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Our City Guide to Dublin, Ireland

Dublin By Car: Key Attractions

The capital of Ireland, Dublin is a vibrant city that boasts a wealth of culture, a rich history and unforgettable beauty. Whether you want an escape with the whole family or to end your Guinness curiosity and finally see if a pint really does taste better in the factory, then Dublin is sure to be the perfect getaway for you.

After reading our guide don't forget to check out our deals on car hire in Dublin

Download our City Guide to Dublin

With something to suit everyone, why not take advantage of one of our great car hire deals and discover what this picturesque city has to offer? To help you decide where to start, we’ve created this guide of Dublin’s top attractions — so you can make the most of your hire car and explore this magnificent city. 

 

The National Gallery of Ireland

Founded in 1854, The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the country’s most beloved cultural attractions. It houses prestigious European collections of western art, dating from the Renaissance period to the twentieth century — with gallery highlights including works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso.

The gallery features over 2,500 paintings and some 10,000 other works, such as watercolours, drawings, prints and sculptures. The gallery offers free admission, and is open seven days a week to the public. There are also free guided tours that are not be missed.

Driving to the National Gallery of Ireland

Located in the city centre, in the heart of Georgian Dublin at Merrion Square W. SatNav: 53.339722, -6.252100.

There are no visitor parking facilities on the Gallery’s grounds, however the nearest public car parks are Dawson and Setanta. There is also on-street parking (meter) around Merrion Square.

National Aquatic Centre

The National Aquatic Centre is Ireland's principal facility for water sports, and forms part of the National Sports Campus. The Aquatic Centre is home to AquaZone, one of the biggest and most innovative water parks in Europe. Perfect for family fun, the water park features three water slides (The Dark Hole, The Green Giant and the Master Blaster), a surfing-machine, a ‘lazy river’ and a large wave pool.

If you’re a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, then Dublin’s AquaZone has all the best water rides and attractions for an exciting day out with the family.

Driving to the National Aquatic Centre

Follow the Navan Road towards Blanchardstown. Next, take the exit to the left for Blanchardstown S.C and keep in the right-hand lane from here. At the top of the slip road, make a right and cross over the bridge. Take the first exit off the small roundabout after the bridge. Progress onto Snugborough Road and make a right at the second set of traffic lights into the National Aquatic Centre, where there’s on-site parking.

Guinness Storehouse

Arguably the most popular attraction in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse lies in the heart of St. James’s Gate Brewery. Home to the country’s most famous export, a visit will provide you with an unforgettable experience, and teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the world-renowned drink. Shaped like a giant pint of the black stuff, the brewery rises seven stories high around a beautiful atrium.

At the top of its head sits the ‘The Gravity Bar’— it’s here you'll receive a complimentary pint of Guinness and get a chance to relax while enjoying a breathtaking, 360-degree panoramic view of the city.

Driving from the City Centre to the Guinness Storehouse

From Dame Street (outside Trinity College), go straight ahead. Follow the road around, passing Christchurch on the right, leading onto Thomas Street. Drive past the main St James's Gate Brewery Gates, which will be on your left. At the junction of James's Street and Echlin Street, take a left turn. At the top of the road, turn left (opposite the Old Harbour Pub). Take the first left onto Market Street. The pedestrian entrance to the Guinness Storehouse will be on the left. 

To reach the FREE car park, take the next left onto Crane Street and the parking is immediately on the right next to the old Hop Store. The journey time is around five minutes.

Dublin Zoo

In the heart of Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo is a popular family attraction. Here, you can discover over 400 different animals, including giraffes, Asian elephants, tigers, reptiles and even gorillas roaming in a variety of natural habitats.

As a registered charity, your visit helps them continue to make a significant contribution to the conservation of some of the most endangered species on Earth. Not only is it one of the oldest zoos in the world, Dublin Zoo is a place where fun, education and conservation go hand in hand. It was also home to Cairbre, the lion mascot who you may recognise at the start of films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor (MGM) studios.

Driving to Dublin Zoo

Located in Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. SatNav: Latitude / Longitude: 53.3534, - 6.3041

There is no car parking at Dublin Zoo, although there are car parking spaces around Phoenix Park. Next to Dublin Zoo (on Chesterfield Avenue) is The Lord’s Walk, which can accommodate up to 260 cars. The Cricket Ground car park (located opposite the zoo) has an additional 120 spaces. Both car parks are open daily from 10am.

National Botanic Gardens

No trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the picturesque Botanic Gardens. The 19.5 hectare complex (located adjacent to the River Tolka) is an oasis of calm and beauty, and perfect for a relaxing day out.

This scientific institution, founded in 1795, contains the National Herbarium, architecturally stunning greenhouses and 20,000 eye-catching plants. It’s a place where leisure, recreation and education combine to bring you a fascinating day out. 

Driving to the National Botanic Gardens

With on-site parking, the gardens are located 3.5km north of central Dublin, off Botanic Road. SatNav: Glasnevin, Dublin 9. 

Book of Kells

The Book of Kells is a world-famous, illuminated manuscript (written in Latin) of the four Gospels from the New Testament. The 680 pages of vellum were painstakingly hand-written and illustrated by Irish monks, in around 800 A.D. The manuscript was buried for fear of destruction by the Vikings, and was only rediscovered and passed onto Trinity College Dublin for preservation in 1653.

Two volumes are currently on public display: one opened to exhibit a major decorated page, and one to show typical pages of script. You’ll be able to witness its lavish decoration and see why this spectacular piece of history attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. 

Driving to the Book of Kells

Located in the city centre, on College Street, Dublin 2. It has an on-site car park.

