Last Updated | 05/09/2023 | 11 Minute Read
Dublin is always lively with events on every weekend to places that you want to explore! While there are hundreds of tours and exhibitions that are paid in Dublin, there are just as many for free. Every weekend there are a number of events to choose from but there are also places to visit year round that have no charge.
Perhaps your holiday coincides with Culture Night, Heritage Week or the St Patricks Festival. These important events have a number of free gigs, tours, guides and much more. So always keep an eye on the calendar when you book your stay at Crowne Plaza.
I’ve selected a number of areas, museums, walks and scenic spots for you to choose from all include Free Things to do in Dublin.
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Free Museums & Galleries
Ireland is famous for its museums, with a rich history in art, literature and culture. A lot of Ireland’s museums are free, a good guide is that anything with the word ‘National’ is generally free. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Located in Merrion Square, the National Gallery of Ireland is a haven for art and culture lovers. Boasting works such as ‘The Liffey Swim’ by Jack B. Yeats and ‘Still Life with a Mandolin’ by Pablo Picasso, the National Gallery of Ireland is home to the country’s collection of European & Irish art.
Whilst the permanent collections (and most temporary collections) are free to visit with no booking required, there may be a charge to visit some new exhibitions - we advise checking the website for the most up to date information on exhibitions and pricing.
The National Gallery run a regular programme of free guided tours in the Gallery. These tours are aimed towards including the entire community. Below is a list of tours, some may suit better than others for you.
- Highlights Tours: Saturdays at 12.30pm and 2.30pm, Sundays at 1.30pm and 2.30pm
- Themed Tours: Saturdays at 1.30pm
- Family Tours: Sundays at 12.30pm
- Tours: the 2nd Monday of the month at 2pm
- Tours for the hard of hearing: the 1st Thursday of every 2nd month at 5.30pm
Home to the country’s collection of contemporary and modern art, IMMA features over 3,500 pieces of art by Irish and international creators and artists. Once you have spent some time browsing the museum, you can look forward to enjoying the beautiful grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, within which IMMA is located. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is brimming with history itself and is the oldest classical building in the country.
Modern art is not everybody's cup of tea, I understand that. At IMMA, it is much more than just art. In 2023, the museum launched their “Summer Outdoor” programme which encouraged the community to join them in the courtyard for music sessions, artist led workshops and garden events. The commitment to the community means there is something for everybody at IMMA, even if modern art is not your cup of tea.
Located in the grounds of Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library was once named by Lonely Planet as ‘one of the best (museums) in Europe’. Home to rare books, manuscripts and unique treasures from Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, The Chester Beatty Library boasts informative and well-displayed exhibitions. During your visit, spare some time to enjoy a bite to eat in the Silk Road Café in which you will be spoilt for choice with the delicious array of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine that it offers.
While holding ancient Asian manuscripts, the Chester Beatty also offers a unique traditional Chinese form of meditation.
Qi Gong, is a traditional Chinese form of meditation, coordinating slow movement, deep rhythmic breathing and a calm state of mind. This free event runs on Saturdays at 12pm. No booking needed but places are limited.
A favourite amongst contemporary art fans, The Hugh Lane Gallery houses the oldest collection of modern and contemporary art in Ireland. Located on Parnell Square, The Hugh Lane Gallery is situated within an impressive neo-classical building known as Charlemont House. A favourite exhibition with those who visit is that of Francis Bacon’s studio, which includes all of the original objects and fittings, such as canvases, doors and walls.
A peaceful place of reflection found on Dublin’s Parnell Square, The Garden of Remembrance is a memorial garden dedicated to those ‘who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom’. The Garden of Remembrance was opened in 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Upon entering the garden, your eyes will immediately be drawn to its main focal point - a sculpture by Oisín Kelly based on the Irish mythical story of ‘The Children of Lir’.
While walking to the Garden of Remembrance, take a trip to the G.P.O., or the General Post Office. The Irish Proclamation was read by Padraig Pearse on Easter Monday, 1916. You can still see some of the markings from the Irish rebellion over 100 years ago.
Cross The Ha'penny Bridge
For a free thing to do in Dublin city, which won’t cut into your sightseeing time, take a stroll across Dublin’s famous Ha'penny Bridge, which, depending on what side of the river Liffey you are on, will take you from southside Dublin to northside Dublin, and vice versa. As the first pedestrian bridge in Dublin city, when you cross The Ha'penny Bridge, you are quite literally walking in the footsteps of local people throughout history.
Originally named The Wellington Bridge, and officially called The Liffey Bridge today, this Dublin landmark is still commonly known as The Ha'penny Bridge, as a nod to how much pedestrians were charged to cross the bridge up until 1919.
Positioned in the heart of Dublin City, and spread over 47 acres, the historical Trinity College Campus is filled with beautiful cobbled pathways and squares, perfectly manicured lawns and many historic buildings. Whilst the grounds are free to walk around and explore, whilst there you can opt for a paid attraction or activity such as The Book of Kells, The Old Library or a guided tour of the campus.
On a warm summers day many people take to the Pavillion, called the Pav by locals, which is on the cricket field. There is a bar here you can have a refreshment in or simple choose one of the many benches to sit and watch the world go by. Maybe you will catch some of the Cricket, Rugby or Soccer played by the Trinity College Teams.
