My first trip to Dublin was in 2015 (To Dublin then Cardiff), but I have to admit I didn’t enjoy the city as much as I hoped. I decided to give it another chance and went back in June 2017 with an open mind, and this time I enjoyed Dublin so much more! As I continued to go back for a third and fourth time (I was using it as my stopover city between Prague and other cities in Ireland), I learned a lot from locals too. In Dublin, meeting locals is everything or else you won’t feel fulfilled, trust me! I can now confidently say that I have an objective opinion of Dublin, and I’m excited to share the best of the city with other travelers who are looking for a good time and great drinks! 🙂
Where To Stay:
- The Shelbourne Hotel: This is the fanciest place in Dublin, but if you can find a great deal it is SO worth it!! The rooms are luxurious, the concierge is extremely helpful, the location is superb, and the amenities are a whole other category of need-to-see. They have tea time downstairs, a spa, and a salon! If you’re looking for $25 off, book through my link on Booking.com for a small discount.
- Sky Backpackers Hostel: I stayed in 3 hostels in Dublin, and this was my favorite. The atmosphere and location were amazing, and the rooms, bathrooms, and security lockers were also great. The only downside was the spring bed, but otherwise I would stay again!
- Abrahams Hostel: This hostel had a good location, though it was a bit of a walk to the good nightlife areas of Dublin. The beds were comfortable though!
- Isaacs Hostel: This is the hostel to stay in for partiers! It was very busy and had a great atmosphere, though it seemed like more of a tourist place than a traveler’s hostel. The downside? Wifi is only available in the common area and no security lockers in the rooms.
What To Do: Dublin is a very touristy city, so there are a number of attractions and things to do specifically for tourists (which may or may not be centered around alcohol…). This list includes those, and a couple other local finds that you should explore!
- Guinness Storehouse: This is arguably the most popular thing to do when visiting Dublin, and for a good reason! It is similar to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, and is something that you definitely should do once in your life. I learned how beer was made, and I also got the opportunity to pour a Guinness! The views from the top are the best in the city too! Travel Tip: Buy tickets online to save money & time while you skip the line 🙂
- Jameson Distillery: To continue on your alcoholic adventures, check out how Jameson is made and taste test between Irish, Scottish and American whiskey! We went here just after the Guinness Storehouse, so we were a tad tipsy the entire day.
- Trinity College: This is one of the most beautiful and historic campuses I have seen. The green grass and beautiful white stone buildings are an oasis in a large city. Spend some time walking the campus, and once you’ve seen it all go to the library and walk through the Book of Kells exhibit!
- Book of Kells & Library: The Book of Kells is 4 Gospels written in 384AD in Latin with pictures. See the exhibit and exit through one of the most beautiful libraries!
- St. Stephen’s Green: This park is across from The Shelbourne Hotel, and is a great place to wander at golden hour or at lunch time on a nice day.
- The Little Museum of Dublin: Of all the museums I’ve seen in Europe, I would label this one the cutest. It does have historic significance and is just a fun place to see!
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Pay to enter, but this cathedral is beautiful!
- Dublin Castle: Honestly this is the most underwhelming castle I’ve seen, but if you’re doing everything else in Dublin might as well see this place too.
- Kilmainham Gaol Museum: A jail a bit outside of city center, but a unique attraction with rich history if you have the time to see it! The original Italian Job has a film scene here as well.
- Get out of City Center! There are so many villages and cute towns outside of Dublin, so be sure to hike or explore at least one of them. I’ve been to one village north of Dublin, Howth, and one south, Dun Laoghaire (pronounced “Dunleery”). The DART is the best method of transportation for these day trips.
- Dun Laoghaire People’s Park Market: A farmer’s market on Sundays is a local’s only spot to explore! Rent a bike and ride along the coast or explore the restaurants after enjoying the market.
- Howth Cliff Walk: Howth is a small village that has a fish market and cute cafe, but make it a day trip to walk along the cliffs if the weather is right! If not too windy, the views are amazing!
- Take a day tour from Dublin: If you are not planning to stay in other cities in Ireland, a day tour is the perfect way to see the country and its cities from the luxury of a coach. I always end up falling asleep on the bus too after a long day of travel! This last trip, I took a tour to Northern Ireland and got to see all the best sites. I suggest tours to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Ring of Kerry too!
Where To Eat: Pubs stop serving food early on weekends, so traditional pub food is great but not always available! The places below are mostly open for food when other pubs are not.
