Ireland is a fantastic country that has a very underrated tourism scene. The biggest city in Ireland doubles as its capital. Dublin is rich in culture and jampacked with things to do. There is a little bit of everything that is in Dublin. By this, I mean that there are different areas that all have different perspectives to bring to the table. Whether you are wealthy and want to live the high life or are a backpacker looking to stay in the cheapest hostel possible, there are accommodations to fit your needs in Dublin.
Plus, there are so many pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, and attractions littered throughout. Because Dublin is so densely packed, all of these focal points are in proximity to wherever you stay. That being considered, some areas are unique and bring better attractions than others. Your entire experience depends on how ambitious or adventurous you are. Here are five of the best areas to stay in while visiting Dublin!
If you are looking for an authentic, local experience, staying in Smithfield is your best bet. Although there are a lot of tourists that flow through this neighborhood, there is a large residential presence and small business that are authentically Irish.
The biggest part of Smithfield is Smithfield Square. This is a huge cobblestone square that is full of small shops, vendors, cafes, and restaurants. In the summer, there is live music and entertainment venues help right here. You can spend an entire day drinking, eating, and shopping your way through this iconic plaza.
In addition to the Square, there is also the Bow Street Distillery here. This is where you can sample and buy the famous Jameson Irish Whiskey. You will learn about the distillation process, the marketing ventures set out by Jameson, and other cool experiences. Even if you are not a fan of whiskey, Jameson is an iconic brand and it is still worth checking out.
Best place to stay in Smithfield
Hotel The Hendrick. Address: Smithfield Hendrick Street, Dublin, Ireland.
Portobello is a little more “hipster” and is a more contemporary part of Dublin and has a younger crowd with growing businesses here. In the late 1800s, Portobello was known as “Little Jerusalem” and was home to tons of Eastern European Jewish refugees. Now, it has evolved into a young neighborhood with vibrant features.
A big part of this contemporary lifestyle is the food and drink scene. There are rows of young restaurants that are really pushing the envelope of Irish cuisine. This is very exciting and is worth visiting even if you choose to live somewhere else. On top of the dining experiences, some bars and nightclubs harbor a very young crowd.
On the same note, one of Ireland’s top-rated bars, The Bernard Shaw, is here. This is a must-stop spot that will be worth spending a night out on the town. Overall, staying in Portobello will keep you in the hip crowd and where a lot of the action is.
Best place to stay in Portobello
The Dean Hotel. Address: 33 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Temple Bar is the most rounded and versatile area in all of Dublin. This is because there really isn’t one demographic that finds themselves here at one point or another. The picturesque cobblestone streets and Irish architecture are very present in Temple Bar. Like many areas of Dublin, bars and nightlife are quite popular here. Thanks to Temple Bar’s centric location, you are quite literally in the center of Dublin’s nightlife.
However, there is so much more to Temple Bar than partying. The neighborhood has many art galleries, displays, quirky shops, and other fantastic locations for its visitors. You can truly immerse yourself in Irish culture while in Ireland’s capital.
As I said, Temple Bar is an area where just about everyone finds themselves at some point while visiting Dublin. The comforting, quaint feel makes it a great place for tourists and locals. No matter where you choose to stay, Temple Bar is a must-visit spot in the city.
Best place to stay in Temple Bar
Hotel The Clarence. Address: 6-8 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 HT44, Ireland.
One of the more historical sectors of Dublin is Merrion Square. The centerpiece of the neighborhood is the Merrion Square Park that adds a nice touch of natural features in this condensed, busy city. A similar location is St. Stephen’s Green which is a nice patch of green space that adds some breathability to Dublin. Surrounding the gorgeous parks are cobblestone streets and artsy cafes.
Now, we will get to the historical aspects of Merrion Square. The National Concert Hall, National Library, and the National Gallery are all in this neighborhood. All of these are open to visitors and the local officials even encourage stopping by to see this side of Dublin. There is even the Natural History Museum that is a fantastic place to spend a few hours see all of the different historical perspectives of Ireland.
Overall, staying in Merrion Square will give you a quaint feel while still being close to some awesome attractions. You won’t be geographically in the middle of the action, but you will have the same experience.
Best place to stay in Merrion Square
The Merrion Hotel. Address: Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Hotel The Mont. Address: Merrion Square, D2 Dublin, Ireland.
Last, but certainly not least, we have The Docklands. What was once an industrial, pioneering area has now turned into a modern, hub of business and culture. The River Liffey flows through The Docklands and offers beautiful, natural scenery. It is quite popular to rent a canoe or kayak and explore the city via the river. This is a unique way to spend a couple of hours exploring what Dublin has to offer.
There is also the famous National Theatre of Ireland located here. This complements the contemporary culture with the traditional theatrical aspects of Dublin. While out exploring, be sure to stop at one of the many Irish restaurants scattered throughout. If grabbing a drink is a top priority, be sure to stop at John Mulligan’s where U.S. President John F. Kennedy once grabbed a drink. This is an awesome historical establishment that has been in this spot for over 160 years.
Best place to stay in The Docklands
The Marker Hotel. Address: Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2, D02 CK38, Ireland.
Where travel critics stay in Dublin
Want to know where travel critics from publishers like The New York Times, Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet stay in Dublin, Ireland? Check out our overview of all recommended hotels, hostels and B&Bs in Dublin.
“This hostel offers everything from cheap, breezy shared rooms to design-focused single and twin rooms and higher-end deluxe rooms. The restaurant serves a mean burger, too.” — Telegraph.
Address: Smithfield, Dublin 7, Ireland.
“The chic Iveagh Garden Hotel has rooms in a range of sizes, decked out in green and blue velvet accents and with generous bathrooms. The hotel backs onto the lush Iveagh Gardens and is walking distance from many city sights.” — New York Times.
Address: Dublin 2 72 Harcourt Street, Dublin, Ireland.
“The Shelbourne has been the preferred halting post of the powerful and wealthy since 1824. Several owners and refurbs later it is now part of Marriott’s Renaissance portfolio, and while it has a couple of rivals in the luxury stakes, it cannot be beaten for heritage.” — Lonely Planet.
Address: 27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Ireland.
Best things to do in Dublin
There are a lot of things to do in Dublin and surrounding areas, including day trips, attractions, museums, sightseeing tours and many other activities. Here’s our list of 3 things you should definitely do when you’re in and around Dublin:
Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin
From the comfort of a luxury coach, admire stunning Irish countryside and travel along the Wild Atlantic Way to the incredible 700-foot high Cliffs of Moher. Price: $54. More info.
Guinness Storehouse Tour & Pint
More than a million people a year visit the home of Guinness, and most agree that it’s a high point of a trip to Dublin. Take a self-guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse, learn all about world-famous Guinness Stout, and enjoy a complimentary pint. Price: $23. More info.
Discover Dublin By Boat
See Dublin from the River Liffey on a 45-minute boat cruise, and admire the city’s monuments from the water. Learn the history of Dublin, from the arrival of the Vikings to the rapid development of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. Price: $18. More info.
Deciding where to stay in Dublin
As you can see, there are a lot of things to explore, and deciding where to stay in Dublin is important. Whether you stay in Smithfield, Docklands, Merrion Square, Temple Bar or Portobello, all those neighborhoods are in good locations.
The atmosphere of the area, whether you travel for leisure or business, whether you travel with your family or friends, and proximity to the attractions you prefer to visit should probably be the deciding factors. Whatever your preference is, you’ll have a great stay in Dublin.
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