It’s hard not to fall in love with the lilting charm of Dublin. This laid-back city is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and boasts a dense city population that has made way for an outpouring of bars, restaurants, live music venues, shopping, and more. Hit the medieval cobblestone roads and venture into a city known for its long history, its lively and patriotic citizens, and its infamous pint of cold, black Guinness. But in a city brimming with tourists - and for good reason! - finding the right accommodation can be tricky ... and expensive. Make your precious pounds go further and look like a local by renting through Wimdu: from party-central flats, to quaint b+b's, to leafy suburbs, to modern high-rises, there's self-catering accommodation for every type of visitor to this fair city.
- Dublin, or “Dubh Linn” in Old Irish Gaelic means “Black Pool.” It was originally a lake that the Vikings used to moor up their ships.
- The oldest bar in Ireland is in Dublin: The Brazen Head, built in 1198.
- Some of the most renowned poets and writers in history came from Dublin: George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wild, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, William Butler Yeats, and, of course, James Joyce.
What to SeeThe first and best thing to do in Dublin is to get lost downtown. The cobblestone streets and narrow side paths will lead you through the heart of a culture: colourful doorways, quaint shops, boisterous bars, street musicians, folk bands, and everything in between.
But once you’ve had a good wander, there are a few other sites to see – but it all depends on everyone’s preference.
Beer lovers will want to check out The Guinness Storehouse with a full museum and the history of the famous dark drink. There are tasting rooms but be prepared to shell out a pretty penny – a place for a taste, not for a night. Then you’ll want to see the Old Jameson Distillery for an almost romantic look at the history and world of Irish Whiskey. The tour costs money but it ends with a free taste. You can also become a “Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster.” For serious whiskey drinkers, there’s the Celtic Whiskey Shop which offers tastings, obscure and rare bottles of whiskey, and the ability to ship it home rather than tote it around the rest of your trip.
History buffs will want to visit the Christ Church Cathedral, which is more than 1000 years old, and/or St Patrick’s Cathedral, which is a higher rated and free alternative. You may also want to visit Trinity College, built in the 1500s, which amazing architecture and a slew of impressive alumni. Get your money’s worth and visit The Book of Kells where you can see a handwritten manuscript of the Gospels, written in Latin around 800 AD. Lastly, head to the outskirts of town to the War Memorial Museum for a massive and beautiful space commemorating the loss of 49,000 soldiers during WWI.
Where to ShopGrafton Street is the main shopping street and a walking thoroughfare in Dublin, full colour storefronts, boutiques, and trendy designers. There are street performers, artists, musicians and more, so walking itself is an event. A slightly quieter alliterative is Henry Street, or Suffolk Street. Powercourt Townhouse Centre is another place to whip out your wallet. Full of shops for almost anything you could need, but housed inside a historic building. Jewelry, arts and crafts, antiques and more can be found in here. It also houses the Irish Dancing Museum.
The Dublin Flea Market takes place on the last Sunday of every month and is not to be missed if you happen to be in town. Come early, it gets seriously full!
Book lovers should check out Books Upstairs, where obscure titles are the order of the day and you just may find a hidden gem along the shelves.
St Stephen’s Green is a modern shopping centre for those looking for an updated, and less boutique-y, shopping experience.
After-DarkTemple Bar is the area of Dublin where tourists pub-hop through the night. If you want a whirlwind tour of bars in the city, it’s the place. Bear in mind though that it’s mostly tourists and locals tend to stay away. Also, know that drinking in the streets is common after dark and it is always crowded – some say that’s “full of life” and others would find it overwhelming. Prices are inflated but most visitors would say it’s worth a visit at the very least. If you’re not a party-goer, avoid this area on Friday and Saturday nights.
A good alternative to Temple Bar is … the rest of Dublin! You’ll find lively and welcoming pubs all over the city: Mulligan’s, O’Donoghue’s, John Kehoe’s, the Hairy Lemon, O’Neill’s, The Baggot Inn, Peadar Kearney’s, or Stag’s Head, just to get you started. Grafton street has some gems, as so does Donnybrook – I recommend McCloskey’s, where you’ll find real locals unwinding after a long day. If you don’t drink beer, Olesya’s is a wine bar boasting 400 wines by the glass.
Comedy Crunch is a free comedy show with great reviews. Come early to get a seat! If you don’t mind paying some, the International Bar is home to Dublin’s best comics.
If you want a theater experience without the comedy, Samuel Beckett Theatre is on the Trinity College campus and everything from Opera to Postmodern Experimental Theater. Check what’s playing while you’re there.
Lastly, some places to catch live music are The Twisted Pepper, The Cobblestone, The Workman’s Club (Hipster alert!), The Dice Bar which has a nice New York feel to it, or the J Kennedy Bar which boasts to have the best music in town.
Foodie FunDublin is absolutely stuffed with amazing places to dine. It all depends on your budget and foodie preferences. There’s heaps of websites and apps to help you find what you’re interested in, but here’s a few that I found worth a visit!
Leo Burdock: “The Oldest Chipper in Dublin” serves up fresh fish and chips all day long. If not here, have some fish and chips somewhere, but Leo’s is one of the best if you can swing it!
The Joy of Chai: Dublin’s first tea shop, warm and inviting during those rainy days.
The Brazen Head: Dublin’s oldest pub dating back to 1198. Live music, fantastic food, and of course, a pint of Guinness.
Bewley’s Oriental Café: Arguably one of Dublin’s best cups of coffee (and tea). Established in 1840, the company has become a world-wide name in coffee.
Sheridan’s Cheesemongers: Irish cheeses delight any palate at this holy grail for dairy lovers. Taste, pick some up, and have a picnic! They also offer cheese courses.
Queen of Tarts: For all your cake and tart needs.
Boojum: If you need a break from irish stews, hit up this place for burrito heaven!
Any Irish Bar with a Kitchen: will offer up tradition irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage, mulligan’s stew, Irish Coddle (pork sausage, onion and potatoes), Shepherd’s Pie, lamb stew, hand pies (beef and potato pastry), Colcannon (mashed potatoes, leeks, and cabbage), and traditional irish breads to sop it all up.
Getting AroundIf arriving by plane, the best way into the city is by bus or coach. There’s Dublin Bus, AirLink, CityLInk, and AirCoach to name a few. Transportforireland.ie is a site that will let you map out all your public transportation needs. Of course, you’re always welcome to take a taxi!
Once in the city, most of downtown Dublin is very walkable, and the “far” places are not so far that a taxi would be pricey – but always ask the fare first. Note that it’s hard to hail a taxi from the street – you need to hunt down a taxi stand to get one. Also note that asking your hotel to call you one can land you a surcharge on top of your taxi fee.
For those tight on time or simply want transport taken care of, the double deckered green buses of the Dublin Bus Tour offers your classic hop-on-hop-off experience at major sites around the city.
A good idea is to buy the Freedom Ticket, aimed at tourists – it works like a 3 day bus pass but it also works with AirLink, NiteLink (the late night buses), and the Dublin City Tour buses.
You can give the newer light-weight tram a try, called LUAS, which will whisk you around traffic to a number of appealing stops around the city.
Bike rentals are easily come by and if you stay along residential areas, side streets, parks, along the seafront, or otherwise off the most major streets, it’s not too hectic at all. Tourism offices can give you suggested bike routes and places to rent.
But I digress back to the fact that Dublin is a wonderful experience on foot. Go, get lost, wander back in time, and when it’s all said and done (or when the rain starts to fall), duck in to the closest bar, grab a pint, and watch Dublin life unfold before you.