Got a few days to kill? Experience our capital city like a true Dubliner with our insider guide to Dublin.
1. Meander up Moore Street
You’ll find a real fusion of new and old Dublin on Moore Street. Nigerian salons and Middle Eastern delis trade alongside butchers and market stalls selling fresh produce.
Want to hear real Dublin accents? Chat to a Moore Street market vendor. Most can trace their Moore Street heritage back generations. They’re easily identifiable by their singsong call to buy goods. You’ll hear them before you see them!
In recent years, Moore Street has become a cultural melting pot. New Dubliners from China, Africa, and South Asia have brought a new vibrancy with ethnic shops, hairdressers and restaurants.
Believe it or not, Moore Street is a historic battlefield too. During the 1916 Easter Rising, Irish rebels tunnelled through a row of houses and made their final surrender here.
2. Cycle Around Georgian Dublin
Dublin boasts an amazing streetscape. Elegant bridges criss-cross canals beside plentiful green spaces and beautiful architecture. We think the best way to explore is by bike.
To get yourself a rothar, check out the Dublin Bike Scheme – you’ll need a credit card to sign up. Dublin Bikes are located at docking stations all around the city centre.
So exactly what is Georgian architecture?
During its heydey in the 18th century, wealthy Dubliners erected elegant townhouses on both sides of the River Liffey. This building style is called Georgian because of the contemporary British monarchs named George.
Georgian architecture is characterised by semi-circular doorways, colourful doors, thick pillars and red brick. Another detail you may notice is the gradual reduction in window size towards the roofline; to the viewer, this gives the optical illusion of the buildings being taller than they are.
The best examples of Georgian architecture on the southside include Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square. While here, visit the Georgian House Museum.
Henrietta Street’s Tenement Museum is also well worth checking out for a glimpse inside Georgian life.
3. Stroll around Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green
Grafton Street is a great starting point to take in the hustle and bustle of Dublin. Fully pedestrianised, with flower stalls, street performers and department stores, you can count on electric energy here at any time of day or night.
Feeling adventurous? Follow the narrow streets and alleyways leading off Grafton Street to unearth independent shops, cafés and markets. Less than 5 minutes from Grafton Street, George’s Street Arcade is the longest continually trading shopping centre in Europe and a haven for quirky shoppers:
If you need a break from all the excitement, grab a coffee and head to St Stephen’s Green. This central park is a popular spot with Dubliners and visitors alike. Chill on the grass or feed the resident ducks at your leisure.
4. Hop on a Train to Explore
Looking to get out of the city? A quick hop, skip and jump and you’re on Dublin’s gorgeous coastline, exploring various quaint villages and harbours.
The DART is Dublin’s light rail system. It circuits Dublin Bay, linking north and south coastal areas to the city centre. Head north to seaside Howth for fantastic fresh seafood and a beautiful coastal path. This 4 mile hike boasts stunning views of Dublin Bay and Lambay Island, an early landing spot for Vikings.
Still South I Went…
Heading south, you’ve got plenty of options. Dalkey features a charming village centre with atmospheric pubs and a medieval castle. The ‘Forty Foot’ at Sandycove/Glasthule is a popular swimming spot for Dubliners (and, incidentally, the starting point for James Joyce’s Ulysses).
Further south still, a popular hike leads above cliffs and seabirds from the former seaside resort of Bray to the picturesque harbour town of Greystones. Both Bray and Greystones have DART stations and loads of great food options.
For more destination ideas, read Dublin from the Dart.
Check Irish Rail for schedules, route maps and fares.
5. Visit Dublin Museums
We recommend a visit to the fantastic museums of Dublin. Best news? Nearly all have free admission.
Over on the north side of the river is the fantastic National Museum of Decorative Arts & History – the museum building here is an artefact itself, housed in a former army barracks named after independence hero, Michael Collins.
The Chester Beatty Library is another must-visit. See exotic artistic treasures from across Asia, the medieval Islamic empires and elsewhere. The amazing collection was compiled by Irish-American Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968).
Not free, but definitely noteworthy, is the Little Museum of Dublin. Over 5,000 artifacts tell the amazing tale of Dublin in the 20th century. Don’t miss the entire room dedicated to the band U2. You’ll pay €10 admission for adults and €8 for seniors.