I’m tired of hearing people moan about how expensive Dublin is. I think a combination of us Brits having an assumed right to think everywhere in the world is cheaper, matched with a natural affliction for visitors to this fun and thirsty city to hone in on the tourist trap that is Temple Bar, results in people going away feeling rather like a leprechaun stole their pot of gold.
My best mate John and his Irish wife Ruth now live in Dublin, so I’m spoilt really when it comes to seeing the real side of Dublin. But fear not Guinness lovers and haters alike you can all enjoy more Ireland for your money if you seek out some of my recommendations below (in no particular order):
1) The National Leprechaun Museum (approx. 15EUR)
Start on a high I say. When I usually recommend this, people laugh and tell me I must be joking. I’m NOT JOKING! Not only is this guided tour great for top laughs (even better if you show up fuelled by a few pints of Guinness); it is genuinely interesting and teaches a lot about how leprechauns played a role in Irish culture.
The stories are told in an interesting, interactive and humorous way and there are rooms with giant furniture so you can pretend you are one of those cheeky ginger haired chappies we’ve become to associate with Irish culture. What’s not to like?
2) Sophie’s for Brunch or Dinner (10-20EUR)
This rooftop restaurant offers 360degree views of the city, plush decor and a modern Irish menu at reasonable prices. Try the Espresso Martini and Huevos Rancheros if your trying to cure the hangover from the night-before.
3) Guinness Storehouse Tour (12EUR)￼
Quite simply a must visit. Book in advance for queue jump. Be sure to make it all the way up the top to take in the amazing views and claim your free pint of Guinness. It’s a great spot for playing mine-sweeper and getting drunk for free p.s. 😉
4) Glasnevin Cemetery Tour (10EUR)
Yes, I am suggesting you spend some of your well earned break hanging out with a load of corpses. But in particular, you want to be booking onto “The Dead Interesting” tour. It lasts about 1.5hours and covers more of the stories and tales (funny, witty, scary, peculiar) of the lives of those buried there; think woman who drinks herself into a stupor. husband thinks she dead. he buries her. grave thieves come along…. you get the picture.
The cemetery itself is one of the largest in Europe, has 1.5million people buried there and has some impressively beautiful headstones and monuments. The money from the tour goes into restoring and maintaining the grounds and it definitely shows.
5) Bring Your Own Cocktails @ Drop Dead Twice (30EUR)
Considering the Irish’s drinking habits it’s no surprise to find a bar as utterly intoxicating as this! It’s simple….
Each person should bring a “shoulder” (350ml) of your favourite alcohol, pay 30EUR for 3 hours sat at the bar, and the banterous barmen will keep the cocktails flowing and the Irish slurs rolling. (3 hours and 350ml works out at about 7 cocktails per person).
6) Traditional Irish Pubs For Impromptu Jigs and Jives
If it’s live music, dancing, great pints of Guinness or seemingly unchanged victorian charm you’re after, here’s a couple of my favourite Dublin Haunts:
- Doheny & Nesbitts – the kind of place that time hasn’t touched. where somebody starts singing an old Irish song and everybody starts to join in.
- O’Donaghues – Such good craic Rihanna once held a party there when in town.
- The Brazen Head – Ireland’s oldest pub offers live music, typically attentive Irish service and a nice cosy courtyard to enjoy a Bulmers in the sun.
7) Kilmainham Gaol (9EUR)
This former prison is now a museum and tells the story of how many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the British. Incredibly interesting and insightful in terms of discussing one of Irelands most important historical events – independence. Perhaps keep your voice down if you’re British.
8) Powerscourt Townhouse & Surrounding area for Food/Coffee & Shopping
This beautifully restored townhouse is the inner city sister to the even grander countryside retreat that is Powerscourt Estate and is a great spot for a breakfast, brunch or a coffee followed by a stroll around the narrow cobbled streets that surround it for some truly boutique shops selling homewares, clothes and gifts.
For the best experience, eat/drink in the main ground floor restaurant (worth the wait) and visit at Christmas time.
9) Walk the City and take in the Sights (FREE)
If you stay within 1km of the Ha’penny bridge, you can easily explore by foot without a guide and simply take in some of the sights below in a couple of hours, but there are open top bus tours and cycling tours galore if you value the commentary. Watch out for:
- Dublin Castle
- The Stiffey on the Liffey (aka the O’Connell Monument)
- Ha’penny bridge
- Trinity College
- The General Post Office
10) Drink Yourself into a Stupor
Lets not have a repeat performance of our blessed friend from number 4), but we can certainly join the Irish in their love of a drink or ten, it’d be rude not to. Try some of these spots for a great night:
- The Front Door – live music with the bands playing more modern music rather than old Irish style, but still equally as much fun.
- Hogans – a typical modern day Dublin kind of haunt with plenty of locals pouring out onto the pavement.
- The George – this gay bar is full of friendly Irish folk enjoying themselves and the drag shows are absolute blast!
- Temple Bar – I know I boo-booed Temple Bar earlier, but it’s worth a wander around the streets in this area, as there is loads of atmosphere and plenty of music. But be warned – this is a massive tourist trap, drinks are expensive and the Irish Music is on repeat.
- Dawsons Street area – seek out Sam’s Bar, Zozimus, Cafe en Seine for high end drinks and cocktails.
- The Porterhouse – for lots of different beer.
Flights from the UK are only 1 hour and booking far in advance really does get super cheap prices – I once got a return from Leeds to Dublin for £25.
At the airport use the AirCoach (10 euro pp) or a Taxi (20 euro) to get into the city in under 30 minutes.
I’d recommend staying within a 1km radius of “Ha’penny Bridge” (google maps it) and you won’t go far wrong in terms of location with lots of choice for different budgets. Being on the south side of the river is perhaps preferable but not essential.
What are your favourite places to down a pint of Guinness in Dublin?