Dublin is the Republic of Ireland’s lively capital, an engaging mix of old and new where medieval streets give way to a thriving tech quarter. The city’s museums, monuments and shops draw visitors from around the globe, and its legendary nightlife takes in everything from centuries-old pubs to glitzy late-night clubs.
Dublin: city layout
Compact, walkable Dublin sits on Ireland’s east coast, bisected east to west by the River Liffey. The southern Grand Canal and the northern Royal Canal ring the city.
Most major attractions lie south of the river. Towards the east you’ll find Trinity College, from where pedestrianised, shop-lined Grafton Street leads south to St. Stephen’s Green. Further east, Dublin’s tech quarter sits around the Grand Canal Docks.
The Guinness Storehouse is in the west, close to east-west thoroughfare Dame Street.
Pedestrian Ha’penny Bridge links the medieval streets of lively Temple Bar to the Liffey’s north bank. Locals generally refer to the streets running along the riverbank as the North and South Quays.
Enormous Phoenix Park, in the northwest, houses a castle, gardens and the Dublin Zoo.
Dublin’s Top Attractions
For the best of old Dublin, start south of the Liffey and take a guided tour of 13th-century St. Patrick’s Cathedral, then tour the grand State Apartments at imposing Dublin Castle. You can wander the cobblestone squares of 16th-century Trinity College, where the ornate Book of Kells is on display in the library.
After the 1916 Easter Rising, political prisoners were held at gloomy Kilmainham Gaol, now a museum exploring the history of Ireland’s independence movement. Prehistoric gold jewellery and the intricate, eighth-century Tara Brooch are among the treasures of the National Museum of Ireland’s archaeology collection.
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Hotels in Dublin
IHG offers a wide range of options of hotels for your stay in Dublin, including many in the bustling city centre. The calmer suburbs are further from the action but have quick and convenient public transport links.
Minutes from the city centre by bus or DART railway, residential Ballsbridge is known for its wide, tree-lined streets. Many of Dublin’s embassies are found here. Families will appreciate the relative quiet, and kids can run loose in Herbert Park.
The suburb of Blanchardstown is a great choice if you’re exploring Ireland by car. It’s just off the M50, 20 minutes by bus from central Dublin, and home to several industrial and business parks.
A hotel near Dublin Airport (DUB) is good for business travellers making a quick stop or anyone with an early departure. Nearby, paths wind through the trees and fountains of picturesque Santry Park.
Eating Out in Dublin
Dublin’s restaurants offer a wide choice of international cuisines. The dining scene has heated up in recent years, with young chefs using locally sourced meat, fish and vegetables to create fresh, modern takes on traditional Irish fare.
You’ll find the biggest concentration of restaurants south of the Liffey, especially in Temple Bar, with more elegant choices to the south towards St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square. Foodies can sample local delicacies on the Dublin Tasting Trail guided tour.
With two Michelin stars to brag about, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is ideal for a money-no-object feast. At the other end of the budget spectrum, legendary Leo Burdock’s has been serving fish and chips in Christchurch since 1913.
Every Saturday, vendors at the Temple Bar Food Market sell everything from local produce and freshly baked bread to sushi and oysters. Street food fans should check out Irish Village Markets, which brings international treats to hungry lunchtime crowds at sites around the city from Tuesday to Friday.
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Shopping in Dublin
Dublin visitors can shop anywhere from high-end fashion retailers to humble market stalls, scooping up funky vintage accessories, fine jewellery and everything in between.
Pedestrianised Grafton Street is Dublin’s best-known shopping area, with high-street shops along the main drag and some quirky finds on the intersecting streets. Cow’s Lane is known for its designer boutiques and hosts a Saturday market for clothing, handmade crafts and jewellery. Francis Street is the place for antiques and collectibles.
Posh Powerscourt Centre mixes local and international fashion boutiques with antique shops and restaurants in an elegant Georgian townhouse. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre has familiar brands in a central location. George’s Street Arcade pulls together a jumble of independent boutiques and stalls in a purpose-built, 19th-century building.
The suburban Blanchardstown Centre, about 20 minutes northwest of Dublin, has around 180 stores, with a cinema and the Leisureplex entertainment complex to keep non-shoppers busy.
Best souvenirs to buy in Dublin
Culture & Nightlife in Dublin
Packed with bars, clubs and restaurants, Temple Bar is Dublin’s cultural quarter and busiest nightlife area. It can attract a boisterous crowd after dark, but things are calmer in the older, western end of the district. You can catch trad sessions (where musicians drop in to perform Irish folk music) at pubs all over the city.
Dublin Writers Museum explores the city’s proud literary history through the possessions, early editions and unpublished writings of such greats as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett. In September and October the Dublin Theatre Festival presents plays by local and international writers. You can enjoy performances all year-round at the Abbey Theatre and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
The National Gallery of Ireland shows European and Irish art from the 13th to the 20th centuries, with a room dedicated to the paintings of Jack B. Yeats. Set in the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the Irish Museum of Modern Art houses the country’s contemporary and modern art collection.
Where to hear trad music in Dublin
Visiting Dublin with a Family
The Irish are a family-friendly lot. Kids are welcome in most places and there are plenty of activities to keep little ones busy.
Massive Phoenix Park has a huge area to explore and is home to elephants, tigers and hippos at Dublin Zoo. For a quick play break in the city centre, try the playground at St. Stephen’s Green.
Dublinia recreates the sights and sounds of Viking and medieval Dublin with costumed actors and interactive exhibits. On a Viking Splash tour you can view the city from both land and water in a Second World War amphibious vehicle.
Top spots for active families