Here’s how to make the most of your 24 hours in Dublin.
I arrived to the airport at 5:00am, bleary eyed. Those overnight flights are always a killer. In order to beat jet lag and gain a sense of normalcy for my remaining three weeks in Ireland, I forged ahead. No naps for this girl.
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It was also my one day in Dublin, Ireland. It was my first taste of the country, and I was excited to get out there and explore.
With only one day in Dublin (the next day, it was off to Belfast!), I had to make the most of it. I had lots of ground to cover with only 24 hours in Dublin. While you can never properly get the feel of a place in just a day, sometimes you have no choice but to make the most of it.
See if you can drop your belongings early at your hotel. Thankfully, our Dublin Airbnb host allowed us to check in super early. With any luck, you’ll be allowed an early check-in or your hotel in Dublin will allow you to leave your bags at the front desk.
Here’s how I spent one day in Dublin. I was grateful to see so much of the city, yet it left me wanting to come back for more.
START THE DAY WITH COFFEE
If you know me, you know that I love coffee. If you want to power through the day after flying from overseas, you might need some caffeine. In this case, there was no messing around. I found the nearest coffee shop and ordered a mug of it.
For the Twin Peaks fans out there (of which I’m a massive fan), this was a “Damn fine cup of coffee.” And yes, I take my coffee, “black as midnight on a moonless night.”
While I usually try to pop into an independently owned cafe, I stumbled upon Esquires Coffee, which is a chain in the UK. It was a great cup of coffee and gave me the fuel to keep going on my merry way.
16a O’Connell Street Lower
The main attraction is the Trinity College Library’s Long Room and the Book of Kells exhibit.
Be sure to purchase tickets in advance through the Trinity College website. I recommend reserving a ticket early in the morning. We visited first thing on Sunday morning at 9:30am.
I was mostly interested in seeing the Long Room as I’m fascinated by old libraries. This isn’t just any run of the mill library; it houses 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books.
With centuries-old textbooks from floor to ceiling and grandiose marble busts at the head of each shelf, visiting the Long Room was an awe-inspiring experience. The smell of old books wafted through the air. In hushed tones, we marveled at the history within this room.
We entered with the first large group of the day. When you enter, you’ll see the Book of Kells exhibit. I recommend that you skip the crowds here and head straight to the Long Room, where you’ll have it entirely to yourself. Then, feel free to wander back to the Book of Kells when everyone else is exploring the Long Room.
After you’re finished admiring the Long Room, take a stroll around the Trinity College grounds. It’s a very peaceful place and worth checking out. With a limited amount of time in Dublin, I didn’t join any guided walking tours. I’ve read that the student led tours are a great choice if you want some insider information.
Trinity College Dublin
The best way to get to know a city, especially if it’s a walkable destination, is to meander around and explore. Wander down those little alleyways. Zigzag down random streets. Part of the fun is the unknown. Walk wherever your feet will take you.
This advice holds true in Dublin. From Trinity College, walk around and take some pictures. You’ll stumble upon street art, buildings with brightly painted doors, and charming pub scenes.
In my opinion, this is one of the best things to do in Dublin.
TEMPLE BAR PUB
You’ll probably find it as you’re naturally wandering around. In the Temple Bar district, the Temple Bar pub is one of those iconic places where you should at least stop at admire the exterior, even if you don’t go in for a pint.
When we stumbled upon the bar, it was pretty early in the morning. And in the morning, I’m not ready for beer. I’ll stick to my coffee!
The Temple Bar
47-48 Temple Bar
ATTEND A LOCAL EVENT OR FESTIVAL
It was purely a coincidence that Dublin Vegfest was happening while I was in Dublin. It made sense to save my appetite and head there for lunch, where I would eat and eat until I couldn’t physically eat any longer.
Dublin Vegfest is a weekend event at the end of September with many vendors selling delicious vegan meals and desserts. There are also speakers, music performances and cooking demonstrations. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to attend – just bring your appetite!
Although it might seem touristy, the Guinness Storehouse is one of those places you simply must visit when you’re in Dublin. Even if you are only an occasional beer drinker, the experience at this seven floor museum devoted to Guinness is well worth the trip.
I highly recommend booking your ticket in advance, if possible. There are reduced rates, a complimentary pint of beer, and you can skip the line.
I loved learning the interesting facts along the journey from the first floor to the Gravity Bar at the top. For instance, did you know that 100,000 tonnes of Irish grown barley are used to make Guinness beer every year?
Did you know that it’s reported that the yeast used to make Guinness is a descendant from the original strand used by Arthur Guinness? The yeast is only grown there at St. James’s Gate and a special reserve supply is always locked in the Director’s Safe.
The water used in the Guinness made at St. James’s Gate comes directly from the nearby Wicklow Mountains. A quality source of water is vital when brewing beer, and the water from the Wicklow Mountains is excellent.
As we walked around the museum and travelled throughout the seven floors, we discovered more displays with facts, as well as artifacts and memorabilia. Before reaching the top floor, there was an intriguing section showcasing their old advertising campaigns.
And at last, tasting the beer! At the very top, enjoy 360 degree views of historic Dublin from the Gravity Bar. I swear, a pint of the black stuff just seems to taste better at the Guinness Storehouse.
As of right now, Guinness from the keg is 100% vegan-friendly. While Guinness in bottles and cans isn’t currently vegan or vegetarian, it will be soon enough. Keep checking Barnivore for future updates.
St James’s Gate,
Ushers, Dublin 8
SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, founded in 1191. While I only admired the exterior of the building without venturing inside, the church draws crowds of over 300,000 people every year.
The church’s organ is the largest in Ireland, and parts of the instrument date back to 1695.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s Close,
Wood Quay, Dublin 8
Dublin has many vegetarian and vegan options. From vegan-friendly restaurants to vegan food tours, you won’t have a problem sticking to a plant-based diet.
Since 1986, Cornucopia has served up delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan cuisine. It’s the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Dublin. You can eat here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There are a variety of options for vegans, as well as those following gluten-free, sugar-free or raw food diets.
I chose a main course with two side salads: a delectable pastry pocket filled with mushroom, beetroot, chickpeas, eggplant, and peanuts. I enjoyed an Asian cucumber noodle salad and potato salad as my side dishes. For dessert, I went for the chocolate brownie.
19-20 Wicklow St,
VEGAN DUBLIN FOOD TOURS
For the best variety of vegan food in the city, check out a food tour by Vegan Dublin Food Tours. Our small group visited six different restaurants and ordered both healthy and unhealthy vegan food. From traditional Irish cuisine to local beverages, we sampled it all. The evening ends with delectable desserts that you’ll dream about long after you eat them.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re interested in living like a local at a Dublin apartment, please check out my review of two Airbnb rentals. They were both clean, comfortable, and within walking distance of the city centre.
If hotels are more your style, here are a few different accommodation choices to suit a variety of budgets.
- Luxury: The Merrion Hotel – Ranked #1 on Tripadvisor, the Merrion Hotel has an excellent location, a pool, and free Wi-Fi.
- Middle of the Road: Brooks Hotel – It’s a romantic hotel in the middle of the city where you’ll love your stay.
- Budget: Roxford Lodge Hotel – It’s affordable luxury within walking distance of the downtown core.
Even with only one day in Dublin, you can cover a lot of the city. You can see mostly all of the top things to do in Dublin within 24 hours. Some other places that could strike your fancy: the Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle, or the National Gallery of Ireland.
While I would have loved more time in the city, I’ll take what I can get. I’ll definitely continue my explorations of Dublin when I return someday.
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