Our first trip to Dublin was 5 years ago, prior to having all of the responsibility that goes with traveling with a toddler. We went to Dublin to watch Penn State, our alma mater, play the Croke Park Classic and took advantage of being in Europe to travel through Italy after. (Because… when in Ireland??) It turned out that it wouldn’t be the only time we were heading to Ireland for a sporting event with a little over 48 hours in Dublin.
For our second trip, we were visiting Dublin with a toddler for the first time. This time, our visit to Ireland was also centered around sports to watch The Open golf tournament. Formerly known as the British Open, this prestigious golf tournament was being played in Northern Ireland for the first time in years. And it seemed as good of a reason as any to take a one week road trip through Northern Ireland.
Both trips to Dublin were short but we were able to pack in plenty in those few days. While we were with a 2 year old on this recent trip, we still had a chance to visit some of our favorite spots from our pre-kid trip. (And if I’m being totally honest, we might have even visited more pubs and distilleries in Ireland with a toddler than without!)
Keep reading for our itineraries for 48 hours in Dublin, both with kids and without.
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Guide to a Weekend in Dublin
2 Itineraries for Spending 48 hours in Dublin
Both of our trips to Dublin spanned over 2 nights and 3 days, so we have some experience with planning a weekend in Dublin. The first itinerary is for a kid-free weekend in Dublin. The second itinerary is for a weekend in Dublin with a toddler. On both trips, we didn’t over schedule ourselves and instead just took time walking around and taking in the city.
While we tried to mix in some parks and playgrounds on our recent trip, both itineraries for 2 nights in Dublin could be done with or without kids.
Sample Itinerary for 48 hours in Dublin (Without Kids)*
- Day 1
- Arrive in Dublin via Airlink Express
- Check in to the Conrad Dublin Hotel
- Lunch at Brazen Head
- Walk around Dublin- St. Auden’s Church & Dublin Castle
- Guinness Experience and a beer at the Gravity Bar
- Dinner at Vintage Kitchen
- Day 2
- Breakfast at Hatch & Sons
- Pre-game festivities at Temple Bar
- Football game at Croke Park Stadium
- Dinner at Alfie Byrnes
- Day 3
- Take the DART to Howth to walk the cliff path
- Lunch at The Abbey Tavern in Howth
- Depart Dublin via Airlink Express
*Since we went to Croke Park Stadium for a football game, our itinerary may look different than most itineraries for a weekend in Dublin. We had slightly more than 48 hours on this first trip and filled up any extra time with walking around Dublin.
Itinerary for 48 Hours in Dublin with a Toddler
- Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
- Self check-in at AirBnB
- Dinner at Brazen Head and walk around
- Day 2: Sightseeing in Dublin with Kids
- Breakfast at Bite of Life Cafe
- St Stephen’s Green Park
- Do Dublin Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
- Lunch at Hatch & Sons
- St Patricks Cathedral Park (there’s a play area for kids along with a lot of green space to run around)
- Dinner at Dublin Pizza Company**
- Day 3: Walk Around Dublin & Malahide Castle
- Breakfast at Two Pups Cafe
- Walk around Grafton Street & George’s Street Arcade
- Temple Bar
- Malahide Castle & late lunch at Avaco
- Depart from Dublin
**Full disclosure, we didn’t get to Dublin Pizza Company before it closed and ended up at a terrible takeout restaurant by our house. Mentioning it here so you don’t make the same mistake we did!
Getting to Dublin
Dublin has a large international airport, which makes it easy to access from almost anywhere in the world. You have several options to get into the city of Dublin from the airport, including:
- Take a bus from Dublin airport into Dublin. Airlink Express is an easy and inexpensive option if you’re looking for a bus from the Dublin Airport to the city center. You can book the Dublin Airlink Express here.
- Hire or rent a car from the Dublin airport. Since Dublin has good public transportation, I don’t recommend renting a car unless you have plans to drive tour the countryside like we did.
- Take a taxi from the Dublin Airport into the city.
Related Post: Tips for Renting and Driving a Car in Europe
Where to Stay in Dublin
On our first trip to Dublin, we wanted a central and convenient location for ease of getting around. We stayed in at the Conrad Dublin Hotel. Its perfectly located across from the National Concert Hall and right by St Stephen’s Green. The Conrad in Dublin is a beautiful hotel with great service and an amazing European style breakfast.