- Picnic in St. Stephen’s Green: There is a Spar grocery store just across from the park, so grab some snacks and have a picnic at lunch with the locals!
- Hatch & Sons: My FAVORITE restaurant in the entire world – yes, the entire world! Right next to The Shelbourne and under The Little Museum of Dublin, this place serves local, fresh food for a great price. The breakfast is unbeatable – the best scones, delicious breakfast bake, and the most amazing sandwiches. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and also have dinner events every Wednesday with a traditional Irish 3-course dinner every third Wednesday of the month. I could go on and on, but if you’re in town you have to go!!
- Tea Time at the Shelbourne: I have to admit this was the best tea time experience I’ve ever had. It beats every one that I’ve had in London and Sydney, which were amazing as well, but The Shelbourne truly makes tea time a 5 star experience! If you have the budget I highly recommend making a reservation!
- The Celt: Great Irish food for a good price, along with live music and a local vibe. If you’re on the north side of Dublin (north of the river), then The Celt is the place to go! I highly recommend the Irish Stew here. Also this pub is open for food when others close, yet another reason I recommend it!
- Arlington Hotel Dinner: Another good place if you are north of the river, but the Arlington has an older atmosphere. It’s also next to Sky Backpackers Hostel if you’re staying there! Great for live music at night and definitely check out the paintings 😉
- The Brazen Head: LOCALS ONLY ALERT! Amazing local food and accents you won’t understand. This place is on the river while walking toward the Guinness Storehouse (which is a far walk), so stopping here was necessary for us. The traditional stews were absolutely incredible!!
Where To Drink: (not The Temple Bar…) Ok, you can go to The Temple Bar ONCE to check it out, but do not order anything. Not even a beer. There are no locals and the place is packed with only tourists looking for a traditional experience, and not finding it.
- The Auld Dubliner: If you want to go to the Temple Bar district (which is different than The Temple Bar itself), I suggest The Auld Dubliner. It is still crawling with tourists but is much less packed, and a couple locals do go for stag or hen parties (bachelor and bachelorette parties)! The live music is amazing here too!
- The Dame Tavern: LOCALS ONLY ALERT! Dame Lane is a locals only street. We spent hours here having a few drinks and everybody we met was from Dublin! The bars on this street are all a great place to have a few pints, and then head to a club after.
- Wexford Street: Wexford St. has tons of bars to check out, and by tons I mean TONS! The street goes for a few blocks so you could go back every night and have a pint at a new place!
- Copper Face Jacks Nightclub: Want to go clubbing? Coppers is the best and only one worthwhile! Seriously the other clubs play terrible music, and this place is the most popular and most fun!
- O’Donoghues Bar: I hesitated adding this one because it takes “locals only” to the next level. We went here for a pint and felt shunned because we were not Irish. If you want a traditional pub check this place out, but be warned they may not be the happiest about it!
- 747/757 Bus: From the airport, the 747 hits everything between the beginning of City Center and the Houston Train Station. I took this bus each time and it was cheap and fast, which is great on a solo traveler’s budget! Tickets are 7euro one way, or 12euro return.
- Tram: The Tram runs throughout northern Dublin (north of the river), and through the main part of central Dublin. It’s at least 2euro per ride, but I used it to get between the Heuston train station and my hostels since it was the easiest and most direct option! On my trip the Tram wouldn’t show up on Google Maps, which I use for looking up routes, so I had to ask locals about it.
- DART: When going north or south of Dublin for a day trip, the DART is the easiest and cheapest way to get there! Think of it like Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), but instead it is literally the Dublin Area Rapid Transit. Unlike cross-the-country trains, you do not need to pre-buy a ticket online for the DART, just purchase one at a train station before getting on.
- WALK: This city is so walkable, and everybody walks it! Not just tourists! Get active & walk the whole city to experience the real Dublin.
- Irish Rail: If you’re looking to take a train across the country, say to Galway, buy tickets ahead of time to save money! Ireland uses Irish Rail to run its trains.
- Busses across the country: Direct trains are great, but if there are no direct train routes then TAKE. A. BUS! Seriously, I ended up going from Galway to Cork with 2 transfers and it took twice as long as the bus for the same price… Bus tickets can be bought on the spot too so no need to plan ahead for that one!
There you have it! The best of Dublin from a mostly objective perspective. Did I miss anything? Have you seen more that I have to add to my list? If you’ve been to Dublin or are a local, send me a note in the comments and I’d love to chat about it!
Life is an adventure, so keep exploring it!