In our 5 Shops series, we’ll point you in the direction of our favorite independent shops across some of the world's best cities. From food markets and bookshops to vintage and homegrown design stores, we’ve found a diverse and exciting mix of local retailers where you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces.
While Dublin is small in size, its shopping scene brims with independent stores. From the bustling off-beat fashion stalls of George’s Street Arcade to the vintage and artisan shops of Drury St and the hidden bookshops and boutiques of Temple Bar, retail therapy in Dublin will bag you plenty of unique gems – if you know where to look. Lonely Planet editor Sasha Brady offers five places to start.
Best for vintage: Loot
If your go-to look is ’90s or early-aughts off-duty model, this is your shop. Loot has an enviable selection of oversized leather bombers, cowboy boots, blazers, camisoles and all sorts of pieces that will get you ready for any sort of night out. On a recent visit, I was tempted by a pair of geometric-printed Moschino jeans and a bounty of accessories including silk scarves, Miu Miu sunglasses and a 1990s Gucci Pelham canvas bag.
The shop’s layout is minimalist, making it easy to spot standout pieces. You can tell each item – even those without a famous designer label – has been chosen to capture the current fashion moment. It’s this carefully edited approach that has already made Loot one of the city’s top vintage destinations, even though it's only been open a year. Look out for event announcements on Instagram: the team regularly hosts pop-ups and parties with DJ sets.
Best for local design: Om Diva
There’s always something colorful or shiny catching my eye in the window of Om Diva. This retailer – essentially a giant pink dressing-up box full of fabulous and cheerful designs – has five floors, with one dedicated to established and emerging Irish designers. Look out for dresses from Laoise Carey, knitwear from Electronic Sheep, printed scarves from Bourkily Design and beaded headbands from Mara Kukiva.
There’s also a homewares and lifestyle section and a bric-a-brac market on the top floor. Venture downstairs to the basement for a treasure trove of vintage dresses, costume jewelry and accessories. If you’re visiting Dublin for a special occasion and seeking a standout alternative to yet another high-street dress from & Other Stories or Zara, this is where you'll find it.
Best for souvenirs: Irish Design Shop
The Irish Design Shop is stocked with gorgeous products from Irish makers, crafters and artists. Many are fashioned by hand, made to last and produced with an eco-conscious mindset. When I need a gift for someone, this is where I shop – although I rarely leave without something for myself (it’s a curse). As a souvenir of your time in Ireland, consider a Fiadh handwoven scarf, a supersized John Hanly woolen throw, artisanal Bean and Goose chocolates, seasonal soap from The Handmade Soap Co. or pottery from Ola Ceramics.
And be sure to keep an eye out for the jewelry: owners Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey stock pieces from their Names jewelry collection here. Each piece is handmade at a workshop nearby before the finishing touches are added in a space above the shop.
Best for books: The Winding Stair
Dublin is a haven for independent bookstores, each with its own charm. Books Upstairs, Marrowbone Books, Chapters, The Last Bookstore and Gutter Bookshop are all fantastic places to lose hours in. But if I had to choose just one, The Winding Stair would be my top pick. Despite its location by the River Liffey in the busy heart of the city, The Winding Stair – with its collections of books, literary magazines and indy zines – feels far removed from the noise outside. As soon as you step inside you're engulfed by the smell of books and the cozy armchair that sits by the window is a great place to sit and contemplate your next purchase.
What sets this bookstore apart is an emphasis on independent publishers, ensuring that you will stumble upon unexpected gems. Additionally, the secondhand section offers pre-loved books at affordable prices. On sunny Saturday mornings, my perfect routine is buying a book here, grabbing a bite to-go from the restaurant upstairs and taking my purchases to the tranquil “secret garden” at Dublin Castle across the Liffey. Pure bliss.
Best for food: Fallon & Byrne
Anytime I’m having a picnic in nearby St Stephen’s Green or the Iveagh Gardens, I make a beeline to Fallon & Byrne to stock up on fresh cheese, charcuterie and wine (followed by a quick pit stop at Bread 41 for bread and Fable Bakery for pastries). I love that Fallon & Byrne stocks a vast range of Irish-made products – which means it’s also a good place to pick up tasty souvenirs, too. Some of my favorites include Harry’s Nut Butter (the spicy version is amazing on toast or in curry sauces), Builín Blasta Smoked Onion Mayo, Hadji Bey Turkish delight (made in Cork) and Achill Island sea-salt fudge.
Yet Fallon & Byrne offers more than just a food-shopping experience. Head downstairs to discover a cozy wine cellar where you can enjoy drinks and cheese boards; upstairs, there’s a fine-dining restaurant. If you happen to be in seaside Dun Laoghaire, make sure to visit Fallon & Byrne’s cafe-deli and grocery store, housed in a restored Victorian pavilion within the People’s Park.