Best And Worst Most Popular Dublin Attractions With Teens (2023)


Last Updated on August 5, 2023 by Nicole

Before we went to Dublin, I had days when I was excited and other days that I wasn’t sure whether I had made the right decision for our holiday. On the one hand, everything I read seemed to include glowing reviews about the European city. On the other hand, apart from the Book of Kells in Trinity College, I was hard pressed to identify one major historical, cultural or sporting site that made it a “must-see” destination.

After spending a few days in Dublin with my 3 teenagers (14, 16 and 18 years old), what can I report? There are definitely amazing attractions and activities in Dublin that would interest anyone – adults, teens and children. However, there are also very popular things to do in Dublin that are very expensive that you may wish to skip, especially if you are only in Dublin for a quick visit or are traveling on a budget. Here are the 6 of the most in demand attractions in Dublin, our experiences and suggestions.

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musical pub crawl
Walking through the pedestrian zone of Temple Bar.

Our Ireland And Northern Ireland Experiences

We spent 9 days exploring Ireland and Northern Ireland on a road trip. We started in Dublin, headed to Northern Ireland, and then, scooted to the other side of the Island to the County Donegal and the Cliffs of Slieve League.

After that, we went to the Aran Islands, saw the Cliffs of Moher, went to Limerick, then to Kilkenny, and back to Dublin. We saw some extraordinary scenery, hiked on beautiful cliffs, and had some amazing experiences.

For more information about our 9 day trip, please see:

Accommodation In Dublin

We stayed at the Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel, a beautiful modern hotel within easy walking distance of Temple Bar and Trinity College. The rooms were large and the breakfast was delicious. We were right on the water with lots of fantastic restaurants and cafes nearby. This is an ideal upscale and comfortable choice.

Here are the 6 most popular Dublin attractions and activities, our experiences and whether they are worth your time and money.

Dublin Walking Tour 

The first Dublin attraction that we did was a 3 hour Dublin walking tour. This was absolutely fantastic.

We visited Dublin with three teenagers who were 18, 16 and 14 years old. From past experience, I knew that they are a tough crowd to keep engaged in a historical walking tour, but they were.

Dublin walking tour
The start of our walking tour.

Our guide was funny and insightful. He weaved the history of Ireland (a couple thousand years no less) effortlessly into current events and brought it alive in such a way that we all wanted more. We toured the streets of Dublin and learned about its important sites, and laughed most of the way.

I would highly recommend the walking tour of Dublin. I would try and do it on your very first day so you get an overview of the city and also can get tips and recommendations about restaurants, shopping, and events from the local guide. If interested, book our tour here.

Dublin walking tour
The remains of Dublin Castle.

Details of the Walking Tour

You do walk and stand a lot. Accordingly, wear comfortable shoes. Since it is Ireland, make sure that you have an umbrella or waterproof jacket on hand. No matter how nice it is when you start your tour, the weather will most likely change multiple times during your walk and you will need to be prepared for everything!

Musical Pub Crawl

If you ask our teenagers (or my husband for that matter), what their favourite experience was while on our 9 day road trip around Ireland, they will all tell you that they had two. In addition to the Dublin walking tour, they adored the musical pub crawl offered by Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl.

The musical pub crawl begins in the Temple Bar district and is hosted every night by two exceptionally talented musicians and storytellers. On our night, we were entertained and hosted by Eamon Galldubh and Eugene Quinn, and visited three pubs on either side of the Liffey River.

In each one, we sat in private cosy rooms with our own bar and bartender. The musicians told stories, made jokes, and played traditional Irish music. I don’t think any show is the same. Incredibly, between the two of them, they played around 8 instruments, many of which I had never seen or heard before and are unique to Ireland.

If you only have the time or budget to do one activity in Dublin, make sure it is this experience.

musical pub crawl
The map of the musical pub crawl.
musical pub crawl
Our two very talented musicians on our musical pub crawl.
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The start of our musical pub crawl.
musical pub crawl
Crossing the Liffey bridge on our crawl.

Details of the Musical Pub Crawl

Tickets can be purchased in advance and online, and you can opt for dinner or just the show. Kids over 10 years old are welcome. I’d recommend comfortable walking shoes because you do move around a fair bit. Bring a warm jacket and an umbrella. You walk regardless if it is raining or not.

Another Option

If you would prefer a daytime musical tour, consider the Musical Walking Tour. You follow a musician along the streets of Dublin, learning about the history of the city through music. This is an amazing and unique experience that will leave a lasting impression on everyone in your family.