National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology

Make your way to Kildare Street to behold the national repository for all archaeological objects found in Ireland. With over two million artefacts, the NMI permanently exhibits gold relics from Western Europe, outstanding examples of metalwork from the Celtic Iron Age and a world-renowned collection of medieval religious objects and jewellery. The building’s appearance itself is striking enough to entice anyone to enter, so take the time to experience Ireland’s prehistoric wonders.

Driving to the NMI

Centrally located on Kildare Street, Dublin 2, next door to Leinster House (Government Buildings). SatNav: 53.340617, -6.255244. 

There are no visitor parking facilities, however the nearest public car parks are Dawson and Setanta. There is on-street parking (meter paid) around Merrion Square, which is a 10-minute walk away.

Farmleigh

Situated on an elevated point north-west of Phoenix Park, this stunning house (now owned by the Irish Government) is used to provide accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high-level Government meetings. Guests over the recent years include: Queen Elizabeth II, King Harald V & Queen Sonja of Norway, and the President of the Republic of Poland, Mr. Lech Kaczynski. 

Built in the late 18th century, Farmleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, and it still contains many of the original furnishings and artwork he collected. This 78-acre estate remains a unique representation of the Edwardian period, consisting of scenic gardens, rare animals and vivid plants. It’s sure to provide you with a wonderful insight into Ireland’s cultural history.

Driving to Farmleigh House

The house is accessed through Phoenix Park. When entering at Parkgate Street (main entrance near Heuston Station) continue along the main avenue. Go straight over the first two roundabouts, and make a left at the third roundabout (near the Castleknock end). After this, take the first right (approximately 50 yards after the roundabout) and you will see Farmleigh at the end of this road. It has FREE on-site parking.
Sat nav: 53.365925, - 6.352299.

Dublin Science Gallery

The Science Gallery is a completely fascinating place that anyone with even a slight interest in science should consider visiting. In 2008, Trinity College Dublin (pictured below) opened this innovative gallery (a world first of its kind). It’s a new type of venue that’s designed to be a space where today's white-hot scientific issues can be addressed, bringing art and science together as one. 

Since its opening, over a million visitors have flocked to the Science Gallery to experience 26 unique exhibitions (ranging from living art experiments and material science to the future of the human race and the future of play). Ranked among the top ten free cultural attractions in Ireland, this vibrant and fun museum will immerse you into the captivating world of science.

Unlike most galleries, it has no permanent collections, but rather a series of 4-6 temporary exhibitions a year. This means there’s always something new to see, but in between exhibitions, only the shop and the café remain open — plan wisely and check to see what’s on before travelling. 

Driving to the Dublin Science Gallery

City centre location at The Naughton Institute, Pearse Street, Trinity College, Dublin 2. There is no on-site car parking, however the nearest 24-hour car park is on Fleet Street, Temple Bar.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick's is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland, and the largest cathedral in the country (it boasts a 43-metre/140-foot spire). Its most famous Dean, Jonathan Swift, is one of around 700 burials on the site.

The magnificent cathedral stands majestically as a memorial to the country’s historical past, and is the only remaining cathedral in Ireland with daily services that are sung. Built around 1220, this place of worship is an architecturally beautiful building and a glimpse of what’s left of medieval Dublin. 

Driving to St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Located in the city centre, Saint Patrick's Close, Dublin 8. There is metered street parking available on Swanson Street, Federal Street and other surrounding streets. 

Dublin Bars & Restaurants

 

After your sightseeing, you’re sure to want a bite to eat! We’ve put together a list of the best bars and restaurants the city has to offer. Simply check the ‘bars and restaurants’ box on the top left of the map to see what restaurants are nearby!

VCC (Vintage Cocktail Club)

A mysterious and exclusive drinking and dining experience. Enjoy award-winning cocktails and gourmet food to a backdrop of vintage glamour.

Address: 15 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 

The Liquor Rooms

A subterranean drinking den serving up glorious cocktails, fine liquors and craft beers in luxurious Prohibition era surrounds.

Address: 7 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Peruke & Periwig

Step back in time at this intimate, old city house, which specialises in experimental cocktails and boasts a delicious, modern Irish dining menu.

Address: 31 Dawson Street, Dublin 2

Bison Bar & BBQ

Ireland’s only authentic Texan BBQ and whiskey bar, it serves slow-cooked meats and has more than 150 golden elixirs to choose from.

Address: 11 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2

Garage Bar

A fleapit dive bar that’s Dublin’s best kept secret. Enjoy beer pitchers and cocktails to a Motown and surf music soundtrack.

Address: East Essex Street, Dublin 2

The Workman’s Club

An eclectic and alternative live music venue, with gigs and indie club nights seven nights a week. It’s a great place for a pint and a chat.

Address: 10 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2 

Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop

A bar, a grocer and a hardware shop in one! It’s like having rural Ireland in the heart of the city.

Address: 8 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2

Captain America’s

A Dublin institution, the first American-style cookhouse opened over 42 years ago, and it still does the best burgers and steaks in the city.
Also at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, Dublin and South Main Street, Cork

Address: 44 Grafton Street, Dublin 2

Sophie’s Restaurant & Bar

Offering a 360-degree view of Dublin, Sophie’s Restaurant & Bar is a glasshouse restaurant high in the clouds. Serving a New York-Italian menu and delicious brunches at the weekend, the bar also has DJs on Fridays and Saturdays.

Address: 33 Harcourt Street, Dublin

Tower Café at Tower Records

Coffee and vinyl? A music lover’s paradise, Tower Café is at the heart of Ireland’s biggest independent music and entertainment store. Check out the biggest vinyl collection in the country while sipping on a latte!

Address: 7 Dawson Street, Dublin 2

The Octagon Bar

The world-famous bar is found in Ireland’s original rock ‘n’ roll hotel! You never know who you might bump into over a pint!

Address: The Clarence Hotel, 8 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2