X
Where to Stay in Dublin: An Insider’s Guide

Despite the wet and grey weather Dublin is still one of the best gateways to Europe, less intimidating than its English neighbour, you might even say the Guinness tastes better too! There’s also good food in abundance, shopping for days and some of the friendliest locals in Europe.

This guide is to help you plan your trip to Dublin. Despite being small for a “major” city (you can walk the entire width in under an hour) there is plenty to do and see. Yet while small, there are also plenty of neighbourhoods to choose from. I’ll detail these below, along with accommodation recommendations for every budget.

In addition I’ll share some insider tips for each neighbourhood, giving you the opportunity to experience Dublin like a local. Everything else you need to know about the city, such as getting a sim card, local transport and safety tips are detailed as well. Let’s go!

Inside this Guide

1.Map of Dublin

2. Where to Stay?

City Centre – central to everything, perfect for shopping and first time visits

Temple Bar – the place to be and be seen in Dublin

Trinity – near Trinity College, good for tighter budgets

St. Stephen’s Green – situated around the namesake park, perfect for a quiet stay in the city

Parnell Square – a step back in time to Dublin of old

3. How to get to your accommodation

4. Things to do in Dublin

5. How to get around Dublin

6. How to get a SIM Card in Dublin

7. Safety tips for Dublin


Map of Dublin

Above I’ve mapped out the five neighbourhoods in Dublin most suited to travellers.

As Dublin isn’t large most neighbourhoods run right into each other and it can be difficult to determine where one starts and another begins. However, each is still its own charming and distinct area, and all are great places to stay depending on your budget and the type of trip you’re looking for.

The city is divided by the River Liffey which runs right through the centre, so directions are usually in relation to the water.

Let’s go through the different areas and what each has to offer:


City Centre

RANDOM IMAGES OF THE RIVER LIFFEY [DUBLIN CITY CENTRE]-149267

The city centre is tied with Temple Bar as the most popular spot with tourists. Winding cobblestone streets, quintessential Irish architecture and quirky shops galore. Unlike many major cities where high rises and a bustling CBD are the norm, Dublin’s is like a step back in time. Most buildings here are actually low-rise, a few storeys at most – one of the historic quirks of Dublin’s development that you’ll learn about on the city walking tour.

For a first timer to Dublin the city centre is ideal, you’ll be met with friendly locals in every boutique and joyous Irish music (and beer!) in every pub. Of course Dublin isn’t exactly cheap, so expect to drop a few euros more than you might in lower priced cities like Lisbon or Berlin.

You should stay in the city centre if:

  • It’s your first time in Dublin
  • You want to be right in the centre of the tourist spots
  • You’re not on a shoestring budget

Where to stay in Dublin City Centre

For the backpacker:

Stay at Abbey Court Hostel. This has to be the best deal in the city, with prices at just over 30 euros a night during low season. Not to mention an amazing location and an all you can eat breakfast. There’s also lockers for rent, laundry facilities and computers for your use. Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

For those wanting luxury in the city centre, book yourself in at the Smithfield Aparthotel. You’ll have your own apartment right in the heart of Dublin, a short walk to all the big attractions. Beautifully furnished, with everything you need for stylish city living. Not cheap but worth it! Best rates here.

What to see in the city centre: Take a look at your reflection in The Monument of Light (better known as The Spire) on O’Connell Street. Then take a stroll over the first pedestrian bridge on the Liffey; Ha’Penny Bridge, named for the exact price of crossing at the grand opening.


Temple Bar

Temple Bar

The most well known area in Dublin; no trip to the Irish capital is complete without at least one night out in Temple Bar.

During the day, you can enjoy some of the loveliest cafes on the island and at night you can indulge in the best nightlife the Irish capital has to offer. Long cups of afternoon tea, a long day of shopping or a night dancing under the lights, you can’t go wrong with Temple Bar.

You should stay in Temple Bar if:

  • It’s your first visit to Dublin
  • You want to enjoy the nightlife
  • You don’t mind a bit of noise
  • You’re a solo traveller looking to mix and mingle

Where to stay in Temple Bar?

For the budget traveller:

Stay at Abigail’s Hostel. Seconds from the heart of Temple Bar with a secure entrance and friendly staff. Many guests comment on the surprisingly comfortable bunks. You’ll have your choice of dorms or private rooms and plenty of communal hangout areas to meet fellow backpackers! Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Stay at Grafton Street Studios. Super stylish, this is your chance to enjoy modern city living like an upper end Dubliner in the heart of Temple Bar. Impeccably located, furnished like a hotel penthouse, and worth every penny of the semi-naughty price tag. Book early because it books out quick and often. Best rates here.

