One day in Dublin: the must-dos, from a local!

Date: 10 January, 2020
One day in Dublin: the must-dos, from a local!
So you're coming to Dublin but only have one day to experience the city. Here's the best way to do just that!

The truth is, Dublin is a relatively small city, and one 'must-see' is always in fairly close proximity to the next; that said, however, there is so much to see and do in Dublin that creating an itinerary, even for seven days, much less one, is a difficult task.

We tasked one of our lovely local guides, Alan, with creating an itinerary for his hypothetical one day in Dublin in the hopes that it might inspire you when planning your time here, whether you're in Dublin only for a day or several. So, whether you’re a drinker, a shopper, or a culture vulture, here's a run down of the must do’s on a day in Dublin.


Ideas for spending a day in Dublin

This suggested itinerary for what to do in Dublin for a day is helpfully broken down into Breakfast / Morning, Afternoon / Lunch, Evening / Dinner, and Night-time sections, as well as some alternative suggestions in case you may be more attracted to certain activities than others.



First thing's first for starting a day in Dublin off right - the Irish breakfast! For this I happily recommend the Woollen Mills restaurant / bake-house / eatery.


Breakfast in Dublin

Woollen Mills – 42 Lower Ormonde Quay, Dublin 1

Price range: Between €9-€15 for Breakfast main.

 From the late 1800’s to 2005, this was a family owned haberdashery and also the former workplace of none other than James Joyce. Today, the Woollen Mills is an Eating House, committed to staying local, and does a huge range of food from Breakfast to Dinner, and Coffees to Craft Beers. They have their own bakery on site and is great for both meat and plant eaters.

Get yourself a Full Irish Breakfast. Is the full Irish breakfast different to a full English Breakfast? Yes. It’s better and there's more of it. Along with this you’ll also get some traditional 'black pudding' and the 'Pig on the Green Sausages' are a personal favorite (the sausage also contains black pudding). This breakfast will set you back about €14 and will set you up perfectly for the day.

full irish breakfast in Dublin

If you’re not looking to kill yourself with the first meal of the day though, then go for a 'Pigs on the Green' Bacon Butty with Tomatoes and Mayo. This is a reasonable €9.


Dublin Free Walking Tour 11 A.M. – 2 P.M.

Now that you’ve had your fill of breakfast, all you need to do is step out through the Woollen Mills door and cross over the Liffey via the Ha' Penny Bridge onto Crown Alley in Temple Bar where you can join a daily Free Walking Tour of Dublin with us, Generation Tours. Of course, I am biased when it comes to this recommendation but you can rest assured that were this not a hypothetical exercise and I was really planning my first day in a new place, a free tour will definitely feature!

The free tour of Dublin is without a doubt the best way to cover the main sites of the city, as well as the hidden gems, with local guides. The Tour departs from outside the Old Storehouse pub at 11am every morning. The guides will cover Viking and Medieval Dublin through Dublin Castle, the Castle Gardens and Christchurch Cathedral.

Free walking tour in Dublin

After that you will make your way to the Temple Bar area of the city where there will be a short break to get your first taste of a Dublin pub where you can get a Guinness or even an Irish Coffee to keep you in good form for the second part of the tour which covers Ireland's revolutionary past, the Independence movement and will finish close to Trinity College at about 2 P.M.

There is no set fee for doing this tour, you decide what to pay at the end of the tour. The guides are all local Dubliners, excellent tour guides with unrivaled knowledge and are all ridiculously good-looking!

Free walking tour guide and group in Dublin


Now we’ve reached the afternoon. For this I've divided it into three, with the aim of suiting everybody. My categories are ‘For Drinkers’, ‘For Shoppers’, ‘For Culture Vultures’.

If you’re looking for a quick afternoon snack and a coffee, drop into Offbeat Doughnut shop on Westmorland Street. Right beside Trinity College. The Red Velvet or the Oreo doughnut comes highly recommended.


