Dublin City Guide

With a bit over half a million inhabitants, Dublin is the capital of Ireland situated on the east coast of the island along the Liffey Valley. The city’s climate is oceanic, cool and humid throughout the year. So, if you are planning a Dublin holiday, bring umbrellas and raincoats as Baile Átha Cliath (Irish for Dublin) has mostly rainy and cloudy weather with little sunshine (average temperature in July is 16°C, whereas in January is 5°C). As a member of European Union, Ireland’s official currency is the euro (€).

Thanks to its vibrancy, nightlife, friendly people and interesting tourist sites, the city is also one of the top destinations for both young travelers and families with children. If you’re up for a Dublin break anytime soon, make sure to inform yourself about all the relevant information so you can have the most out of your time in this beautiful city!

1) Getting to Dublin

If you want to visit Dublin from other parts of the country, you can take the bus or the ferry in case you are coming from Wales.

  • Dublin by plane: Dublin has an international airport, known as the Dublin Airport which serves the area around the capital (Irish: Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath). It is located only 10 km from the city centre and is well-connected to all parts of the city.
  • Dublin by bus: Dublin bus station is called Busáras (Central Bus Station) and provides connections to other cities in Ireland (Galway, Belfast, Limerick, Cork, etc.) and international connections to the United Kingdom (London, Manchester and Liverpool).
  • Dublin by ferry: Dublin port provides service for the following routes: Dublin – Wales (Holyhead), Dublin – England (Liverpool, Isle of Man), Dublin – France (Cherbourg)

2) Public Transport in Dublin

Although the Irish capital is easy to navigate on foot, Dublin has a well-established and efficient public transport network. When it comes to exploring the city by public transport, you can choose among buses, trains and trams.

Bus: Dublin Bus provides bus services across the city and county of Dublin and its surrounding areas. Their official website is up-to-date with information regarding traffic, possible delays, etc., so make sure to check it before you plan your ride. Buses in Dublin are double-decker style and drive on the left side of the road, which is important to remember when you are trying to decide which direction to take the bus. Keep in mind that the bus may not stop unless you wave them, even if you are staying directly at the bus stop. A single adult fare is approximately 2€.

Train: A train service called DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) runs along the coast of Dublin, from Malahide and Howth in north Dublin to Greystones in the south. DART trains are easy to use and also connect to the LUAS (tram service) at Connolly Station, and to suburban and intercity services at several other stations in Dublin as well. The most popular routes by train are: Dublin – Belfast, Dublin – Galway, Dublin – Limerick, Dublin – Cork and Dublin – Killarney. The main train stations in the city are Dublin Connolly and Dublin Heuston Station.

NOTE: You can also use Dublin MetroLink as an option. It is a rail line running from Swords to Charlemont, linking Dublin Airport, Irish Rail, DART, Dublin Bus and Luas services, creating a fully integrated public transport in the Greater Dublin Area.

Tram: A tram service called LUAS connects Dublin city centre with suburbs. It has two lines:

  • The Luas Red Line links Tallaght/Saggart to Connolly/The Point via the city centre
  • The Luas Green Line links Brides Glen/Sandyford to Broombridge via the city centre.
  • See map of routes online.

NOTE: If you are planning to take Dublin Bus or other Dublin public transportation more than one or two times, it may be worth purchasing the LeapCard. This rechargeable travel card offers slightly lower fares on every journey and having one means you will never have any hassle dealing cash on board. LeapCard is valid for buses and trams only, and not trains. Check fares online.

3) Parking Service

As in all capital, finding a parking spot in Dublin can be a real challenge, especially if you wish to leave your vehicle on the street, which is the most expensive option. However, there are several rules that have to be obeyed when looking for a parking spot:

  • Make sure to check the signs and parking meter on the side of the street that you park.
  • Parking on Double Yellow Lines is not allowed at any time.
  • If your car is clamped you will need to contact Dublin Street Parking Services (+353 1 6022500). You will have to pay a €80 fee to have the clamp removed from your car.

The city is divided into 6 parking zones, all of which are in operation from Monday to Sunday.

  • Yellow: cca 3€ per hour, 3h restriction
  • Red: cca 2,50€ per hour, 3h restriction
  • Green: cca 1,50€ per hour, 3h restriction
  • Orange: cca 1€ per hour, 3h restriction
  • Blue: cca less than 1€ per hour, 3h restriction
  • YA: cca 3€ per hour, 10€ per day restriction

NOTE: Dublin Q Park is the city’s leading parking service provider. They have 9 parking facilities in Dublin: Beaumont Hospital, Bloomfields, Christchurch, Clerys, Dawson Street, Four Courts, Grand Canal Square, Setanta and St Stephen’s Green.

