What To Do In Dublin, Ireland

Explore the Emerald Isle’s fine art, find your fill of city bookshops and get a cultural fix at an independent theatre. Here are our tips for exploring the Irish capital

Despite the city's petiteness, Dublin's cultural offering is robust - and we're not just talking about the theatrics on offer at the Guinness Storehouse. This is the city of Joyce, Yeats and Beckett (and Sally Rooney, too), so a rich creative vein runs as strongly through its streets as the Liffey itself. From offbeat museums to fringe theatres, these are the places to visit when you're in town.

Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin


Smock Alley Theatre

The first custom-built theatre in Dublin, Smock Alley today offers a varied artistic programme spanning drama, song, dance and comedy. Positioned on the banks of the Liffey in an unassuming part of the city, it's the place to come for your cultural fix (you'll be able to ID the venue thanks to its ornate stained-glass windows). With everyone from Aisling Bea to Foil Arms & Hog having showcased works here, it's a creative hub worth noting.


6-7 Exchange St Lower, Dublin 8, D08 EH67

Two people at the National Gallery of Ireland
Photo credit: Jack Caffrey, The Pimlico Project


National Gallery of Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Home to the national collection of Irish and European fine art, spanning the 14th century to the present day, the National Gallery of Ireland houses over 16,300 works. James Barry, William Orpen and Jack Butler Yeats are just three of the eminent artists whose work is on display. Don't miss William John Leech's A Convent Garden, Brittany, and Johannes Vermeer's Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid.


Merrion Sq W, Dublin 2, D02 K303


Books Upstairs

After you've taken in the Book of Kells and paid a visit to the Long Room, make tracks for Books Upstairs on D'Olier Street, just a stone's throw from Trinity College. Given Dublin's impressive literary scene, it's wise to seek out a good local bookshop while in town. The blue-fronted Books Upstairs is a winner: modest, charming and piled high with publications. With a commitment to the best of Irish and international writing, "encouraging the circulation of ideas" is paramount to the bookshop, which is as much a cultural space as it is a retail offering. Head to the laptop-free, WiFi-free Books Upstairs café to enjoy a range of events or a simple cup of coffee accompanied by the first chapter of that new title you just bought.

Read our Modern Literary Guide to Dublin.


17 D’Olier St, Dublin 2, D02 RX06

Main photo credit: National Gallery of Ireland, Fennell Photography, Chris Bellew

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