DUBLIN TRAVEL TIPS

To visit Dublin you must be a lover of genuine human connection, laughter and rugged charm.  I didn’t meet one person that was rude or unfriendly in this town.  To me this wasn’t a place to stay at the Four Seasons or any big chain hotels, as I craved that authentic Dublin experience that I have heard so much about.  But that was my preference for this particular trip.  Hope you enjoy my Dublin travel tips!

Because I was in Dublin for only a long weekend the first time, I did what everyone should do first and foremost; ask one of the colorful cab drivers their opinion on where to go, what to see and what to skip.  Our cab driver was born and raised in Dublin so he was a wealth of knowledge.  I could have driven around with him all day.  His candid spirit and crude use of foul language (but used only when truly necessary) made me smile from ear to ear as we drove through the city seeing the sights.  Beautiful city. Lots of brick architecture and what Dublin lacks in rooftops, it makes up for with awesome doors.

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TRANSPORTATION

A taxi from the airport to Dublin city center is 20€ for up to 4 people (each way.)  RT bus fare was kind of expensive I thought. 14€ per person. So if you are traveling with more than 2 people the taxis are cheaper.  The buses are easy to navigate but there happened to be a bus strike when I was there.  You can easily rent a car, just take careful note that you need to adapt to driving on the other side of the road, while driving a stick shift.  Seemed like an easy city to drive in comparison to other larger European cities.

LODGING

O”DONOGHUE’S

Remember I said I wanted authentic Dublin?  Well, I got it.  We ended up staying in the guesthouse of one of the most historic pubs in Dublin called O’Donoghue’s.  You can just tell that all kinds of  fun and rowdy times have been had by many here.  My suggestion is if you aren’t ready to join in on the fun, I would stay else-where. Don’t get me wrong, the guesthouse rooms did surprise me with their crown molding, courtesy hair dryer, and timely housekeeping.  Just don’t expect too much when the check in desk is the bar/bartender downstairs.  Super friendly folks might I add!  The price was right and O’Donoghue’s is touted as one of the best places for Guinness in town.  This is also the pub where the Dubliners got their start.   As far as location goes, this part of town is called Steven’s Green. Very civilized area. Great parks and walking distance to bus lines, Temple Bar and Trinity College.  There is a grocery store right across the street for cheap snacks and bottled water.  Coffee shop with Internet as well!

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THE SHELBOURNE

If 5 star hotels are more your thing, I would recommend staying at The Shelbourne.  (A Marriott managed property for all you hotel points people.) Service is top notch, posh surroundings and a little bottle of water with a chocolate accompanies turn down service.  They also have a fantastic spa and work out facility. In addition to my own research, rave reviews came from well-traveled guests that I ended up chatting with who were staying there. Many other chain hotels are well represented in Dublin as well.

THE MORGAN

For the traveler celebrating a birthday, ladies/gentlemen’s trip, or for the traveler wanting to be in the trendy part of Dublin.  A boutique hotel located right in Temple Bar so a good location in Dublin Center.  Chic, clean, uniquely decorated and good service.

THE SIGHTS

GUINNESS STOREHOUSE – Well this one is obvious.  However, going into it I had very low expectations for the biggest tourist attraction in town. After spending hours at the storehouse I couldn’t have been more impressed. What a fun place to get lost in if you like Guinness.  You learn everything from the history to the marketing plans over the decades and they even teach you how to pour the perfect Guinness.  And yes, you can drink your perfectly poured pint too! No tour times, just buy a ticket, walk in and enjoy! (10% off if you purchase in advance online)

dublin-guinness-storehouse

LUNCH TIP: You can eat lunch at one of the many cafes/restaurants at the storehouse OR I would suggest wandering down the street to the “oldest pub” in Dublin called Brazen Head. Dates back to 1198. I was told by my lovely cab driver that this area at night is much less charming so I recommend a lunch over dinner at this beautiful pub known for it’s award winning food.

