With plenty of things to do in Dublin, it is probably the first place you’ll think about when we talk of Ireland. Well, it wasn’t hailed as the country’s capital for no reason — the vibrant city is famous for its cultural heritage and charming hospitality that Ireland is known for.
Dublin is jam-packed with historical sites, museums and galleries, libraries, busy pubs and bars, and friendly, good-humored locals you’d love to socialize with.
Since Dublin is a capital city, it’s associated with overrated destinations and tourist traps, as you’d expect. And you know what these things mean: long queues, cramped establishments due to the influx of tourists, and ridiculously high prices on admission, food and drinks, and hotel and serviced apartment accommodations.
If you’re on the fence, you may be wondering if Belfast is better for you, some prefer it over Dublin. Want to discover the best of Dublin without falling prey to tourist traps?
Try going off the beaten path and exploring the city through the eyes of a local. Some Dubliners share a couple of insider tips, including the places to go to and avoid and other suggestions to make your Dublin trip feel as authentic as possible.
1. Avoid Temple Bar
The temple bar district, described as “Dublin’s Bohemian Quarter”, is such an Instagram-worthy destination. You’ll be welcomed with vibrant storefronts from left and right, narrow, cobblestone walkways, and colorful murals. But is it the best place to spend your money? Locals beg to differ.
According to Dubliners, the costs of the food and drinks here aren’t just overpriced — They’re also poorer in quality compared to other pubs and restaurants dotted all around the city. Come to Temple Bar for the buzz, talented buskers, art galleries, live music, and sightseeing, but spend your money for grub elsewhere.
And besides, we have a plethora of bars, pubs, and nightlife opportunities dotted all around Dublin. You can find a great one near your accommodation, whether you’re in a hotel in the center of the city or a serviced apartment in Sandyford in the South.
2. Don’t listen to the rumors — Irish food is delicious.
Forget the bad reputation of Irish food — the truth is Irish cuisine is more than just cabbage and potatoes. Well, we’ve got a lot of potato-based dishes but the list is more diverse than that.
Ireland has a wide array of delicious traditional fares like Irish stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Full Irish Breakfast (Ulster Fry). Irish coffee is a must-try too!
3. Go for local meat and dairy products
Even if you don’t go the traditional route, you can still enjoy your gastronomic adventure by sampling your favorite dishes, like burgers, pizza, and steaks.
The magic is in the high-quality ingredients. Thanks to the Emerald Isle’s green grass and rich fisheries, the dairy products, local meat, and seafood here are exceptional.
4. Where to go for traditional Irish music? We’ve got you covered
There are two quintessential things you shouldn’t miss in Dublin: craft beer and traditional Irish music. While you can get the former in almost every bar or pub you’ll see along the way, you can’t always find a pub that hosts live music sessions.
So if you’re in Ireland, find your way to these pubs:
- The Cobblestone, North King Street
- O’Donoghue’s Pub, Merrion Row
- The Celt, Talbot Street
- The Old Storehouse, Crown Alley
- Ned O’Shea’s, 12 Bridge Street Lower, Dublin
- McLoughlin’s Bar, Dun Laoghaire
- The Brazen Head
5. Dublin has plenty of spots to get your literature fix
Are you a bookworm, writer, or literature buff? Aside from the majestic Book of Kells in the Trinity College Library, there are other attractions you shouldn’t miss.
Dublin, in fact, is the land of literary legends including Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and James Joyce. Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, and Bram Stoker.
Dubliners recommend visiting literary museums such as the Dublin Writers Museum, The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), the James Joyce Centre, and the National Print Museum.
You can also visit beautiful libraries, including the Marsh’s Library and Chester Beatty Library. Lastly, the city has a wealth of charming bookshops to check out, like The Winding Stair.
6. Find your calm at St. Stephen’s Green
Looking for a tranquil and nature-filled escape in the middle of city life’s hustle and bustle? Dublin’s parks and gardens got you covered.
One of the best parks we have is St. Stephens Green, a 22-acre park at Grafton Street. You can stretch out on the grass for some relaxation, have a picnic with your family, or just find a seat and adore the flowerbeds and duck ponds.
7. Don’t like interacting with people? Dublin has wildlife
Another oasis of calm is Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban park in Europe. The park is home to hundreds of deer.
It also houses the Dublin Zoo, the second oldest zoo on the continent which has an extensive collection of rare and exotic animals like Asian lions, elephants, tigers, sea lions, and penguins.
8. Get the best view of the city
Dubliners know that the best way to get a panoramic view of the city is to climb up the Guinness Storehouse’s rooftop bar (Gravity Bar). The downside is, it’s not free.
If you want to see great views of the city without paying a hefty fee, here are other places you may check out:
- Killiney Hill – walk to the top for marvelous sights of Dublin, Bray Head, and the Wicklow Mountains
- Great South Wall – Wander along the four-mile-long wall to see the bright red Poolbeg Lighthouse. Gaze back to see the beautiful Dublin skyline.
- Howth – Head north and visit the charming seaside village of Howth. Take a coastal cliff walk.
- Matt Talbot Bridge – the bridge over the River Liffey provides a breathtaking view of Dublin, especially at night.
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