05 Jan Exploring Dublin for Free
Dublin is one of the most visited cities in Europe, which is no surprise given the numerous attractions and vibrant atmosphere in the city. However, the capital city of Ireland isn’t exactly the cheapest destination to go to, especially if you’re looking to see the city’s most famous landmarks or trying out the local food and drinks. But don’t let this stop you – there are plenty of free things to do in Dublin that will satisfy your wanderlust!
Top Free Things to Do in Dublin
Whether you’re saving your money for other things or you simply want to stretch your budget, there are lots of free attractions and activities in Dublin to keep you occupied. In doing so, you also get to see the Irish capital from a different perspective. For a hassle-free experience, don’t forget to store your baggage and other items at a Dublin luggage storage locker.
Take advantage of Dublin’s free national exhibits.
Ireland has a rich history and strong cultural heritage that are well-chronicled in the different national museums and exhibits located in Dublin. While you might think that getting in to these places will cost you, don’t fret; all of the museums and galleries managed by Dublin’s government are free of charge! Some of the must-see exhibits in the city that are free include:
- Natural History Museum: Also referred to as the “Dead Zoo”, this museum has on display some incredible animal taxidermy.
- National Gallery of Ireland: This facility has an impressive fine art collection and features works of prominent artists such as Monet and Caravaggio.
- National Museum for Archaeology: The museum is home to numerous artifacts and relics related to Irish history, such as Celtic art, treasures and gold.
- Decorative Arts & History Museum: This cultural institution has on display some mementos such as furniture, folk costumes, currency, ceramics and more.
- Irish Museum of Modern Art: This is Ireland’s biggest institution dedicated to the collection and presentation of both local and international contemporary art.
See incredible street art all over the city.
Dublin is well renowned for the plethora of street art found all over the city. In fact, you can just walk around aimlessly and find some incredible works of art, murals, and even sculptures. Some of the city’s most prominent street arts can be found in Windmill Lane and the Italian Quarter. You can also spot some cool graffiti art in the Grand Canal area.
Experience the city’s live music scene.
Ireland has produced some amazing, world-class musicians – from Rory Gallagher to Bono and more – and the city of Dublin has a thriving live music scene that you can enjoy for free. You can catch a gig for free at prominent music venues such as Whelan’s and O’Donoghue’s. You can even listen to some amazing performances by the buskers playing at Grafton Street.
Swim at The Forty Foot.
If you’re looking for some fun outdoors, you definitely should head over and get wet at The Forty Foot. Located on the southern side of Dublin Bay, this iconic bathing pool is frequented by locals and tourists. In fact, it is so popular that it made the New York Times’ list of best places to swim in the world. Note, however, that the water here is cold all year round so you better be ready for some freezing temperatures.
Discover the treasures at Chester Beatty Library.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, a shelter from a rainy day or you simply want to discover some treasures, the Chester Beatty Library is the destination for you. Located within the Dublin Castle, the library was built in 1950 for the private collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. At present, the library (which is more like a museum) has an extensive array of scholarly articles, religious texts, manuscripts, artifacts, and artworks that date back to 2,700 B.C. If you want to relax after a day of reading, you can head out to the rooftop to enjoy the library’s “meditation garden”.
Enjoy nature and animals at Phoenix Park.
If you want to find free-roaming deer without having to pay an entrance ticket, head over to Phoenix Park, one of the biggest city parks in Europe. Covering acres of parkland, the space is a favorite venue for picnics, races, hiking and other fun activities. You can also see a number of deer wandering freely here and visit some attractions such as the Ashtown Castle, the Magazine Fort, Papal Cross, and even the Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the president (which is open to the public on Saturdays via free guided tour).
Join a free walking tour.
One of the best ways to explore the Irish capital without getting lost is to join one of the many free walking tours of Dublin. There are many reasons why joining a free walking tour makes sense – you get a knowledgeable guide who can give insight into the city’s history; you get to cover the highlights and top attractions, and you won’t have to pay a single cent! One of the most reputable companies that offer a free Dublin walking tour is Sandeman’s (book here).
Explore the Trinity College campus.
Trinity College Dublin is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe and the alma mater of some prominent figures such as Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Beckett. The campus is open to the public and is home to some noteworthy spots such as the Science Gallery (which is also free of charge) and the legendary Bell Tower (they say that if you pass beneath it and the bell rings, you will fail your exam).
Go people watching at Temple Bar’s farmer’s market.
The Temple Bar area is known as a nightlife hotspot in Dublin but during the weekends, there are different farmer’s markets running here – the Temple Bar food market in Meeting House Square, the Temple Bar book market in Temple Bar Square, and Designer Mart in Cow’s Lane. The historic area is the best place to people watch and see the real Dublin come to life. If you’re lucky, you may even score some free samples from the numerous food stalls here.
Cycle around the city.
With more than 1000 bikes available for rental and 100 locations across Dublin, Dublinbikes is one of the most prominent bike companies in the country. The city is extremely bike-friendly and exploring Dublin on two wheels could be a fun experience. The best part is that you can use the bikes for free for the first 30 minutes (a three-day rental will set you back €5). If you’re not done cycling but would like to not spend, you can return your current bike before the half-hour mark and simply release another bike for a fresh 30 minutes.