The cozy, welcoming and at the same time open-minded, capital of Ireland, Dublin. It would be really complicated to characterize this vibrant city in a few sentences (or questions) since it has such a rich history, culture and heritage. But it’s a clear fact that this city should be on all devoted travellers’ ‘Must-see’ list. Because what would we do without Dublin’s world-famous writers such as Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker? What we would do without Dublin’s famous theatres such as the Grand Canal or The Gaiety? What we would do without Dublin’s hectic nightlife, parties and heavenly beer that, for most visitors, are too much to handle? Dublin, you’ve given us much more than you could have thought!
Our purpose here is to take you to non-touristy spots around Dublin that are highly appreciated by locals. Our Spotters are more than ready to suggest the best spots that will stick in your mind for a really long time (hopefully!). Dublin – that’s where our locals will take you for your next 48-hour journey.
Day 1: 09:00 – 13:00
Sandwiches for breakfast? Sounds like old news, but not if you grab one at Doughboys. It is quite difficult to be different from other sandwich spots around Dublin, but our local Kevin says that Doughboys really stands out. Here you can grab some great coffee with a tasty “The Roots” or “California Chicken” sandwich (of course, there are more choices on the menu, for instance, gluten free or vegan sandwiches). Kevin mentions that it’s a real paradise for meat lovers, especially on Thursdays and Fridays when Doughboys serves porchetta, a herb infused roast pork with salsa verde and garlic. Sounds like a perfect treat!
When you have boosted your energy at Doughboys, then it’s about time to explore some great local spots around Dublin! Let’s head to the Iveagh Gardens. It’s one of those peaceful places in Dublin where you can enjoy a leisurely promenade. Although most of the planned events take place during the summertime, the vibrant colors of autumn make the garden just as special later in the year. Here you can enjoy the beauty of amazing fountains, a waterfall, a sundial and even a maze, which were restored in 1995 (the garden was actually designed in 1865). An important note: you can access Iveagh Gardens from Hatch Street!
Really close to the Iveagh Gardens you can find (and visit, of course) The Kerlin Gallery. Our Spotter Barry comes back to this place once in a while since it always exhibits something surprising and gripping. It may be difficult to talk about one particular exhibition or art installation, because they keep changing, so you should keep checking the schedule for events. The gallery mostly displays contemporary art, which can be weird and unusual, but at the same time fetching. But that’s what contemporary art is all about, being awkwardly appealing. If you are not very keen on art, you can check out The Little Museum of Dublin. Our local Jess says that “it provides insight into the past 100 years of Dublin history in just a few rooms. A guided tour of 25 minutes is pretty essential to fully understand the depth of the collection, as few of the pieces are explained elsewhere”.
After the great exploration of Dublin’s history and art, you shouldn’t miss one of the main objects in the city – Dublin Castle. Our local Jess explains that “Up until the War of Independence, it was the seat of administration of the British occupation, and a notorious place of imprisonment for many years”. Nowadays the Castle proudly plays host to European Union Presidencies, Heads of State and leaders of business, industry and government. Also, it is home to the Chester Beatty Library. The castle is open from 10:00 to 17:00 daily, but if you aren’t interested in its interior then you can just wander around, explore the hidden corners and enjoy the beauty of architecture.
Day 1: 13:00 – 19:00
Are you ready for a nice lunch, with a burrito and craft beer in store for you? Of course you are. Our local Alina suggests to drop by Pablo Picante. This spot doesn’t have a super fancy interior, but it’s really cozy and it serves a spot-on burrito with bottled Irish craft beer. The super friendly staff will always consider your needs and will help you choose from a wide range of burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and so on and so on… Students get a special offer: burrito + non-alcoholic drink will cost you € 6.50. Needless to say, a proper lunch, is waiting for you at Pablo Picante!
While you are visiting Dublin, you definitely can’t miss a nice walk on the beach! Although you will have to head a bit further from Dublin’s city center, there are some great spots that our locals really don’t want you to miss. So, if you are a huge fan of the seaside, you really shouldn’t miss Dublin Bay and especially the Sandymount area. This area is not very far from the city center, so it is a perfect getaway from the hectic life in the city.
Another spot, which is one our Spotter Alina’s favorite spots, is called Shelley Banks Beach. It is off the beaten path and most of the locals don’t even know about its existence. An amazing view and the overwhelming tranquility there will help you leave your problems behind and enjoy the peaceful side of Dublin. If you are a fan of long walks, our locals Alina and Barry also highly recommend a stroll to the Poolbeg Lighthouse. Barry says that “The blazing red Poolbeg Lighthouse, built in 1768, sits at the end of a long promenade aka the South Bull Wall, one of the longest sea-walls in Europe”. So, if you’re missing the fresh air, a bit of nature or if you feel like kind of a loner, these spots are an absolutely perfect choice for the afternoon.
