Dublin hop-on hop-off Guide
Exploring Ireland's beautiful capital city in a day or two...
Expect the unexpected when you visit Dublin, and you won’t be disappointed. Ireland’s quirky capital city is the sort of place where you would expect to find a leprechaun – but you won’t. Instead you’ll find extremely friendly people who have a wicked sense of humour, a vibrant energy, a warmth and style that is unmatched.
And when you’ve grown used to being welcomed by its inhabitants, stroll around this old city and explore. You’ll find touches of the city’s Georgian heritage around every corner, and not always the sort of history you’d expect. Sure, you’ll find out all about the city’s past, and probably more than you’d bargained for. But you’ll also find out about Dubliners’ love of music, and comedy, their witty banter, and their taste for good whiskey. And did we mention there is no shortage of Irish pubs just waiting to be explored?
The Dublin Hop On Hop Off Tour is quite comprehensive, as it covers each and every one of the city's major sights and allows you to explore Dublin with ease.
If you tire of sightseeing, that’s no problem at all. At most of the stops along the route you’ll find an Irish pub with a welcoming drink and some friendly banter. What more could any visitor ask for?
How much does it cost?
At the time of writing, a 2-day unlimited travel ticket costs US$ 23.5 for an adult and US$ 10.5 for a child. You can also opt for a family ticket, which is US$ 47.5 and covers up to a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children.
The ticket price includes a FREE night-tour of Dublin, but this is only available during the warm months of July, August, September and October.
First bus departs from 14 Upper O’Connell Street at 9am, and every 8 to 20 minutes thereafter. The tour is 90 minutes long.
Places to see and things to do along the route
1. Upper O'Connell Street, where our tour starts from, is the upper part of Dublin’s main thoroughfare and is named after Daniel O’Connell, an orator who secured Catholic freedom in 1829. It’s home to the Spire of Dublin, the tallest sculpture in the world as well as the city’s General Post Office. Along the street is the Parnell Monument, a statue of the leader of the Irish Parliamentary party and at the taxi rank you’ll find a small Sacred Heart Shrine. Nearby is the Carlton Cinema with its fake-painted windows and there’s also a statue of James Joyce and the massive O’Connell Monument.
2. Hop off the bus to explore Trinity College, Ireland’s first university, which was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth the First. Its magnificent campanile is one of the city’s most photographed buildings. The Library boasts over 200,000 antiquarian texts and a number of statues of writers and philosophers. It’s also home to one of the world’s most famous books, the Book of Kells, an illuminated edition of the gospels that dates back to 800 AD, and the oldest Irish harp.
3. Next stop is at Nassau Street, which runs along the southern side of Trinity College. It’s also famous as the place where Irish writer James Joyce met his lifelong love, Nora Barnacle, in 1904. Just around the corner, on Kildare Street, is the National Museum of Archaeology and History, with a wide selection of historical and archaeological displays from prehistory to the Middle Ages .
4. Next stop is at Leinster Street, located just off Nassau Street, close to Trinity College.
5. Hop off the bus to explore the National Gallery of Ireland at your next stop. Located on Merrion Square, it boasts an exquisite collection of over 11,000 masterpieces, including a recently discovered painting by Carvaggio, called "The Taking of Christ". Other treasures include works by Picasso, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Goya and Monet.
6. Next stop is at Merrion Square, a tranquil 18th Century square lined with some of the city’s best-preserved Georgian town houses, including the National Art Gallery (see no. 5 above), Leinster House (the building that now houses the National Parliament of Ireland) and the National Museum of Natural History. The finest houses are in the north of the square.
Many famous Dublin residents have lived on this fine square, including Oscar Wilde’s parents (number 1) and author WB Yeats (no. 52). Number 29, where the bus stops, is the city’s Georgian House Museum and you can explore the elegant town house from the basement to the attic, through rooms decorated as they were in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.
7. Hop off the bus when it stops in Saint Stephen's Green, a little park with flower gardens, lawns, a Victorian bandstand and an ornamental lake. On the square of the same name, you can visit number 15, a Georgian town house where the Little Museum of Dublin is located. It tells the story of the city in the 20th Century. Every single item on display has been donated by members of the public. Highlights include items relating to famous visitors including John F Kennedy and Marlene Dietrich.
