Liffey’s south bank. It’s a neighborhood packed with pubs, cafés, galleries, and shops. Get lost in little laneways, then let the sounds of a “trad session” (authentic Irish music) bring you back to Meeting House Square, where an open-air stage often hosts live performances and film screenings.

Before you go bar hopping, fuel up at BóBós Burgers, where local beef and Dubliner cheese get the gourmet treatment. For an elevated experience, dine at Cleaver East in the Clarence Hotel, and keep your eyes peeled for its famous owners—Bono and The Edge of U2—perhaps Dublin’s most famous musical export. If the Temple Bar seems a little too busy, don’t despair. For a pint of Guinness (we swear they really taste better in Ireland) visit the iconic Auld Dubliner or the flower-laden Palace Bar. If you want to expand your hoppy horizons, The Porterhouse serves up their own amazing microbrews, plus bottled selections from around the world.

Day Two: Morning

Sunrise On The River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.

After your evening of revelry, dig into a “Full Irish” breakfast to start your second day in Dublin. The saying goes “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”, and this traditional meal certainly fits the bill. Consisting of bacon, sausages, white pudding (sausage with oatmeal), eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, and potatoes plus Irish soda bread, jam, juice, and tea, you’ll have all the energy you need for a day of exploring. So, where to dine? We’re partial to O’Neills Pub & Kitchen and their “Really Good” full Irish breakfast (Don’t worry, they’re just being modest with the name).

An example of a full Irish breakfast.

Dublin has long been home to literary luminaries, with its enchanting atmosphere inspiring the works of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and many more. At the edge of Merrion Square, adorned with stylish Georgian architecture, you’ll find Oscar Wilde’s house and a languid statue of the witty writer lounging within the square.

Two museums are close by, each well worth a visit. The National Gallery houses extensive collections of Irish and European paintings and sculpture, and the National Museum displays archaeological wonders unearthed from prehistoric Ireland and the Viking Age.

Day Two: Afternoon

Phil Lynott Statue in Dublin, Ireland

Take a walk from the National Museum to grab a quick pint at Bruxelles. A legendary stop on the Dublin music scene, Bruxelles has been the pub of choice for everyone from Paul Weller and the Gallagher brothers of Oasis to Andrew Ridgely of Wham! to rock and roll legend Phil Lynott. In fact, Phil was such a beloved fixture of the bar that you’ll find a life-sized bronze statue of “The Ace with the Bass” right outside on Harry Street.

Saint Stephen's Green in Dublin with a pink flowering tree in bloom.

From here, a short stroll down Grafton Street takes you to the lush paradise of Saint Stephen’s Green. This traditional Victorian garden covers 22 acres with winding footpaths, brilliant flowerbeds, tranquil lakes, and impressive rock features. Explore the airy, glass-ceilinged Saint Stephen’s Green, or do a little shopping along Grafton before your final—and iconic—Dublin adventure.

You can’t end your first visit to Dublin without a visit to the famous Guinness Storehouse! It’s about a 30-minute walk from the green, so a short taxi ride or quick tour on the hop-on-hop-off bus will get you there quickly. Even if you’re not a beer fan, this museum, brewery, and bar serves up an immersive experience that sheds light on the world-renowned brewer, and its impact on the culture and identity of Ireland.

Starting on the ground floor, you’ll find the famous lease for the property embedded in glass on the floor. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for £45 per year. It’s safe to say this place will be around for a while! Moving up the pint glass-shaped building, you’ll learn about the brewing process, the company’s iconic advertising campaigns, and even learn how to pour the perfect pint of silky stout for yourself.

On the fifth floor, a traditional dining hall offers up a menu that incorporates Guinness in most menu items. At the top, you’ll be treated to 360-degree views of the city and surrounding countryside at the Gravity Bar. Etchings on the floor-to-ceiling windows give unique insight into the skyline before you, including surrounding neighborhoods and the Wicklow Mountains.

A tray of Guinness Beer samples.

Day Two: Evening

Grafton Street Dublin Ireland Shoppers

For your last few hours in Dublin, make your way back downtown to Grafton Street, a pedestrian street that comes alive as the sun goes down. Lined with street performers and vendors, you’ll find a more varied selection of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs than in Temple Bar. Sip one final pint or cocktail and enjoy the lively, magical city.

36 Hours In Dublin: Off the Beaten Track

Saint Audoen church in Dublin, Ireland

Coming back to Dublin is like visiting an old friend. No matter how much time has passed, it’s easy to pick up where you left off. There are likely some favorite spots you’d love to revisit, but for a new itinerary that takes you away from the most visited Dublin attractions, we have a few suggestions.

