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Home » Destinations » Ireland » Dublin » Dublin Overview

Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath, "Town of the Hurdled Ford") is the capital city of Ireland. Its vibrancy, nightlife and tourist attractions are noteworthy, and it is the most popular entry point for international visitors to Ireland. As a city, it is disproportionately large for the size of the country (2006 pop. Greater Dublin Region 1.6 million); well over a quarter of the Republic's population lives in the metropolitan area. The centre is, however, relatively small and can be navigated by foot, with most of the population living in suburbs.


Dublin's most famous shopping street is the heavily trafficked Grafton Street, which runs between St. Stephen's Green and Trinity College. It has recently, along with its surroundings, been classified as an 'Architectural Conservation Zone'. This will involve a re-establishment of the area's rich historic charm and urban character.

Brown Thomas, Dublin's most famous and expensive department store is on Grafton Street along with a wide range of clothing, jewelry, and photography shops, etc.Alongside the historic Trinity College you will find Nassau Street where there are many shops selling tourist-related items such as Waterford Crystal, Belleek Pottery, Aran sweaters, and other Irish craft items. Shops selling these items include House of Ireland, Blarney Woollen Mills and Kilkenny Design.

Dawson Street, parallel to Grafton Street, is home to several well stocked, large bookshops including Hodges Figgis and Waterstones.

The best concentration of shoe shops is found on Grafton Street and the adjoining Wicklow Street.

The Powerscourt Centre, just off Grafton Street, is one of Dublin's most attractive shopping centres, set in a beautifully restored 18th century townhouse. Here, you will find clothes, cafes, galleries and Irish designer jewelers. You must check out the The Loft Market - it is a haven for Dublin Fashion. There is lots of up and coming young fashion designers and vintage clothing sellers such as Perk Up! Vintage, Lisa Shawgi Knitwear and MO MUSE to shop around. Beware the overpriced antique dealers, some of whom will drop a price by 50% after only the merest suggestion that you are willing to haggle (and it still may not be a bargain). For gifts, there is an engraving business based in the centre next to Bonsai Shop.

Leaving Powerscourt via the ornate steps on to South William Street, you will find yourself facing a small street called Castle Market, which leads to a covered red-brick shopping arcade known alternatively as the Market Arcade or the Georges Street Arcade. This area is worth a visit for vintage clothing, fabrics, unusual accessories, vinyl and club wear. It also features some small cafes.

All of the above are in Dublin 2.

There is also an extensive shopping area on the north side of the river, in Dublin 1, centred on O'Connell Street and Henry Street (Ireland's busiest shopping street). Clery's (O'Connell Street)(18 O'Connell Street) and Arnotts (12 Henry Street) are large department stores each with a long history. Two large shopping centres, the Jervis Shopping Centre (Jervis Street), and the Ilac Centre (Henry Street) are nearby. The latter also houses Dublin's Central Public Library .

Just off Henry Street is Moore Street, which has a fruit, vegetable and fish market. It's worth a stroll if you want to get a slice of life from the less genteel side of Dublin. At the top of Henry Street on Parnell Street is Chapters, which has a massive selection of books at generally cheaper prices than other high street stores, as well as a large secondhand section. It is especially great for 'coffee table' style art books.

For those for whom it just would not be a holiday without hanging out at the mall, there are various shopping centres located around Dublin, including Blanchardstown Centre (Dublin 15) (39 and 70 bus routes), Liffey Valley (Dublin 22) (bus routes 25, 25A, 66, 66A, 67A,78, 78A, 210 and 239), and The Square, Tallaght, (Dublin 24, last stop on the red Luas). The largest shopping centre in Europe is the recently opened Dundrum Town Centre, which is served by the green Luas tramline from St. Stephen's Green. In Dublin 14, it was awarded the title of best shopping mall in the World, 2006.

Dublin is not cheap for general shopping, although visitors from outside the European Union can obtain a refund of VAT (sales tax: 21.5%) on many of their purchases. Just look for the refund sign and ask in the shop for details. Keep in mind that most stores will issue VAT refund vouchers only on the same day of purchase.

