The people are friendly and always have something to say. Friday night on Temple Bar is unforgettable. Even the city’s walking tours manage to throw party into the mix. And anyone who’s spent a wild night (or a wild weekend) in Ireland’s capital will tell you: Dublin is one of those cities that sneaks up on you, steals your heart and refuses to give it back – ever.
From the legendary ‘craic’ to the first pint of real Guinness, everything you think you know about Dublin is true – and then some. If we didn’t know better, we’d think Dublin city centre was designed just for visitors. Go south over the mighty River Liffey at O’Connell Street Bridge and everything you want is walkable and well-signposted. If you can’t live without a plan, download the Visit Dublin map (http://www.visitdublin.com/home/), pick a pub – any pub – have a drink and get your bearings.
Dublin at a glance:
- Birthplace of Guinness and home to over 1,000 pubs
- On the border of beautiful County Wicklow with its stunning beaches and mountains and edged by romantic - Kildare, Ireland’s natural beauty is never far away
- Home to so many literary, musical and artistic legends past and present – it can almost be forgiven for producing Riverdance and Jedward
- The city’s ‘beach’ at Dun Laoghaire is famous for the traditional Christmas morning leap off the rocks into the freezing Irish Sea
Things not to miss:
Time your trip right and book tickets for Gaelic Football at Dublin’s famous Croke Park. Gaelic Football is the fastest field game in the world and the Irish are mad for it.
Does Guinness taste better in Dublin? If you want to find out take a tour of the Storehouse and sample a free pint of the ‘black stuff’ in the Gravity bar.
The Dublin City Pub Crawl
There are plenty of guided walks round Dublin’s historic streets, but this is the one with the stout, traditional pub food, live Irish music and a late-night club to round it all off.
Temple Bar – clubs, pubs and anything goes
The legendary land of all that is party, Temple Bar needs no introduction. Traditional, old-fashioned Irish pubs share street space with cocktail bars, clubs and restaurants. And give it to midnight any weekend and the streets are teeming, it’s hard to know who’s drinking where and nobody cares whether you’re a tourist or not.
The Creative Quarter – clever, cool and great to hang-out
Cross Dame Street from Temple Bar and you’re in The Creative Quarter. And when Dublin says ‘creative’ nobody argues. This is where you’ll find some of Europe’s best new designers, piled to the rafters vintage shops, specialist shops selling everything from stationery to ribbons, gorgeous galleries, rising-star restaurants and fantastic bars. The Creative Quarter is where locals look effortless and amazing and it’s all achingly cool. But don’t worry, this is Dublin and even ‘attitude’ is friendly.
Grafton Street – Dublin does shopping
Dublin gave the world Primark, so it’s fair to say the city likes a bit of shopping. But not just any shopping, as a Saturday afternoon on Grafton Street proves. Dublin’s most famous street has more than its share of brand names stretched along its length between Trinity and St Stephen’s Green. But it’s also completely pedestrianised so street theatre is almost as big as spending here – carry change in your pocket.
Best places for a pint of the black stuff:
Step behind the big, black gates on Market Street and head to the top of the Guinness Storehouse. The Gravity Bar serves the world famous stout like nowhere else and also gives you an unrivalled 360° view of the city.
Stag’s Head, Dame Court
Traditional Irish pub loved by locals for longer than anyone can remember – it was the first Dublin pub to get electricity. A must on a pub crawl or a stout-based night out.
Live music, great stout, an off-licence and live music seven nights a week, Doyles is a family run Dublin institution and as Irish as a drop of the black stuff itself.
Jack Nealons Pub
A real Irish pub with log fires and a lovely, traditional interior. Perfect for a quiet afternoon drink and some ‘craic’.
McDaids, Harry Street
This is Ireland’s literary legend and one of the best loved Dublin pubs.