The Military Cemetery holds a profound historical significance as the resting place of 14 leaders executed during the 1916 Easter Rising, including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and Major John MacBride. After their execution at Kilmainham Gaol, their remains were respectfully laid to rest in Arbour Hill.
Situated on a terrace of Wicklow granite, the graves lie beneath a low mound within the former prison yard. Enclosed by a limestone wall inscribed with their names in Irish and English, the gravesite stands as a solemn tribute to their sacrifice.
Next to the wall, a plaque commemorates others who perished in 1916. Carefully maintained by the Office of Public Works, this sacred cemetery offers a place for reflection and remembrance, inviting visitors to connect with the stories of these courageous individuals who played a significant role in Ireland's struggle for independence.
This summer the OPW are offering a free tour around the historic graves of those who fought for Ireland’s freedom. I would recommend outdoor clothing and proper footwear for this tour.
Discover Dublin and Book your stay at The Crowne Plaza
Rediscover the city this winter and make lifetime memories with your loved ones. Embrace a day trip in the city by exploring the winding streets to soak up the culture and the history of one of the oldest and coolest cities in Europe.
Dublin is renowned for its rich literary history or its ties with the arts – it is so worth taking a stroll about to remind yourself what is truly special about the city.
Parks and Beaches in Dublin
There are 302 parks and 66 green spaces within Dublin City. While each park has its own unquestionable advantages, we couldn’t list all of them out! All parks and beaches are free to visitors. Making them a perfect thing to do for free in Dublin.
Dublin’s Phoenix Park is one of the largest walled parks in any capital city in the whole of Europe, which is not surprising given that it is home to Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the home of the President of Ireland), An Garda Síochána Headquarters, the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, plus much more.
You can tour the President’s home. Each tour takes about an hour and fifteen minutes and is free of charge. Tickets are issued on a first-come-first-served basis from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
If you are looking for a fun activity in Dublin which is absolutely free, then make your way to Phoenix Park and venture around the many monuments, gardens, and pathways that can be found throughout its vast 1,750 acres. Our top tip? Bring your camera and have it ready for when you meet the herd of wild Fallow Deer, although be sure to keep your distance and refrain from feeding them.
The Phoenix Park is open all year and has no entry fee.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Dublin city centre, then make your way to the Dublin Mountains, which are home to a host of walking trails and impressive viewpoints that offer a chance to immerse yourself in the outdoors and experience another side of Dublin.
Pull on your hiking boots and explore trails which will bring you through spots such as Ticknock Forest, Barnaslingan Woods and the Two Rock moorland. For a more challenging adventure, take on the Dublin Mountains Way, a 42.6 kilometre marked trail which crosses the Dublin mountains, beginning in Shankill and ending in Tallaght.
North Bull Island is a low-lying island located on the northside of Dublin which is popular with locals for walking, birdwatching, and wildlife appreciation. The wooden bridge to the island is particularly beautiful to cross during sunrise and sunset, however, the island can also be reached by car via the causeway.
North Bull Island is also home to Dollymount Strand, a pretty 5 kilometre stretch of sand dunes dotted along an airy beach. This is also a great free activity for visitors with mobility restrictions, as both North Bull Island and Dollymount Strand offer a free beach wheelchair service.
Music & Dance
Song, dance and having the craic is Irish culture. It’s one thing that will always be free to do in Dublin City. While not every gig, show or venue will be free to enter. You’re guaranteed a good night at just about any of Dublin’s plentiful venues with no cover charge.
Watch the street performers on Grafton Street
Street performers are some of Ireland’s biggest hidden gems. You can walk down many of Dublin’s busy shopping streets to find any kind of talent. I’ve seen song, tap dance, hip hop, beat boxing, juggling, fire breathing, miming and oh so much more over the years.
One of Ireland’s largest Youtubers was found after a video of her busking went viral. In 2017, at just 12 years old, Allie Sherlock exploded onto the music scene and soon after appeared on the Ellen show. If you roam the Dublin buskers, you may find the next hot talent yourself!
Trad Sessions in Piper’s Corner
Piper’s Corner is one of Dublin’s best bars in my humble opinion. It’s loud, lively and usually rammed, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Every evening from about 9pm you can find talented musicians joining together to play. If you’re very lucky you can even catch Damien Dempsey and Sean McKeon on an odd day!
Crash & Burn Comedy
Crash & Burn Comedy, a free stand up show on every Thursday in Sin É, is a great room to hear some jokes that no audience has heard before.
With resident hosts, Michael Sable and Nghia Mai, the show welcomes both seasoned veterans and up-and-coming acts to try out their jokes. Over the last year there have been some incredible names in the line-up, and you can check them all on their Instagram.
Zampa’s Live Music
If it’s live music you’re into then Zampas, located in the Hard Rock Hotel, is the place to be. Their events are free in, while they also have a bar with kicking cocktails.
The music ranges night to night with acoustic sessions to smooth soul tunes. The bar has tonnes of memorabilia dotted around, ranging from David Bowie’s boiler suit from Blue Jean to Kurt Cobain’s orange shirt from his personal wardrobe. Listening to some live music and tracing your steps through the history of rock and roll.