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is an enormous modern, multi-sensory and interactive museum that tells the story of Ireland’s famous beer – Guiness – with tastings and a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of Dublin.

With the purchase of a ticket, you gain entrance to the museum and the exhibits, access to the tasting rooms, and a free pint of Guinness at the rooftop bar at the end. According to TripAdvisor, it is the number one Dublin attraction. Sounds pretty good? Kind of…

This Dublin attraction is completely over the top. They have turned a two paragraph story about the history of Guinness and how it is made into a multi-level museum and store. It is bright and flashy, and it is definitely easy to get caught up in the sights and sounds.

However, when you strip it away, and ask yourself exactly what you got for your ticket, it comes down to this – an overview about how they make Guinness (only slightly different to any other beer), a pint of beer (or glass of juice if you prefer) and a beautiful view.

Dublin attractions
A large exhibit explaining one fact – the temperature in which Guinness roasts its barley.
Dublin attractions
A multi-media exhibit in the Guinness Storehouse explaining quality control of Guinness.
Dublin attractions
An elaborate exhibit of how Guinness stores and ships its product.

Details of the Guinness Storehouse

We had a timed pre-purchased ticket, but nonetheless, we arrived to a completely packed attraction. There were lineups to practically everything. Even the rooftop bar was busy with nowhere to sit.

As far as beer goes, even if you are a beer drinker – like myself and my husband – Guinness is definitely a specialized and acquired taste. The rooftop bar was literally littered with full glasses of Guinness abandoned everywhere.

Notwithstanding the museum is several stories, we walked through it within 45 minutes, unwilling to wait in long line-ups to try some of the more individualized experiences.

musical pub crawl
This was about as much as my daughter drank from her pint of Guinness.

Should You Go To This Dublin Activity?

The interactive exhibits certainly capture your attention and it was fun walking through the museum even with the crowds. However, the tickets are expensive. If you have the time and your budget allows for it, then go. You will enjoy yourself. Purchase your entrance tickets here.

On the other hand, if you are unsure about this experience and are concerned it would stretch your budget, then don’t go. This is definitely not one of those must sees experiences in Europe that people will shake their head in disbelief if you choose to skip.

4. The Book of Kells and Old Library in Trinity College

The Book of Kells is displayed in Trinity College in the centre of Dublin. It is a 9th century manuscript that documents the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells surpass that of others in extravagance and complexity. It is considered Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript.

Dublin free walking tour
The main square of Trinity College near the Book of Kells exhibition.

Tickets to see the Book of Kells also include access to the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries. It houses 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books.

The exhibition is mostly comprised of enormous posters displaying key pages of the Book of Kells with descriptions and explanations. In other words, I could have gotten the same, or arguably, more information and imagery online. There is only one page from the actual Book of Kells revealed under a glass display. It is difficult to appreciate anything significant from seeing it in this fashion.

In addition, like the Guinness Storehouse, we purchased tickets online and in advance for a timed entry. Nevertheless, the exhibition was packed with people, and it was nearly impossible to get close enough to the boards to see them.

As for the Long Room, it was a truly beautiful and majestic library. However, it also was very crowded and extremely warm (although the weather was cool outside). Apart from walking down one aisle and up the other, there wasn’t anything else to do in this room but stand and gaze at it for a few minutes.

Dublin attractions
The very crowded and warm Long Room.
Dublin attractions
The beautiful Long Room at Trinity College.

The tickets are expensive and we spent around 10 minutes in the Book of Kells exhibition and the Long Room.

Should You Go To This Dublin Attraction?

It depends. The library is truly one of the most beautiful in the world and the Book of Kells is an extraordinary manuscript. However, it is an expensive ticket and difficult to enjoy with the crowds.

One option is to take an organized tour of the Book of Kells and the exterior of Dublin Castle. With this tour, you see the Book of Kells without the crowds and get early-access admission to the Trinity College Library. In addition, you have a tour guide giving interesting information and highlighting the special features of both, bringing the experience to a different level.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is a busy riverside neighbourhood spread over cobbled pedestrian lanes in central Dublin. Although there is actually a pub called the Temple Bar in Temple Bar district, more times than not, when people talk about Dublin and Temple Bar, they are talking about the district and not the bar.