Be sure to visit Temple Bar's Temple Bar Square and Meetinghouse Square on a Saturday morning or afternoon for the markets (Dublin 2), which sells all types of foods, from traditional fare to delicious baked goods. Both squares are also home to several very good restaurants. Meetinghouse Square, which lies only about 150 ft (50 m) west of Temple Bar Square, sells much finer fare and more exotic foods than Meetinghouse Square.

The Temple Bar area offers some alternative to shopping at the larger chain-stores. Small clothing boutiques are popping up all around the area (Temple Bar Lane, Crow Street and Fownes Street) with an emphasis on vintage and unique original independent designer pieces, if you can't make it to any of the markets at the weekend the best can be found here during the week.

Also, in Dublin 8, Cows Lane Fashion and Design Market, which is the largest designer market in Dublin, offers handmade one-off original designs. The market is open evey Saturday from 10.00AM-5.30PM. Found outdoors on Cows Lane and indoors in the old Dublin's Viking Adventure‎, this market is not to be missed.

There is fairly extensive duty-free shopping at Dublin Airport, at prices sometimes cheaper than the rest of the city.


  • Viking Splash ToursTours of the city and river in World War II amphibious craft - a bit different from your regular tour bus. Advance bookings are recommended.
  • Guinness StorehouseRetells the story of Dublin's most famous drink. The exhibition is interesting and is self-guided. Price of entry includes a pint at the seventh floor Gravity Bar, which has good views over Dublin and forms the head of the giant pint of Guinness formed by the atrium. If the taste is a bit too bitter for you, ask for blackcurrant in your pint - but beware, this will upset the purists!
Outside tourists will encounter horse drawn carriages for hire. Beware as they charge €30 for the short walkable 2km (1 mi) ride back to the city centre.

  • Old Jameson DistilleryFactory tour and whiskey tasting. After the video, make sure you raise your hand because they pick four people to volunteer for taste testing later in the tour! A great experience!
  • Gaiety TheatreThe oldest continually operating theatre in Dublin hosts popular musical shows, opera, ballet, dance and drama.
  • Dublin Sightseeing,. Hop on and off the open top bus tour around the city. Stops at all of the major tourist spots, and you can hop off and on as often as you like. The bus drivers are very funny too - a great way to get a feel for the layout of Dublin, and reasonably priced (especially if booked in advance with your hotel or ferry crossing).
  • Dublin Ghostbus,. A special theme tour provided by Dublin Bus. This tour takes you around Dublin's haunted sites on a gothic style-decorated theatre bus guided by live storytellers. Dublin Bus claims this tour is the only one of its kind in the world. In any case, a must for lovers of gothic tales, but not for the timid.
  • Historical Walking Tour of Dublin, Meet at the west gate to Trinity College, College Street, Dublin 2. The tours are led by knowledgeable graduate students from the College who tell the story of Ireland's history during a ramble through the south side of the Liffey.
  • Johnnie Fox's Hooley nights, Famed as the highest pub in Ireland, 50 minutes from the city center by bus. The 200 year old pub offers its famous Irish music and dance, served with a 4-course meal.
  • Catch a hurling or Gaelic football game at the Croke Park Stadium‎, Jones Road, Dublin 3, the 82,500 seat, state-of-the-art stadium, Croke Park. These sports are uniquely Irish. Hurling is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest field sport, with the ball (called a sliotar) reaching speeds above 130 kph. Gaelic football can best be described as a combination of soccer and rugby. To keep the sports "pure," it maintains an amateur status, with each parish in Ireland having a team--the inter-county games are generally extremely well-supported, so you may have difficulty getting tickets for the bigger matches. Tours of the GAA museum and the stadium are also available, including a chance to try your hand at the sports themselves.
  • Catch a Leinster Rugby game at the RDS Arena, located on Anglesea Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Occasional home games will be played in the future at Aviva Stadium, the replacement for Lansdowne Road set to open in July 2010. Unlike Gaelic games, rugby union is professional. Leinster, one of Europe's strongest sides, won the Europe-wide Heineken Cup in 2009 and supplied many players for the Ireland national team. Domestically, they play in the Magners League, which includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (and from 2010–2011, Italy).
  • Dublin's Rock N Roll, Writers Bus TourGuided bus tour of Dublin's music and literary past. Covers the likes of U2, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Oscar Wilde, Joyce and many more. Great value and really original.
  • South Docks tour, South Docks tour, Pigeon House Road, Dubllin 8 (follow the Quais that take to the last bridge and cross on the other side of the O2 Arena). You can get a magnificient view and completely non touristic feeling on one of the beaches of Dublin on the southern docks. Go straigth ahead on North Wall Quai and pass the last bridge over the river on York Road. Along the way, you will pass near several industrial compounds. Then follow the road on the Pidgeon House Rd. The view is worth the long walk, besides, all the cruiser ships are leaving from nearby, less than 600 ft (200 m) away from you.