Day One: Morning

It’s time to take a step back in time and explore Dublin’s medieval history. Start at Dublin’s oldest building—Christ Church Cathedral. Founded in 1030, the cathedral is easy to spot, thanks to its iconic flying buttresses. Inside, you’ll find intricate tile work, ancient artifacts, and a collection of original 16th costumes—many of which were featured in the acclaimed historical series The Tudors. Most interesting, however, is the enormous crypt located underneath. Here, you’ll find interesting relics of the past like the stocks once used outside the cathedral to punish criminals. You’ll also find the mummified remains of a cat and mouse who, unbelievably, died mid-chase.

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

If you find yourself fascinated with mummies, less than 10 minutes away at St. Michan’s, you’ll find dozens of mummified remains waiting in a vault underneath the church. Most famously, this is the final resting place of a 400-year-old nun, and a 6-foot 6-inch 800-year-old mammoth of a man believed to be a Crusader.    

Across the street from Christchurch, Dublinia lets you live life in Dublin during the Viking Age. Try on Viking clothes, step on board a warship, wander through a medieval fair, and take the stairs to the top of St. Michael’s Tower for sweeping city views.

Take some time before lunch to explore Dubh Linn Gardens, the area that gave the city its name. Here, on the site of the original dubh linn (black pool) where Viking settlers anchored their ships, you can discover Celtic spirals in the four seasons garden, and wander through the four corner gardens—each with their own themes highlighting more modern aspects of the city’s history

Day One: Afternoon

You can’t leave this part of the city without visiting the Chester Beatty Museum. One of the best museums in Europe, it is home to an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts, paintings, religious texts, and costumes from every corner of the world— all collected by Irish Mining engineer Chester Beatty. The museum offers the perfect chance to escape the bustle of the city in its serene Japanese rooftop garden. And if your serenity has you feeling hungry, make your way to the museum’s Silk Road Café to enjoy a light lunch of Middle Eastern fare.

Day One: Evening

For even more dining options, head around the corner down South Great George’s Street to the stalwart of Dublin shopping at George’s Street Arcade. The city’s first purpose-built shopping center, this jewel of Victorian architecture is where old Dublin meets trendy boutiques, unique local shops and chic department stores. Stroll around under vaulted glass ceilings to find a special keepsake, then, it’s time for a nightcap.

The George's Street Arcade in Dublin.

The Shelbourne Hotel is the place to see and be seen in Dublin. Take a ten-minute walk along St. Stephen’s Green to the corner of Merrion Row and Kildare Street to enjoy an evening cocktail at the city’s most iconic hotel. Featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the site where Ireland’s constitution was drafted in 1922, you can sense its storied past as soon as you walk in. Drain a dram of whiskey at the Horseshoe Bar, or sip an inventive cocktail at No. 27 Bar & Lounge.

Day Two: Morning

Now that you’ve explored the more ancient side of Dublin, take a step towards the modern era with a visit to the Dublin Writers Museum, then take a tour to hear what some of the city’s most famous residents have to say. Housed in an ornate mansion on the north side of the River Liffey, the Writer’s Museum gives you a deeper appreciation for the works and lives of Ireland’s most celebrated literary figures, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, and Patrick Pearse.

Statue of Molly Malone, Dublin, Ireland

Get your smartphone out for Dublin’s interactive Talking Statues tour. Ten famous statues around the city have been imbued with the gift of gab, thanks to modern technology. Scan the code at each statue and you’ll receive a call from the likes of Joyce, Shaw, and even Molly Malone! With monologues written and voiced by contemporary Irish writers, scientists, and celebrities, it’s a fun way to learn more about Dublin and its famous residents while wandering around the city on your own terms. 

Day Two: Afternoon

Now that you’re back on the south side of the river, get a bite to eat then make your way to the Irish Whiskey Museum. Unlike the obvious Jameson Distillery tour, tasting tours at the museum give you the chance to learn about whiskey culture in Ireland and serve up to four whiskey samples from different distilleries. From here, make your way down to the Little Museum of Dublin, where you can learn the history of this great city according to the people who live in it. Collecting memorabilia, artefacts, and photographs from the general public, this museum features exhibits on everything from U2 to JFK to the Irish Civil War. It’s an extremely popular spot (and well worth a visit), so be sure to book your guided tour in advance.

Day Two: Evening

After two days of exploring beyond the surface of Dublin. Relax for the evening at a hidden gem often overlooked by visitors but loved by locals. House Dublin might look like any other Georgian townhouse from the street but step inside for an upscale dining experience. Both relaxed and glamorous, each room offers its own special atmosphere, especially the airy Garden room with its olive and citrus trees.

Róisín Dubh Awaits

In Ireland, they’re fond of saying “May the road rise up to meet you.” And while we’re a little more interested in a rising tide than a rising road, the sentiment remains the same. With two great itineraries to choose from, Dublin is yours to discover! Best of all, when you join us as part of our Stay Local in Dublin Land Program, you’ll find yourself immersed even further in this enchanting emerald of a city. 

Take the first steps toward your Irish experience today by checking out our upcoming cruises to Dublin and beyond.

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