Dublin is graced with a wide variety of galleries and most of them are free entry!
The Big Hitters
Dublin’s rich mix of history, culture and nature ensures that visitors will never run out of interesting places to visit. Best of all, many of these – including world-class galleries parks and museums – do not charge an entry fee (or even one of those ‘suggested donation’ schemes). Enjoy!
One of the world’s most famous books, the Book of Kells is a 9th-century copy of the Gospels. Spectacularly ornate, completely unique and impeccably preserved, it is housed in Dublin’s historic Trinity College Library – a treat in itself. If you haven’t made a trip here, you haven’t seen the heart of Dublin!
Named Europe’s best tourist attraction, the Guinness Storehouse is so much more than a building. A visit means experiencing a story that has transformed a Dublin legacy into one of the world’s most famous names. Since 1759, the home of Guinness has been right here at St James’ Gate in the city centre – and with a 9,000-year lease, it won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
As one of Europe’s largest enclosed city parks, Phoenix Park is home to a beautiful array of local flora and fauna, including a herd of fallow deer, 50% of Ireland’s mammal species and 40% of our bird species. Nestled within the park is also Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.
After opening in 1796 as Dublin’s county gaol, Kilmainham went on to become the setting for some of the most significant moments in Ireland’s history. Leaders of many rebellions, including the 1916 Rising, were detained and executed here; and countless convicts were imprisoned within these walls before their exile to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it has been restored as a museum that hosts exhibitions and welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
This is the place to come if you’re seeking to trace any Dublin-based ancestors: 1.5 million people are buried here – that’s equal to over 30% of the country’s population! As well as generations of locals are some of the biggest names in Irish history: Michael Collins, Constance Markievicz, Brendan Behan, Maud Gonne, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Eamonn de Valera have all been laid to rest within these walls. Their stories and more are told in the cemetery museum, where you can also grab a bite to eat.
Open daily and free to enter, the National Botanic Gardens house some of the lushest and most beautiful horticultural delights Ireland has to offer, including over 15,000 plant species, 300 endangered species and six that are already extinct in the wild. The glasshouses contain some of the most exotic offerings; pop into the Great Palm House for a quick trip back to Victorian elegance. Tours and exhibitions are a common treat here, so you may be lucky when you visit.
St Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals
Dublin’s two Church of Ireland cathedrals are a stone’s throw apart, so if you’re visiting one, make sure to pop into the other. Both are breathtakingly beautiful and historically significant houses of worship: St Patrick’s has stood for 800 years, while Christ Church is nearly a millennium old. If you can, try to make a visit during a choral recital – the choirs of the two cathedrals together performed the world premiere of Handel’s Messiah in 1742 and their musical tradition remains strong to this day.
Split between Kildare Street’s Museum of Archaeology, Merrion Street’s Museum of Natural History and the Collins Barracks Museum of Decorative Art and History (as well as the Museum of Country Life in County Mayo), the National Museum network is a vibrant collection of authentic history. Open year round, apart from Christmas Day and Good Friday, any of the three in Dublin’s city centre are well worth the trip.
Built in the 13th century, on the site of a previous Viking settlement, Dublin Castle sits on Dame Street, at the heart of the city’s south side. Once the seat of British rule here, today it’s where Ireland’s presidents are inaugurated. This sprawl of buildings has seen centuries of comings and goings, victories and defeats but remains a stalwart feature upon the changing face of Dublin.
The hidden gems
After your first visit to the CBL museum, it should come as no surprise that this is the only one in Ireland to have ever been named ‘European Museum of the Year’. Opened in 1950, part of what’s most awe-inspiring about this place is that it was established to house the collections of a single, globetrotting figure: Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. Today, the museum is home to one of the finest collection of manuscripts and books ever held by a private collector, spanning literary works of Western, East Asian and Islamic significance, as well as a variety of temporary exhibitions.
An absolute haven for book lovers and history fans alike, Marsh’s Library was the first public library in Ireland, opening in 1707. It sits just beside St Patrick’s Cathedral and preserves over 25,000 books dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. As well as that, the ornate, dark oak interior and packed bookcases are likely what most people think of when they imagine their dream library… Perfection!
Founded in 1095, St Michan’s is the oldest church on Dublin’s north side. What makes it particularly special is what you’ll find under the floorboards: the mummified remains of some of the city’s wealthiest and most influential 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century families, including the mother of Bram Stoker – the writer who brought Dracula to the world.
Take a step back from the constant movement and energy of Temple Bar and you’ll find some of its quieter side streets brought to life through The Icon Walk. Billed as “the greatest story ever strolled”, the walk paints the faces and stories of some of Dublin and Ireland’s most beloved legends across its walls, from William Butler Yeats and Oscar Wilde to Luke Kelly, Phil Lynott and more. If you make the trip this way, make sure to pop into the Icon Gallery, where you’ll find many works by the artists behind the painted murals.
From the outside, Whitefriar Street Church is plain and relatively unassuming. But step inside and you’ll find a whole host of religious shrines, including one containing the remains of St Valentine. And what romantic wouldn’t want to stand at the feet of the patron saint of love himself?
View more attractions on VisitDublin.com
As anyone who has ever been to Dublin will tell you, we’ve got a vibrant nightlife scene. As the sun sets on the Liffey and darkness sets in, pubs, late bars and nightclubs fill with people looking to enjoy a great night out. Pubs If you’re looking for a jar (Dublin slang for a drink, typically a pint), you won’t have to look far. The city is naturally split into north and south by the river. You’ll likely have heard about Temple Bar, which is located by the river on the south side. You’ll find lots of pubs and restaurants here and it’s an area popular with tourists. To the north, the main thoroughfare is O’Connell Street, off which splinter a number
Dublin city is no concrete jungle: it’s dotted with open spaces where you can stretch your legs, get some fresh air and soak up nature. First among them is Phoenix Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe and unique in Dublin. It’s home to a beautiful array of local flora and fauna, as well as historic built heritage: nestled within the park is Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the president of Ireland; as well as Farmleigh, past home of the Guinness family; medieval