For Drinkers

If you like to take a drink, especially a sneaky afternoon tipple, there's no better city than Dublin. With a plethora of pubs, a friendly social-culture, it being perfectly acceptable to start your night off in the afternoon, and a number of cultural attractions revolving around alcohol, Dublin surely is the place for enjoying a drop or two. Here's a few ideas for the afternoon of your one day in Dublin if you want to be sure to get some of our local drinks down your neck.

St. James' Gate at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Guinness Storehouse

Price Range: €18-€25

For the drinkers, no trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. The Storehouse tour is self-guided and covers all aspects of the Guinness Brand from its history, the brewing, and the marketing and ends with a pint in their famous Gravity bar, which offers an unbeatable panoramic view of Dublin City.

People drinking in The Gravity Bar in The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, with a clear view out across the Dublin skyline

Booking online is the cheapest option and includes a delicious pint at the end. Tickets start from €18 online. As this is self-guided you could spend all day here if you wanted, but the average amount of time you'll likely spend at the Guinness Storehouse is about 2 hours.

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Price Range: €15 - €50

If Guinness isn’t your thing, or you want to experience another one of Ireland's greatest exports, why not try some Irish Whiskey. My recommendation for this would be Teeling Whiskey Distillery in New Market Square. Teeling is in the heart of the Liberties area of the city, just a stones throw from the Guinness Storehouse and St Patrick's Cathedral.

Teeling distillery

Here, all the whiskey is made on site and you can try a Whiskey that is at the forefront of Dublin’s whiskey revival. The price for a tour of the distillery comes in at €15 and if you’re a real connoisseur and want to get the full experience, this can come up to about €50. The tour takes approximately 1 hour so expect to spend between 1-2 hours here.

For Shoppers: Shopping in Dublin

With a huge variety of shopping all within mere stepping distance, Dublin is a shopaholic's mecca! I recommend focusing your time around Grafton Street, which is crowned by Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, George's Street Arcade, and The Temple Bar district; all are within minutes of each other and mean you can go from high end to charity shops pretty easily.

Grafton Street is just beside where you will end your free tour of Dublin city and is the most popular shopping streets in the capital. If you wanted to start with a quick bite to eat then head to Bewleys Cafe, a Victorian coffee house complete with original Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows. The pastries here are possibly the best in Dublin.

Elevated view of the interior of St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin, Ireland, with Christmas decorations and clock hanging from glass ceiling

For high end shopping, Brown Thomas is the place for all your Gucci’s and Louis Vuitton’s. Along Grafton Street are all your usual retailers such as Zara, River Island, etc. The true beauty of Grafton Street though is on the street itself as it is home to many Buskers and street performers of all ages and talents throughout the day.

If smaller markets are more your thing, then head off Grafton Street. Go through the Powerscourt Shopping Centre and Down onto Castle Market where you will find Georges Street Arcade, which is home to some artisanal food and vintage shops. George's Street and The Temple Bar area are both close by where you can find vintage, second-hand and charity shops such a Nola and Lucy’s Lounge.


A Day in Dublin for History-Buffs & Culture-Vultures

If the walking tour has inspired you to delve further into Irish history and culture, there’s no shortage of museums and attractions around the city.

National Museums - Free

First of all, all the National Museums are free. These included the National Archeology Museum which covers Ireland's ancient history going back over 5,000 years. A highlight here are the Bog Bodies, preserved for thousands of years in Ireland's natural bogs.

One of the bog bodies from the national History Museum in Dublin

The National Library is open for anyone exploring the literary history of the city. The National Gallery houses a huge collections of art works from Jack B. Yeats to Picasso and Caravaggio's ‘The Taking of Christ’.

Finally, you have the Natural History Museum, also known as the Dead Zoo, which is home to the skeleton of the famous Irish Giant Elk.

