Whether you’re planning a weekend away or simply visiting for the day, Dublin is a city with lots to offer.
To make sure you see the city’s most famous attractions, we’ve created the ultimate one-day walking tour of Dublin. From the GPO to Merrion Square, you’ll get to explore Dublin’s unique history and heritage.
General Post Office
The General Post Office (GPO) is the ideal place to start any walking tour of Dublin. Located at the centre of O’Connell Street, the GPO has been a focal point in Irish history, particularly during the 1916 Easter Rising.
During The Easter Rising, the post office served as headquarters for the Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army. Led by prominent Republicans, like Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, the volunteers took over the GPO and held their position for a week – despite the constant barrage of shots from the British Army.
During the rebellion the building was severely damaged by fire but was eventually repaired by the Irish Free State some years later. Today the GPO’s façade is the only thing that remains of the original building and is a lasting homage to Ireland’s fight for independence.
After visiting the GPO, it’s time to take a short stroll down O’Connell Street and onto Bachelors Walk. Walking along the quays, you’ll eventually come to Dublin’s iconic Ha’penny Bridge. The picture-perfect bridge was constructed more than 200 years ago and was built to replace seven ferries that transported Dubliners across the river.
An estimated 30,000 people cross the bridge every day and around 85% of the original ironwork is still in place. A walk across the bridge offers amazing views of the Liffey and surrounding cityscape. Keen photographers should visit during the golden hour to capture some postcard-perfect images of Dublin.
After visiting the Ha’penny Bridge, walk further down Inns Quay to view Dublin’s historic Four Courts. Built during the 1700s, the Four Courts have witnessed, and been part of, one of Ireland’s most important historical events, namely the Irish Civil War.
In 1922, the building was occupied by anti-treaty forces and destroyed in the ensuing battle with Free State forces. An explosion obliterated the west wing and more than 1,000 years of public records and archives.
Today, the Four Courts is the centre of legal life in Ireland and houses the Supreme, High, Circuit and Dublin District Courts. Although the original ornate artwork and decoration is gone, it’s still worth stepping inside and exploring the courts’ impressive Round Hall.
Christ Church Cathedral
Next up on our walking tour of Dublin is Christ Church Cathedral. Located in the south inner city, walkers should turn back along Inns Quay and walk across the O’Donovan Rossa Bridge before walking straight ahead towards Winetavern Street. At the top of the street you’ll the find impressive medieval façade of the cathedral.
Records show that Christ Church was founded in its present location in 1030. Since then the church has undergone extensive restoration to ensure its historical architecture is preserved. The cathedral is also home to the Dublinia museum – a visitor attraction and exhibition focusing on the city’s Viking and Medieval history.
To get to our next stop, walk to Lord Edward Street and continue on straight until before turning right on Cork Hill.
Throughout the ages, Dublin Castle has been an important strategic and symbolic location for Dubliners. Standing at the junction of the River Liffey and its tributary the Poddle, the site was an important defensive position and was first used by the Celts.
The original Celtic fort was eventually replaced by a Viking fortress, which in later years was replaced by a Norman castle – the original round tower can still be seen today. Historically the seat of English power in Ireland, the castle saw action during the Easter Rising, when a small garrison of Irish Citizen Army soldiers took control of the castle.
The castle’s state apartments are well worth a visit, with the Throne Room, St. Patrick’s Hall and State Corridor all open to the public.
Next to Dublin Castle, you’ll find Dublin’s City Hall. A magnificent example of Georgian architecture, the building originally housed the Royal Exchange and was once Dublin’s financial hub. Today, the site is home to Dublin’s City Council and regularly hosts weddings and other events.
The vaults of the building house the Story of the Capital exhibition, a multi-media exhibition which showcases the evolution of Dublin, from Viking times to present day. The City Hall is open from Monday to Saturday (10:00 to 15:15) and is free to enter.
After City Hall is time to walk further up Dame Street, towards College Green and the entrance to Trinity College.
Bank of Ireland (Parliament House), College Green
Did you know that the Bank of Ireland on College Green was actually the first purpose-built two-chamber parliament in the world? Built in the 1730s the building was originally meant to house Ireland’s parliament and boasted both a House of Commons and a House of Lords.
Designed by esteemed architect Edward Lovett Pearse, the building’s design was so popular that Washington’s Capitol Building was modelled on it.
In 1800, the Acts of Union created a unified parliament in London, which meant parliament was no longer needed in Dublin. In the following years, the building was sold to the Bank of Ireland for £40,000, on the condition that the interior be altered so that no government could ever sit there again. While the House of Commons chamber was turned into smaller offices, the House of Lords survived the handover and can still be visited today.
Adjacent to the Bank of Ireland, you’ll find one of the buildings most synonymous with Dublin – Trinity College. The Alma Mater of some of Ireland’s most prominent thinkers, scientists and artists, including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Erwin Schrödinger, the college has a long-list of prestigious alumni.
It’s completely free to enter the college grounds but visitors will have to pay an admission fee to see the Book of Kells or Old Library. Guided tours of the campus are available from Friday to Monday, with numerous tours operating between the hours of 10:00 and 15:00.
After Trinity College it’s time to move onto the final two stops on our walking tour of Dublin. A quick walk down Nassau Street before turning right onto Kildare Street brings you to Leinster House – the home of Dáil Éireann.
Originally the townhouse of the Duke of Leinster, the residence was the most grand and luxurious home Dublin had ever seen. Built on what was, until then, the unfashionable southside of the city, others soon followed, with Merrion Square and St. Stephen’s Green becoming highly desirable addresses.
In 1815, the Duke sold the house to the Royal Dublin Society before it was acquired by the Irish Free State in 1924. After extensive renovation the Duke’s old ballroom was transformed into the Dáil chambers, alongside other extensions.
Guided tours of Leinster House are held throughout the year and offer great insight into Ireland’s parliamentary heritage.
The final stop on our walking tour brings you to Merrion Square. To get here from Leinster House, continue to walk straight up Kildare Street, towards St. Stephen’s Green, and turn left at the top of the street. Continue straight along Merrion Row for 200 metres before turning left onto Merrion Street Upper and continuing straight until you meet Merrion Square.
The heart of Dublin’s Georgian Quarter, the lush green garden is surrounded by pristine period townhouses, which were once home to the city’s elite. Oscar Wilde’s childhood home is located at number 1 Merrion Square, while The Liberator, Daniel O’Connell, resided at 58 Merrion Square.
Fans of sculpture are in for a treat, as the garden is filled with unique pieces of work from some of Ireland’s most-acclaimed artists. Anyone visiting with children can also enjoy the park, as there’s a modern playground for kids of all ages to enjoy.
The perfect accompaniment to any walking tour of Dublin is the OSi Dublin Street Guide below. Click here to order your copy.
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