In Temple Bar, crowded pubs host live folk music and DJ sets, and diners pack restaurants serving Asian, American and Irish cuisine. In addition, quirky boutiques stock clothes and crafts by local designers.

musical pub crawl
The Temple Bar in the Temple Bar district.

Unlike other parts of Dublin, Temple Bar is not that old. In the 1980s, while the area was awaiting redevelopment as a transportation hub, small shops, artists and galleries popped up. By the early 1990s, once the redevelopment was ready to begin, the area had regenerated into Dublin’s cultural quarter. The redevelopment was cancelled and so continued the growth in the area of bars, pubs shops, and restaurants.

Without question, this is a fun, exciting, and happening area. However, it is fundamentally visited by tourists. Apart from employees and musicians, you are hard pressed to find any locals in most of the pubs and restaurants. Further, everything is a little more expensive than other areas in Dublin.

If you are looking for authentic Irish pub experiences or budget-friendly prices, you should go elsewhere. However, you will definitely have a good time in Temple Bar if you chose to stay.

Different Ways To Experience Temple Bar

There are a few inexpensive and fun ways to explore and experience Temple Bar that would allow you to explore the area in a unique way. Consider:

  • Self guided Outdoor Mystery Tour where, at your own pace, you unlock clues and solve a mystery all the while learning about Temple Bar and the history of Dublin; or
  • Outdoor Escape Game where you explore pubs like Darkey Kelly’s, the Temple Bar, and Shelbourne, among other places, while solving clues.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum

Kilmainham gaol was the county jail from 1796 to 1924. It held thousands of ordinary men, women and children whose crimes ranged from petty offences such as stealing food to more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts from many parts of Ireland were held here for long periods before being transported to Australia.

Kilmainham Gaol is more famously known for holding and sometimes executing political prisoners from the half dozen failed revolutions during its 128 year history.

Details of Kilmainham Gaol Museum

Access to Kilmainham gaol is only by guided tour which is included in the cost of a ticket. Tickets cost are reasonable, and even less for children, students and seniors.

It is a popular Dublin attraction so advanced ticket purchases are strongly recommended. The tour lasts for approximately 90 minutes.

Kilmainham Goal is located a good distance from most of the main Dublin attractions. We decided to walk and explore along the way. However, it was a long walk without much interesting things to see or do.

Should You Go To This Dublin Attraction?

This was an interesting place. The tour includes many entertaining and educational facts about the history of Kilmainham Goal and Ireland, the prisoners and their escapades.

The cells are still in tact and they were chilling to see. The old ones were damp, dark and intentionally cold whereas the “new” ones, built in 1860, were considered revolutionary at the time. They were 96 cells and every one was visible from a central platform, the basis of which modern prisons were modelled on. Many movies, such as In the Name Of The Fatherhave been filmed there.

Kilmainham gaol
The original prison cells that were deliberately cold, dark and damp.
Kilmainham gaol
The open prison structure built in 1860.

The only downside to this experience was that most of the tour was about the failed 1916 revolution against the British and the political prisoners that ended up incarcerated or executed thereafter. Much of what was described had already been highlighted during our walking tour.

Accordingly, you may wish to choose between a walking tour of Dublin and visiting the Kilmainham Goal.

Last Word

Ireland is truly lovely. The people are some of the kindest people that I have ever met and Dublin isn’t any different. We met loads of delightful Irish people and shared many laughs while there.

We absolutely loved two Dublin attractions – the walking tour and the Musical Pub Crawl. If you ask my family, they will tell you that these two Dublin experiences were their favourite from our whole 9 day road trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Temple Bar and Kilmainham Goal are both sought out tourist destinations in Dublin and are worthwhile to spend a few hours exploring. They can both be done without spending a lot of money.

As for two of the most popular Dublin attractions – the Guinness Storehouse, Book of Kells and Long Room – I was less convinced about their value (at least without joining a tour of the Book Of Kells and Long Room described above). If you don’t have a lot of time and are looking for budget-friendly activities, I would avoid these Dublin activities.

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We went to Dublin and did it all. I wasn't too impressed with most of the Dublin attractions. However, we uncovered two that we absolutely loved. Here is the real reason you should visit Dublin. #travel #familytravel #culturaltravel #authentic, must see, things to do in Dublin, pubs, Dublin itinerary |Book of Kells, Guinness, Kilmainham Gaol, library, Long Room, Old library, Sandemans, Temple Bar, Trinity College, walking tour
the authorNicole


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