On our recent trip to Dublin with a toddler in tow, we opted for an AirBnB to have a little more space. We stayed in the Liberties, an area Southwest of the city of Dublin. While some parts of the area were a little rundown depending on what direction we went, we never felt unsafe. (In fact, the neighbors looked out for us and our son the entire time.) Our townhouse in Dublin was 2 bedrooms with a kitchen and living area with modern touches. Our Dublin AirBnB also had a travel crib and stroller available. You can find the listing here.
New to AirBnB? Sign up using our referral link here for credit toward your first stay.
Things to Do in Dublin with 48 Hours
Dublin is a great city for just walking around and taking in the sights. We also found that as a large, kid-friendly European city, we could basically bring our son anywhere with us. Our recent trip to Dublin with a toddler was one of the first trips we did as a family where we didn’t do anything kid-centric aside from breaks at the park. And it totally worked!
Whether you have 48 hours in Dublin or more, here are some of our favorite things to do during a weekend in Dublin.
DoDublin Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
We’re not typically hop-on-hop-off bus people since we enjoy walking around, but we may have been swayed on this recent trip. After our Viking Splash Tour was canceled at the last minute, we found the hop-on-hop-off bus to be a great alternative. The DoDublin Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour takes you by Dublin’s most well known landmarks with interesting commentary throughout. We loved being able to hop off the bus when our son was getting antsy or when there was something we wanted to see. It’s a great way to see a lot if you only have a weekend in Dublin.
You can book tickets to the DoDublin bus tour here.
A few things we got to see on the DoDublin bus tour include:
- The recently constructed Dublin convention centre with a modern design.
- The Leinster House on Merrion Street Upper
- Guinness Storehouse, Teeling Whiskey Distillery & Jameson Distillery
- St. Stephen’s Green
- Christ Church & St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- The Royal Hospital & Kilmainham Goal
- Phoenix Park & Dublin Zoo
Note: While we didn’t get to do it, I heard great things about the Viking Splash Tour if you’re looking for things to do with kids in Dublin. You can find tickets for the Viking Splash Tour here.
Guinness Storehouse Experience
We visited the Guinness Storehouse on our first trip to Dublin. The Guinness Storehouse Experience takes you through the process and history of making Guinness in an interactive way. The highlight of the entire experience for us was the Gravity Bar at the top. The views from the Gravity Bar are the best in Dublin, and you also receive a perfectly poured pint of Guinness with your ticket. To purchase a skip-the-line ticket to the Guinness Storehouse Experience, see here.
Tip: You need to purchase tickets to the Guinness Storehouse to enter the building. On our second visit to Dublin with a toddler, we made a stop on at the Guinness Storehouse from the hop-on-hop-off bus. We walked around the outside but did not purchase a ticket. Children are permitted throughout the Guinness Storehouse and are free under 13.
St. Stephen’s Green Park
St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful park in Dublin that makes up 22 acres in the heard of Dublin. St. Stephen’s Green is an important part of Dublin’s history and dates back to the 1600s. The park contains several well maintained gardens as well as a pond. Our 2-year old loved watching the ducks, geese and swans on our most recent visit. There’s also a playground at St. Stephen’s Green.
Tip: Even when we don’t do a lot of activities specifically for kids, we love finding parks and playgrounds in between sightseeing to get all that toddler energy out!
My husband is a huge Jameson fan. When we realized our hop-on-hop-off bus was going by there, we knew we had to stop. The Jameson Distillery on Bow Street opened in 1780 and since then has been beautiful renovated. Even if you’re not a huge whiskey fan, I highly recommend stopping to see the beautiful building with exposed wooden beams and whiskey bottle chandlers. You can also learn a bit about the history of Irish whiskey making even if you can’t do the tour.
We weren’t able to do the distillery tour this time since our son was with us and you have to be 18 years old. If you’re able to do the Jameson Distillery Bow Street Tour, you can purchase tickets here.
Stop at the Famous Temple Bar Pub
Temple Bar is known as the entertainment district of Dublin, and it’s packed with bars and live music. In addition to Temple Bar being the name of the area, there’s also an actual bar named Temple Bar Pub. It’s one of the oldest pubs in the area and it was built in 1840.
