What would you do if you only had 24 hours in one city? It’s not exactly a lot of time. You can’t get to know the city—all you can do is give it a cursory look. Twenty-four hours is just a quick skim, and because of that, I hate spending only a day in a city. I never walk away feeling like I really know the place. But I suddenly found myself with only 24 hours in Dublin and had to cram a thousand-year old city into one day of travel. How do you spend one day in Dublin? Here’s how:
8:00am – Wake Up/Shower/Breakfast
9:00am – Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is more like a palace, but it’s good to see quickly. Tours run infrequently and are often canceled. Also, most attractions don’t open before 10am in Dublin, and you can just walk into the castle’s courtyard.
9:30am – St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Named after the patron saint of Ireland, this cathedral is pretty impressive. The present buildings date from 1191, and the famous Marsh’s Library is the oldest in Ireland. It’s also one of the few things open before 10am.
10:00am – Guinness Storehouse
Here you can learn all about the history of Guinness, Ireland’s most famous beer. The factory here was bought in 1759 and has a 9,000 year lease. It produces around three million pints of Guinness a day. At the end of the tour, you can head up to the Gravity Bar for a free pint. The place also provides excellent 360° views of the city. Avoid weekend afternoons here as the place becomes standing room only. Going through takes about an hour and a half.
12:00pm – Kilmainham Gaol
This gaol was used as a prison up until 1910. It was temporarily used after the 1916 Easter uprising and during the War of Independence for imprisonment and mass executions. Often there were about eight people to a tiny cell. In 1960, it was restored and then opened as a museum during the 1990s. It has a great introductory exhibit too. Plus, your ticket gets you a tour that lasts one hour and begins on the hour.
Lunch – I really enjoyed the area around Mary/High Street. It’s far away from the Gaol, so you need to take the bus, but it’s right near the next attraction. The area is also right near the Dublin Spire and is a big pedestrian shopping area with a lot of restaurants. During the weekend, there are some outdoor food markets.
2:00pm – Dublin Writer’s Museum
Dublin has a rich literary history from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde to Beckett and a million authors in between. The museum does a great job of pointing them all out to you in detail and has a very thorough audio guide. But unless you’re a literary buff, you don’t need to spend more than thirty minutes here.
3:00pm – Trinity College/Book of Kells
Take a tour of Ireland’s most famous college and see the ninth-century Book of Kells, an embroidered Latin version of the Bible. The tour lasts 30 minutes and provides some funny commentary. After that you can head into the library to see the Book of Kells.
4:00pm – National History Museum
Finish your day here by learning all about the history of Ireland from the Vikings, to English rule, to Michael Collins, the IRA, and independence. The museum is pretty comprehensive, and it’s also free.
Dinner and drinks on Temple Bar
Sure, it’s touristy, but it’s quite a good “craick” as the Irish would say. You can get away from the main tourist fare and head to the Porterhouse, a local brewery that makes an excellent stout and great Irish food. No matter where you go, though, after running around all day, you’ll definitely need another drink and some hearty food.
If you do have limited time in Dublin, I suggest the hop on/hop off tour bus. It will cut down your walking time dramatically and allow you to squeeze more into your day. Moreover, you get very lively commentary from the drivers, and your pass gives you discounts into most of the major attractions.
The next time I get to Dublin, though, you can bet it’ll be for more than 24 hours.