Ireland’s capital may not be the cheapest city you’ll ever explore, but there’s loads on offer that’s completely free. You can cover the arts, the culture and some of the most iconic sights before you’ve even spent a penny – leaving you enough in the wallet to celebrate with a compulsory pint of Guinness.

Here’s our top picks of the free things to do in Dublin:

Wander the markets

While Temple Bar is famous for its nightlife scene, daytime in this district is just as lively. During the weekend, there are three markets to browse, and all are free to enter. The Temple Bar food market in Meeting House Square sets up on a Saturday and offers an array of culinary delights. From cheese, meats and seafood, to freshly baked goods. Once you’ve fuelled up for the day, head over to the Designer Mart on Cow’s Lane. Irish handmade crafts and leather goods line the stalls. From handcrafted hats and metal sculptures to paintings and textile toys, it’s a great place to shop souvenirs as well as for yourself. Then on both days of the weekend, you can wile away the hours at the Temple Bar Book Market. Great for literature lovers as well as music fans, you’ll find rows of vintage reads and vinyl. And if you don’t want to spend a penny to truly make it one of the free things to do in Dublin, the markets are a great place for people watching as well as ‘window’ shopping.

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Blue & Red Route, Stop: Dame Street / Temple Bar

Listen to live music

Live music in Ireland is an everyday occurrence, but that doesn’t make it any less special. The historic venues, the atmosphere, the trad sounds, it all adds up to a great night. And to sit and watch is technically completely free (it’s probably polite to buy a drink). A couple of venues to note are O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row and Whelan’s on Camden Street. Look out for the Midnight Hour gig with free entry before 10.30pm showcasing some of the best up and coming local talent. And even checking out the buskers on Grafton Street on the way home is one of the fun free things to do in Dublin. 

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For more ideas on where to pitch up for the evening, check out our guide on The 10 Best Pubs & Bars in Dublin.

For O’Donoghue’s:
Blue & Red Route, Stop: St. Stephen’s Green

For Whelan’s:
Blue & Red Route, Stop: St. Patrick’s Cathedral

For Grafton Street Buskers:
Blue & Red Route, Stop: College Green

Spot the deer in Phoenix Park

If your budget doesn’t stretch as far as entry to Dublin Zoo, you can enjoy the wildlife that roams freely in Phoenix Park. One of Europe’s largest city parks, head into the woodland for a chance to spot the wild deer that call it home. There’s also walking trails to follow, a Victorian flower garden to discover and even a President’s house. Take a picnic and make a day of it and check out the schedule of free events held in this beautiful space. If you’re lucky, you can also peek inside the President of Ireland’s house on a free tour.

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Red Route, Stop: Phoenix Park

Swat up at Chester Beatty Library

Nestled in the gardens of Dublin Castle is the Chester Beatty Library, and a few hours spent here is probably one of the most valuable free things to do in Dublin. While it may not be the most popular museum in Ireland, it showcases one of the best collections in Europe. Alfred Chester Beatty was a bibliophile whose ancient books, scrolls and other artefacts are laid out across two floors for all to enjoy. Expect Egyptian papyrus, medieval manuscripts, copies of the Qur’an and so much more.

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Blue & Red Route, Stop: Dame Street / Dublin Castle

Browse the museums and art galleries

Dublin is packed full of museums and art galleries, and with so many offering free entry, a day spent browsing them makes the list of great free things to do in Dublin. Grab yourself an audio guide at the National Gallery of Ireland and discover the many wings of European art and sculpture - pick up a free family pack if you have kids in tow to keep them also engaged. Find Celtic and medieval treasures at the National Museum, where the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice are fully on show for all to see. Then immerse yourself in the permanent and temporary exhibitions by established contemporary artists at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, housed in the atmospheric 17th century Royal Hospital Building. When you’re done, be sure to take a little time wandering the beautiful surrounding gardens. For a full list of our favourite Galleries & Museums in Dublin check out our guide.

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For the National Gallery of Ireland:
Blue Route, Stop: National Art Gallery

For the National Museum of Ireland:
Blue Route, Stop: National Museum of Decorative Arts & History

For the Irish Museum of Modern Art:
Blue Route, Stop: Royal Hospital Kilmainham

So there you have our simply-must list of free things to do in Dublin. And now that you’ve managed to save so much money, why not splash out on a Big Bus tour and see all the city’s sights in style. With stops by all the landmarks and attractions Dublin is famous for, you can hop off and explore more wherever you choose. For more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time in this cultural city, check out our guide to the Top 10 Things to do in Dublin.