If you are planning to visit the capital of Ireland, Dublin, you may want to carve out a little time to delve into Irish heritage. Lucky for you Dublin is chock full of museums that give you a keyhole look at Irish artists, history, and even our Garda museum – Garda is the Irish word for police – and many museums are entirely free to visit with many free tours also available.
Ireland is well known for its drizzly weather, even in the middle of summer, a torrential downpour could hit you. The plethora of free museums work perfectly to keep you dry and have a fun-filled afternoon.
So, if you are looking for a list of free museums in Dublin you are in the right place because here are eight of Dublin’s best free museums you just have to visit.
8 Free Museums In Dublin You Have To Visit
Dublin isn’t a cheap city to visit. It was voted the most expensive city in Europe thanks to a study done back in April 2022 by Money. So, with money flying out of the window on your accommodation, lovely meals out, and all the attractions you’ll want to squeeze into your trip, We’re sure you’re looking for a way to curb the spending as you visit Dublin.
Not only are the museums in Dublin some of the best in the world but many of them are free to enjoy. What a perfect way to save a few euros but still have a great time.
Here are the best eight of Dublin’s free museums that we think you should spend some time in to get a really authentic experience of this capital city.
#1 The Natural History Museum
One of Ireland’s four national history museum locations, the natural history museum has acquired the fun moniker of the dead zoo. If you are travelling with children, this is the perfect place to stop off for an afternoon escape from the busy streets of Dublin.
Located on Merrion Square, this top-rated museum is easy to get to, either on foot if the weather is on your side or you can take one of the Dublin Hop On Hop Off buses.
The inside of this Irish museum feels like stepping back in time and it hasn’t lost any of its victorian style charm. The minute you enter the natural history museum you are met with two giant Irish deer skeletons, a real eye opener and something you can’t see anywhere else.
The Dead Zoo houses over 2 million zoological and geology specimens and you could quite happily while away a good few hours here.
From whale skeletons, Indian giant squirrels, zebras, wolves, and over a million insects to see, the natural history museum is full of interesting permanent exhibitions. Keep an eye on their website to keep up to date on any temporary exhibitions they may have while you are here.
- Tuesday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
- Sunday & Monday 1 pm – 5 pm
Closed Christmas Day, St. Stephens Day, and Good Friday
Merrion Street, Dublin 2, D02 F627
#2 Decorative Arts And History Museum
Located inside the oldest military barracks in Ireland, Collins Barracks, before you even enter this museum for decorative arts and Irish history, the second of Ireland’s four national museum locations, you can already feel the importance of this impressive and historic landmark.
Not far from the River Liffey, the Decorative Arts and History Museum has its very own stop on the Luas Red Line (public tram service) and is incredibly easy to get to.
This Irish museum boasts beautiful displays of Ireland’s history and culture with many permanent exhibitions detailing clothing, furniture, ceramics, jewellery, and even Irish weapons from years gone by.
Two of the most popular exhibitions are the Soldiers and Chiefs exhibitions, which traces Ireland’s military history from the 1500s to modern-day Ireland and their Eileen Gray exhibition all about the fascinating life and work of this popular 20th-century designer.
- Tuesday/Wednesday & Friday/Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
- Thursday 10 am – 8 pm (last late opening on 18th August)
- Sunday & Monday 10 am – 8 pm
- Christmas Eve 10 am – 12 pm
Closed Christmas Day, St Stephens Day, and Good Friday
Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7, D07 XKV4
#3 Nation Museum Of Archaeology
The national museum of archaeology is another national museum of Ireland and it is possibly one of their best. Completely free to enjoy, this is the one to visit if you want to dive deep into Irish history.
With a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions, keep an eye on their website to see what limited exhibitions are showing during your trip. From their Viking exhibition, Ancient Egypt collection, and Prehistoric Ireland showings, this free museum is chock full of wondrous things to see.
Located close to Dublin City Centre and one of Dublin’s best museums, the archaeology museum is easy to access and you can quite easily spend a few hours walking the halls of this magnificent building taking in artefacts and treasures from ancient times long past.
- Tuesday/Wednesday and Friday/Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
- Thursday 10 am – 8 pm (during the summer)
- Sunday and Monday 1 pm – 5 pm
Closed Christmas Day, St. Stephens Day, and Good Friday
Kildare Street, Dublin 2
#4 Irish Museum Of Modern Art
Located just outside Dublin’s city centre, this magnificent museum boasts over 3500 pieces of modern and contemporary art created by Irish and international artists. The most exciting thing about this museum of modern art is not that the collections are housed in the stunning 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham, but that the modern art exhibitions are constantly changing, so you never know what contemporary art you’ll be wowed by.
The IMMA regularly holds family-friendly workshops and tours, perfect for the family holiday to Dublin. Plus, if you get a little peckish they have a cafe on site and even a gorgeous little gift shop.
However, although entry to the Irish Museum of Modern Art is free, some exhibitions are ticketed and cost around €8 per ticket. They are still free to enter for under-18s, full-time students, and IMMA members.