Epic Ireland – Emigration Museum

Price: €13 - €15

Epic Ireland is Ireland's Emigration Museum and was recently voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction, ahead of attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace. Learn the history of the Irish diaspora which includes links with Barack Obama, JFK, Mohammad Ali and Che Guevara, to name a few. Tickets are between €13-15

Glasnevin Cemetery 

Price: €12 - €14

Finally, for a tour totally off the beaten track why not go to Glasnevin Cemetery.Yes, a cemetery, on your holiday! This cemetery is the resting place of nearly 1.5 Million Dubliners including our revolutionary leaders, great writers and odd characters. There are options to do a General History Tour, a Women's Tour or the 'Dead Interesting' Tour. Tickets to these tours are between €12-14 and worth every cent.

It's not far, but you will have to get a bus from Dublin city center to Glasnevin Cemetary. The IKEA bus no. 140 goes straight out there from Westmorland Street.

Glasnevin Cemetery

Dinner in Dublin

After you’ve been shopping, touring, or are already three drinks deep, it’s probably a good idea to get stuck into a hearty meal. And why not go traditional for dinner on your one day in Dublin? There are plenty of places to get a traditional Irish food here. I would always recommend a good pub for food. There are plenty of restaurants dedicated to Irish cuisine, but pubs generally have equally, if not better food, and all the atmosphere of a Dublin pub, a great accompaniment to any meal.


The Hairy Lemon – Drury Street

Price Range: €13 - €22 for Dinner Main

The Hairy Lemon is my favourite pub for traditional food in Dublin. They have all kinds of traditional food from Seafood straight out of Dublin Bay to Lamb shank and Beef and Guinness Stew. If I was to recommend something unique to Dublin, get yourself a Traditional Dublin Coddle. Dublin Coddle comes in many shapes and sizes but it is traditionally a Sausage Stew. Food here is an average price for Traditional food so a main can range from between €13-€22.

Bunsen Burger

Price Range: €7 - €15 for Burger / Burger with Fries

Dublin has gotten pretty good for food over the past few years. The best Burgers in Dublin? Go to Bunsen Burger. Their menu is simple. A Burger or a Cheeseburger, that’s it, no need to over complicate things. It’s one of the few places around the city that will cook a burger to order so if you like it juicy or ‘still mooing’ head to this place.

Dublin Nightlife: One night in Dublin

There's simply nowhere on the planet like Dublin for a great night out. Dublin nightlife is famous the world over for our vibrant pub-culture, excellent live-music scene, decent nightclubs, and friendly fun-loving party people.

New Year's Eve Pubcrawl in Dublin

If you have just one day in Dublin, or rather one night, then the best thing I can recommend is joining a Dublin pub crawl. There are a few bar crawls in Dublin, and again I am of course biased in my recommendation, but I can honestly assure you that a night out in Dublin with us will not be beat! Here's why:

Generation Pub crawl Dublin

Begins from the Norseman Bar at 8pm. Price: €14 - Includes free welcome Guinness, free shots, exclusive drink discounts and specials, and free entry everywhere - including skip the line VIP nightclub entry to the best club in the city.

a group of young people on the best pub crawl in Dublin with local guides

This is easily the best, easiest, and most fun way to explore Dublin with a group of like-minded fellow night-owls and local guides to experience the ultimate cross-section of authentic Dublin nightlife while avoiding tourist traps -  and saving a small fortune to boot! This pub crawl will bring you through three Pubs in the Temple Bar quarter (the ones locals love) giving you a good idea of some live contemporary and traditional music. Afterwards you’ll head south to Wexford Street and a real local area to get exclusive access to the Dublin institution that is Whelan's music venue where famous faces such as Hozier and Ed Sheeran have played. Finally, we end the night in Dublin’s famous/infamous Copper Face Jacks nightclub, the best club in Dublin, with VIP skip the line entry too!

3 girls having fun and drinking in Dublin pub

Edit: we've had lots of interest and great feedback in this list since it was published, and requests for a second day's itinerary; and because we love to give you what you want, here's our perfect (second) day in Dublin for you!

That's it dear Dublin-bound friends we've yet to meet, the ultimate one day in Dublin must-dos as recommended by a real Dublin local! Got a recommendation not on our list? We'd love to know - tell us what else you'd recommend on Instagram @genertiontours.
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