If you’re planning your next city break and struggling to decide between Dublin and Edinburgh, we don’t blame you! Both are vibrant cities and you’re guaranteed a thrilling and memorable trip whichever you pick.
Being based in Ireland, you might expect us to favor the energetic capital of the Emerald Isle. And while it’s true Dublin holds a special place in our hearts, we’re also big fans of all that Edinburgh has to offer.
We’ll take you through some of the best things to see and do in each of these captivating capitals, so that you can decide which one is right for you.
Let’s start with our local – Dublin. The capital of the Republic of Ireland, this scintillating city is famed worldwide for its lively locals, charming culture, and fascinating folklore.
Packed with history, culture, and endless places to shop, eat, and drink, you can see and do a lot over the course of just a few days in this major metropolis.
Mostly constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries, Dublin is renowned for its gorgeous Georgian architecture. Leinster House, Fitzwilliam Square, and the official home of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, showcase this sensational style at its finest.
Other iconic historical attractions include Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral, while the 12th-century, patron saint-inspired St Patrick’s Cathedral features stunning stained glass windows and ornate gothic architecture.
There’s no better place to experience Dublin’s characterful culture than the infamous Temple Bar neighborhood.
Sample whiskey from the largest collection in Ireland at the iconic bar itself, then take your pick from the many live music venues and art galleries that line the cobbled streets of this vibrant neighborhood.
Art and Culture in Dublin
Immerse yourself in Irish art, culture and history with a meander through the National Gallery of Ireland and one of four National Museums of Ireland, before doing a spot of shopping on Grafton Street.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, swing by The Old Storehouse, The Brazen Head, or one of Dublin’s other heritage pubs to enjoy fresh fish and chips or a hearty Irish stew, and dance the night away to traditional Irish music.
For fans of the infamous Irish tipple, a trip to the Guinness Storehouse is a must. Learn all about the history of this staple stout, discover how the magic’s made, and perfect your pint-pouring skills while taking in stunning views of the city.
Walking Around Dublin
Dublin’s most popular attractions are all within walking or cycling distance from the city center – so whether you’re visiting for a day, a week, or longer, you can make the most of your time. Sightseeing buses are also a great hassle-free way of absorbing all of the splendor this city has to offer.
Otherwise known as ‘Auld Reekie’ (or ‘Old Smoky’ in English), Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, is renowned for its charm, culture, and history.
Nestled within the dramatic, striking landscape of the mountains, it’s the perfect place to feel immersed in the ruggedness of the wild, while still having all the choice and convenience of the city.
Princes Street Gardens and the Water of Leith Walkway both make for a peaceful and picturesque stroll away from the hustle and bustle, while hiking Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat is a popular pastime for those yearning to feel the thrill of the great Scottish outdoors.
Edinburgh’s Art and Architecture
Admire Edinburgh’s awe-inspiring architecture with a wander through the medieval Old Town and neoclassical Georgian New Town, before learning about Scottish history, art and culture at the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery.
From designer stores, to quirky boutiques, Edinburgh is a shopper’s delight, with options for every budget. While away the day with a bit of retail therapy, before settling down in one of the Royal Mile’s many bars or restaurants for some homemade haggis, neeps and tatties.
Edinburgh’s Tourist Attractions
You can also explore some of the city’s most iconic attractions, like the towering Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the King’s official residence), and the Royal Botanic Gardens – all in or within walking distance of the city center.
In August each year, Edinburgh is also home to two world-renowned events: the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Military Tattoo. Join thousands of others as you delight at the diverse theater shows, comedy acts and street performers at the largest arts festival in the world, before taking in the Tattoo’s patriotic music, Highland dancers, and military marching and bands.
Whenever you visit, it’s clear that you can see and do a lot in Edinburgh in just a few days. Although much hillier than Dublin, this dynamic city is modest in size and perfect for exploring on foot or by bike, so you can pack in as much sightseeing as possible!
So, Should You Visit Edinburgh or Dublin?
With awesome attractions, lively atmospheres, and more craic than you can shake a stick at, you’re guaranteed a great time in both Dublin and Edinburgh.
And while we wish we could say definitively which one is more interesting, at the end of the day it really depends on what you’re looking for.
If ancient architecture and history get you hyped, Edinburgh is your best bet (and it’s likely to be slightly cheaper, too). Whereas if you prefer a more modern metropolis with next-level nightlife, Dublin should be your top choice.
And, if you still can’t choose between the two, you can explore both of these captivating cities on our 15-day Ireland’s Wild North & Scotland tour. Because, if you can choose either, choose both!