8. The next stop, when the bus stops in Suffolk Street, close to the National Wax Museum in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar district. Located in a landmark building, the museum offers an interactive experience. Here you enjoy a journey through Irish cultural heritage, see some of the country’s top scientific inventors, visit a fully functioning recording studio and see exceptional lifelike wax models.
9. The tour continues to the next hop off point, in nearby Dame Street, at the corner of Grafton Street, in Dublin’s Temple Bar area, also known as the bohemian quarter, home to numerous restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels and shops. Here you’ll find the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) which was established by artists in 1983 to provide subsidised workspaces for professional working artists. It’s the only gallery and artist’s studio complex in the heart of Dublin, and its ground floor gallery exhibitions are well worth visiting.
The Central Bank of Ireland is located here, as is Dublin Castle, an Anglo-Norman castle that was transformed into the former seat of British power in Ireland. It boasts two 13th Century medieval towers and the unique combination of government buildings were built in the 18th Century. In the beautifully decorated State Apartments you can see a throne brought here by William of Orange as well as other symbols of British rule. You can also visit the Chapel Royal, which was built in 1814 and is now called the Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
Grafton Street, next to where the bus stops, is one of Dublin's best shopping precincts, and you can read more about it in this short guide.
Tip: If you wish to enjoy a FREE WALKING TOUR of Dublin, please note it departs from Dame Street, just to the left of the City Hall, at 11am and 1pm daily.
10. Next stop is on Nicholas Street where you can hop off to explore Christ Church Cathedral, first erected in 1038. It was extensively renovated in the 19th Century and today it looks more Victorian than Anglo-Norman. The church is the flagship of the Church of Ireland and one of two Protestant cathedrals in the city (the other is St Patrick’s, which you can also visit at the next hop-off point.) On display are various manuscripts, historic artifacts and the tabernacle used by James the Second when he worshipped here. The crypt is the city’s oldest surviving structure with vaults dating back to the 12th and 13th Centuries.
From the church you can visit another fascinating sight, Dublinia, a high-tech multimedia exhibition using audiovisual and computer displays to provide an informative and entertaining reconstruction of everyday life in Medieval Dublin. Walk over the covered Victorian bridge and enter the 13th Century. You’ll find a medieval maze, a life size replica of Wood Quay and much more. Dublinia is located in the old Synod Hall, where the bishops of the Church of Ireland used to meet.
12. Hop off at the next stop and explore St Patrick's Cathedral, the city’s National Cathedral where St Patrick is believed to have baptised the first local converts next to a Holy Well. This is the largest church in the country and it contains a number of fascinating tombs and memorials. It apparently dates back to 450 AD but was rebuilt in the 19th Century.
13. Explore Dublin’s High Street from the next hop off point. It got its name because it is literally the highest street in the city. It’s not what one would call a traditional High street – the city’s main shopping areas are elsewhere, including O’Connell Street.
14. Your next hop off point is at Guinness Storehouse, a lively exhibition about Dublin’s most famous export, Guinness ale. Located on the site of the original St James Gate Brewery, which was leased to Arthur Guinness in 1759, it takes you through the company’s history and production process. You also get to sample a draught of Guinness stout in the Gravity Bar.
15. Royal Hospital Kilmainham is the next stop along the route. It’s a replica of Les Invalides in Paris, and is regarded as the most important building in the country. It was originally built as a hospice for disabled and veteran soldiers in the 17th Century, which makes it the first building to be erected during the city’s Golden Age. It was used as a hospital until the 1920s, but after the Irish Free State was founded in 1922, it fell into disrepair. The structure has since been restored and you can explore it, including the Baroque chapel with its extraordinary ceiling and wood carvings. The building also houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art, with fine collections of works by contemporary Irish artists as well as some masters from other countries including Picasso and Miro.
16. At the next stop you can hop off and explore the 18th Century Kilmainham Gaol, historically very important because of its significance in the Irish struggle for independence. It’s also the best preserved Victorian jail in Europe. In 1916, rebel leaders were jailed here after their failed Easter Rising and some of them were executed in the prison yard. Nowadays there is a museum here, with displays of items from Ireland’s struggle for independence.
