Monday 22 January 2018

Top 12 free things to do in Dublin: Lonely Planet's city cheat sheet

'High culture and light-hearted craic'

Dublin's Spire and GPO. Photo: Deposit
Dublin's Spire and GPO. Photo: Deposit
Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge. Photo: Deposit
Dublin Castle. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
A swimmer at the Forty Foot, Sandycove. Photo: Brendan Lyon/Failte Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

The best things in life are free, says Lonely Planet's newest publication, and who can argue with that?

From the Staten Island Ferry to swimming in Scottish lochs, some of the world's most memorable travel experiences can be enjoyed without spending a cent.

Lonely Planet's latest book, The Best Things in Life are Free: The Ultimate Money-Saving Travel Guide, features 884 free (or almost free) things to do around the world, with 12 of its picks in Dublin, a "charismatic and occasionally confounding" city in which it says "high culture and light-hearted craic" go hand-in-hand.

Here are its Top 12 free things to do in Dublin:

1. Bank of Ireland, College Green

Dating from 1733, the Bank of Ireland building on College Green was the world's first purpose-built parliament building, with a design that inspired Washington's House of Representatives. It's free to visit, but ask permission to enter the ornate chamber. 10am-4pm Mon-Fri; free tours 10.30am Tuesdays.

2. Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)


3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists are on display in the elegant former hospital, "including a tableau of fruit made from wet toilet paper," Lonely Planet says.; 11.30-5.3opm Tues-Fri; 10am-5.30pm Sat, noon-5.30pm Sun.

3. National Gallery of Ireland

Free lectures, tours and workshops are available in addition to a mouthwatering collection of Irish art, Dutch masters, Italian Baroque and other pieces in Ireland's premier art gallery.; 9.15am-5.30pm Mon-Wed, Fri & Sat; 9.15am-8.30pm Thurs; 11am-5.30pm Sun.

More: Ireland's top free attractions: Our readers' picks

4. National Museum of Ireland

Described as a "mighty museum" with four million objects spread across four sites, day-trippers have their pick of Archaeology (Kildare St.), Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks) and Natural History (Merrion St.) in Dublin. The fourth collection is in Mayo.; 10am-5pm Tues-Sat; 2-5pm Sun.

5. Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College, Dublin. Photo: Fáilte Ireland

Its list of former students includes Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and, er, Courtney Love, according to Lonely Planet - but did you know that you can wander Trinity's campus for free ('if you laze on the grass, undergrad-style, for long enough, you might even absorb some knowledge by osmosis...').; 7am-midnight.

6. Sunday Concerts

The Hugh Lane's Sundays @ Noon gigs began life in 1975, and are still going strong, LP advises - from September to June. The gallery is free to visit, too. 10am-6pm Tues-Thurs; 10am-5pm Fri & Sat; 11am-5pm Sun.

7. Bike about

"Dublin is a great cycling city," Lonely Planet says. Some may beg to differ, but two wheels certainly offers a speedy and cost-effective way to see the sights. If you don't have your own bike, Dublinbikes has over 100 stations around the city, with small charges based on use.

9. The Forty Foot

40 foot, CREDIT Brendan Lyon, Failte Ireland.jpg
A swimmer at the Forty Foot, Sandycove. Photo: Brendan Lyon/Failte Ireland

'Snotgreen' and 'scrotumtightening' is how James Joyce famously described the sea at this legendary Sandycove swimming spot. Do as the locals do, and brace yourself. Wussy wetsuit-wearers need not apply.

Read More: Wild Swimming: 10 of the most amazing outdoor swims in Ireland

9. Glasnevin Cemetery

Sure, you have to pay for the museum (€4) and cemetery tours (€8), but you can also walk around Dublin's most famous graveyard for free. More than a million souls are buried here, including Michael Collins and Daniel O'Connell.

10. The Phoenix Park

"Although walled, this expanse of greenery just to the west of Dublin city centre feels utterly wild," says Lonely Planet. Dublin Zoo has an entry fee, but like its deer, visitors are free to roam.

Read more:  Top 10: Dublin from the DART

11. Walk the line

march_new_21032011_49 (1).jpg
Dublin Castle. Photo: Fáilte Ireland

The Dubline is one of the city's newest tourist attractions, a walking route stretching from Parnell SQuare through College Green, past Dublin Castle (pictured) and onwards to Kilmainham Gaol. The free Dublin Discovery Trails App has a series of self-guided walking trails spiralling off the Dubline.

12. City of a Thousand Welcomes

This one's a no-brainer for visitors. Register on the City of a Thousand Welcomes website before your trip, and they'll send you a free guide to the city and pair you with a volunteer city ambassador. They, in turn, will take you to a pub or cafe for a free pint or cuppa and a chat. Can't say fairer than that...

Lonely Planet's 'The Best Things in Life are Free: the Ultimate Money-Saving Travel Guide' is available now. See for more.

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