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14th Mar 2024

12 Dublin tourist destinations that are actually worth the hype in 2024

Emily Mullen

If you are planning a trip to Dublin’s fair city this year, here are some spots to keep in mind

A lot of Dubliners will tell you with a laugh and a wink, that they don’t know why visitors come here. There must be something in the indelible charm of the place that causes visitors to overlook the rain, the high prices and the lack of public transport links. Perhaps it’s just that, we are well aware of our faults, we wear them with pride and brandish them like a child who has just scuffed its knees. Whatever it is, thankfully the visitors keep coming, and if you are planning a visit to Dublin soon, here are the “typical” tourist destinations that are actually well worth the hype.

12. Book of Kells Experience

Trinity College, book info here

With beautifully preserved buildings, cobble-stoned paths and the hustle and bustle of daily student life, Trinity College in the heart of Dublin City is always a pleasure to visit. Nothing allows us to live out our Normal People fantasy more than a day spent strolling along the campus with a pastry in hand, or relaxing by the Pav as a lively cricket match plays on.

The eagerly anticipated Book of Kells Experience invites visitors to experience the world-famous manuscript and the incredible collections from Trinity’s Old Library like never before.

Merrion Square West, free in

I’ve loved going to the National Gallery of Ireland for years, ever since I was quite little. It’s free entry, and you could spend hours wandering in and out of the different rooms. Some of the exhibitions aren’t free, but they’re well worth the money if you love art.

With that said, if you want to plan a day around a visit to the National Gallery, there’s no shortage of spots for food and drink, or even more museums to visit – check out our list here.

10. IMMA

Kilmainham, more info here

Another wonderful gallery in Dublin for the art lovers is IMMA, or the Irish Museum of Modern Art, where contemporary pieces take centre stage and shine in highly curated exhibitions. Eagle-eyed visitors will spot some fun examples of modern art on the grounds, the full collection which is housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham which is set around an amazing square, and the best news is that IMMA is free to enter.

9. Dead Zoo

Natural History Museum, free in but booking is essential, more info here

One of the things we were most excited about returning following the many coronavirus closures was the Dead Zoo, based within the Natural History Museum. It’s a tad morbid, but in that way it actually fits with our city’s interests surprisingly well (don’t be telling me your Christmas Day isn’t 50% occupied with who has died this year discussions).

The Natural History Museum was built in 1856 and has had very little work done to it in the past century and a half. Wear and tear meant they had to close while the roof was renovated, in order to keep the collections safe.

8. Hugh Lane

Parnell Square North, more info on tickets here

Following the incredibly successful Andy Warhol Exhibition, which saw the gallery booked out for entire days at a time, the Hugh Lane once again positioned itself as a quality tourist destination in Dublin. Based opposite the gorgeous Oisin Kelly statue of the Children of Lir (which is also well worth a look at – I’ve been living in Dublin for over 20 years and the sight of it still gets me) the gallery always has a quality exhibition on, a place where you could easily get lost in for hours, and never feel bored.

7. Chester Beatty

Dublin Castle, free in

While Dublin Castle was voted one of the most disappointing tourist destinations in Europe, nestled in the castle complex is The Chester Beatty, which has one of the best collections of rare and antique Asian manuscripts and treasures in the world. Set over a couple of floors, no visit to the library is the same with the collection constantly swapped in and out. Similar to The Morgan in New York- the collection was built up by a philanthropic rich man- mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty- and unlike its NY counterpart – The Chester Beatty is free in!

6. Phoenix Park

Dublin 8, free in

Sometimes called The Park or the Pheno by locals- it’s the largest enclosed public parks in any capital city in Europe (more than 700 hectares). It houses amongst other things, Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the President’s gaff) and a herd of fallow deer- which you are not to feed or approach. Given its size, one of the best ways to see the park is by hopping on a bike and cycling around it- there’s also the longest pub in Europe which is well worth a visit through the hole in the Park’s wall.

5. Glasnevin Cemetery

Glasnevin, free in (pay for tours)

Might be a bit morbid for some, but Dubliners have a special fondness for Glasnevin. The resting place of some of the country’s brightest minds, greatest leaders and home to some of the saddest parts of our collective history. You’ll find the final resting place of names like Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O’Connell, Roger Casement, Constance Markievicz, James Larkin, Brendan Behan, Christy Brown and Luke Kelly to name a few. If you get sick of looking at graves, there’s the wonderful Botanic Gardens across the way, home to the beautifully restored Victorian glasshouses. When you get thirsty there’s one of the best Dublin boozers set into the walls of Glasnevin- The Gravediggers so named because grave diggers used to frequent the place after a hard night digging.

4. Marsh’s Library

Dublin 8’s St Patrick’s Close, for ticketing info click here

Holding the title of Ireland’s oldest public library, Marsh’s Library was first opened in 1707 and has remained relatively unchanged since then. The library which holds 25,000 rare books and 300 manuscripts, once hosted famous minds such as Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, and James Joyce. The cages that readers were locked in to prevent theft can still be seen, and some visitors have claimed to see sightings of the resident ghost of Archbishop Marsh (who ordered the construction of the building).

It’s set along St. Patrick’s cathedral which is one of the finest cathedrals in the city and where The Door of Reconciliation can be seen- where the idiom of ‘Chancing your arm’ originates.

3. Guinness Storehouse

Dublin 8’s St. James’s Gate, for ticketing info click here

Definitely, one of the city’s most-visited tourist destinations- just last year 1.1 million people visited- so booking is advised. To an outsider, the importance of Guinness in the city may seem a little clichéd, but from the pints we order to the stories we tell or the history we share its importance is not to be underestimated.  The Storehouse does an incredible job of reflecting this and demonstrating the delicate weave that Guinness has had on the city’s history. Alongside the historical aspect, there are also interactive aspects of the products and processes that go into a pint of plain alongside the incredible advertising endeavours they’ve deployed over the years. To top the visit off, the 360 view from Gravity Bar on top of the Storehouse has to be one of the best in the city.

2. Kilmainham Jail

Kilmainham’s Inchicore Road, for ticketing info click here

From its opening in 1796 as the new county gaol for county Dublin, and until its closure in 1924, Kilmainham Jail has witnessed some of the heroic and tragic events in Irish history. The leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were held within its walls and in some cases executed there. Members of the Irish republican movement during the War of Independence and the Civil War will forever be associated with the place. It’s a place of supreme importance for Irish people, a site where we remember the struggles fought and the lives that were lost during Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation. The gaol is now a major museum, with a full tour that takes in everything from the 1916 corridor, the stonebreakers’ yard and a walk around the East Wing.

1. 14 Henrietta Street

Dublin 1’s 14 Henrietta Street, for ticketing info click here 

This relatively new museum is hands down one of the best museums I’ve ever been to (in any city). Set in an incredibly well-preserved part of Georgian Dublin, in this unassuming house you can track 300 years of Dublin history. From the house’s beginnings as a Georgian townhouse (reserved “for the quality” as Luke Kelly would say) to its eventual decline into a tenement dwelling. The brilliant guides bring you through room-by-room explaining the hidden histories of those that once called 14 Henrietta Street home.

Full disclosure I haven’t been to every tourist destination in Dublin, but the ones above really impressed me as an inhabitant of the city.


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