What to see in Temple Bar: You can’t visit this part of Dublin without having a drink at the neighbourhood’s namesake; Temple Bar. However, if you prefer delicious food over alcohol you may want to check out the Temple Bar Food Market. Undoubtably the city’s best market, you’ll find a taste from everywhere in Europe here; Spanish chorizo, French cheese and of course a few local Irish products as well!


Trinity

Trinity College

Just south of the River Liffey that runs through the city, there might not be a better located neighbourhood in Dublin. Central but not too flashy, most of the budget friendly accommodation is concentrated here.

If you want to be walking distance to Temple Bar but not right in the thick of the action, Trinity is the ideal choice. Known for being home to the famous Trinity College, it’s also one of the more scenic neighbourhoods in Dublin’s centre.

You should stay in Trinity if:

  • You’re on a budget
  • You want a slightly more relaxing atmosphere
  • You want a student/backpacker crowd.
  • You still want to be close to main sights

Where to stay in Trinity?

For the backpacker:

Stay at Ashfield Hostel. One of the most centrally located hostels in the city, it’s a great bargain for Dublin. At 35 euros per night in high season, it’s not Asia cheap but for a European capital like Dublin it’s not bad at all. Walking distance to all the major shopping streets and attractions. Best rates here.

For the budget traveller:

Check out The Times Hostel. Rooms aren’t 10+ beds like the other hostels but a few bunks with ensuite bathrooms, they are a tight squeeze however. Newly renovated, with spacious common areas, free tea and coffee and a kitchen for you to use. Amazing location too – walking distance to Trinity College, Temple Bar and O’Connell Street. Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Enjoy the comforts of home during your stay in Dublin at Trinity Apartments by the Key Collections. It comes at a premium, but enjoy a queen bedroom, fully equipped kitchen, dining area and bathroom stocked with everything you need. All away from the hustle and bustle to ensure a good night’s sleep! Best rates here.

What to see in Trinity: Like Temple Bar, you can’t stay in Trinity without visiting the prestigious namesake; Trinity College. The college is one of the most picturesque in Europe, same may even say it beats out English counterparts Oxford and Cambridge. If you want to get your study on then look no further than the Trinity Library, where you can study or read in a Harry Potter like setting. Not to mention the library is home to the Book of Kells, one of the largest and oldest books in the world.


St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephens Green - Dublin

A green oasis in the middle of the city, St. Stephen’s Green is an area by the park it’s named after. By the city centre but half as busy, this will give you some of the largest green space in Dublin. It’s a great choice for all types of travellers.

You should stay in St. Stephen’s Green if:

  • You want to be near greenery
  • You don’t want to be right in the city
  • You want to be away from the tourist hubs
  • You want a quieter part of Dublin

Where to stay in St. Stephen’s Green?

For the budget traveller:

Stay at Avalon House. Right in the heart of St. Stephen’s Green in a Harry Potter-esque building it’s the perfect place to base yourself in Dublin. Some of the best prices in the city will get you daily breakfast, better maintained dorm rooms and a cinema room. Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Stay at Kilronan House. A family-run guesthouse in an old Georgian historic house you’ll feel like you’re visiting in another era. All the regular high-end hotel luxuries are provided as well as thoughtful touches you might expect from a small family-run B&B. A touch of class in Dublin. Best rates here.

What to see in St. Stephen’s Green: Like many areas of Dublin, the small neighbourhoods are often named for landmarks that are must sees while in the area. St. Stephen’s Green is no exception, the park is one of the best spots to relax in Dublin, rain or shine. Nearby University College Dublin may not have the prestigious reputation or Book of Kells like it’s neighbour across the city, but it’s still worth a visit and has a nice park-like setting for more relaxation.


Parnell Square

Parnell Square, Dublin, Éire

One of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, walking these streets might feel like you’ve rewound the clock a few hundred years. Parnell square is also the traditional starting point for all parades and processions through the city centre of Dublin. The area is rich in history and a wonderful choice for a visit to Dublin.

O’Connell street runs right through the neighbourhood, so it’s a good choice if you’re into shopping. Many of the inter and outer city transport options are located in Parnell Square, so if you want to move around a bit, it’s also a great choice.