Wondering if kids are allowed at the Temple Bar? They are, but I recommend going early before the crowds get too rowdy. We went around 12pm and it was the perfect time for a quick visit. Our son wasn’t the only child at the Temple Bar, and he loved looking around while playing with his favorite magnetic blocks. While there are a number of great pubs in Temple Bar, *the* Temple Bar is definitely one you should visit for a Guinness in Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the most well known cathedral in Dublin. Dating back 800 years, Dublin’s largest cathedral has played a relevant part of Ireland’s history throughout. The building itself is beautiful, and there’s also a great park to that you can walk around outside. In recent years, they even added a small playground that’s great if you’re visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral with kids. Note: The gates of the park surrounding St. Patrick’s are locked until the building opens up at either 9:30am M-F or 9am on the weekends.
For admission into the cathedral with a self-guided tour, see here.
St. Audoen’s Church
St. Audoen’s is one of the lesser known churches we visited in Dublin. It’s located in the medieval part of Dublin and it’s the oldest remaining medieval parish church in Dublin. We randomly came across St. Audoen’s when exploring Dublin on our first visit, and I’m so glad we stopped to visit this little church. The church is filled with interesting artifacts and information about St. Audoen’s importance to the medieval city of Dublin. If you happen to visit, be sure to look for the “lucky stone” in the back of St. Audeon’s church.
Shopping on Grafton Street
Grafton Street is Dublin’s main shopping district. Grafton Street contains a variety of stores, from locally made goods to international brands like H&M or Zara. Even if you don’t need to buy anything, it’s definitely worth the walk through. There’s almost always street performers, and Grafton Street is lively and bustling any time of day. Grafton Street is conveniently located in central Dublin between St. Stephen’s Green and Trinity College.
Croke Park Stadium
Croke Park Stadium in Dublin is home to the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Gaelic sports in general. We had a chance to attend a US football game here when Penn State was playing the University of Central Florida in 2014. While we were there, we discovered that it was widely known in Ireland as the best place to watch Gaelic football. (Which is no surprise since it’s a huge stadium with great amenities and accommodates up to 80,000 people.)
Are you interested in learning more about the stadium or Gaelic sports in general? You can visit the Croke Park museum or take a tour of the Croke Park Stadium as well.
Additional Sights in Dublin
Dublin is a great city for walking around. Even if you choose not to do a tour, you can see some great sights on your own. Below are a few things to hit if you’re walking around Dublin, in addition to those mentioned above.
- The Ha’ Penny Bridge
- The Spire of Dublin
- George’s Street Arcade
- Trinity College and the Book of Kells
- Dublin Castle
Museums in Dublin
We had every intention of visiting a museum on our second trip to Dublin. Unfortunately, due to my poor planning, we reserved the “Dead Zoo” for a Monday, only to learn it was closed.
In case you’re interested in planning a museum visit or two in your 48 hours in Dublin, here are a few that we learned of during our bus tour:
- The National Museum of Ireland (known as the “Dead Zoo”)
- National Gallery of Ireland
- EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum
- Dublinia: Viking & Medieval Dublin
- Irish Museum of Modern Art
- The Little Museum of Dublin
Where to Eat in Dublin
Dublin offers a large variety of foods, with everything from Indian, Italian, American and traditional Irish food (to name a few.) The fish and chips and seafood chowder are two traditional Irish menu items that we were looking forward to on our return trip to Dublin.
If you’re eating out in Dublin, keep in mind that “cafes” typically close earlier in the evening and don’t serve alcohol. Restaurants and Pubs, alternatively, have longer hours and serve food and drinks.
Bite of Life Cafe
Bite of Life Cafe is conveniently located on the corner from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This small cafe is a great spot for breakfast or lunch, with ample indoor seating and a few spots outdoors. The food is made fresh and the coffee is equally as good. We had the porridge along with eggs and toast. Everything came out quickly and the service was super friendly.
Two Pups Cafe
Two Pups is located in the Liberties area of Dublin and was conveniently located by our AirBnB in Dublin 8. The coffee at Two Pups is perfectly made, and everything we ate from the unique menu was SO good. I had the uniquely prepared avocado toast and my husband had the porridge. If you’re there on a nice day, Two Pups also has ample seating outside.