The National Museum, National Library and National Gallery are located very close to one another, Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2. All three are worth a visit--they are even free.

In the summer peak season, Dublin's top attractions can get packed. Show up early to beat the crowds.

  • Archaeology and History. Other locations: Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barrack, Benburb Street, Dublin 7. Natural History at Merrion Street, Dublin 2.
  • National collection of Irish and European Art.
  • The Waterways Ireland Visitors Centre is an exciting visitor attraction located in Dublin's city centre at Grand Canal Dock just off Pearse Street. The centre is housed in an award winning architectural structure affectionately known as the box in docks situated in the waters of Grand Canal Dock.The centre will bring you on an informative journey of the waterways from the pre Christian period to its modern use. Our exhibit contains child friendly interactives, environmental displays and much more…
  • Modern & contemporary art, formal gardens & cafe.
  • The gorgeously illustrated original manuscript of the Book of Kells is the main draw here, but the massive Long Hall of the Old library itself is equally if not even more impressive.
  • Former seat of British rule in Ireland.
  • Contains a wide selection of early books and manuscripts, including sacred texts and manuscripts. European Museum of the Year 2002.
  • A frightening tour through the life of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.
  • dating back to the 11th century, is the oldest building in Dublin, though it underwent a massive restoration in the 19th century. Particularly interesting is the crypt, which predates the cathedral.
  • a heritage centre, located in central Dublin, at the heart of the medieval city. The exhibitions at Dublinia explore life as it was in the medieval city and the world of the Vikings. Discounted admission to the Christ Church Cathedral available.
  • The prison where the rebels from the 1916 Easter Rising were executed. It is located slightly outside the city centre and can be reached by local bus (78a). Access is limited to guided tours, which leave every 30 minutes and are very interesting. It is well worth a visit if you are in any way interested in history.
  • The largest enclosed urban park in Europe. Includes a polo field and Dublin Zoo. The residences of the President of Ireland and the US Ambassador are situated in the park, but are not open to the public. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the herd of wild fallow deer that inhabit the park!
  • Situated just two miles from the city centre, Glasnevin Cemetery is currently running a series of walking tours. These tours give a valuable insight into the final resting place of the men and women who have helped shape Ireland's past and present. The walking tour last one and a half hours and visits the graves of Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, Eamonn De Valera and many other graves of architectural and cultural interest.
  • Located in Phoenix Park and dating to 1830, the Dublin Zoo is the largest in Ireland, and notable for its role in wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Located in the southern suburb of Leopardstown/Foxrock, there are regular meetings throughout the year. There is a "Pay as you Play" golf course within the racecourse grounds, as well as bars, restaurants and a nightclub (Club 92).
  • Located in an 18th century house, the museum is dedicated to Irish literature and the lives of individual Irish writers such as Shaw, Joyce, Yeats & Pearse.