See the online parking map to get a better insight.

4) Attractions

From old museums and libraries to lively pubs and fantastic restaurants, Dublin will keep you occupied for days. However, if you must choose only several to see, these are the ones you cannot miss during your visit to Dublin.

Temple Bar – Often referred to as the Bohemian Quarter, the Temple Bar zone is the best place to hear live Irish folk music and feel the genuine atmosphere of the Irish capital. But, that’s not all. The area is also home to numerous restaurants, pubs and hotels, as well as the creative hotspots as the Project Arts Centre, DESIGNyard and National Photographic Centre.

The Guinness Storehouse – Dublin’s number one factory is the 26-hectare brewery dedicated to the beloved Irish beer Guinness. Seven floors of fun will teach you everything you need to know about Guinness, while the top-floor Gravity Bar is the place to enjoy your pint and panoramic views of the city. A single entrance fee is approximately 25€.

Jameson Distillery – the Irish know their alcohol, so they wanted to show how much they appreciate their famous Jameson whiskey. Jameson Distillery is located of the Smithfield Square and offers guided tours, tutored whiskey tastings, JJs bar and a gift shop. The prices differ based on the experience you’re interested in.

Trinity College and College Green – Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592 is a gem full of incredible history, including many cobbled squares, parks and gardens. Trinity is best-known for the 9th-century illuminated manuscript called the Book of Kells, but it is also a home to the 18th-century Long Room which contains over 200 000 oldest books and literary exhibitions. The admission fee is around 9€.

Vicar Street – A concert, performing and event venue in Dublin which can host up to 1050 people. The site is very popular both among locals and tourists for its intimate atmosphere and relatively small capacity. Very often the venue hosts major events such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon concerts.

Dublin Theatre – The Dublin theatre scene is quite vivid and dramatic, as the city itself. Dublin Gate Theatre is by far the most popular site of its kind in the city, but some other places where you can enjoy a good show are Ambassador Theatre, Olympia Theatre, National Concert Hall and Bewley’s Cafe Theatre.

St. Stephen’s Green – “The Green”, surrounded by beautiful Georgian buildings, is one of the favorite chilling places both among locals and tourists. The 22-acre park is a perfect getaway from Dublin’s hustle and bustle, and when the weather allows it, people enjoy the fresh air with their loved ones. The park is open daily from 7.30 till the sun sets and the entrance is admission free.

The National Gallery of Ireland – Another admission free site houses the finest collection of Irish art, along with extraordinary exhibitions of European art from the Middle Ages to the present period. The gallery opened in 1864 and had several renovations in the meantime, with the latest being in 2002. Collections include the Yeats Museum, the Shaw and Baroque Rooms, Italian Painters, etc.

Kilmainham Gaol – One of the most notorious sites in Ireland is the forbidding gaol (jail) dating from 1789. It was the place where leaders of the 1916 rebellion were imprisoned and then executed for supposingly an act of high treason. The prison offers excellent guided tours where you will get an insight into Irish history from 1796 to 1924. The adult admission fee is approximately 4€.

Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library – The most popular castle in Ireland served many functions, from the medieval fortress and government to the vice-regal court. Today, it is mostly used for cultural events as ceremonial occasions, exhibitions and concerts. There are many museums to visit within the castle, including the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery founded in 1953, which features a collection of oriental art and important manuscripts and books. The entrance fee for the Castle is around 5€, while you can enter the Chester Beatty Library free of charge.

Grafton Street – The city’s number one shopping location is full of interesting bars, restaurants and small boutiques, including Bewley’s Oriental Cafe open since 1927 and the Brown Thomas upmarket. However, the street’s highlight is the statue of Molly Malone, the woman who was, according to the legend, a fishmonger plying her trade on the streets of Dublin.

However, in case you want to see more than we have already listed, don’t think twice and stop by the following sites: Dublin Spire, Croke Park, Aviva Stadium or Blackrock, a gorgeous nearby neighbourhood.

 

5) Outdoor activities in Dublin

While you’re visiting the Irish capital, make sure to spend some time outside and among the locals. Despite always-high chances of rain, there are numerous activities which not even rain can spoil. The most popular outdoor activities in Dublin are listed below.

