13 Things to Do in Dublin if You Don't Like Drinking

The Temple Bar, Dublin | © Marc Lechanteur/Shutterstock
The Temple Bar, Dublin | © Marc Lechanteur/Shutterstock
Photo of James Hendicott
6 December 2017

Guinness. Whiskey. Irish coffee. Baileys. Hot whiskey with lemon and cinnamon. Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction, The Guinness Storehouse. The Teelings Distillery. The Irish Whiskey Museum. The Old Jameson Distillery. Pearse Lyons. Temple Bar. The only place in the world you can try the experimental beers the Guinness brewers are playing around with. It’s fair to say Dublin is a little bit into booze.

But if you’ve dropped in with no interest in a single one of the roughly 751 pubs in the city (one for every 1,700 people), you might find the odd thing that still entertains. Here’s some other options that are good in an entirely non-boozy way…

Do your partying in the morning

The rest of us are still sobering up, but you’re painting on the glitter, sipping on a smoothie and looking all bright eyed and bushy tailed, hoping the odd local hero might somehow, magically decide it’s time to play a quick gig. You might as well just go raving on your own under the circumstances, right? Like that’s ever going to happen…

Hit the library while the rest of us hit the Library Bar

I mean, Ireland’s famous for the literature of Joyce, Wilde and Behan, and it’s not like it’d be the same to read it at home, right? You could sample Ulysses on an early night in the hotel, or there’s always the libraries… You’ll find 200,000 or so books to keep you busy in the Trinity College Library, which dates back to the 1730s and looks like a Harry Potter set. Or go even older with the Marsh Library, established 1701.

Trinity College Library | © apascuito/ Flickr

Go spend some time on an island

Lambay Island, just north of Dublin, is one of the spots that doesn’t have a pub (though it does have its links to whiskey, because, you know… Ireland). You can go and hang out with the wallabies, who are almost as at home as a non-drinker in the Emerald Isle. That said, they’ve settled in quite well here!

You could eat out, rather than drinking out

The Irish are more likely to head for a pub than a restaurant, but we don’t do badly for food. Some nice options include the chance to grab a world-class steak, drop in on some Michelin star restaurants and explore the fantastic seafood. You’ll even find oysters, fish and chips and coddle as classy pub grub.

Oysters on ice | © Alper Çuğun / Flickr

The sport is better outside the pub screens, anyway

GAA is good on TV, but absolutely fantastic live. It helps that there’s regularly passionate, packed crowds at the main 83,000 capacity stadium, which also features Europe’s largest bar. Gaelic football and hurling are branded ‘bog ball’ and ‘stick fighting’ by those who don’t quite dig them, but, well, they’re wrong: think hockey crossed with murder, and a rugby meets soccer without most of the rules. Three times European rugby champions Leinster might pass an hour or two, or you can try kitesurfing in Dublin Bay.

The parks don’t have watering holes…

Phoenix Park is Europe’s largest walled inner-city park, where you’ll enjoy the deer that roam freely, the tours of the President’s House, the zoo, Farmleigh, the magazine fort and the soaring Papal Cross and obelisk. There might be pubs right outside almost every entry gate, but there’s a literal watering hole, too!

Deer in Phoenix Park | Alain Rouillier/ ©Flickr

Shopping. Lots of shopping.

Dublin has a developing sense of fashion, interesting street corners, classy art and design, and lots of decent souvenirs. The St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Jervis Centre, Ilac Centre, Dundrum Town Centre and uber-hip Powerscourt Centre are just all worth exploring. And don’t get us started on those shiny department stores…

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Grafton Street, Dublin | © abd/Shutterstock

It can be surprisingly cheap to enjoy yourself

Ireland is notoriously expensive at times, admittedly, but you’d be wrong to overlook the cheaper highlights. You’ll also find coffee shops with lush varieties where you can chill for an entire day, gorgeous walks, affordable meals out, historic monuments out in the open, and a deep love of art accessible through free-access galleries.

Joe’s Coffe Shop, Dublin | © Aleksandrs Muiznieks/Shutterstock

Delve into the history

Done all those museums? Or through checking out that time the Vikings turned up and took over, or the Irish revolution, or the myths, glories and stories of everyone from Molly Malone to Michael Collins? Then there’s the old music which is revisited night after night, like the below. Though that’s often found in the pubs…

So you should just stroll wherever there are no pubs

I mean, they’re really not easy to stay away from in Dublin. There’s literally only one route between the city-encircling canals that doesn’t pass a single pub. And while passing no pubs, that route takes you straight past the Guinness factory. If you fancy a look around…

Go to church

If you’re not going to be bad, be really, really good, right? Dublin has two cathedrals and more churches than you’ll know what to do with. You can sit amongst the pews, discover the mummified cat in the Christchurch Cathedral basement, and learn about the origin of the phrase ‘Chance Your Arm’ at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Chance your arm, it might even be fun…

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin | © Josemaria Toscano/Shutterstock

Remind yourself why you’re not drinking

Hangovers are awful. Truly awful. Guinness hangovers are worse. Need a reminder of just why you’re missing all that fun? Get a glance at what those still stuck in bed might look like right now, with a gander at those leathery bog bodies in the Museum of History and Archaeology, or the mummies of St Michan’s Church.

Or just be done with it, and get straight in the sea…

I mean, if you’re going to eschew Irish drinking traditions, then why not try a different one? The Irish have been jumping in the Irish Sea for generations, sometimes nude, and sometimes in the dead of winter. Head for the Forty Foot and chuck yourself in, and you’ll get a slightly different kind of shock to the system!

The Forty Foot | ©'Myself'/WikiCommons

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