Dublin blew us away. The city is great fun and easy to get around. The music, the food, the coastal landscapes and above all the people and hospitality we experienced before we started our cruise from Dublin made for a brilliant, memorable stay. We now want to return to explore the west coast!
Located on the east coast of Ireland, Dublin is surrounded by fantastic beaches and green landscapes. The city is small, making navigating it easy on foot so that it is possible to see a lot in a short time. If you cruise from Dublin or have Dublin on your itinerary as a port of call, follow our guide below to make the most of your time in this incredible place – known as the friendliest city in Europe!
Self-guided tours or listen to the Irish experts
Pick up a tour book before you get there to be sure you do not miss anything, and stick to the main tourist areas. If you plan to spend the day in the city, it is easy to design your day without paying the expense of cruise line excursions.
Having been to Dublin many times, we can assure you that the city is very walkable and easy to navigate. We strongly recommend the hop on/hop off Dublin bus, which takes you to all the major sights, including Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, and The Book of Kells at Trinity College.
There is a great little lunch place on Nassau Street, Kilkenny Cafe and Restaurant, just a short walk from Trinity College. Or, if you want lunch in Ireland’s oldest pub, head to The Brazen Head, but you will have to hop on a bus to get there.
Start exploring the city center, then get out into the Irish countryside to see more of this beautiful, green land.
Transport options from Dublin Airport to the city center
Dublin Airport is just 15km due north of Dublin city enter. Transfer time into the city is around 30 minutes. Dublin airport services 35 airlines and flights to 123 other countries worldwide.
You can find our expert tips on booking your flights here.
There are only two terminals at the airport, making finding your way around easy. A covered walkway from the arrivals lounge joins the two terminals together.
Here are the transport options you have to get from Dublin airport to your city center hotel:
Dublin Express Bus
The Dublin Express bus is our favorite way of traveling from the airport to the city. The comfortable coaches have onboard free WiFi, USB charging hubs, and toilets.
The Express buses leave from each terminal outside the arrivals lounge. At Terminal 1, look for Zone 1 to find your bus. At Terminal 2, look for Zone 21. You can book your tickets before you travel here.
Licensed taxis have clear blue and yellow signs on the roof of the cabs. Your fare into the city center is metered and will cost around 30 euros. It’s more expensive if traffic is heavily congested, or if you travel in the evenings or on a Sunday.
This is the most costly way to transfer from airport to hotel but the most convenient when traveling with suitcases and all your cruise luggage essentials, but it’s certainly much easier to have door-to-door service.
Where to stay in Dublin
These hotels are our favorites for cruise passengers. And ones we use ourselves or have had high recommendations from customers.
They are all centrally located, with comfortable rooms and fair prices for the city. These are ideal hotels to stay in before your cruise from Dublin.
Trinity City Hotel
This 4-star hotel conveniently located on Pearse Street is a short walk from the gates of Trinity College, which is a definite must-see on your sightseeing list in Dublin. It’s where you can view the spectacular Book of Kells.
The hotel is colorful and comfortable. A great bar for an evening drink and a good breakfast is served in the Courtyard restaurant.
RUI Plaza The Gresham Hotel
The Gresham on historic O’Connell Street is a modern, spacious hotel with friendly staff and large rooms. It is in a nice, walkable area of the city, not far from the landmark General Post Office, which was almost destroyed in the Irish rebellion of 1916.
Jury’s Inn Parnell Street
Nearby is the Jury’s Inn Parnell Street hotel. There are two Jury’s Inn hotels in the city, the other being Jury’s Inn Christchurch. Both are good, 3-star hotels and ideal if you are trying to stick to a smaller budget but want a city center location.
If you are looking for a 4-star experience, head to The Alex Hotel on Fenian Street. It’s a great hotel with fantastic facilities in the city center and within walking distance of many sights.
This luxury 5-star hotel, decorated in traditional Georgian style, is not only a fantastic place to stay but is also home to one of the best restaurants in Dublin, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. The Irish cuisine with French influences uses ingredients sourced in Ireland, such as salmon from the rivers in the Wicklow mountains, shrimp from Connemara, and mussels from Bantry Bay.
Hotel Merrion is an excellent choice if your budget can stretch.
How to spend 2 days before your cruise from Dublin
There are some sights in Dublin where it is certainly worth doing a tour with a local guide. If, for example, you are interested in Viking history, then a tour of the city with this focus is well worth the money.
There are hundreds of stories and relics to see if you know where to look. Local guides give free walking tours as long as you book your place before you travel. Find out more here.
Day 1: The Best of historic Dublin
Start your day in Merrion Square Park in Dublin’s Georgian District. See the impressive facade of the National Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland Archeology. The museum is free of charge; if you love archeology, find out more about the exhibits before you visit.
From here, make the short walk past beautiful Georgian houses with wrought iron balconies and painted front doors to Trinity College.
The Book of Kells at Trinity College
The architecturally striking Trinity College, University of Dublin, was founded by Queen Elizabeth I. It is home to the spectacular Books of Kells. The famous medieval illuminated manuscripts containing the four gospels in Latin are housed under clear glass counters and are worth seeing.
They are on the bottom floor of the university’s library, which was built in 1712. Admire the 250,000 books that line the walls from floor to ceiling. The entrance fee is around 10 euros per person, and you can pay as you enter.