Hatch & Sons
We had breakfast at this basement cafe on our first trip to Dublin and couldn’t wait to go back. Hatch & Sons sells traditional Irish comfort food with a twist. The first time, we had breakfast in the cozy main room with an open kitchen. On our most recent trip, we at lunch at Hatch & Sons. My husband had a traditional irish beef blahs and I had the Irish free-range chicken salad. Hatch & Sons is in a great location if you’re looking for a place to each lunch near St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street.
Alfie Byrnes by Galway Brewery
Alfie Byrnes is located in the Conrad Hotel in Dublin, which we stayed at during our first trip to Dublin. This casual restaurant and pub is operated by the Galway Brewing Company. It has a great list of locally brewed beers and Irish whiskey. With burgers and nachos being staple menu items at Alfie Byrnes, it felt a little more “Americanized” to me than other pubs we visited in Ireland. The burgers were so good, though!
The Brazen Head
Ironically (and unplanned) we visited The Brazen Head as our first stop on both trips to Ireland. The Brazen Head is famous for being the oldest bar in Ireland. While this title definitely brings in the crowds, it’s definitely worth a stop on your trip to Dublin. The details and decorations of this old bar are pretty (awesome.) And there’s outdoor seating that’s perfect for visiting Dublin in the summer.
KC Peaches is a great cafe with freshly prepared food and locally sourced ingredients. We originally came across it when looking for a cafe that was open until 8. (Which can be surprisingly hard to find in Dublin!) They offer a range of healthy menu items for breakfast lunch and dinner. There are multiple locations, and we went to the KC Peaches by St. Stephen’s Green.
Definitely saving the best for last here. Vintage Kitchen is a pre-fixe restaurant in Dublin has to be one of my favorite meals to date. (Not just in Ireland but anywhere in the world!) The entire restaurant is decorated with a vintage feel and vinyl records playing on repeat. Hence, the name!
You have the option of ordering either a 2-course or 3-course meal at Vintage Kitchen. We chose the 2-course and still walked away completely stuffed. From our roasted beet and seafood stew appetizers to lamb and chicken main dishes, everything at Vintage Kitchen was perfectly cooked and presented like a work of art. The restaurant is on the smaller side and super cozy, so it’s best to make reservations well in advance.
Half Day Trips from Dublin
Even if you only have 48 hours in Dublin, I highly recommend getting out of the city to experience the seaside and surrounding areas. (Especially if you don’t have plans to visit the Irish countryside during your trip.)
Two great day trips from Dublin are Howth and Malahide Castle and Gardens. We went to Howth on our first visit to Dublin and Malahide Castle on our second trip to Dublin with a toddler. We did both on our own, but you can also do both in a combined half day trip from Dublin here.
Day trip from Dublin to Howth
Howth is a small seaside town outside of the city of Dublin. The town of Howth itself has a ton of charm with its origins as a fishing town. The biggest draw to Howth, however, is the beautiful and scenic cliff walk. There are a few different paths you can take along the cliffs in Howth, depending on how much time you have. Each of the paths are easy walks aside from a few slight grades. (While you’re walking along the Howth Cliff Walj, be sure to also look for the house of W.B. Yeats, the famous author from the area.
The easiest way to get to Howth from Dublin is by taking the DART. It’s a 30 minute train ride from Dublin to Howth on the Dart. Although we did a self-guided tour of the cliff walk, this guided Howth hike has great reviews.
Day Trip from Dublin to Malahide Castle & Gardens
Malahide Castle in Dublin has origins back to 1185 when the land was first gifted to the Talbot family. It’s one of the oldest castles in Ireland, and it’s set on beautiful gardens with a total of 260 acres of green space. The property includes a large playground for kids along with some play structures in the forest. There’s also a butterfly garden and a fairy trail that’s perfect for kids.
While you need a ticket to get inside Malahide castle and the fairy garden, you can enjoy the property including the playground without paying anything. There’s also a huge cafeteria style cafe, Avaco, with a great assortment of food, snacks and drinks.
Malahide is located right by the Dublin Airport, just 30 minutes from Dublin’s city center. You can access Malahide by bus or taxi if you don’t have a rental car during your trip. The proximity to the airport also makes it a great option if you’re looking for things to do on a layover in Dublin.
To book tickets to the Malahide Castle and Gardens, see here.
After both trips to Dublin, our Dublin bucket list only keeps growing. Please share in the comments if you have any favorite attractions that we missed!
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