Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Maggie McKneely
Only have enough time to spend 2 days in Dublin? This itinerary will make sure you see all of the highlights of Ireland’s bustling capital city.
*This post contains affiliate links. That just means that if you happen to click on one of those links and end up making a purchase, I make a small commission (and you will have made my day!)
2 Days in Dublin Itinerary
Meet an Irishman and one of the first things he’ll tell you is to get out of Dublin. In a country known for scissor-trimmed grass, rhododendrons the size of trees, and roaming bands of wooly sheep that outnumber the people, in comparison, Dublin seems to live up to its name. In Irish, Dublin translates to “black pool,” the name given to it by its original Viking settlers. It’s busy with tourists and business people and students, there are more foreigners than Irish, it’s more expensive than anywhere else, and it’s a bit grungy and grimy and rough around the edges.
In other words, it’s a city. And it’s a city whose reputation gets unfairly marred purely because the surrounding countryside is so perfect. But I found Dublin to be not a “black pool” of Ireland’s worst traits, but a vibrant town filled with important (and sometimes amusing) history, character, and surprisingly excellent food. You don’t need to spend much of your Ireland trip here (because there’s just so much to see elsewhere!) but there is plenty to do to justify spending 2 days in Dublin.
To help make the most of your 2 days in Dublin, I’ve put together an itinerary that’ll make sure you see the most important sites and drink the right libations (you are in Dublin, after all) in a short amount of time.
Table of Contents
Tips for Visiting Dublin
Best time to visit
Ireland’s driest months are April – July, so if you visit the Emerald Isle then, you’ll have the highest chances of not having to wear your raincoat 100% of the time (but you’ll definitely still need it some of the time). But those are also the country’s, and therefore Dublin’s, busiest tourist months.
This 2 days in Dublin plan works no matter when you choose to visit, just pay close attention to those attractions that require getting tickets in advance if you come during the busy tourist months.
Dublin is a relatively walkable city. And with all the Guinness you’ll be consuming, those extra steps might be helpful. If you stay in or near city center, you likely won’t need to use public transportation at all. However, there are several options available should you want them.
There is no underground system, so the best transportation option is the bus. Dublin Bus operates the main bus system in the city. You can find all of their fare options, timetables, and stops on their website. You might also consider getting a hop-on hop-off bus ticket that will get you between tourist sites easier.
If you aren’t staying in city center and need a way to get there, the LUAS tram is another excellent option. The light rail system was designed specifically to provide transport from the suburbs into the city proper. For fares and timetables, visit their website.
Taxis are not the most affordable option but they are plentiful and are particularly useful for getting back to your hotel after an evening enjoying Dublin’s nightlife. They are also a convenient way to get to and from the airport.
Ireland uses Euros. Like the rest of the country, you won’t need cash. Everywhere accepts cards, and most places even accept Venmo and other electronic forms of payment. A note though that like most cities, Dublin is the most expensive area in Ireland. You will pay more for food here than anywhere else in the country.
Where to Stay
City Center is where all of the action is and since you only have 2 days in Dublin, you’ll want to stay as close to there as possible. But because the city is so compact, you can save a little money by staying a mile or two outside of it and still be able to get everywhere you want to relatively easily. We stayed at the lovely Croke Park Hotel, near its namesake Croke Park stadium. It was about a 25-minute walk to city center from there.
Two Days in Dublin Itinerary
One of my favorite ways to get to know any new-to-me destination is via a free walking tour. And with only 2 days in Dublin, this is a great way to learn a lot in a short amount of time.
There are several companies that operate in Dublin but I highly recommend Yellow Umbrella Tours. They offer a 3-hour Intro to Dublin Tour that teaches you all about Dublin’s ancient and modern past, covers the major highlights like Trinity College and Temple Bar and the Molly Malone statue, gives suggestions on how to spend the rest of your time in Dublin, including fun bars and resturants, all while being extremely entertaining and personable. And the best part – it’s free.
The only catch is that because it’s a free tour, you won’t be able to actually go inside any of the ticketed sites (that’s what day 2 is for!). But you’ll still get an awesome overview.
After all that walking, it’s time to grab lunch. The tour ends near Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral. There’s a restaurant a few blocks from that our tour guide recommended as the best place to get authentic beef pie – Lundy Foot’s. Weird name, excellent food, and most of the guests were locals (always a good sign!).