After exiting Trinity College, walk via the Molly Malone statue towards Dublin’s main shopping areas. Grafton Street and George Street Arcade offer endless shopping possibilities. Tucked in amongst all the fashion shops are an array of vintage and craft shops. Visit the enclosed four-story Georgian courtyard, Powerhouse Court, for more exclusive boutiques and antique shopping.
Dublin Castle, City Hall, and onto Temple Bar
The historic Dublin Castle and the City Hall are within walking distance from Grafton Street shopping. Or you can head instead over to Temple Bar. You will find Dublin’s night spots, bars, and pubs in this cobbled area. It’s a great place, full of live music and art shops. Choose your venue for lunch here or head across the river over the famed Ha’Penny Bridge to The Woollen Mills for great food and reasonable prices.
St. Patrick’s Festival and Irish Pubs
Dublin is well known for its music and storytelling. Both of which you will find in the many pubs in the city.
James Joyce called Ireland’s best-loved pint, Guinness, “Ireland’s wine,” and it is said he frequented the Brazen Head in Dublin, known as the city’s oldest pub. You can participate in the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl for 2 hours of entertainment by actors, visiting four pubs and hearing stories and Irish songs as you go along.
If you visit during St. Patrick’s, celebrated on 17th March each year, you will soon see what it’s like to be in the middle of Irish pub culture during this craziest of celebrations.
Use Dublin’s hop-on / hop-off bus route
At Temple Bar, if you are tired of walking, there is a hop-on/hop-off bus stop. Purchase your ticket onboard, and the bus will take you to all the city’s tourist stops, including Guinness Storehouse, which is well worth a visit.
Guinness Storehouse and a view from The Gravity Bar
Visit the iconic Guinness Brewery in St. James’s Gate. The tour is fantastic, and you will eventually end up on the top floor of the seven-story building, The Gravity Bar.
Lunch is good here, too; try the traditional Irish Stew. And if you booked a guided tour (highly recommended), then you will end with a generous tasting of Guinness and even learn to pull the perfect pint. Book your tickets before you leave home here.
If you prefer to drink liquid sunshine over a glass of stout, aim for a whisky experience in Dublin instead of Guinness. The Jameson Distillery is on Bow Street and one of the stops on the hop-on/hop-off bus.
Take a tour, taste the whisky, learn how to blend, or do a whisky cocktail-making class. Be sure to book in advance, or you will have to queue to get in. And don’t forget to visit the gift shop on your way out. Find out more here.
Irish dancing, music, and craic
For an evening of Irish music, head 30 minutes outside Dublin to Johnnie Fox’s for a nostalgic Irish evening and fun entertainment. You can plan and book a table and transport before you leave home here.
O’Connell Street and the General Post Office
One of the sites of the ill-fated Easter Rising of 1916 was the General Post Office, which stands on O’Connell Street in Dublin. The neo-classical building is still used as the main post office in the city. Close by is The Millennium Spire, which replaced the earlier disputed statue of Nelson, blown up in 1966.
O’Connell Street, with all its history, is one of the main thoroughfares of Dublin and a busy street lined with pubs, cafes, shops, and restaurants. Just 10 minutes away, walk to The Church Café Late Bar & Restaurant, which has a garden for evening drinks.
St. Stephens Green
St. Stephens Green, a large park in the city’s center at the top of Grafton Street, is an excellent place to relax or meet up with other guests from your party. The long walking trails take you through the gardens to the other side of the city. If you are visiting in the summer, this is where you’ll find free musical entertainment in the evenings.
Day 2: The best days trips from Dublin
It’s time to leave the city and see some beautiful Irish countryside. Here are our favorite day trips from Dublin. And if you are staying more than two days, book an overnight stay when visiting the west coast.
Connemara Country and Galway
Connemara is so beautiful that it is worth the long day excursion from Dublin. The region is located in Galway county, on Ireland’s west coast. The steep and narrow road, the Sky Road, winds along the mountain path and offers a view that is both awe-inspiring and slightly scary.
You are in the middle of the untamed wild landscapes of Connemara. If you can, stay overnight in the city of Galway. The most traditional of Irish towns, it’s easy to love this place for the music, the language, and the friendly folk here. Galway Bay is famous for oysters and sportfishing for fresh salmon as you have never tasted before.
The Dingle Peninsula and Country Kerry
The dramatic coastline of the Dingle Peninsula on the southwest coast is the most westerly point of Ireland. If you head any further west, your next stop is America. The rugged coastline offers cycling and hiking and is dotted with Celtic monuments.
If you have time, stay overnight at the Park Hotel Kenmare. Alternatively, the Sheen Falls Lodge is another historic property and a real gem if you love fishing. This whole region is tremendously picturesque. And on your second day, you can take a bus tour of the famed Ring of Kerry, the tourist route that circumnavigates the Iveagh Peninsula, before returning to Dublin.
Howth head – cliff walks and stunning views
Howth Head is within a one-hour bus ride to the northeast peninsular of Dublin. With a 15th-century castle and ruins of a medieval Abbey, the little village of Howth is alluring in its history and picturesque village center. There is an excellent clifftop trail where you can safely walk for fantastic views over Dublin Bay and the Irish Sea. Spend a half or a full day here, and you are only a short ride away from making it back into Dublin for dinner.
If you prefer not to venture too far from Dublin, one of the most popular shore excursions and a perfect day out is a trip to the Wicklow Mountains. This lovely landscape is an hour due south of Dublin. In combination with hiking in Wicklow Mountains National Park, visit the country estate of Powerscourt House and Gardens.