I came to Dublin for the first time in 2007 for a two months holiday and now I have lived here for 4 years. These are two different experiences and I keep on learning and discovering new things about this city every day. So if you are planning to visit Dublin any time soon, here is my quick guide.
Quick facts about Dublin?
Visa: no visa if you hold a European passport and if you are a citizen of the European Economic Area. If your country of residence is on this list, then you will need a visa.
Languages: Irish Gaelic, English, you will see signs in two languages as soon as you land in the country.
Dublin or Dubh Linn is derived from the Old Irish Gaelic, which has its literal meaning "Black Pool". The Dubh Linn was a lake used by the Vikings to moor their trade ships and was connected to the Liffey by the River Poddle.
The "Oldest Pub in Ireland" is the pub called the Brazen Head. There has been a pub on this site since 1198.
None of the so-called Dublin Mountains is high enough to meet the criteria required to claim mountain status. The Sugarloaf is the tallest 'Dublin Mountain' yet measures about 423.3 meters above sea level.
Dublin has the youngest population in all of Europe. Approximately 50-percent of the population is less than 25-years of age.
There are more than 700 licensed pubs in Dublin today —and the legal drinking age is 18!
When to come?
I would personally recommend coming between mid-May and September. It might be raining but at least the days last longer and the temperatures are warmer, it can go up to 22 degrees Celsius on good days (practically a canicule weather in Ireland!).
Where to stay?
If you come for a couple of days, try to stay close to the city centre, meaning in a perimeter of 2-3km around the main landmark aka the Spire on the main street: O'connell street. (cf. photo below)
There are many options depending on your budget. Most of the hostels and bed & Breakfast can be found close to O'connell street with prices per night starting at 10 euros. Hotels are mostly located on spencer docks, Pearse street and Temple bar. Otherwise, Airbnb is also a great option and allows you to live as a local. I would recommend the last option if you are staying longer than a weekend though.
What to wear?
Layers and waterproof gears. No point to bring an umbrella, it will break because of the wind. Also the weather changes very quicky, it can be cold and raining during an hour and the next hour being warm with sunshine and blue sky.
How to get around?
If you are visiting for couple of days, get the freedom travel ticket from Dublin sightseeing that offers you unlimited travels and discounts for 72h. It would cost you 33 euros. Otherwise, use the hop on-hop off buses that allow you to visit the main tourisitic places around Dublin at your own pace, hop-off to visit the place and once you are done, hop-on to the next stop. The last solution would be the public transports: buses, tram or luas, train or dart and taxis.
What to see and do?
If you like stout beers, don't miss out on visiting the Guinness factory. The Guinness served there is the best in the world! No kidding, I have been tasting the "Irish water" while all my travels abroad and so far there is no competition. There, you will learn the making process of the beer, the history of the Guinness and will be able to finish your tour with a pint of Guinness in the panoramic bar at the top of the tower with a great view over Dublin. It will be the most expensive pint you will ever buy, but worth the experience.
Old Jameson whisky distillery
This was the location of the old Jameson Distillery, the one being still functionnal is close to Cork in the South of Ireland. There, you will learn the making process of the Jameson and how to make the difference between the Irish whisky, the bourbon and the scotch if you are picked at the beginning of the visit to sample them. You will be able to leave with a whisky taster certificate in the end.
The most touristic area of Dublin known for its pubs and nightlife after dark. During the day, it is the location of many Irish cultural institutions such as the Irish photography school, the Irish Film Institute, the Gaiety School of Acting, etc... During the weekend, you can also find some food and book markets. It is a very buzzing area with a lot of character.
The biggest city park in Europe housing the Irish president residence aka the "Irish white house" as I like to call it, but also the third world oldest zoo. When it is sunny, this is one of the favourite destinations of Dubliners. And if you are lucky you might be able to see the deer running free in the park.
The National museum is worth visiting to learn about the history. Kilmainham gaol is a former prison reconverted in a museum where most of the resistants from the rebellion during the English occupation were arrested. The Trinity college library hosts the famous book of Kells. Ok, it is not a museum, but the exhibition is permanent and the college and library are worth seeing.
Grafton street and Henry street are the two main shopping streets in Dublin where you can find most of the usual retail brands and high-end brands also. There are also several shopping centres or department stores such as: Arnotts, Jervis, Ilac or St Stephen's Green shopping centre.
Where to eat?
Temple bar is the most known touristic area in Dublin where you can find an aggregate of pubs where you can try out the local dishes. Be aware that the prices will be higher than anywhere else. But you can find other good ones along the quays and particularly one on O'Connell street that I really like with live music and traditional Irish dancer:
If you fancy other types of food, go to George street, you will find a wider choice of restaurants
There are many live gigs in Temple bar:
But also theatres if you are into shows and music hall:
Check out websites like Ticketmaster.ie for concerts during your stay:
And finally nightclubs. The nightlife in Dublin is mostly during the weekend, from Thursday to Saturday. Sunday being the rest day to recover! Depending on your age, here are my recommendations:
Located on Harcourt street: Diceys bar, Krystle, Coopers
Located on Harcourt street, Dawson street and William Street: Everleigh garden, Sam's bar, 37 Dawson street, no name bar, Dakota bar, Pygmalion
Age 30 and +
Located on Harcourt street, Dawson street, Leeson street and William street: The black door, Sophie's, Cafe en Seine, House, Black market
Dublin is a great city to visit and live in. The people are very friendly, you can visit the city by foot, this is how small it is. But that makes the lifestyle very enjoyable. This guide is mostly about things to do within the city, but of course there are many things to see and do outside. That will be for another post. Hope this post helps you and if you have any feedback or comments, don't hesitate to comment below.