11 Best Free Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2022)

If you’re looking for free things to do in Dublin, you’re in the right place!

Ireland is one of those magical countries that people are inexplicably drawn to. From the gorgeous greenery and dramatic coastlines to the culture and friendly people – Ireland is an incredible place to visit.

There are wonderful cities and unique towns across the country, but nothing can quite beat all the amazing things to do in the capital city of Dublin. Even if you are visiting Ireland on a budget, you will have a great time exploring all the fun things to do in the city.

Keep reading to learn all about the top free things to do in Dublin!

Have a Picnic in Phoenix Park

three deers eating grass in a large field

The Phoenix Park in Dublin is one of the largest enclosed parks in any capital city across Europe. It’s open 24 hours every day and contains a few attractions from the Dublin Zoo and Victorian Flower Gardens to the Ashtown Castle or Phoenix Park Tea Rooms.

Pack some food and a blanket and take a stroll around the park (hopefully you’ll see the local pack of deer that roam it!) and find somewhere nice to settle in for a picnic. 

You can take a free guided tour of Aras an Uachtaráin, the home of the current president of Ireland. The tours take place on Saturdays and include a viewing of the main reception and staterooms.

Wander Down Grafton Street 

busy shopping street with christmas lights hanging in between buildings

Grafton Street is one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets and is known as “Ireland’s Premier Trading Street.” There are many stores, cafes, restaurants, and street entertainers along Grafton Street.

Even as a free thing to do in Dublin, it’s fun to wander along Grafton Street and take in the sights. Do some window shopping and browsing of the high-end stores and all the Irish trinkets. Stop to watch the street musicians and performers along the way too.

Explore Some of the Free Museums in Dublin

Museums are always a fantastic way to spend your time learning about Irish history or viewing beautiful art pieces. There are a few museums in Dublin that are free to visit their permanent exhibits such as:

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National Museum of Ireland 

The National Museum of Ireland is composed of 4 separate museums that have free admission: Decorative Arts & History, Country Life, Natural History, and Archaeology. Pick one (or all) of the areas that interest you and make a day out of exploring and learning about Ireland.

National Gallery of Ireland

The permanent exhibits at the National Gallery of Ireland are always free, and some of the temporary exhibits are often free as well. You will see historic drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, glass art, metalwork, and furniture from various artists that range mostly from the 1500s to the early 1900s.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

At the IMMA contemporary art and life intersect for unique and incredible art viewings. There are over 3,500 art pieces from Irish and international artists housed in the collection. The museum is housed in the historical Royal Hospital Kilmainham and the grounds and campus in and of themselves are beautiful.

Visit Temple Bar and Listen to Irish Music

patio and building of the historic temple bar pub in dublin

The Temple Bar area is a section of the Dublin city center that is full of pubs, restaurants, and hotels that surround the actual Temple Bar Pub itself. It’s a lively area that always has live Irish music streaming out of the pubs or street musicians playing. 

Take some time to stroll around the Temple Bar area and either take in the music from the streets or stop in for a pint to experience the exciting atmosphere.

There are often pop-up shops and mini markets to browse through as well. On Saturday mornings there is a Farmers Market in the Temple Bar area that is always fun to walk through and admire the Irish goods, foods, and trinkets being sold.

Walk Through and Admire St. Stephen’s Green

small lake with a tree hanging over the edge almost touching the water

St. Stephen’s Green Park is a historical park and garden in Dublin’s city center. The main entrance can be found at the top of Grafton Street through the Fusilier’s Arch. 

There is a playground for kids, beautiful flowers and gardens throughout, and 15 commemorative statues or memorials. The park is a great place for a walk, picnic, or simply to escape the city for a bit of greenery. 

Take a Free Walking Tour of Dublin

Free walking tours are one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a new city, see some of the major tourist sites (usually from the outside and without an actual tour of them), and learn a bit of the history of the city.

In Dublin, there are at least 4 free walking tour companies, and many hostels often host free walking tours as well.