Dun Laoghaire Farmer Market – Every Sunday People’s Park hosts the weekly farmer’s market, where you can taste and buy some exceptional products on offer, from gluten free cakes and falafel to various cheeses and high quality pork. Afterwards, it is popular to take a walk along the pier to Sandycove for another snack.

Pub Crawl – This is a must in a city known for its fantastic beer and lively pubs which are locals’ favorite hanging out spot. So, if you’re up for some partying like a true Irish, then this is the activity for you. The tours are available every day and you will easily find them across the town.

Howth – A quick tram journey away is the seaside-fishing village of Howth with fantastic seafood cuisine and charming scenery. The most popular spot in the city is Howth Head, where you can have a breathtaking view of Dublin Bay and the rest of the city.

Dublin Zoo – Nestled inside the Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo is home to a wide range of animal and bird species. With almost one million visitors per year, the zoo is Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. You can spend your afternoon learning about more than 600 animals and even have your meal overseen by the meerkats in the Meerkat Restaurant.

Phoenix Park – One of Europe’s largest parks is home to the Irish president, Papal cross, Victorian flower gardens, and the zoo as well. Apart from being a venue and space for various events, from family picnics to motor races, the park is a perfect sightseeing place to enjoy fun activities along the leafy trails.

 

6) Events

Irish capital organizes interesting concerts, festivals and other types of celebrations throughout the year. If possible, plan your trip according to some of the following events in order to experience a true Irish atmosphere.

St Patrick’s Festival – If you’re lucky enough to visit Dublin on March 17th, you will get the chance to participate at the city’s best party! On this day, the Irish celebrate their patron saint and the streets are crowded with people enjoying good music and fantastic Irish beer. In Dublin, the centre of the fun is in the Temple Bar area, especially in the same-named pub.

Dublin Marathon – One of the most popular athletics events in Ireland was established in 1980 and until today millions of people participated in a race across the city. Despite the route not changing significantly over the years (city centre), the prize fund for the marathon is extended and now 15 000 euro awaits male and female winners.

Dublin Horse Show – Since its first manifestation in 1864, Dublin’s Horse Show has become the city’s tradition. It is one of the country’s largest events as well, and hosts some of the world’s best show horses and show jumpers. Every year, the event is visited by tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

Dublin Racing FestivalLeopardstown Racecourse is a weekend celebrating the city’s diversity in culture, music, sports, gastronomy and comedy. During the event, you’ll be able to enjoy entertainment including racing tipster panels, DJ sets and live music, cultural exhibitions and so much more. Definitely a place not to miss!

7) Dublin Day Trips

If you think you’ve got enough of the capital and want to escape its hustle and bustle, that’s also okay because there is much more to Ireland than just the city of Dublin. Day trips are a perfect opportunity to explore the region and discover more about the country.

Galway – Considered to be the most Irish city in Ireland and the city of festivals, Galway will impress you with its colorful houses, Druid Lane Theatre, Eyre Square, the charming Galway Cathedral, Hall of the Red Earl archaeological site and many other features of Celtic culture and, of course, music. However, for an even better perspective of the city, take a cruise on the Corrib River.

Get to Galway from Dublin: You can travel to Galway by both bus or train. There are several train departures a day and the journey takes 2h 30min. One single fare is approximately 19€, while a return ticket is circa 38€. By bus you can take Citylink routes 660 and 761 which run directly from Dublin to Galway. The bus departs many times per day. One single fare is circa 13€, while one ticket for both directions costs about 23€. Keep in mind that the prices are few € higher if they are purchased on board.

Belfast – It is not too far away, so why not visit the capital of Northern Ireland as well? Voted the best place to visit in 2018, Belfast has become one of the top UK places to explore, so it would be a shame to miss out on a melting pot of amazing restaurants, vibrant nightlife and fantastic TV sets, including the world-famous Game of Thrones. The city’s highlight, however, is the Titanic Experience which will tell you all about the ill-fated ship made in Belfast.

Get to Belfast from Dublin: The easiest way to reach Belfast is by train. The journey takes only 2h 10min and costs approximately 20€ per direction. There are several departures a day every 2 hours.

Cork – Ireland’s second largest town is nestled on an island in the middle of the Lee River. The city abounds in lovely coffee shops, vibrant art galleries, interesting museums and fantastic pubs. When there, make sure to have at least one of the following experiences, typical to the city: ring church bells at St Anne’s Church, discover the 19th century history of the Cork City Gaol, or take an Urban Kayaking tour.