17. The bus stops at Heuston Station, one of Dublin’s main railway stations. It was originally known as Kingsbridge Station but in 1966 it was renamed after Sean Heuston, an Easter Rising leader who had worked here.
18. Next stop is at Parkgate Street where Dublin’s Criminal Courts are located. There are also a number of excellent restaurants in the area.
19. For a break from the busy city you can hop off the bus at Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in the world, and home to a number of attractions. Dublin residents have come here to relax since it was first opened to the public in 1745. It was originally walled in to prevent deer from escaping, and it is still surrounded by over seven miles of solid stone walls, which one can enter through 8 gates and 6 pedestrian gates.
The Irish President has his residence here, and you’ll also find Ashtown Castle and Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, a medieval tower house with an informative display of the park’s history. There’s also a guesthouse called Farmleigh House, the imposing Magazine Fort where the Easter Rising first took place, a Papal Cross, a landscaped pleasure garden called People’s Garden and the Phoenix Monument. The park also boasts sports grounds and the Wellington Monument, one of the first monuments to the victor of Waterloo.
Dublin Zoo, one of the city's most popular attractions, is also located here and is home to over 235 species of wild animals and tropical birds. Another must-see, especially if you have children in tow.
20. Next stop is at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History, which is housed within the former Collins Barracks in the Arbour Hill area of Dublin. Here, displays focus on decorative arts, scientific instruments and military and revolutionary history. You will see a number of fascinating items here, including Samurai armour!
21. Hop off to see St. Michan's Church and Crypt, where several perfectly preserved mummified bodies are on display. The Anglican Church of St Michan’s was built in 1685, and you can also see a fine 18th Century organ inside, which composer Handel apparently used to play the first performance of his Messiah.
The bus stops a little further along so that you can visit the Old Jameson Distillery, which was founded in 1791 and produced Jameson, one of the most famous whiskeys in the country for over 2 centuries. Part of the distillery is now a museum, and you tour the distillery and find out how whiskey is distilled. You can also see a reconstruction of a former warehouse and enjoy a tasting of different Irish whiskey brands.
22. You can hop off the bus at Bachelors Walk, a street and a quay close to the southern end of O’Connell Street and the O’Connell Bridge.
23. Parnell Square is the next hop off point along the route. This point marks the end of the red route and the continuation of the yellow route.
Parnell Square is a Georgian square located at the northern end of O’Connell Street. It’s lined with Georgian houses on three sides, and in the centre is the Rotunda Hospital. To the south is the Gate Theatre and along the northern side of the square is the Garden of Remembrance and the Hugh Lane Gallery. Also here is the Dublin Writer’s Museum, where you can discover Dublin’s immense literary heritage. Here, many literary celebrities who lived in the city over the past 300 years are brought to life through their books, letters, paintings and personal items. The museum is located in a spectacular restored Georgian mansion that is worth visiting in its on right. Nearby you’ll find another literary museum, the James Joyce Centre on 35 North Great Georges St (access through Parnell Street), where you can see a writing table Joyce used in Paris when he was writing Finnegan’s Wake.
Yellow Route Extension
1. Continue on the YELLOW ROUTE to the next hop off point, on Westmoreland Street, in the southern part of Dublin’s city centre, on the eastern border of Temple Bar. The street links the bridge to Trinity College at College Green.
2. The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) in the Dublin Docklands is the last stop on the Yellow Route. This modern glass building overlooks the River Liffey at Spencer Dock. Nearby is the impressive Famine Monument, which commemorates the mid-19th century Great Famine (The "Irish Potato Famine") and is also well worth taking a look at, and, of course, you can enjoy all that Dublin Docklands has to offer, including restaurants, art galleries and fabulous shopping.
And here is something that is well worth knowing about: Taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour is one the best ways to explore any large city, as it saves you lots of precious holiday time and takes you EXACTLY to those places you really want to visit... (Not to mention the great views you can enjoy from the open top...).
We offer dozens of free "Hop on hop off guides" that cover quite a few cities across the world... All you have to do is to click here to see them in a webpage format (with embeded videos), or here, if you want to view and download them as eBooks (PDF format).
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