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Things to do in Dublin for free

Must-see free Dublin sights

At its very core, Dublin is a busy city, and it’s safe to say that you’ll never be stuck for things to do in this colourful capital. There’s the River Liffey to amble along with its iconic Ha’penny Bridge; traditional pubs to savour the night in with their impromptu live bands; and numerous walking tours which explore the past and present of Dublin. Even better, all of these things can be enjoyed for nothing, plus plenty more. What follows is a selection of some of the best free things to do in Dublin. From interesting museums to tempting food markets, let’s get stuck in!

  1. Aras an Uachtarain tour
  2. National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology
  3. Temple Bar Food Market
  4. National Gallery of Ireland
  5. Trinity College
  6. Dublin walking tour
  7. Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

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1. Aras an Uachtarain tour

Aras an Uachtarain) is where the Irish president lives, and is also where formal state affairs take place. Amazingly, the Palladian-style mansion offers free guided tours every Saturday at set times; there’s no advance booking available, so make sure you arrive with a flexible mindset. As you are guided around the place with an expert guide, take in the hallways and rooms that the likes of Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Hilary Clinton have also visited.

Best for: Irish politics.

While you’re there: Check the website for up to date tour schedules.

2. National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

The National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts and information, spanning prehistoric Ireland from 7000BC through Celtic and Medieval ages up to the 20th century. There’s also the chance to see ‘bog bodies’ which date back to the Iron Age and are renowned around the world; in fact, there’s a lot of prominent items on display here.

Best for: Archaeology.

While you’re there: Take in the neo-classical features of the museum itself, such as the domed rotunda, classical columns and mythological mosaic floors.

3. Temple Bar Food Market

Although the Temple Bar Food Market is one of the free things to do in Dublin, you’ll find it difficult not to buy something while you browse the stalls here! The market takes place every Saturday in the heart of the city, on Meeting House Square. Browse the stalls selling fresh bread, cheese, olives and other local items. If you’re looking at Dublin holidays, tuck into the local food scene – there’s plenty of family-run establishments to choose from.

Best for: Food fans.

While you’re there: Taste the free samples!

4. National Gallery of Ireland

Take your time to explore the range of galleries in the National Gallery of Ireland , from painting and sculpture to prints and drawings. While it’s free to take in the permanent collection, the temporary exhibitions usually charge a fee. Among the highlights are A Ship Against the Mewstone by Turner, Still Life with a Mandolin by Picasso and The Battle of the Boyne by Jan Wyck.

Best for: Artist heavyweights.

While you’re there: Join a guided tour (also free) that run three days a week.

5. Trinity College

Linger around the pleasant grounds of Trinity College with its hurrying students, genteel courtyard and architectural nods to neoclassicism. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, this is Ireland’s oldest university, and famous alumni include Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. Thanks to its position in the middle of Dublin’s city centre, it makes for a brief interlude from the hustle and bustle of city life, where you can simply chill out in quiet corners and take in the history of the grounds.

Best for: Historic universities

While you’re there: You’ll have to pay extra to visit the Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibition.

6. Dublin walking tour

When you’re looking for free things to do in a new city, you can’t go far wrong with a walking tour – and walking around Dublin is one of the best. Dublin Free Walking Tours organise a range of themed walks, from exploring the south and north sides to traditional pub tours and literary tours. Dublin’s cultural heritage spans music, literary and top grub, so whichever tour you choose, you’ll not only get to see Dublin by foot but learn much more about its history, too.

Best for: Seeing popular landmarks and lesser-known sights.

While you’re there: There’s also a Macabre Dublin tour, which looks at the spookier side of the city.

7. Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

This former hospital-turned-modern art gallery is a great free attraction in Dublin. The Irish Museum of >Modern Art (IMMA) has over 3500 contemporary art pieces by Irish and international artists on display, with an emphasis on works from 1940s onwards. The displays span photography, drawings and paintings, installations and much more to reflect on. They also offer free guided tours three days a week.

Best for: Modern art fans.

While you’re there: The building is well worth taking in, as is its strollable gardens.

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