Take a stroll along the Liffey to enjoy some of Dublin's best views, including the Ha'penny Bridge © Yuriy Chertok / Shutterstock
Neighbourhoods & sights
Dublin is compact and isn’t officially divided up into neighbourhoods like bigger cities. Stroll around the following areas though, and you’ll get a great mix of classic sights and hidden gems.
Join the crowds enjoying the craic in Temple Bar © Yohan LB / 500px
Temple Bar, one of Dublin's most famous areas, was burdened for years with a reputation for drunken debauchery and not much else. Visit these days though and you'll find a neighbourhood with plenty to occupy your days as well as your nights. Its excellent, quirky boutiques appeal to fashionistas who head to Siopaella and Folkster for some unusual threads. It’s also a haven for great food, both local and international. The Temple Bar Food Market runs every Saturday and it’s easy to while away an hour or two there, sampling the delights. At other times, Klaw has excellent seafood options, or stuff yourself with sushi at the unassuming Banyi.
To indulge your cultural side, explore the fantastic street murals of the Icon Walk, pop into the Gallery of Photography, or see a performance at the Project Arts Centre. Once the sun's set, catch a gig at the Button Factory or head to one of the many pubs. Drinking in Temple Bar can be more expensive than other areas but unusual venues like the Vintage Cocktail Club or a great pub like the Palace are worth your time and money.
The Old Library in Trinity College is one of Dublin's architectural highlights © clu / Getty Images
Get your fill of classic Dublin highlights here, and maybe do some shopping too, amid the city's most splendid architecture. Stroll through Trinity College to see Ireland's best known university, taking in the Book of Kells and the Old Library. If you want more museums, you’re spoilt for choice with the National Gallery and the National Museum of Archeology, but for a quick and interesting look at the city’s past, spend an hour in the Little Museum of Dublin. It’s full of personal items donated by Dubliners, including one room dedicated to U2 and another to the Irish Times newspaper. Once you’ve had your fill of history, take a break in one of the city’s best green spaces. St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square are two excellent Georgian parks surrounded by beautifully preserved houses from that era. Or join the crowds shopping and eating along Grafton Street and in the lanes surrounding it.
When the sun comes out so do the crowds in St Stephen's Green © Rolf G Wackenberg / Shutterstock
Most visitors pass through the Liberties to visit the Guinness Storehouse but few stay and explore one of Dublin’s more historic and interesting neighbourhoods and its perfect mix of old and new. Step into ancient St Patrick's Cathedral to see where the country's saint got his hands wet baptising the locals. For a spot of lunch, vegetarian Two Pups Cafe appeals to meat-eaters too, and afterwards literary types will love Marrowbone Books, a cute, independent book store trying to find homes for pre-loved paperbacks while also hosting intimate music gigs. On Francis Street you’ll find Dublin’s antique quarter, broken up by tiny art galleries, while newer additions to the area are a couple of whiskey distilleries, Teelings and the Pearse Lyons Distillery, offering excellent tours. Arthur’s is the best place to continue sipping Guinness after a Storehouse visit – the crackling fire makes it ideal on a wintery evening.
What to pack
- Layers Irish weather regularly runs through four seasons in one day so come prepared with lots of light layers that are easy to put on and remove. Umbrellas are often useless in the face of strong winds and horizontal rain.
- A trusted hangover cure If you’re going to test out Dublin’s best pubs, you should be prepared in order to make the most of the next day.
- A book Reading something by one of Dublin’s literary heroes gives great insights into the city and its people.
- Your most laidback self You’ll fit right in with the locals.
Pay your respects (even if you don't manage to finish one of his books) to James Joyce, one of Ireland's most celebrated writers © YingHui Liu / Shutterstock
Most of Dublin city centre can easily be explored on foot but you may need to navigate public transport for some sights. The Transport for Ireland app is free and will help you find your way to any spot in the city with real-time updates on what transport you can take, how much it will cost and even how much a taxi will be. If you think you’ll be using public transport a lot, invest in a Leap Visitor card, available for one-, three- or seven-day periods.
Dublin is a safe city, just take the usual sensible precautions against pickpockets, particularly in busy tourist areas. When the pubs close at the weekend (usually between 2 and 3am), the city centre streets can get a little mobbed so keep your wits about you.
There are few places better than Dublin for live music © Yohan LB / 500px
If you’re planning to be in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day or New Year’s Eve, book as far ahead as possible. It’s also worth checking your weekend break doesn’t clash with major sports fixtures and concerts as they attract huge numbers of visitors and book places out solid. If you’re planning on attending a big concert yourself, ensure you’re online when the tickets are released to be in with a fighting chance of getting your hands on one.
- Population 528,000
- Visitors per year 4.9 million
- Languages English everywhere, Irish on all road signs, official documents and sporadically elsewhere. On the street you’ll hear a lot of Eastern European languages and Portuguese due to a huge expat population.
- Daily budget €200 for midrange sleeping and eating options and activities.
- Best time of year to go May to September sees the best of the weather, with June to August enjoying gloriously long daylight hours.
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