Day 1: 19:00 – 23:00
Well, you’ve had a pretty intense afternoon, so you’re probably a bit (really) hungry. Mulligan’s of Sandymount will boost your energy to the maximum, for real. It’s a gastropub with cool staff, a classic interior, beers on tap and amazing food. The quality of the spot speaks for itself, but if you need another reason: Mulligan’s and their chef were nominated for the 2016 Irish Restaurant Awards. Our Spotter Lucie mentions that “There’s a big emphasis on seafood and steak, and everything comes with work-of-art presentation. It’s a topic for debate, but I believe Mulligan’s does the best chicken wings in town – a perfect mix of crispy, succulent and spicy”. Now is your chance to determine if you will take Lucie’s side and become a fan of Mulligan’s chicken wings. Or the burger. Or sandwiches. Just take your time, choose wisely and enjoy your meal happily!
Dublin and Irish pubs. Sounds about right. So, if you want to enjoy some more Irish beer and feel a great local vibe, you should definitely drop by The Bridge 1859. Our local Kevin mentions that there are plenty of bar choices in Ballsbridge, but this pub is really worth your attention. At the very beginning, the bar was one of the most peaceful spots in the area, but when four well-known Ireland rugby players took over the place, it became one of the best pubs to spend your evening/night. Here you can grab some snacks and, more importantly, some great local craft beers or cocktails. And if you are there during a big match…Oh boy, get ready, it’s gonna be a looong and memorable night…
Day 1: 23:00 – …
Don’t you dare even think about a good night’s sleep, it’s time for a party at Opium Rooms. This music venue began its existence as ‘The Mean Fiddler’, later it became ‘The Village” and eventually, in 2016, it changed its name to “Opium Rooms”. It’s concept changed completely and it became a perfectly nice venue where DJs drop insanely good electronic beats. Once you get there, you won’t leave till closing time, we promise you. So, grab some more Irish beer (or whiskey!) and release all your energy on the dance floor. Opium Rooms is all about being free!
Day 2: 09:00 – 13:00
It is a well-known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you definitely can’t skip it. Especially when Dublin has such a perfect place to enjoy your morning meal. It is called The Pepper Pot Cafe, located at William Street South 59. It’s the main spot where our local Kevin goes to grab his breakfast. He prefers the scrambled eggs, which have been described by the Irish Times as some of the best in town. He also recommends trying some organic porridge with roasted pears or raspberries. We know that you won’t be able to resist! By the way, from Monday to Friday The Pepper Pot Cafe opens at 10:00, so don’t rush to get out of bed, you will have plenty of time for a late breakfast!
We can’t let you go back home without some real Irish treats (even if those treats are a bunch of clothes). Let’s go shopping! The two spots that our locals suggest are not far away from The Pepper Pot Cafe. Your first stop should be Om Diva Boutique. It’s a modern/vintage boutique that provides three floors of local designers’ clothes. Our local Jess gives us a clear vision of this store: “The top floor is given over to Atelier 27, where emerging young Irish designers can showcase their talents. The ground floor hosts independent labels with loads of nice accessories and jewelry to match your outfit. The basement has a fantastic array of carefully chosen vintage clothes from the 1950s to 1980s”. We strongly recommend taking your time and checking all the floors, because you can find your own Irish treat on any of them.
The second is at the same street as Om Diva Boutique, and it is called Irish Design Shop. This store was founded in 2008 and its main purpose is to promote both Irish craft as well as local designers. Linen covered notebooks, scarves, hats, and jewelry… We could continue indefinitely, but we want to leave you intrigued. Irish Design Shop is a perfect spot if you want to buy some local gifts for your family, friends and, of course, yourself. By the way, above the shop there is a studio which creates unique jewelry that you can find downstairs in the shop!
Our Spotter Ginger wants to take you to probably one of the most colorful and unique spots in Dublin – The Icon Factory. It is a non-profit organization (that is actually run by artists and volunteers) with a main purpose to promote the country’s cultural icons. According to Lucie, “Ireland has been in the grips of recession in recent years, and morale has been low, so the Icon Factory seeks to remind us of great figures of Irish heritage in order to reinstill some positivity”. And it seems that The Icon Factory does its job properly: the spot is full of positive vibes and you’ll always want to come back for more. So, what can you find there? The Icon Factory is Ireland’s largest open-air art installation that was created in honor of local heroes, from musicians to actors. The spot is absolutely free, but you can always make a donation!