JAMESON DISTILLERY – I heard it was a great tour for those whiskey lovers out there — even some lucky members of the tour group get to taste whiskeys side-by-side for comparison.  (Jameson, Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels)

BOOK OF KELLS & TRINITY COLLEGE – Trinity College is a beautiful campus located right near Temple Bar.  Worth popping your head in for sure.  Most people go to see the libraries and the Book of Kells which is located in the Old Library. It is a hand drawn manuscript from the 9th century — one of Ireland’s most historic treasures.

PHOENIX PARK – Want to get a run in?  Phoenix park is the perfect spot.  Quiet, green and loads of trails and monuments.  Very accessible from the center of town. I have actually run the Rock N Roll Dublin Half Marathon the last two years, which runs right through this park. Both time is was a great race, fun vibe and just another fun way to see the city. If you are a runner, I highly recommend signing up for next year!

CHRISTCHURCH – Swing by here when walking from Temple Bar to The Guinness Storehouse.  Beautiful cathedral!

TEMPLE BAR – This area of town is lined with shops and restaurants. Near the famous canal as well.  It is defiantly the trendy, touristy place to see and be seen.  Lots of bachelorette/bachelor parties and higher priced restaurants.  Fun place to pub crawl at night but you will be paying a premium for your drinks.  This area is home to a Starbucks for those of you needing a fix. All in all it is a bustling area of town and worth wandering through to people watch at the very least.

For some nicer eats, head to the streets just south of Temple Bar.  South Great George’s Street is a lovely area.

temple bar

PUBS & RESTAURANTS

When pub crawling, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for what they call a session (pronounced SEY-SHOON).  Usually on Sundays but really any time of the week. This is where local musicians congregate at the pubs and essentially start a jam session.  While I was in and out of our guesthouse/pub, I watched one start with 2 instruments and a couple singers sitting around a small table at O’Donoghue’s. Just a couple hours later there were multiple musicians and a crowd that had formed, cheering them on with a beer in hand.  Fun and oh so festive. They must have played from noon well into the evening.

Authentic Irish Pubs:
On the same street as O’Donoghue’s there are 2 other bars I would also recommend. Doheny Nesbitt and Toners.  Doheny Nesbitt would be the place for the Irish pub feel but in an upper class kind of way.  Delicious food and reasonably priced.  Sports fans flock here for their tv’s that are on 24/7.  Toners is small and there is a heated beer garden in the back.  The bartenders had accents so thick it was almost hard to understand them. These three seemed like the best mix of tourists and locals all out just having a good time.

Nicer Dinner Recommendation:
Matt the Thesher – An upscale seafood restaurant.  Modern Ambiance. Everything walking out of the kitchen looked beyond fantastic.  I ordered the Hake (white fish).  Delicious!

Roly’s Bistro: A nicer spot for dinner on the edge of town.  I loved the menu and everyone’s food was beyond great. Their bread served at every meal is the cherry on top!

777: Don’t be fooled by the description. ” A Mexican Restaurant Dive Bar.” It is a trendy restaurant filled with loud music and hip folks. The decor is awesome and the food was outstanding. Price was steep for the portions. We attended this restaurant as we rarely get to have good Mexican food in Europe. This really hit the spot!

Morning coffee or just a drink:
Cafe en Seine – they have a coffee bar where you can sit-and-sip or take to-go.  Worth walking in just to see the restaurant.  Stunning!  I wouldn’t recommend the food as anything above and beyond, but coffee was very good! They also had a decent brunch menu.

Restaurant Rows: Temple Bar  area or South Anne Street are both places you will find multiple options for restaurants at different price points.

ODDS & ENDS

Ireland has a bit of an identity crisis happening..

  • Bring a UK wall adapter for your phone chargers, etc. 
  • However don’t bring UK currency.  Their currency is Euros, not pounds.

In other news…

  • Dublin airport is one of the most efficient airports I’ve been to.
  • “Irish car bombs” and “black & tans” are an American thing.  They will make it for you, but make fun of you for it.
  • If you order a Coors light, they serve it on ice. I found that incredibly strange.
  • Bring a rain coat. Yep, even in August.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of Dublin.  It really is a fantastic little city full of friendly people just wanting to chit chat no matter what corner of Dublin you find yourself.

Sláinte!