You should stay in Parnell Square if:

  • You want to shop
  • You want good access to city transport
  • You want to see “old” Dublin
  • You have a flexible budget

Where to Stay in Parnell Square?

For the backpacker:

Stay at MEC Hostel. Located in a beautifully renovated old Georgian house you’ll feel like you’re back in traditional Dublin. There is a terraced garden, kitchen and in room lockers, everything a backpacker needs. Best rates here.

For the budget traveller:

Stay at the Gate Hotel. Not of true “budget” prices, but reasonable for the area if you don’t want to stay in a hostel. Just off the famous O’Connell street you’ll be steps from world class shopping and dining. It’s family run and treated like a true guesthouse. Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

You’ll be spoilt in luxury at the Kingfisher Townhouse. There are private rooms or fully equipped apartments, all furnished to five star level. Just a few minutes from O’Connell Street and a ten minute walk to Temple Bar. The on-site restaurant serves top notch seafood and a wonderful Irish breakfast. As good as it gets around here (which is pretty darn good!). Best rates here.

What to see in Parnell Square: As mentioned before this is where all the parades in Dublin begin, so if you happen to find yourself in the city on a major holiday (St. Patrick’s Day maybe?), this is a great area to be in! In Parnell Square itself there is the Garden of Remembrance, a quaint garden dedicated to those who served in the Irish military.


How to get to your accommodation

From Dublin airport you can take a bus or taxi. Unfortunately the LUAS (light rail system) does not currently serve the airport.

Bus

Dublin is a bit unique in that there are many private bus companies that serve the city, airport and surrounding areas. I’ve detailed the main companies that have routes from the airport to the city below.

Airlink

Airlink has multiple routes serving the city centre, so check your destination carefully. For example if you’re staying in St. Stephen’s Green you’ll want the 757, but if you’re headed to the rail station to connect to another part of Ireland you’ll want the 747. Some destinations are served by both routes such as Temple Bar.

An adult ticket will cost 6 euros one-way or 11 euros return. Most routes leave every 10-15 minutes, less frequently later in the evening. It runs from 0445 – 0030.

You may purchase tickets ahead of time online, from the airport desk (during daytime hours), directly from the driver or airport ticket machines. All trips take roughly 30 minutes and there is free wifi on board.

Aircoach

Aircoach runs 24 hours, so it’s a great choice if you’re arriving at an odd hour. Aircoach has many lines from the airport to different parts of Ireland – if you’re heading into the city grab Route 700. Unlike Airlink it doesn’t stop at as many places so make sure you check. It still serves the majority of the main neighbourhoods in the city.

Route 700 leaves every 15 minutes until 23:55, then every 30 minutes until 3:25 where it reverts back to 15 minutes intervals. A trip into the city will take about 20 – 35 minutes.

A one way ticket will cost you 6-7 euros, a return ticket 10-12 euros. You can purchase your ticket online, from Aircoach staff at the airport or directly from the driver.

Taxi

There is a stand outside of arrivals at Dublin airport.

If there isn’t a taxi waiting there, a dispatch service is available at any of the stands. All fares are calculated using a meter and should be clearly displayed in the car.

Of course you may be arriving in Dublin via train or bus from another part of Ireland. If arriving by train you’ll likely arrive at Heuston Station in the city. Since the station is within city limits your accommodation may be walkable or just a short taxi ride away. The LUAS also stops here, so if your accommodation is serviced by the light rail train you could also take that. And of course there are plenty of bus routes that service the train station.

If you’re arriving by bus you’ll likely arrive at Busáras Central Station. Just like Heuston train station you may be able to walk from the bus station to your accommodation. If not taxi and bus are always an option.


Things to do in Dublin

You’ll never be bored in Dublin! Between the endless shopping on O’Connell, the abundance of cafes on Grafton and the numerous historic walks and cathedrals you’ll have sore feet by the end of your first day. Not to mention all the mental energy you’ll expend reading books at Trinity College and deciphering Irish music over Guinness each night. Here are a few things to keep on your list:

Visit the Guinness Storehouse

Probably the most famous beer on the Emerald Isle, you’re bound to drink a Guinness (or two, or four, or six) during your visit to Dublin. For 18 euros you’ll tour the storehouse, learn all about the Guinness family who created the beer and be able to enjoy a pint with some of the best views in Dublin.

