If you’re looking for unique things to do in Dublin then you have come to the right place, as we’ve rounded up some of the best, quirky, and fun attractions in The Republic of Ireland’s capital city.
Whether you’re planning a quick weekend trip to Dublin or have a larger chunk of time, there are plenty of interesting and exciting things to discover in this historic city. From offbeat museums to magnificent Cathedrals, there’s something for everyone in Dublin. Don’t forget the excellent whiskey-tasting opportunities and destinations focused on Irish rock ‘n’ roll or literary legends either!
Enough of the craic, let’s crack on with all the most unique things to do in Dublin!
📍 How to get around Dublin
If you’re worried about navigating Dublin, don’t! Many of Dublin’s best attractions are close together in the city center, so you can quite easily walk between most of them. The Hop-on Hop-off Bus is the easiest way to travel between the major sights.
Both the Dublin Explorer Pass and the Go City: Dublin Pass also include bus travel along with discounts at many attractions, so they’re a great way to save money and get around, particularly if you’re only spending a weekend in Dublin! Otherwise, the Dublin train and tram system is relatively straightforward if you prefer exploring independently.
1. EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
Irish culture is not isolated to the country of Ireland, as evidenced by the massive St Patrick’s Day celebrations which take place all around the world. At EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, immersive and interactive exhibits abound, all exploring the far-reaching influence of Irish emigrants. More than 10 million Irish men and women have left Ireland for other countries, bringing along their own customs which have, in turn, influenced their new homes.
There are twenty individually themed galleries inside EPIC, all focusing on different aspects of Irish emigration. They also provide a fascinating look at the intertwined history of Ireland. This is definitely not a stuffy or boring museum either, with breathtaking technology used to bring the many stories to life.
🌟 Insider tip: This museum is located in the lively Dublin Docklands neighborhood, where there are many cafés and restaurants to enjoy, as well as a number of watery activities on offer such as paddle boarding, kayaking, or windsurfing!
2. The National Wax Museum Plus
Forget Madame Tussauds, the National Wax Museum Plus is the place to go in Dublin if you want to rub shoulders with (waxwork) Irish celebrities and historical figures!
Of course, it’s not just Irish figures immortalized in wax here, but since it’s in the Irish capital it makes sense that they’re the focus. The National Wax Museum Plus houses interesting displays looking at famous Irish inventions, as well as a gallery focused on great Irish writers such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde. The Time Vaults bring Irish historical events to life and there’s even a room dedicated to the Irish sitcom Father Ted.
Older children and teens will also find this a fun thing to do in Dublin. There’s a quirky mirror maze as well as the Chambers of Horror; where Dracula might rise up from the dead! At the end, visitors can even partake in making their own wax hand souvenir to take home.
🌟 Insider tip: You can book a combined ticket to EPIC and the National Wax Museum Plus to save money on both attractions.
3. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the best things to see in Dublin due to its fame and beauty. While it was originally founded in 1191 as a Roman Catholic Cathedral it is now the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland.
This gorgeous church boasts a 43-meter spire, one of the largest organs in Ireland, and the heaviest change-ringing peal of bells in Ireland. The interior of the cathedral is stunning. There are many notable people buried both under the cathedral floor and in the graveyard. Head here to see the graves of many previous Archbishops along with playwright Lennox Robinson and author Jonathan Swift.
There are a number of legends surrounding this cathedral as well. For instance, the well in the grounds was believed to have been used by Saint Patrick himself to baptize Ireland’s pagan population into Christianity. The Door of Reconciliation inside the cathedral is said to be where the expression “chancing your arm” (taking a risk) comes from. Legends say the expression originated when the earls of Kildare and Ormond shook hands through a hole cut in the door in 1492 to call a truce to a feud.
🌟 Fact: Dublin is actually home to two incredible Gothic cathedrals, Saint Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedral. Christ Church Cathedral is also older than Saint Patrick’s – it was founded in the 11th century by Vikings and then rebuilt in the late 12th century by the Normans. If you enjoy history and architecture you should definitely try to see both cathedrals while visiting Dublin!
