Choosing the right tour of Dublin is not an easy task, mainly because you are spoiled for choice when visiting the Irish capital. The variety of tours available in Dublin can make it difficult to select just one, and find an experience which suits your travel style, budget, and interests. Dublin tours are an excellent way to get a sense for Ireland's capital city while learning about history and local customs, and also discovering areas that you may not have been able to stumble upon on your own.
Types of Dublin Tours
When visiting the fair Irish city, you want to take in the best sights and attractions of Dublin - and you have several methods to explore the city to pick from. This begins with the easiest and cheapest option, which would be a self-guided tour of Dublin on foot. Of course, you could use Dublin's public transport system for a more extensive self-led tour of the city. Or you could also use a rental car to get around, but we don't recommend driving in Dublin as a tourist.
However, the best in terms of the most comfortable and readily accessible way to get to know Dublin without too much hassle, and with a knowledgeable commentary thrown in, is a pre-organised tour. Luckily there are several kinds of tours you can take with a guide that span from Dublin group tours on buses and boats to special Viking or ghost-themed tours.
Hop On Hop Off Tours of Dublin
There are several private bus companies with different routes which organized tours offering a hop-on-hop-off service. These tours allow you to see all the major sites at your own pace and so are actually the most flexible Dublin tour of all. True, they usually stay on the same route all day, going in circles around the city center, but the flexibility for you comes with the opportunity to exit, and later re-enter, the easy-to-recognize buses at any designated stop. All of these stops are carefully planned to be convenient for one or more attractions.
You may still have to plan ahead on these tours a bit to be sure you have time to make all of your preferred stops. If you want to visit the Guinness Storehouse on them, for instance, you'll be out of circulation (so to speak) for a few hours.
Options for Dublin hop-on-hop-off tours include:
- City Tour - circular tour run by Dublin Bus;
- Dublin Tour - a similar circular tour, run by Graylines;
- Big Bus Tours;
- City Sightseeing - circular tour on a similar route, but with multilingual commentary.
Other Bus Tours of Dublin
If you are searching for a slightly less conventional way to see the city of Dublin, there are two other tours with regular schedules to consider. They are slightly less flexible but both unforgettable:
- Viking Splash Tour - On this Dublin tour, you'll be driven around the city streets and then take a plunge into the Grand Canal in an amphibious vehicle, while mainly being informed about Dublin's Viking heritage. This is a fun tour and you take in most of the important sites, but you can't get off at any point.
- Ghostbus - this evening tour follows the trail of Dublin's ghosts, ghouls and grave-robbers, a specially converted double-decker bus and with live actors (well, they say they are still alive). Not for the faint-hearted, and definitely not covering the main tourist spots, but a good evening entertainment for those long Irish winter nights.
Boat Tours in Dublin
Are you dreaming of cruising down the Liffey with a Dublin river tour? It is possible to see Dublin from the water with a boat tour.
- Dublin Discovered - a cruise up and down the river Liffey in a modern boat, which allows for panoramic views of the Quays and the Docklands area. The disadvantage: you are sitting very low, and at low tide (the Liffey is tidal throughout central Dublin) the views might be slightly restricted. The big plus: you see Dublin from a different vantage point.
There are also dinner cruises on the Grand Canal, but these are more focused on the food than on the sights (which are not as splendid along the canal anyway).
Dublin Outside the City Centre
If you want to drop out of the city center, Dublin Bus might be your first choice (unless you simply hitch a ride on the DART to Greystones or Howth). They are offering two tours that take in some attractions further afield:
- North Coast and Malahide Castle Tour - visit Malahide Castle and Howth;
- South Coast and Powerscourt Tour - visit the Wicklow Mountains and Powerscourt Gardens.
Or, if you feel really adventurous (and don't mind spending a lot of time on the road), Paddywagon runs day tours to far-flung places like the Giant's Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, and even Kerry.