Dublin has many fine and quite affluent suburbs. Seeing them is a good way to get a real feel for the city's culture and identity. A walk around some them on a nice day is well worth your time as many are home to some of Ireland's finest architecture(Victorian,Georgian,Modern etc).Some are easily navigated by foot from the city's centre and are dotted with many fine upmarket delicatessans and boutiques. Examples include Donnybrook and Ballsbridge - the 46A bus goes through Donnybrook and the 7 bus through Ballsbridge, and both routes have several stops in the north and south city centre. Ballsbridge is Dublin's embassy district and is home to some of Ireland's most expensive roads including 'Shrewsbury Road', which is famous for being the 6th most expensive residential thoroughfare in the world and 'Ailesbury Road' which is equally as salubrious and home to a bulk of the capital's embassies including Spain and Poland.

Ballsbridge is also home to The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) which promotes and develops agriculture, arts, industry and science in Ireland. It hosts many concerts and also showcases the annual Show Jumping Competition, a major entertainment event. You can approach Ballsbridge via 'Herbert park', a pleasant public green park and fashionable road, opposite Donnybrook Village and vice-versa.

Dalkey and Killiney which lie on the southern most tip of Dublin. They are upmarket neighbourhoods and home to such celebrities as Bono, Maeve Binchy and Enya among others. A walk up Vico Road to take in the view is a must-do. Killiney Hill is beautiful, offering panoramic views of the surrounding Dublin Mountains. These areas are best approached by the DART, which runs along the coast and has three main stops in the city centre.

Blackrock or Dun Laoghaire, accessible by bus or DART, are also worth a visit.

Ranelagh and Dartry are also worth visiting- Ranelagh is small but affluent and has several critically acclaimed eateries.

Sandymount, a coastal suburb no more than 2 mi (3 km) south of the City Centre, is another quite affluent area with a tiny park and some restaurants. It is the birthplace of W.B. Yeats. The suburb and its strand appear prominently in James Joyce's Ulysses.There is a wonderful walk from Sandymount across the north end of its beach to the South Bull Wall which reaches a finger well out into the Bay .

Be sure to go north of The Liffey also. Clontarf, Malahide, Skerries and Howth are all great places to spend an afternoon.Malahide has a beautiful Castle (including extra doors for the ghost)in a Park and is a nice little village with harbour, beach, estuary and lots of restaurants. You can also take a 20-30 minute walk along the coast up to Portmarnock beach.(a 10 km long beach)

Howth is home to a handful of Irish celebrities including Gay Byrne and Dolores O'Riordan. Walking the cliff walk or climbing the Ben of Howth, a 561 ft (171 m) high hill on Howth Head, on a fine day is well worth your time.

Dublin City's best beach is also to the north. Dollymount Strand and the adjoining bird sanctuary are highly recommended. It's a great bike ride - there's an excellent bike path along by the sea.

Stay safe

Dublin is generally a very safe city by American and European standards however as in most large cities, crime against the person, such as muggings, unprovoked attacks, and robberies, have been known to occur although these are rare in Dublin. Treat Dublin as you would most western cities, and be sensible: don't walk in poorly lit areas at night, especially alone; as Dublin centre is relatively compact be aware that walking a few blocks can take you into some bad areas. Avoid gangs of youths (chavs) in tracksuits (as in the ones wearing tracksuits for daily wear as opposed to people involved in genuine sporting activities); tracksuited youths being responsible for virtually all anti-social difficulties experienced by both locals and tourists alike. Leave nothing valuable visible in your car. There are plenty of taxis at all hours of the day and night, which are safe and usually friendly.

Dublin has heavy traffic, and even if several of the locals tend to cross the road without having a green man, it is not recommended to follow this example. Hardly any of the cars slow down in front of zebra-crossings in busy and crowded streets.

Care should also be used when taking some of the "Nitelink" buses that frequent the city. These, while often safe, have seen their fair share of trouble. Sit downstairs if possible, if only to avoid the more raucous singing, shouting and puking.

The Temple Bar district is both an attraction for tourists and for pickpockets. Be aware of your surroundings.

While most Dubliners are quite tolerant and welcoming, visitors from non-white ethnic groups should be aware that they may experience ugly comments or attitudes from some locals quicker and more frequently than they would in cities like London and New York, which have had more experience of multiculturalism. Once again, tracksuited anti-social youths will be the culprits here.

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