The largest city and capital of Ireland offers a long list of things to do. While many require an admission fee, there are just as many that don’t. In fact, some of the best attractions in Dublin are free, including many of the top museums. If you want to save some money and enjoy an unforgettable time while you’re here, be sure to put these free things to do in Dublin on your must-experience list.
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Walk Through Europe's Largest City Park (Nearby Hotels)
You could easily spend an entire day exploring the largest city park in Europe, and it doesn’t cost a thing. While it’s home to the Dublin Zoo, you can view the park’s large herd of wild fallow deer for free. They’re usually seen hanging out in the flat meadow area known as Fifteen Acres, and in the woodland of Oldtown Wood on the northern perimeter. Simply walking through the park is a great way to beat jet lag if you’ve just arrived into the country, and you can do some fantastic people watching along the way.
Tour the President's House (Nearby Hotels)
While inside the park, the President’s House, Áras an Uachtaráin, is an attraction of its own. It has a rich and colorful history, built in 1751 by park ranger Nathaniel Clements. Some three decades later it was purchased by the British as the official residence of the Viceroys and continued to be used for that purpose for nearly 150 years. In 1938, it became the Official Residence of the President of Ireland. Today, visitors can take free public tours of the residence, departing from the Phoenix Visitor Centre on Saturdays on a first-come-first-served basis, when state business doesn’t preclude them.
Check Out the Art at the National Gallery of Ireland (Nearby Hotels)
Many of Dublin’s top museums can be visited for free or by donation only. The National Gallery is a must experience with its extensive collection of art that spans seven centuries. It includes the National Portrait collection which dates back to 1875, celebrating Ireland’s culture through works that depict some of its most iconic figures. In the Art Library, browse thousands of books, journals and other resources that document information about Irish artists and movements, while Forgotten Faces holds some iconic portraits were once lost in time from multiple artists that were well-known during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Richmond Villas Graffiti Art (Nearby Hotels)
Not all of Dublin’s incredible works of art are found in galleries. Head to the back alleys of the city, just behind The Bernard Shaw pub on Richmond Street to the Richmond Villas. Astounding works of graffiti art are splashed across every wall, with some of the vibrant images even rivaling what you might see in a world-class gallery.
Check Out Celtic and Medieval Treasures at the National Museum of Archaeology (Nearby Hotels)
History and archaeology buffs will love the collection of Celtic and medieval treasures housed in the National Museum. Despite being one of the most fascinating visits you’re likely to make while in Dublin, admission is free. Gaze in wonder at the finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts in Europe, and check out the Treasury, which features stunning examples of Celtic and Medieval art, like the famous Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch. There are multiple examples of extraordinarily intricate sacred and secular metalwork dating from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, along with displays of well-preserved artefacts from prehistoric and Viking Ireland. The ancient bog bodies are another highlight, bodies that were mummified and preserved in peat bogs, some of which are thousands of years old, yet you can still see tiny details like fingernails, fingerprints, eyelashes, and even nose hairs.
Busker Entertainment on Grafton Street (Nearby Hotels)
Grafton Street is a popular shopping street, but it’s just as famous for the number and variety of buskers who take to the street every morning to perform for those who pass by. You never know who you’ll see or hear, but there’s little doubt that Dublin is home to some of the most skilled buskers on the planet with the likes of musicians like Luke Slott who brings his piano playing to the street. Even U2’s Bono has busked here and regularly performs a charity singalong on Christmas Eve.
Enjoy Traditional Tunes in the Pubs (Nearby Hotels)
There are practically an endless number of pubs in Dublin for enjoying live traditional tunes, like the front snug of Hughes’ Bar on Chancery Street where patrons can become a part of the tight musicians’ circle and everyone is encouraged to sing along. Occasionally big-name artists and celebrities join in with the house musicians for an impromptu gig too. There are many others to sample as well, with Irish musicians playing whistles, mandolins, fiddles and pipes with whoever happens to be around. Just avoid the Temple Bar staples if you’d rather not listen to amplified Allman Brothers covers.
Borrow a Bike (Nearby Hotels)
In Dublin you can even “rent” a bike for free through Just Eat dublinbikes. There are some 40 locations throughout the city, and 450 bikes on demand. Of course there is a catch, you’ll have to pick it up and return it within 30 minutes to get it for free. But, you can always come back and get another one and pedal away again.
Take a Guided Walking Tour (Nearby Hotels)
Driving through Dublin is arguably one of the worst things you can do, so don’t even think about a driving tour of the city unless a local is behind the wheel. It’s really best seen on foot, and the city offers free walking tours that depart every day, at 11 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. from The Spire on O’Connell Street. While it is free, the guides aren’t paid by a business or the city, so you may want to dig up a little cash, according to how much you enjoyed the tour, and your budget, of course.