Tour the Old Jameson Distillery

While whiskey is no longer produced at this location it still holds plenty of history and great stories. Take a tour and learn how real Irish whiskey is made. There are numerous tours and experiences available at the original distillery from home-making classes to whiskey tasting to whiskey cocktail classes. Lots to keep you busy for an afternoon.

Have a drink at The Church

Probably one of the most unique drinking experiences in Ireland, and Europe as a whole. St. Mary’s church closed its doors in the mid 60s and was eventually converted and reopened in the mid 2000s as a nightclub and bar. Upstairs feels more like a traditional Irish pub, with music and beer flowing, downstairs you’ll find a nightclub with DJ music that feels like anywhere else in Europe at 2am.

And then another at The Temple Bar

Probably the most famous place to grab a pint in all of Ireland, The Temple Bar is a must on any trip to Dublin. It’s been popular since its opening in the 1300s with locals and visitors alike.

Stroll through The Dublin Flea Market

While you can find plenty of flea markets on side streets throughout the city the main one is by far the best. Taking place on the last Sunday of every month with over 70 vendors selling secondhand antiques, books, vinyl and more, there’s something for everyone. Definitely worth checking out if you’ll be in Dublin on the right weekend.

Note: As of January 2019 the flea market is on hiatus while a new venue is secured.

Walk with the dead through Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum

The largest cemetery in Ireland, you can wander the Victorian Garden and see where historical Irish icons such as Daniel O’Connell are buried. Should you feel the need for more history, you can take a guided tour any day of the week. Hours are seasonal so make sure you check and book ahead. If you have Irish roots the Glasnevin Trust also has an extensive genealogy network that can help you trace your roots.

Wander Dublin Castle

With a rich history, serving as the head of English and British government until Irish independence in 1922, the castle is a great place to start a historical tour of the city. Dublin Castle is open everyday of the week from 945 – 1745 (last admission 1715) and an adult ticket will cost you 8 euros for self-guided or 12 euros for a guided tour.

Day trip to Wicklow

The Wicklow Mountains are located just an hour or so from the city. From hiking to horseback riding (or fox hunting should you be in town during the winter) to just relaxing in the countryside, Wicklow is the perfect day trip destination. Check out this site for numerous choices for day and overnight trips.


How to get around Dublin

As Dublin isn’t a huge capital it’s quite manageable to get around mainly on foot. However the buses and taxis are handy for getting to outer suburbs or during rainy days.

You’ll have a pick of a few private bus companies for transport around the city. Dublin Bus is the largest provider with the most extensive network. Some routes are set fares (mostly between cities) and some are based on distance, if you’re unsure just ask when you board, as you’ll need to pay a fare upfront.

The LUAS services a few places in the city as well, but is mainly used to head out of city limits.

If you’ll be in Dublin or the surrounding area for a while look into purchasing a leap card. These cards can be used on any Dublin Bus routes (including airport routes), LUAS, commuter rail, and DART. An adult card is 5 euros plus an additional 5 euro minimum starting balance. You can purchase the card online or at any Payzone location.

With the leap card adult one-way fares will cost you between 1,50 and 4 euros. You’ll also receive discounts on the airport routes. There is also a daily cap of 7 euros and a weekly cap of 27,50 euros. This means if your trips exceed those amounts your card is “capped” and you won’t be charged any additional fares for that day or week, pretty cool!


How to get a SIM card in Dublin

Most cafes, shops and public gathering places now have Wifi. However if you need to stay constantly connected getting a sim is easy.

At the airport you’ll find them at the convenience shops in the arrivals hall. Although, depending on which terminal and what time a day you land in Dublin the shops may not be open or may not sell sim cards. If that’s the case you can find them easily in the city centre.

Vodafone and Eir are the most widespread carriers. A SIM card from either should cost you between 10 and 15 euros.


Safety tips for Dublin

Dublin is considered a relatively safe city, especially when compared to other (usually larger) European capitals. Common sense is my best advice. Always let a friend know where you’re headed if you are heading out alone. If a situation feels sketchy feel free to leave. Watch your alcohol intake especially if you don’t know your way around that well.

Even in the night, Dublin is reasonably safe, just don’t go wandering into silly places or talking to silly people. For the most part you can rest assured the tiny neighbourhoods that make up Dublin are full of welcoming Irish who will be more than glad to help out a visitor!

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6