Day 2: 13:00 – 19:00
Hey, you must be really hungry! Let’s head to The Woollen Mills. It’s a super central restaurant with a perfect view of River Liffey and Ha’penny Bridge. Here you are always welcomed by really friendly staff and, of course, a long menu. This spot is incredibly considerate about its Irish heritage, so the restaurant does its best to serve the most honest food to its visitors. According to our local Lucie, they embody their goals perfectly. From Monday to Sunday, you can choose a so-called Early bird lunch. For a 2 course meal you’ll pay € 24, for 3 courses € 29. By the way, The Woollen Mills runs their own bakery, so don’t forget to try their sweet treats!
If after a perfectly nice lunch you really feel the need to satisfy your sweet tooth, our local Jess has a super sugary option: The Rolling Donut. It’s a kiosk on O’Connell street that, according to Jess, “has my vote for the best Dublin donut though, beating out the newer offerings”. The Rolling Donut is located near O’Connell Bridge and has been selling donuts since 1988 (!). You can pick a donut covered with sugar, cinnamon, chocolate… And so on and so on. The donuts are always warm when you get them, so it’s there’s a huge chance that you will decide to buy more than one. Go nuts with donuts!
Now you definitely have enough energy to explore Dublin, so it’s the perfect time to take a long walk on The Liffey Boardwalk. It’s a pleasant and relaxing area where you can enjoy the peacefulness of the city, grab a nice cup of coffee in the local cafe or just observe life on the banks of the Liffey. The boardwalk runs along the river and starts from Ha’penny bridge, which was built in 1816. Here, on The Liffey Boardwalk, you can feel the pulse of local life and merge with Dublin’s cozy atmosphere. Just take a look around – you are in a beautiful city!
Now let’s head a bit further from the city center (well, it’s not that far away, about 3 kilometers) to one of the locals’ favorite spots – National Botanic Gardens. This place is not very common among tourists, so it’s another opportunity to feel like a local. Our local Jess says that “The gardens date back to 1795, and include beautiful Victorian glasshouses filled with tropical plants and flowers, a rose garden, and a walled vegetable garden, together with an array of exotic trees”. It’s an awesome place to wander around while feeding the squirrels (yes, the garden is full of those precious fluffy creatures). And we almost forgot to mention: entry is absolutely free!
Day 2: 19:00 – 23:00
For a hearty dinner our local Lucie strongly recommends a Vietnamese restaurant called Hanoi Hanoi. While writing about this spot, Lucie remembers what initially caught her attention: “As it flashed past me I saw exposed brickwork, plush seating, a chandelier, a fireplace, and big, beautiful Georgian Dublin windows. And, most importantly, full tables. Now I know why!” Hanoi Hanoi offers various Vietnamese dishes that include rich flavor combinations and, of course, high quality. The menu is super extensive, so don’t hesitate and try as many different dishes as you can! Lucie’s personal favorites are the summer rolls, the vegetarian crepe and pho. The main course usually costs around € 10, so it’s very reasonably priced for such amazing quality!
“A drinking pub with a music problem”. That’s how The Cobblestone pub defines itself. This spot has an absolutely amazing vibe since it’s all about a welcoming atmosphere and music. The owners of the pub – the Mulligan family – sincerely value their heritage and particularly Irish music. So, we guess you already know what to expect once you get there. Traditional Irish music it is! The Cobblestone is quite off the beaten path, so here you won’t meet lots of tourists, even though it is considered the best traditional music pub in Ireland. Sounds like a serious deal… It doesn’t matter when you get there, you will always find the pub alive with action: every night is live music night. So, grab a pint of Guinness and be ready for a real Irish party, woohoo!
Day 2: 23:00 – …
You have probably already caught the Irish vibe while visiting The Cobblestone… And of course, you want more. Our final destination is an original Dublin pub The Hacienda. It is located in quiet Little Mary street (even the name of the street sounds innocent) and you can get inside only by ringing the doorbell under The Hacienda sign. Our local Jess mentions that entry is at the owner’s discretion, so behave! Once you enter the pub, you are welcomed by 80s music, friendly staff and loads of local beer. By the way, sometimes even celebrities drop by The Hacienda, so keep your eyes wide open (don’t tell us you had too much beer), maybe you will spot one!