Get to Cork from Dublin: The fastest way to reach Cork is by train (2.5 hours), however the tickets are much more expensive compared to the bus, for which a return ticket costs approximately 40€. Buses operate throughout the day in both directions and three companies drive on the route – Bus Eireann, GoBus and Aircoach (last one being the cheapest).

Limerick – Country’s third largest city Limerick is widely-known for its stunning landscape and colorful neighbourhoods. One of Ireland’s oldest places is home to the largest Georgian Quarter outside the capital, but keep in mind to have a sip of Irish coffee (brew infused with Irish whiskey) made right in Limerick and to see the King John’s Castle, the westernmost Norman castle in Europe.

Get to Limerick from Dublin: There are daily train services from Dublin (Heuston) to Limerick and the travel time is 1h 45min. The single adult fare is around 30€. You can also take the bus nr. 17 which departs every hour starting from 7.30h. A single adult fare is about 11€ and the journey takes 3h 15min.

Cliffs of Moher – The stunning Cliffs of Moher soar over 200 m above the mighty Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs are one of the biggest and most popular attractions in Ireland, but in Europe too. Once you’re there, you can observe the landscape from 3 viewing platforms: the Main, North and South Platform. You can also enjoy the Cliffs Exhibition, a 45-min self-guided tour of the exciting interpretive centre at the site.

Get to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin: It is a quite exhausting one day trip, but definitely worth your time. To reach the cliffs by public transport, take the train to Galway and from there a bus to the Cliffs. Line 350 will take you there in 2h 15min.

Glendalough – the Irish word for “valley of two lakes” is the area of dense forests and breathtaking glacial lakes, more precisely two mysterious lakes nestled into a long valley fringed by forest, which served for some scenes in Hollywood’s Braveheart and P.S. I Love You. Glendalough is home to one of Ireland’s most significant monastic sites, dating back to the 6th century, and then you see how spiritual the place is, you’ll understand why monks had come here in the first place.

Get to Glendalough from Dublin: There are two daily bus departures on the route, at 11.30h and at 18.00h operated by St Kevin’s Bus. They depart from Stephen’s Green station. Tickets are purchased on board and one single fare is circa 13€, while the return fare is around 20€.

Giant’s Causeway – Located in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is built from 37 000 basalt rock columns, almost perfect volcanic tubes. If we are to believe the legend, the columns helped the heroic giant Fin McCool walk all the way to Staffa Island in Scotland. Nearby, you can see the amazing rope bridge as well.

Get to Giant’s Causeway from Dublin: Before deciding to go, keep in mind that this is a long trip. First, you need to go by train to Belfast Central station. From there take another train to Coleraine (1h 15min). Once there, take the bus the Open Topper service 177 or the Causeway Rambler service 402. You might consider booking a private tour as an alternative.

Kilkenny – Known also as the Marble City, Kilkenny is located on the banks of the Nore River in Ireland’s Ancient East. The city is a mini-metropolis mostly known for its City Walls. It is a city filled with Medieval culture, which can be noticed through a well-preserved castle, churches and artisan boutique shops. Make sure to stop at the St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey, considered the city’s most important landmarks.

Get to Kilkenny from Dublin: The best way to reach Kilkenny is by train. There are several daily departures on the route. One way ticket is approximately 14€, while the return journey costs around 30€. The journey takes 1h 30min.

Wicklow Mountains – If you’re up for an adventure in the beautiful Irish nature, Wicklow Mountains are the place to go. Gorgeous scenery, lakes, beaches, mountains and myriad of activities to see and do. You can explore the area by bus, car, train, bike or on foot. Try hiking, cycling, swimming, fishing, horse riding, kayaking and much, much more in what is often referred to as the playground of Dublin.

Get to Wicklow Mountains from Dublin: The only public service which goes to the mountains is St. Kevin’s Bus to Glendalough. However, it departs back to Dublin only 4 hours after arriving, which is why you should consider spending a night there in order to spend more quality time in the mountains.

Swords – The town closest to the Dublin airport lies on the Ward River and, due to its proximity to the capital, is one of the most popular day trips from Dublin. While there, make sure to stop by at the Swords Castle and St Columba’s Church, its most famous landmarks. Also, visit Pavilions Shopping Centre as well, it is considered as one of the best in the region.

Get to Swords from Dublin: The easiest way to reach Swords from Dublin is by taking one of the following bus lines: 33, 41, 41b, 41c, 41x or 43. The approximate journey time is 40 minutes, depending on the traffic.

8) Dublin Nightlife

Dublin has a vibrant and dynamic nightlife which doesn’t disappoint anymore, regardless if you are looking just for a pint of Guinness, live music or dancing until dawn. The city is full of lively bars and pubs where you can spend a perfect evening out.