- Monday Closed
- Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 am to 5.30 pm
- Wednesday 11.30 am – 5.30 pm
- Sunday and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.30 pm
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31
#5 National Gallery Of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland is situated in the heart of Dublin’s city centre and has two entrances. One on Merrion Square West and the other on Clare Street and is easy to get to whether by foot or using one of Dublin’s many public transport options.
This National Gallery is one of Ireland’s best art museums and has many interesting temporary and permanent exhibitions for you to enjoy. Including the Gallery’s permanent exhibition, which you can find online or their many other revolving exhibitions, such as the Alberto Giacometti exhibition and the Dutch drawings exhibition that explores the works of popular 17th-century Dutch artists.
The National Gallery also houses a collection of national artwork that includes a variety of Irish and European art, paintings, prints, and much more. You will recognise many of their names as pieces by Picasso, Monet, and Rembrandt regular take up a spot in this incredible art museum.
- Monday and Sunday 11 am – 5.30 pm
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9.15 am – 5.30 pm
- Thursday 9.15 am – 8.30 pm
Merrion Square W, Dublin 2, D02 K303
#6 The Chester Beatty Library
Located within the grounds of the historic Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library houses the life collections of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (18.75-1968) including prints from all over the world, cultural artwork, as well as European and persian manuscripts. The Chester Beatty is no longer just an exhibition of this successful American mining engineer turned philanthropist.
It is now a place for library scholars all over the world to come and research surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Dublin Castle.
Free to the public, The Chester Beatty Library does suggest a donation of €5 to help with the running costs of the library but this is entirely optional
- Monday to Saturday 9.45 am – 5.30 pm
- Wednesday 9.45 am – 8 pm
- Sunday 12 noon – 5.30 pm
Closed Mondays from November to February
Closed January 1st, Good Friday, and from the 24th to the 26th of December
Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, D02 AD92
#7 The National Library Of Ireland
Housing a large collection of maps, books, manuscripts, newspapers, and much more. The National Library of Ireland is regularly visited by those who have a special interest in researching their family’s history, as visitors are allowed access to census and civil records, as well as catholic parish registers.
This library also offers a free genealogy service, called their family history service. You can also book consolation appointments if you wish to have help and input from those working at the Library.
The National Library of Ireland has three locations within walking distance of each other and their opening hours vary slightly, so make sure that you check the website before your visit.
- Monday, Thursday, and Friday 9.30 am – 5 pm
- Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30 am – 7 pm
- Closed during public holidays
Main Library, Kildare Street, Dublin
Department of Manuscripts, 2/3 Kildare Street, Dublin
National Photographic Archive, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin
#8 The National Print Museum
If you have already googled the best free museums in Dublin, I bet you haven’t seen this one show up yet. The National Print Museum is a severely slept-on free museum you should visit when taking a trip to Dublin.
The only one of its kind in Ireland, the national print museum’s collections largely consist of letterpress printing equipment. However, this museum loves to explore the impact of print and how it has shaped our history. You can avail of their guided tours, which you have to prebook and pay for or enjoy this museum at your own leisure for free.
Much like the other museums, this one has a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions. So make sure you check out their website to see what they have on during your visit.
What is even more fascinating is that the National Print Museum has such an extensive permanent collection that only 30% is ever on show at one single time.
- Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm
- Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 4 pm
Closed Mondays, Public Holidays, and Bank Holiday Weekends
Old Garrison Chapel, Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin 4, D04 E0C9
Are there free museums in Dublin?
Yes, there are a wide variety of museums free to enjoy all over Dublin City. Including the National Library, The Chester Beatty Library, and The Hugh Lane Gallery.
However, some of Dublin’s free museums have temporary exhibitions that may require a paid ticket to enjoy. Check their websites to see if you need to purchase tickets for specific collections.
Are Museums Open On A Sunday In Dublin?
Many Dublin Museums are indeed open on a Sunday. Their opening hours may be slightly reduced compared to their weekday openings. However, just because it is a Sunday doesn’t mean there are not many museum halls you can wander.
Is Dublin Expensive?
Dublin has once again been voted the most expensive city in Europe. Don’t let that stop you from visiting, there are so many ways to reduce your spending while you visit, especially if you visit Dublin’s free museums and galleries.
How Much Is The Little Museum Of Dublin?
Although many of Dublin’s best museums are free to enjoy, The Little Museum Of Dublin is one that many tourists thoroughly enjoy and you’ll be glad to know tickets to this venue won’t break the bank.
With a full-day ticket costing just €15, you can enjoy this museum for less than the cost of your lunch. There are also many budget-friendly guided tours run by the museum, such as football walking tours, their famous guided tour, and the green mile walking tour.
I am a British-born copywriter who moved to Ireland over a decade ago and have been captivated by Irish culture, landscape and folklore. I enjoy sharing my passion for Ireland through my writing as a freelancer.