4. Irish Whiskey Museum
Whiskey is as Irish as the color green and has played an important role in the history of the country. The Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin uncovers the history behind this popular drink, independent of any particular distilleries. Unlike regular museums, you’ll get to taste a wide selection of different whiskies, including single grain, malt, pot still, or blended.
The regular guided tours are very interesting, with lots of unique whiskey memorabilia and tastings. Visitors can also choose an upgraded tour which includes the chance to blend their very own personalized bottle of whiskey!
🌟 Insider tip: If you’re not interested in a tour, there are live traditional music and storytelling events held at the museum on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings as well.
5. Jameson Distillery Bow Street
Any fan of Irish whiskey will no doubt want to explore the original location of one of the most famous brands. Today, the name of Jameson is synonymous with Irish whiskey and while the original factory has since moved, there’s still plenty to explore (and enjoy) at the Bow Street Distillery location.
The Jameson Distillery Bow Street is a monument to Irish whiskey at the place it all began and there are many fun activities visitors can enjoy. A guided tour is a great way to learn about the history of Jameson, while also getting a taster. There are also some unique experiences such as whiskey cocktail-making classes, a black barrel blending class, and whiskey-tasting experiences. JJ’s bar is available if you want to ‘sample’ some more whiskey afterward, and there’s a lovely gift shop so you can take some delicious whiskey home with you!
🌟 Insider tip: You can book a combined luxury whiskey tour which includes a visit to the Jameson Distillery Bow Street, the Irish Whiskey Museum, and the Roe & Co Distillery, another historic Irish whiskey distillery in Dublin.
6. The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum
When it comes to unique things to do in Dublin, a visit to the Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum is definitely high on the list. Not only is this a museum with interesting displays about the history of Irish rock music and the famous artists who have crossed its halls, but it’s also a working recording studio that provides a very special experience.
Guests can see instruments and memorabilia that have been used by the likes of U2, Enya, Van Morrison, and Def Leppard, as well as get the chance to rock out on their own. Yes, that’s right, visitors can don some rocking costumes and have a jam session they will never forget!
🌟 Insider tip: The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum is located just around the corner from the Temple Bar Pub, so you can have a pint in the famous spot while you’re still buzzing from your jam session.
7. Book of Kells and Dublin Castle Tour
While a visit to Dublin Castle and the Book of Kells in Trinity College Library is usually quite a popular thing to do in Dublin, this tour is unique in how much you will get to experience. Not only is it an early access tour (meaning you will manage to avoid the crowds) but it includes a guided tour of both the castle exterior and gardens, as well as the stunning Trinity College Library.
Here you can see the breathtaking illuminated manuscript Gospel book called the Book of Kells, which is believed to have been created around 800 AD. It’s named after the Abbey of Kells which was its home for centuries. Its new home in the Old Library at Trinity College is a fitting location, as this ancient library is simply stunning as well. Visitors will also be able to see Ireland’s oldest surviving harp in the Long Room of the library and a rare original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
🌟 Fact: This tour also includes visits to the first 9th-century Viking landing spot in Dublin and to the Molly Malone statue. Molly Malone is a semi-historical, semi-legendary figure from the unofficial Dublin anthem ‘Cockles and Mussels‘ by The Dubliners.
8. MOLI – Museum of Literature Ireland
If you’re interested in Ireland’s rich literary heritage then a visit to the Museum of Literature Ireland is a must while in Dublin. Any fan of James Joyce will love this museum as it holds a permanent collection of his work, including his ‘Copy. No. 1’ of “Ulysses”. This museum is located in UCD Newman House, which was the home of the Catholic University of Ireland where James Joyce studied. While much of the museum focuses on his works, there are also regular exhibits of other Irish writers too.
Afterward, you can visit the charming café in the original student dining halls of UCD Newman House and explore the beautiful gardens. There are two special protected trees here, one is a Killarney Strawberry tree while the other is the very same ash tree that James Joyce stood under for his graduation photo.