Irish Whiskey Museum
I am a sucker for any kind of winery and distillery tour. Not because I’m an alcoholic, but because you can learn so much about a country’s history and culture through the development of its trademark drink. And there are few countries as synonymous with its alcoholic beverages as Ireland.
Dublin’s Irish Whiskey Museum starts at the very beginning, with those blessed Irish monks distilling the very first bottle of whiskey way back when. It traces how Ireland almost lost its whiskey industry, why the “e” was added into the word (versus the Scottish “whisky“), and then goes through a tasting of 5-6 different Irish whiskeys from across the country.
The guides are funny and knowledgeable and the tour is fascinating. If you, like me, have done a million distillery tours, or even if you don’t enjoy whisky, I highly recommend this tour for the great historical and cultural context it gives. Tours do get sold out though, so get your tickets in advance if possible.
If you aren’t having breakfast at your hotel, may I suggest the Dublin mainstay Bewley’s? Bewley’s has been churning out award-winning pastries and coffee on Grafton Street for over 100 years and has certainly earned its reputation. My mom and I had a delightful time people-watching from their outside patio with cappuccinos and a smoked salmon and avocado croissant. Certainly one of our favorite meals in Dublin!
Just a few blocks from Bewley’s is the one absolute must-see thing during 2 days in Dublin – Trinity College Library and its famous Book of Kells. The Trinity College Library’s Long Room is one of the most iconic locations in all of Ireland, for good reason. The dark oak paneled room with its high arched ceiling, double-storied shelves of books, and historic busts lining the aisles will leave you speechless.
As if the room itself wasn’t enough, then there’s the Book of Kells. This stunning tome is an illustrated manuscript of the Gospels, created in an Irish monastery around 800AD. It is one of the most beautiful books you’ll ever see, and the fact that it was created 1200 years ago is mind-boggling. Only 2 pages are on display at any given time, but there’s an entire exhibit that explains the book’s history and all that went into creating it.
Tickets sell out far in advance, so definitely purchase them ahead of time here.
Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin is home to not one but two very impressive cathedrals. The older of the two is Christ Church Cathedral, built nearly 1000 years ago.
While the interior is gorgeous, it’s Christ Church’s crypt that is the real draw. It’s the oldest working structure in Dublin and is home to Ireland’s first copy of the Magna Carta as well as the mummified corpses of a cat and mouse nicknamed “Tom and Jerry.” The two were found stuck inside the organ pipes when they underwent a thorough cleaning some time ago and have since become the church’s most famous attractions.
St. Stephen’s Green
For a little reprieve from the bustling streets of Dublin, take a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green. The quiet park dates back several hundred years, and while much smaller than New York’s Central Park, it has the same effect of making you forget that you’re in the middle of the city. Enjoy its carefully laid out flower gardens, ponds, and resident swans and herons.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s is the more iconic of Dublin’s two cathedrals, partly thanks to its namesake. Rumour has it that St. Patrick himself baptized Christian converts on the site 1500 years ago, so it was only natural that the church built here should carry on his legacy.
Today, St. Patrick’s is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The Gothic architecture inside is stunning, and there are many artifacts that date back to the cathedral’s origins. Johnathan Swift is also buried here; best known for authoring Gullivers Travels, he was also the dean of St. Patrick’s for nearly twenty years.
No trip to Dublin is complete without visiting the Guinness Storehouse. Yes, It’s touristy – it’s the #1 most visited place in all of Ireland. But coming from someone who hates touristy things, the Guinness Storehouse is actually worth it. But like everything else, it pays to get your tickets in advance here.
The storehouse itself was built in 1900 to be the fermentation location for Guinness, which it was converted into the museum in 2000. Visitors go through seven different levels, starting with how Guinness is made, the history of the company and the Guinness family, the various famous marketing campaigns throughout the year, and a tasting of the beer itself. At the very top of the storehouse is the Gravity Bar, which has the hands-down best view of Dublin, with glass walls giving a 360-degree look over the city and surrounding countryside. So enjoy the view while sipping on a Guinness from the place where it’s made.
The whole place is highly interactive and far more interesting than I ever expected. A visit here is the perfect way to end your 2 days in Dublin. As the Irish say, Slainte!
Like it? Pin it!