A charming, animated, and entertaining city, Ireland’s capital boasts a large number of one-of-a-kind attractions and free places to visit in Dublin that will keep every family member engaged – even the little ones!
If variety is the spice of life, Dublin is certainly one of the most impressive spice racks you’ll come across. Get your creative juices flowing in the heart of Georgian Dublin; check out the authentic Irish produce in a local farmers market; stop by the campus of Ireland’s highest-ranked university (whose Hogwarts-like architecture is sure to impress each family member equally) and top it all off with a family picnic in Phoenix Park.
Prepare to make some unforgettable memories with these 8 free things to do in Dublin with the family.
1. National Gallery of Ireland
First on our list of free places to visit in Dublin is the National Gallery of Ireland. Situated just beside Merrion Square on the southside of Dublin city, the National Gallery of Ireland was officially opened in the 1860s and has been home to iconic paintings, sculptures, and exhibitions ever since.
Alike all national museums across Dublin, admission to the National Gallery of Ireland is free and offers a one-of-a-kind experience for all the family. The Galleries vision to inspire through art is crystal clear with its abundance of activities suitable for all ages. Begin by discovering more about the historic collections through an engaging audio tour for kids and families, let the kids try their hand at creating their own masterpiece in Maples Creative Corner, and finish up your visit with a relaxing stroll through Merrion Square.
2. Phoenix Park
As the largest urban park in Dublin and the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe, Phoenix Park is visited annually by millions of local and international visitors – around 10 million to be exact and is one of the top free things to do in Dublin with the family.
The park is open every day throughout the year and boasts a number of historic sites including the Phoenix monument, the Papal cross, and the Wellington testimonial. Once you’ve immersed yourself in some of Ireland’s ancient history, be sure to keep an eye out for the famous fallow deer that have been living in the park since the 17th century, the kiddie’s playground, the Phoenix Park visitor centre, and of course – Áras an Uachtaráin: the official residence of the president of Ireland (who is always happy to say hello during his daily walk).
3. Family Swim at Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane
Did you know that guests of Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane have complimentary use of the swimming pool during their stay? You can book a slot in the 22-metre pool and there is a kiddies pool for smaller children. Supplies such as swim hats and armbands can be purchased at reception. Once checked in to the hotel, it is a great free activity to do in Dublin with the family!
4. National Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin is located just a 15-minute bus ride from the centre of Dublin and is rightly promoted as an ‘oasis of calm in the city’. It’s estimated that the gardens are home to around 20,000 living plants so if any family members are self-confessed naturalists – this is a must-visit!
The gardens offer plenty of spots for the family to explore, including the stunningly restored glasshouses that host everything from cacti to great palms and the beautiful garden features which can be seen in different areas of the grounds. What’s more, free kids art and nature classes are usually run on most weekends and the onsite garden tearoom is a great place to relax with a coffee and a small bite to eat. Don’t miss out on this wonderful free thing to do in Dublin!
5. Chester Beatty Library
Located on the grounds of Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library was once the private library of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty and now houses his impressive collection of manuscripts, rare books and one-of-a-kind treasures from nearly every corner of the globe.
The museum as a whole is completely engaging and spreads over two floors. As well as offering regular exhibitions and talks, there are also drop-in activities available for all ages to give children the opportunity to explore Chester Beatty’s collection in a whole new light. Admission is free and if you’re interested in a guided tour – these typically run daily and are also free of charge. Perfect when looking for free places to visit in Dublin.
6. Trinity College Grounds
In the heart of Dublin’s city centre is where you’ll find Trinity College campus – where writers Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and scientists William Rowan Hamilton and Ernest Walton all once attended.
Although there is a fee to visit the Book of Kells and the Long Room, the grounds of the college are free and open to the public to explore and enjoy – and to tell you the truth, the impressive architecture and the large cricket grounds where you might catch a local game, are definitely worth seeing. When you’re finished, why not take a stroll up Dawson Street towards the historic St. Stephen’s Green and check out some of the sculptural monuments placed around the park.
7. Airfield Estate Farmers Market
Once home to the Overend family, Airfield is now a working farm, gardens and heritage site set on 38 acres of estate that aims to surprise and delight people of all ages. A fun, free activity in Dublin for all the family. Situated in Dundrum, Airfield Estate hosts a farmers market every Friday and Saturday open to all the public.
Interested in experiencing some true Irish produce? The farmers market has a range of locally grown produce available to sample or take with you to enjoy later. Fruit, vegetables, jams, pastries and even fresh fish and meat are just some of the offerings on site!
8. Poolbeg Lighthouse
Sitting at the end of the great south wall in Dublin where the River Liffey flows into the Irish sea is Poolbeg lighthouse – one of the first lighthouses to use candlepower! Once the world’s longest sea wall, the great south wall is a scenic walk that begins at the breezy beach of Sandymount strand and ends at the historic Poolbeg lighthouse. This beautiful, free place to visit in Dublin is high recommended.
Scattered with informative signs about the surrounding nature, and hints and tips for bird watching, the great south wall walk is one done by many locals – particularly during those sunnier days! When you reach the lighthouse, make sure to look out for the view of the Dublin mountains and Killiney head.
Family Hotel in Dublin City
One of the best ways to end a day of fun family activities is with a relaxing stay at the family-friendly Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane. Located in the heart of the Dublin docklands, Clayton Hotel is within walking distance of a number of sites and free things to do in Dublin with the family and it even offers a range of special offers on family packages.