City of Dublin is full of places favorite both among locals and tourists. First to enjoy is The Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub dating back to 1198 which has a reputation for fantastic food choice and great beer offer. Try visiting Brady’s Terenure, a traditional landmark which offers live music, quiz nights and chess games, the Bailey Bar which is a modern and sophisticated night spot, or Bar Rua, a traditional Irish pub where you can try tasty Irish specialties and enjoy different live music every night.

Harry’s on the Green is Dublin’s triple winning Manhattan style cocktail bar with fantastic menu and excellent DJs, while the 108 has an extensive craft beer offer and a delicious cuisine. People also love Doyles of College Street, an old style bar nestled in the heart of the city centre. Other popular places are the Bankers hosting a free comedy club upstairs in the lounge and, of course, the Temple Bar, known for the best party on St. Patrick’s Day.

When it comes to nightclubs, the Grand Social hosts various events, from regular club nights to circus-themed performances hosting all kinds of musicians, while the Button Factory organizes live music and club events within the aforementioned Temple Bar. Also, do not miss out on Copper Face Jacks, a unique place which has to be experienced at least once.

The Brazen Head Pub

All in all, if you want something else other than these recommended places, the best way is to stroll along the city centre and ask the locals for a place to go. At least in Dublin it is not a problem to find a perfect chilling spot.

9) Dublin Shopping

Here’s some good news for all the shopaholics among you – there are tons of places where you can spend your money in Dublin! From big shopping centres to small antique shops and flea markets across the town, the Irish capital abounds in places which offer all you can imagine.

First to mention has to be Arnotts Ltd, Ireland’s oldest department store and one of its largest. More than 90 shops, bars and restaurants await for most motivated buyers right in the very heart of Dublin. Another place to go is Penny’s, the Irish version of Primark, a huge store where you can find the latest trends at really affordable prices. Liffey Valley Shopping Centre hosts 75 shops, bars and restaurants where you can enjoy numerous leisure activities, while Temple Bar Night Market is Dublin’s only art & craft night market which runs only on Thursdays from 14:00 to 20:00. You can also visit Celtic Designs, which sells Irish food, souvenirs and crafts, while Cleo specialises in Irish clothes and handknits.

Blackrock Market is one of Ireland’s most popular and best-selling weekend markets where you can find fantastic antique and second-hand goods. Another popular market is Christ Church Market, an exclusive food market with fantastic gastronomic offer. If you’re up for some fresh fruits and vegetables from Dublin’s most famous barrow vendors, head to the Moore Street Market, held every Wednesday.

In case you’re looking for something unique to Ireland, visit The Dublin Cookie Company, the country’s first and only cookie shop, which sells only handmade and innovative treats. Irish Celtic Craftshop is a family-run business located in the city’s core offering fantastic souvenirs and handicrafts, while Little Gem Records sells one of the best selections of independent music in Ireland including second hand vinyl and collectibles.

As you can see, the offer is really big and various, so we could go on like this for quite some time, but the best way to discover all that Dublin’s shops offer is by taking a stroll across the city and exploring all public and hidden corners – you will definitely spend a little bit of your budget!

Arnotts

10) Exchange money

The official currency in Ireland is euro (€). It is always recommended to bring some euros with you and to avoid money exchange at the airports and in the hotels since the rates are always inconvenient. However, it is absolutely necessary to buy euros in Dublin, there are few places where you can do that without getting ripped off.

These include No 1 Currency Exchange offices and the Post Office.

If you come to Dublin from Europe, ATM withdrawals are probably the cheapest and easiest solution to get euros. Most Irish ATMs accept Visa and MasterCard, so it’s simply a question of using your credit or debit card to make a withdrawal. Keep in mind that there might be possible fees for using the ATM and that  there’s no such thing as fee-free or 0% commission foreign exchange transactions.

11) Useful contacts

Emergency

  • Country code: + 353
  • Common EU emergency number: + 353 112
  • Ambulance: + 353 1 463 1624

Hospital

  • +353 1 221 4000
  • +353 1 837 5111
  • +353 1 664 4600
  • +353 1 803 2000

Police

  • Local police: + 353 999

Tourist Information Center

  • + 353 01 4785295
  • + 353 01 66979 2083

NOTE: + 353 112 and + 353 999 might be used for police, fire service, ambulance, mountain rescue and marine emergencies as well. Once you dial, the operator shall transfer you to the needed service.

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