From walking tours to tranquil gardens and Oscar Wilde to Samuel Beckett, here's our guide to enjoying Ireland's capital without reaching for your bank card.
It costs nothing to amble around the cobbled grounds of Trinity College, Ireland’s foremost university, following in the footsteps of famous alumni such as Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift.
There's a charge for the famous Long Room and Book of Kells, but you can admire the elegant courtyards and neo-classical architecture and, weather-permitting, stretch out on the cricket grounds outside the Pavillion Bar for nothing. The latter is more famous for being Dublin's best unofficial beer garden than for any connection to sport.
You could easily spend an entire day exploring Europe’s largest inner-city park. You don’t need to pay for Dublin Zoo to see animals either – Phoenix Park is home to an enormous collection of deer, just wander off into the woodlands to find them.
Touring the president’s house
While you’re in the park you can get a first-hand peek at how the President of Ireland lives on a free tour of their official residence, Aras an Uachtaráin. They depart from Phoenix Park Visitor Centre every Saturday and operate on a first-come-first-served basis. Occasionally they might not run due to state business, so always check the website beforehand.
Chester Beatty Library
Alfred Chester Beatty was a bibliophile who was both rich and blessed with exceedingly good taste. The fruit of his extensive labours (ancient books, scrolls and other objets d’art) are gathered across two floors of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle.
Temple Bar art
Temple Bar is home to some fantastic culture spots. The Gallery of Photography hosts excellent exhibitions featuring local and international photographers, the Icon Walk is full of colourful Irish cultural figures, and you can admire James Earley’s spectacular Ulysses artwork on the walls of Blooms Hotel.
North Bull Island
Just a short bus ride away from the city centre lies this UNESCO reserve. One of Ireland’s most important natural conservation areas, it’s a paradise for bird-watchers, with at least 180 different species. You can also take a 5km walk along the pristine Dollymount Strand.
History buffs will love the collection of Celtic and medieval treasures housed in the National Museum. Its most famous artefacts are the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice, as fine an example of Celtic metalwork as you'll ever see.
National Botanic Gardens
A glorious green haven north of the city centre, the historic greenhouses and tranquil atmosphere make the National Botanic Gardens worth a visit in every season. Keep an eye out for the entertaining squirrels.
South Wall walk
For a unique perspective on Dublin, the 1km walk out to the Poolbeg Lighthouse along the South Wall that stretches into Dublin Bay is unbeatable, especially on a summer’s evening.
The National Gallery’s collection of art stretches across seven centuries and includes a terrific Caravaggio and striking portraits of Ireland’s most notable figures. The Dublin City Gallery - Hugh Lane focuses exclusively on modern and contemporary art and its faithfully reconstructed studio of hell-raising painter Francis Bacon is outstanding.
Stretch out on the manicured lawns of one of Dublin’s city parks. St Stephen's Green is the busier of the two and is a perfect people-watching spot. Nearby Merrion Square is more tranquil, lying in the heart of Georgian Dublin and home to a statue of one of the square’s most famous residents, Oscar Wilde.
Irish Museum of Modern Art
This former hospital is now the country’s foremost modern art gallery. When you’re finished with IMMA’s cutting edge collection, stroll around the building and the beautiful surrounding gardens.
Hands-on, interactive and compellingly relevant, the two-storey Science Gallery is devoted to explaining the intricacies of science and how it applies to everyday life. Exhibitions explore big ideas so bring your curiosity with you.
Henrietta Street is lined with the most complete set of red-brick Georgian mansions built for Ireland’s wealthiest families in the 1700s. A perfect example of Dublin’s most iconic architecture, it's perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Fine art and vivid history
This branch of the National Museum is located in the magnificent Collins Barracks building, dating back to the early 18th-century, and houses an eclectic mix of historic memorabilia, design and craftwork.
The Grand Canal
Experience a slice of local life with a journey down the Grand Canal. Start in the charming, leafy surrounds of Portobello Rd and head towards the trendy restaurants and busy theatres of Grand Canal Quay. Unofficially named 'Silicon Docks' due to the biggest names in tech making their home here, it's a bustling enclave just two DART stops away from the city centre.
Natural History at the 'dead zoo'
Dr Livingstone (of ‘I presume’ fame) cut the ribbon at this branch of the National Museum in 1857 – and little has changed since. Dusty, weird and utterly Victorian, the ‘dead zoo’ is one of the city’s oddest attractions.
Local historian Donal Fallon has created three short, themed podcast tours with the Fitzwilliam Hotel. You don’t have to be a guest to use them, just listen to an advert. The walks take you past Dublin's historical highlights, the locations of the Easter Rising battles and the city's essential fashionista stops.
With 40 locations throughout the city and 450 bikes on demand, the trick is to rent and return the bike within 30 minutes to nab it for free. If you need it for longer, release another one and off you go. All the details are on the website and you can download a free app.
Sandeman’s New Dublin Tour
Sandeman’s free, three-hour walking tour of the city departs Dame St every day at 11am and 2pm (though there can be more depending on the time of year). The guides are informed, energetic and lots of fun – tipping is optional but deserved.
Last updated in January 2018.