After spending 4 years of my university days living in Dublin, the city will always hold a special place in my heart. I am originally from the beautiful Irish countryside but in a place that is not too far from the city. I takes around a 50-minute drive, so I often visited ‘the big smoke’ when I was younger. I love to hear when someone is coming to visit Ireland and I often get asked for Dublin recommendations. I have put together some of my most frequently asked questions on how to make the most of a trip to Dublin’s Fair City!
What is the best restaurant in Dublin’s Fair City?
There are so many to choose from but the best for good food and great atmosphere has got to be The Ivy. The restaurant is new to Dublin, only opened in July 2019 but already has a great reputation in the city. I would recommend it for an evening dinner and brunch.
If you are looking for a more casual dinner and like a good burger, you must try Bunsen Burger! There are four locations in Dublin city – Temple Bar, South Anne Street, Camden Street and Ranelagh. The tiny-sized menu might surprise you when you first sit down but once you get your meal you will not be disappointed!
Burritos are a big trend in Dublin for many years now and there is are a few spots where you can try one – Boojum, Tolteca and Mama’s Revenge to name a few. A new favourite of mine from my last visit home is Sano Pizza near Dublin Castle. Fresh, affordable, delicious pizza, you can’t go wrong!
Where would you recommend going for a special occasion?
Sophie’s Rooftop Bar is the perfect place for a special destination. On the top floor of The Dean Hotel, you have a fancy restaurant/bar. If you get a seat by the window, you get a lovely rooftop view of the city. The atmosphere is charming, and the service and food will not disappoint. The Ivy is also lovely for a special occasion.
For a unique evening activity in Dublin, you could go see a movie in The Stellar Theatre. This cinema experience in Rathmines takes you back in time with a cocktail bar, food and 1920’s vibe. They usually show two or three movies a day, a variety of new releases and old classics. Tickets costs approx. 21 Euro per person.
Where would you recommend for a drink?
With over 666 licensed pubs in The City of Dublin, you will not be stuck in finding a good pint. If you are a cocktail lover like me, Cafe en Seine is a beautiful bar on Dawson Street, just a five-minute walk from Trinity College Dublin. It is newly renovated and has a great list of cocktails. Getting a cocktail here is a bit pricier than average but you get what you pay for!
If you’re looking for a cocktail a bit easier on the wallet, then Capitol Bar and Alfie’s are good options and usually have a 2 for 1 deal. Another local favourite is Dicey’s on Harcourt Street as they have great beer deals. And of course, the famous Coppers Nightclub is a must but you will pay for entry, and the drinks are pricey in there, but it’s some spot!
What are the best tourist attractions in Dublin's Fair City?
There really are many tourist bucket list attractions in Dublin. Most tourists will spend their time strolling around Grafton Street or having a few pints in Temple Bar, but the main tourist attractions I would recommend are:
Trinity College Dublin – The oldest and most prestigious university in Dublin is located right in the heart of the city. The grounds are stunning to walk around and most say that the campus resembles Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series. You can also take a tour of the Old Library and see the Book of Kells which more than 1,000 years old. I promise I’m not just saying this because it’s the university where I studied, but Trinity College is a must do when in Dublin!
Jameson Distillery – This is a great tour to do and learn more about whiskey distilling. You get a fully guided tour of the site and finish with a complimentary drink in the bar. This is a perfect attraction to do with a group of friends and if you enjoy it, you can also try a similar tour in Teeling Whiskey Distillery.
National Gallery – If you’re a lover of art then you should visit the National Gallery to see some of the most beautiful Irish paintings. There are over 14,000 artworks from well-known artists and the admission is free for everyone.
St. Stephens Green – If you want to do something more relaxing between activities, the park in the city centre is a great place to spend an afternoon. The park is relatively small, and you can walk around it in about 30 minutes, but you can find a nice spot on the green grass to sit and admire the surroundings. The park is particularly special in spring or autumn.
Guinness Storehouse: Arguably one of the best activities to do in Dublin, a tour of the Guinness Storehouse is well worth the visit. The self-guided tour starts from 22 Euro and you get to experience the history, heart, and soul of Ireland’s most iconic beer. There are seven floors of the building to explore and you end the trip with a pint of Guinness, while taking in 360 degree views of the city from Gravity Bar.
Where can I go shopping in Dublin?
There are some great little spots in Dublin for anyone who likes to shop on a trip away. Of course, there is the famous Grafton Street in the heart of the city, which is, a pedestrianized street filled with the most recognizable brands. You can also find the prestigious department store Brown Thomas on this street.
Another great place to shop is Jervis Street Shopping Centre, just off O’Connell Street, and here you can find Arnotts Department Store and many other popular stores such as Zara, H&M and River Island. Both of these streets are particularly beautiful around Christmas time with all the lights!
Where should I take my kids?
Dublin Zoo is a great day activity to entertain the kids. It’s situated in the Phoenix Park, which is also the park where you will find Áras an Uachtaráin, home to the President of Ireland. The Zoo is a not-for-profit organisation, and the ticket costs go towards improving the habitats of the animals and supporting worldwide conservation projects.
Pro Tip: You can save 15% on tickets if you buy online in advance on their website.
Another great activity to do with kids, and take in some sightseeing of the city, is the Viking Splash Tour. It is a DUKW tour so half of the tour is a bus around the main buildings and monuments and the rest takes place on the River Liffey. You get a Viking hat on board to get into the spirit!
What area would you stay?
I would recommend staying in the city centre if you can. Dublin is quite a small city and you can walk most places. You can also hop on Dublin Bus or the city tram Luas to get around. The most prestigious hotels to stay in Dublin are the Shelbourne Hotel, Westbury Hotel and the Gresham. You can stay in any of these hotels if you want to treat yourself.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, I would recommend staying on Harcourt Street, which is just a 10-minute walk from Grafton Street. Some nice areas to stay that are not in the city centre are Rathmines, Portobello, Ranelagh and Smithfield.
What other recommendations do you have?
If you have a few days in Dublin, I would definitely recommend taking a day trip to Howth, small town outside the city. You can get the DART (train) there in less than an hour.
There is the Howth Cliff Walk that you can take where you can see some of Ireland’s beautiful green landscapes. Howth market is right beside the train station where you can see an array of Irish crafts and delicate handmade jewellery. To learn a bit more about the history of the area you can visit Howth castle.
Dun Laoghaire is another beautiful seaside town that you can visit by taking the DART. It is home to the famous Forty Foot swimming spot tucked in behind the James Joyce Tower and Museum. It is also a popular destination for sailing and many local like to take a stroll along the harbour with a Scrumdiddly’s or Teddy’s ice-cream in hand.
What other day trips can you do from the city?
If you like to get a bit of exercise while also enjoying the beautiful green landscapes, there are two trips I would recommend. The first is the Bray to Greystones walk which is the perfect day’s activity if the weather is nice and sunny. You can take the DART train to either Bray or Greystones and the walk takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, depending on the pace.
Ticknock mountain is a small mountain you can hike that is just a 15-minute drive from the city centre. You can also take the number 14 Dublin Bus to Ballinteer Avenue and walk from there. The Fairy Castle Loop is 5.5KM in length and Moderate difficulty for hikers. This is the route I took when I hiked the mountain and the views were spectacular!
Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that it helps with all your Dublin questions before you visit our magnificent capital! If you are visiting more of the Emerald Isle after stopping in Dublin, make sure to check out my Irish Staycation posts for more tips.