Dublin City Guide
A travel plan to the Irish capital isn’t just about Guinness and flute ditties—though that’s all part of the fun. Beyond the commercial breweries and stomping dancers, Dublin holds a rich cultural history that stretches all the way back to the ninth century. Centuries-old bridges have served as inspiration to Dublin’s generations of literary geniuses, and medieval relics still lie behind the castle walls. The bullet holes that scar monuments of charismatic statesmen are reminders of the long struggle for independence against Ireland’s oppressor to the east.
Today, Dublin’s population is young, vibrant, and diverse. The energy is palpable: punk rock bands headbang while playing traditional ballads, immigrants happily serve ethnic foods, and students mingle and flirt into the wee hours of the morning. Experiencing Dublin requires only an open mind, a sturdy pair of shoes, and a nicely filled pocketbook. Despite the poor health of the Celtic Tiger, travelers will encounter surprisingly high prices at restaurants and hotels, especially close to the city center, but it’s not hard to find economical options farther from downtown.
Dublin is easy to navigate—most of its main sights are concentrated in the tidy city center south of the River Liffey. The National Museum’s Archaeology and History branch holds an incredible wealth of artifacts from the Stone Age up to the 20th century. Trinity College’s gorgeous campus shows off the best of Irish architecture and the medieval Book of Kells, widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. North of the river, O’Connell Street features stately civic buildings that witnessed numerous revolutions and uprisings. Beer-loving pilgrims head west to the seven-story Guinness Storehouse, a veritable Disneyland of hops and barley. If there’s time left over after all this, daytrips to outlying areas are great for travelers who want to see a more romantic vision of Ireland: the rugged seaside cliffs of Howth beckon to hikers, and history buffs make the trip to Malahide Castle.
For an unforgettable night on the town, travelers should skip the overpriced, overcrowded Temple Bar neighborhood and follow the locals instead. Trendy students down pints of microbrew in the bars west of Grafton Street, and denizens of Dublin’s working-class north side hang out along Jervis and Capel Streets. For traditional fun, Dubliners head to a “night at the dogs,” gambling on speedy greyhounds, then imbibing their winnings (or trying to forget their bad bets) afterwards.
Dublin Travel Tips
- The Irish take their notion of “rounds” very seriously when out at pub or bar drinking. Everyone in your group is expected to buy a round for everyone else, and turning down a drink can sometimes be implied as insulting.
- Jaywalking through the heavy Dublin traffic is commonly practiced by locals, but it’s an art that even the most daring travelers have a hard time mastering.
- Check your bill to make sure to service charge is included. If the tip is not included, a 10%-15% tip is sufficient. It is not compulsory to tip taxi drivers, but €1 or €2 is a nice gesture.
Top 5 Dublin Attractions
Traditional Irish Potato Dishes
- Boxty: a fried pancake of mashed and finely grated potato, eaten at all hours of the day.
- Champ: mashed potatoes spiced up with green onions
- Irish stew: lamb or (more traditionally) mutton with potatoes and carrots in a hearty broth