🌟 Fact: MOLI is located right next door to St Stephen’s Green, one of the most beautiful parks in Dublin. This park contains a memorial to the Irish writer William Butler Yeats who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. On the other side of MOLI are the Iveagh Gardens, which contains a stunning waterfall!
9. Windmill Lane Recording Studios
For the musically inclined, a visit to the Windmill Lane Recording studios will definitely be a highlight of any weekend in Dublin! Whether it’s a ‘Beautiful Day’ or you’re feeling like a ‘Zombie’ from too much Guinness the night before, a musical experience is sure to wake you up and have you “Running Up That Hill” again…
Windmill Lane is one of Ireland’s most iconic recording studios, having hosted musical greats such as The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, The Cranberries, U2, Hozier, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, Metallica, Def Leppard, Lady Gaga, and many others since it opened in 1978. If you join a tour of the hallowed music halls then you’ll even have the opportunity to mix your own music session with the help of their expert producers and sound engineers.
🌟 Insider tip: Windmill Lane Recording Studios is located next to Grand Canal Dock. If you walk around the corner to S Dock Road you can also see some very cool street art leading up to the Grand Canal Docks sign.
10. Glasnevin Museum and Cemetery
We can’t think of anything more unique to do on a weekend trip to Dublin than visiting the Glasnevin Museum and Cemetery! Glasnevin is also known as Ireland’s National Cemetery, and there are many beautiful crypts to see here. One of the most famous is the tomb of Daniel O’Connell, which features an impressive tower rising above.
The museum holds interesting exhibits on the history of Ireland and its people, while there are a number of fascinating tours of the cemetery to join, depending on your personal interests. The National Botanic Gardens are directly next door to the cemetery and are also a beautiful spot worth wandering around in.
🌟 Insider tip: There’s a pub next door to the cemetery called John Kavanagh’s which was nicknamed The Gravediggers due to the story that actual gravediggers would knock on the wall and then be served a pint through the railings. Even with its rather macabre location, this is a very cozy pub and a great spot to try some coddle, the classic Dublin stew.
The best places to drink in Dublin
There’s no denying that Dublin is famous for its pubs, this is the land of good craic, after all, which is synonymous with having a good time. And the Irish sure love to have a good time over a pint! If you’re looking to quench your thirst in some of the most beautiful and historic bars after your sightseeing adventures, go no further than these top five best places to drink in Dublin:
🍻 The Temple Bar Pub – Yes, it’s always super-crowded and a bit of a cliché but no trip to Dublin is complete without a quick stop at the pretty red Temple Bar with its beautiful shrubbery hanging over the windows. Head here for a pint and a photo but make sure you explore some other bars too!
🍻 Brazen Head – The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in the country, with famous former patrons including the legendary James Joyce and “Gulliver’s Travels” author Jonathan Swift. There’s often live music or traditional Irish storytelling here as well.
🍻 O’Donoghue’s – Music aficionados will want to head to O’Donoghue’s, which is apparently Bruce Springsteen’s favorite pub to visit whenever he’s in the city and used to regularly host the world-famous Irish folk band The Dubliners.
🍻 Davy Byrne’s Pub – Another historical choice, this pub was regularly frequented by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith during the war of Independence but is possibly more famous for its James Joyce connection; not only did the author often drink here but the main character in “Ulysses” also visited during the course of the novel.
🍻 Palace Bar – Palace Bar is a beautiful old Victorian pub with an elegant whiskey bar upstairs. You can either try some of the best local whiskies or just have a beer downstairs where Irish literary greats Flann O’Brien and Patrick Kavanagh were regulars.
BONUS: The Guinness Storehouse – We hadn’t included this in our list of unique things to do in Dublin since it’s pretty much the number one attraction (and not very ‘hidden gem-y’) but if you like your Guinness then it’s well worth a visit. The rooftop bar is also a lovely spot for a pint after learning all about the brewery!
Have we got you itching to visit Dublin yet? Don’t forget that if you can time it right St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most epic days to experience Dublin. We’ve got all the details on how to have an amazing St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin too!