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National Botanic Gardens

red and purple flowers

A bit north of the River Liffey in the Glasnevin District are the National Botanic Gardens. They are open from 9 am-5 pm on weekdays and 10 am-6 pm on weekends and entry is free.

The beautiful gardens have plant species from all over the world and are famous for the exquisitely restored historic glasshouses. The garden walks feature the Great Palm House tropical rainforest, the Teak House, the Alpine House, the Cactus and Succulent House, the Orchid House, and more. 

Along with gorgeous flower displays, there are water art exhibits, sundials, pergolas, and statues to view. Plus, the Viking House re-creates a sample Viking home.

Spend a Day at the Dollymount Strand Beach

waves crashing onto a rocky shore

While not typically known for its beaches, Ireland has many great coastal features and beaches to visit. The Dollymount Strand is the closest large beach to Dublin city center and is situated on Bull Island.

On a sunny day, spending some time on Dollymount Strand is fantastic! Take a walk along the coast, bring a volleyball to toss around, admire the views of the Howth Peninsula and Dublin Bay, or even take a swim (though you will have to take note of safety and any bans the lifeguards may put out). 

Expats in Ireland who are here for longer than tourists should especially take some time to explore the beaches and surrounding areas of Dublin. St. Anne’s Park is nearby and worth a visit to see the wildlife, historic buildings, and participate in the events that are always happening. Or, visit the adorable coastal fisherman’s village, Howth for incredible food and cliff walks.

Explore What You Can of the Popular Attractions for Free

While many of the top attractions in Dublin do cost money to enter or to tour, you can still get a good overview of many of them even from exploring what you can of the outside. A few of the popular attractions that are worth seeing for free are:

Dublin Castle

front of castle across a green grassy field

The main areas and public exhibits of Dublin Castle are free to visit. The exterior alone is incredible to view, and you can wander around the outside of the castle and surrounding fields for free.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral 

old stone tower at a historic church

A tour of the St Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral will cost a few euros, but you can view the cathedrals from the outside and wander through the gardens at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for free. Worship services are free to attend as well if you wish to participate in service and see the inside.

Trinity College Dublin 

The popular library and Book of Kells are both parts of a paid tour, but the Trinity College campus itself is gorgeous and worth taking a walk through. It’s located directly in the city center, so it’s easy to stop at while exploring Dublin.

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Stroll Along the River Liffey at Sunset

view of skyscrapers from across a river

The River Liffey runs straight through Dublin, cutting the city into two halves (the Northside and the Southside). The best place to start a walk along the river is at the Dublin Docklands and follow the river until you hit Phoenix Park (or vice versa).

You will pass many popular areas of the city and beautiful bridges while watching the lights turn on and city come alive for the nighttime. If you want, you can make stops along the way for a pint or a scoop of ice cream.

Strolling down the Liffey at sunset is the perfect free, romantic thing to do as a couple visiting Dublin too. Make sure to stop at the picturesque and famous Ha’Penny Bridge for a photo opportunity!

Explore the Wicklow Mountains

woman hiking along small path surrounded by trees

The Wicklow Mountains (or Dublin Mountains) extend into southern Dublin County and are the largest continuous upland area in the Republic of Ireland. The Wicklow Mountains are beautiful and there is plenty of exploring to do for free such as hiking, climbing or taking a scenic drive.

Those exploring the Wicklow Mountains shouldn’t miss out on viewing the Glendalough Monastic Settlements which are one of Ireland’s most popular free attractions. 

Glendalough is a stunning valley with many historic sites, plenty of great walks, wildlife, and various visitor facilities. The Monastic Settlements are ruins (including a round tower and churches) of an early Christian settlement located within the valley.  

There are so many incredible things to do and see in Dublin, many of them for free! If you are on a tight budget or want to get a taste of Dublin at little to no cost, you will still be able to soak in plenty of the history, culture, and liveliness that Dublin has to offer its visitors.

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About the Guest Author

After traveling to over 25 countries and living in Dublin, Janelle created Make the Trip Matter –  a travel blog dedicated to helping budget travelers and remote professionals travel more, live abroad, and discover a more meaningful experience from their travels.

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