Ultimate 3 Day Dublin Travel Itinerary
The first time I went to Dublin, I was 6 years old, and was mostly interested in exploring as many castles as I can. 23 years later, not much has changed...
Read below for the perfect itinerary for your 3 day trip to Dublin!
I always catch an early morning flight if possible, so I can eke out the maximum amount of time in any one location. Flying from London to Dublin, I caught a 6:30am flight, which got me into Dublin and out of the airport by 8:15, which was the perfect time to start my day. The airport is quite close to the city, so I ordered myself an Uber into the city centre (ended up being around £18) to check in to my hotel before heading out to explore.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells: Our first stop was to Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells - which is a highly illustrated manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament, dating back to around 800 CE. Essentially, it's a very very very old book - but it's incredible to see the detail and the color of the illustrations. Trinity College is also home to an absolutely gorgeous library, which has books up to the incredibly high ceilings, and houses the oldest harp in Ireland - the national symbol of the country.
Guinness Factory: It's cliché, but it's popular for a reason. The Guinness Factory is easily one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Dublin, but well worth a visit. Not only do you get to learn all about how the popular Irish stout, but you get to drink some too (provided you're at the legal age). There's a rumor that it tastes even better in Ireland...
Whiskey Tour: As if you've not had enough to drink, next up is time for a whiskey tour. Though there are any number of distilleries in Dublin (many which you've heard of - Jameson, Teeling, etc), we chose to go on a tour at the Pearse Lyons Distillery, which is housed inside an old church. Their story as a distillery was fascinating, and taking in the sights of whiskey distilling in a beautifully restored church wasn't bad, either! Though I'm not usually a whiskey drinker, it was interesting to learn about the process for including different tastes and notes in the whiskeys - and it was easy to find some that I liked!
Gallagher's Boxty House: Close out day one with some proper Irish grub! Gallagher's Boxy House is home to the Boxty potato pancakes, which are a traditional Irish potato pancake that you'll be dreaming of for weeks afterwards. I tried the spiced salmon with potato dumplings, and my dad had the Gaelic Boxty - both were sensational. We also tried the trio of breads - Irish soda bread, stout & treacle bread, and beer bread, which were all fantastic, too. The restaurant at Temple Bar is fairly small, so book in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
Make sure you're rested up from Day 1, because Day 2 is all about exploring the countryside! Either hire a car (there's a Sixt in downtown Dublin, or else several rental car companies at the airport), and set off early to avoid crowds. We debated whether to go to Cliffs of Moher or to drive into Northern Ireland to see some of the Causeway Heritage Coast, and we opted for the latter - though if we'd had another day we most likely would have tried to do both. Just as an FYI - there's no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, so there is no passport control between the countries.
The Dark Hedges: Made popular as a filming location for shows like Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges are a long road of beech trees, bending and twisting together to create a beautiful tunnel-like passageway. It looks magical and a bit creepy with the right lighting - make sure to come early to avoid crowds, or else you'll find yourself waiting for the tour bus groups to clear out of your pictures.
Dunluce Castle: A medieval ruin not far away, Dunluce Castle is a beautiful and interesting stop on the Causeway coast of Northern Ireland. It was built in the 1200s, but was home to a Viking settlement prior to that. It's located in a gorgeous location, with views of the rocky Irish cliffsides through the crumbling castle windows. This was also used as a Game of Thrones filming location, with exterior shots representing Pyke Castle.
The Giant's Causeway: The true gem of the Causeway Coast (hence the name), The Giant's Causeway is a series of rock formations, built by ancient volcanic activity. The famous basalt columns interlock and create a causeway into the sea with a distinct honeycomb pattern, which has been recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage site since the 1980s. There's a lot of folklore around the Causeway, including a giant called Finn McCool creating it through a battle with a neighboring Scottish giant, so make sure you stop in the National Trust Visitor's Centre to pick up an audio guide to tell you all about the area. And don't just explore the Causeway - there are various hiking trails around the area that allow you to get amazing views of the coastline and cliffs!
Temple Bar: Close out day 2 after a long drive back to Dublin by treating yourself to some pub grub and live Irish music at the Temple Bar Pub - where they have the largest collection of whiskey in Ireland. It'll likely be busy, but grab a spot at the bar to take in the atmosphere and a pint of Guinness.
Day 3 is all about the castles! Have a bit of a lie-in after yesterday's long day of exploring (and perhaps a late night of drinking - I won't judge you!) and make sure to get a good breakfast!
Full Irish Breakfast: Nothing cures a hangover like a good breakfast, and the British Isles sure do know how to serve them up. Differing slightly from a Full English, a Full Irish breakfast will include white pudding (which is essentially black pudding sans blood), and soda bread. Our hotel also served fried potatoes with ours, which I'm happy to say are the Irish equivalent of home fries - and always welcome on my plate.
Dublin Castle: Under British rule until the 1920s, Dublin Castle is now the location where the Irish President is sworn into office every seven years. It's a beautiful, historical building with lavish interiors styled as they would have been during British rule, and a pretty ridiculously luxe throne room. There's also a medieval tower onsite that dates back to 1288.
Malahide Castle and Town: Just a quick train ride away (take the Drogheda/Dundalk service from Dublin Connolly station - it takes about 20 minutes), Malahide is a cute coastal town which is home to one of the prettiest castles in Ireland. The castle dates back to the 12th century, and is home to a butterfly house and over 260 acres of parkland. On a nice day, you can spend an hour or two exploring the park and all of its various gardens and glass houses, before ambling down through the town to reach the seaside.
Fish Shack: While at the coast, you may as well have some seafood! The Fish Shack in Malahide is a great, informal place to pop in for a great late lunch whilst in the area. We tried the fish tacos and the cioppino, all made with local fresh catches, and both were fantastic. Make sure to try the local beers they've got in stock, too!
All in all, Dublin is an amazing city to visit - both for its city attractions, and for the close proximity to some truly astonishing countryside. Three days is a bit of a tight squeeze to get everything in (If we'd had a couple more days, I would have loved to see more!), but a fun-packed long weekend is definitely doable! What would you most like to see? What have I missed off the list? Be sure to let me know, and to follow along with my adventures at @elise.abroad!