Best bars in Dublin:
Vintage Cocktail Club
Temple Bar isn’t all excess. The more secretive and discerning can ring the Vintage Cocktail Club’s doorbell and gain entry straight into the louche and languid world of the 1920s. The art of the cocktail is so refined here they even tailor your ice to your drink. Perfect for adding some quirk to your night out.
Gilbert & Wright, Dun Laoghaire
Head out to Dublin’s best known bit of coast (or stop in on your way from the ferry) for a laid back 70s style. Lots of plush sofas, candles, chilling out and excellent sounds. Great fun for a night out with a twist.
Buskers don’t just mix some of the city’s finest concoctions, they give lessons too. This is Temple Bar at its finest: live music seven nights a week, loud and up for any old nonsense.
As the name suggests: lots of different rooms – and even a huge garden. Pick your mood and House will serve you cocktails wherever you choose. Loves to hold parties and takes reservations.
A classic Dublin cocktail favourite. The style is comfortable and chic, famous for hosting alternative local events and has an insanely good karaoke night.
Best clubs in Dublin:
Temple Bar’s Club M takes everything about clubbing seriously – it’s Dublin’s longest running club, so it’s had a bit of practice. Two floors, top DJs, vast dance floor, and lots and lots of lights and lasers.
Club nights and great gigs make The Academy a Dublin Institution. Famous for showcasing new indie talent.
Dublin’s ‘party’ club. This is the anything goes, wild old time.
Andrews Lane Theatre
Ireland’s best sound system, guest DJs and two floors to go with the ALT command ‘have a crazy night’.
4 Dame Lane
If you want to launch an edgy product or an indie album you choose 4 Dame Lane. But if it’s Friday or Saturday night you come here to club – not huge in size, but big on ultra-cool attitude.
Food: eat like a local:
Soda bread, fish’n’chips and Irish Stew might be on just about every traditional pub menu in the city. But to the cognoscenti, it’s a pint of draft Guinness and half-a-dozen oysters on the half-shell that really says Dublin.
Lively, hugely popular gastro-pub. This is the place to put down some ballast for a night’s drinking or share brilliant tapas at one of the big tables.
Oliver St John Gogarty
Right in the heart of Temple Bar, Gogartys has an amazing lunchtime carvery every day, relentless live music, a great bar menu and stays open late for traditional Irish drinking.
Queen of Tarts
Do as the Dublin ladies do and take tea and cake in the afternoon at Queen of Tarts. Total indulgence and one treat will never be enough.
Buckley’s steaks are Dublin favourites. Order one with all the sides at their Temple Bar steakhouse and stock up on protein and carbs before you hit the local pubs.
Bad Ass Café
One time employer of Sinead O’Connor and a bit of a Dublin diehard, Bad Ass has recently been refurbished and is back to the glory days with an excellent all-day menu, live music, comedy nights and a fantastic bar.
Best time to visit:
Every year from March 13-17, Dublin goes green and a little bit mad. And who can blame it? This is the city that owns St Patrick. Parades are plentiful, Dubliners are friendlier than ever and you can’t move for merrymaking. Paint your face, give in and go for it, it’s the Dublin way on St Patrick’s Day.
The city doesn’t scrimp at New Year either. One of the biggest Hogmanay parties in Europe is held every year on St Stephen’s Green – it’s popular so book early. And even if you don’t get tickets for the gigs and partying on the Green, Dubliners celebrate all over the rest of the city too.
The best view of the city:
If you love Guinness, the Guinness Storehouse Brewery Tour is a must. But even if you’re not so struck on the stout but want a bigger, broader look at the city of its birth, have a drink in the Gravity Bar. The view is a full circle panorama of Dublin with a hint of coast and countryside beyond.
Luas (Irish for ‘speed’) is Dublin’s tram service. The red line runs along the north bank of the Liffey and the green line comes into the city centre. Taxis are best at night, there are ranks all over the city centre. And if you want to get out of Dublin for a bit, the DART network is reasonable, easy to use, goes everywhere and has free WiFi.