Hello and welcome to the Holiday Extras Guide to Dublin!
Sitting on the east coast of Ireland on the banks of the River Liffey, Dublin may be small for a capital city, but it more than makes up for it in character and atmosphere. At just an hour's flight from London or a seven hour ferry from Liverpool, it has long been popular with tourists looking to get away for a good time in one (or several) of the city's hundreds of pubs and bars.
And while Dublin is famous for its world-class pubs (oh trust us, we'll get to them), there's so much more to the city than its tipple. It has a long and rich history waiting to be discovered, beautiful arts and architecture and even the largest walled park in Europe, Phoenix Park.
In this guide, we'll cover:
- How to get to Dublin
- The best ways to travel around Dublin
- Where is everything in Dublin?
- How to get wifi in Dublin
- Where to eat in Dublin
- How to make the most of your money in Dublin
- Things to do in Dublin
So put your feet up, pour yourself a frosty Guinness and learn how to make the most of your free time in Dublin. Trust us, it'll be great craic.
How to get to Dublin
One of the great things about Dublin is how easy it is to reach from the UK, and there are plenty of options available when it comes to transport. Let's take a look at some of the easiest.
How to get to Dublin by plane
Flights from London to Dublin take roughly an hour and a half, and are generally the quickest way to reach the city. Dublin airport is just 10km outside the city centre, making it nice and easy to hit the town in no time. From here your choices for transport to the centre is the bus or a taxi as there's no train station at the airport.
How to get to Dublin from Dublin Airport
The quickest way to get into the city from Dublin Airport is via taxi, however be warned that these can be fairly expensive, especially if you're on a cheap city break. That's why we think it's a good idea to book an airport transfer bus before you leave. The Air Coach will take you from the airport to various locations across the city, meaning you'll only be a short walk from your hotel and Gaelic adventures!
How to get to Dublin by ferry
If flying isn't your thing, fret not dear traveller, Dublin is also accessible from the UK via ferry. You can hop on at many UK port towns, with Liverpool and Holyhead tending to have the most regular services. The upside of hitting the high seas is that you can take your car with you, making it easier to venture further out of Dublin once you arrive, but do bear in mind that ferry crossings can take a lot longer than flying, and are also often more expensive.
Alternatively, you can leave your wheels at home and book a hire car with Holiday Extras from as little as ₤6.22 per day to save yourself time and money.
The best ways to travel around Dublin
Now that you've arrived at your hotel and recharged with an Irish coffee (it's 5pm somewhere, as they say), it's time to take a look at the best ways to get around Dublin.
Should I travel through Dublin on foot?
As with any destination, we think if you're able to walk, it's the best way to really appreciate and soak in the culture. Fortunately for would-be ramblers, Dublin city centre is compact, which means that if you're staying in the centre you'll be able to walk to pretty much everything. From 'Trinners' (that's Trinity College for the less acclimated) all the way to the Guinness Storehouse is only about 25 minutes on foot.
Should I travel through Dublin by public transport?
If you'd prefer to zip around Dublin quickly, there's plenty of public transport options available.
The Luas is Dublin's tram system, which is comprised of two lines, red and green. Red runs from the south west to the north east of the city and the Green runs from south east to the centre. When you're planning your travel, bare in mind the two lines do not connect to each other and the walk from the end of the Green line to the Red line is about 15 minutes.
You can pay as you go on the Luas, but if you plan on making multiple journeys we recommend getting a Leap Card. It's Dublin's pay-as-you-go public transport smart card which you can pick up at the airport or any shop displaying the logo. It'll give you 72 hours of unlimited travel for less than €20.
To save yourself time, you can manage your Leap Card online and top up on the website. And don't forget to always tap in and out, otherwise you'll get charged the maximum possible fare.
Where is everything in Dublin?
Now that you know how to get about, it'd probably help to know where you're going. Let's take a look at where some of the best tourist attractions in Dublin are, so that even if you're stumbling home with the beer goggles securely fastened, you'll have no excuse for getting lost.
Dublin is bisected by the River Liffey, which runs from east to west across the city. Back in the day, there used to be a pronounced cultural divide across the river with the working class to the north and the middle and upper classes to the south. However, that's no longer the case and these days we can split Dublin into several distinct districts.
The Medieval district
For history buffs, the Medieval district is a must. The oldest part of Dublin, it's here that you can find both Dublin castle, Christ Church and St Patrick's Cathedral. While walking through this district, make sure to keep an eye out for the street names as they can reveal many secrets about their past - Cook Street, Cornmarket and Fishamble Street can be discovered here, just to name a few.
The Georgian district
I know what you're thinking and don't worry, you don't have to be called George to get in (we checked). Instead, this is where you'll find Dublin's famous Georgian architecture, including St Stephen's Church, more commonly known as 'The Pepper Canister'. The district starts at Trinity College and continues up to the canal.
Dublin Docklands is where lots of the world's biggest tech companies have offices, including Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. This area has seen significant revitalisation in the recent past and has become home to one of Dublin's most cosmopolitan scenes.
The Cultural District
If you're looking to cut loose on your Irish getaway, then look no further than the cultural district. This is where you'll find Temple Bar, the home to pubs, clubs, markets and Dublin's most energetic nightlife. The perfect place to enjoy a real pint of the black stuff.
How to get wifi in Dublin
For those looking to surf the net, or upload that perfect picture to Instagram, you're in luck. There are free wifi spots all over the city, just search for 'wifi dublin' on Google and the first result will be an interactive map showing you where you can find a connection. The wifi speeds are pretty good overall, definitely enough to upload photos and check your emails.
Where to eat in Dublin
We're happy to report that the food on offer in Dublin is fantastic; there's so many great places to eat that we couldn't possibly hope to cover them all. However, if there's one thing that Dublin and Ireland arguably do better than almost anywhere else in the world it's seafood. Especially the oysters.
Where to get the best oysters in Dublin
One place we definitely recommend you go for those oysters is Klaw. It's a tiny seafood restaurant on Crown Alley just off Temple Bar square in the cultural district. When we say tiny, we mean tiny; there's no traditional tables and chairs here, rather people either stand or sit on stools. As a result, It'll probably be full when you arrive so you may have to wait outside with a pint of Guinness, but it's worth it we promise.
What to drink in Dublin
When it comes to drink, Guinness is obviously what Dublin is best known for, and if you haven't tried the stuff in its homeland, you don't know what you're missing. You can visit the Guinness Storehouse to see how it's made, discover its history and even pour your own pint. However, Dublin has much more than just the black stuff.
If you're after a good pint then despite being really touristy, Temple Bar is where you'll want to go at least once during your time in Dublin. There's always some live music and a good atmosphere, although the prices can be higher than in other parts of the city. Of course, if you're looking for something away from the crowds, there's no shortage of bars to discover throughout Dublin, ranging from charming locals to hip craft beer pubs.
How to make the most of your money in Dublin
How expensive is Dublin? Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it's cheaper than London. The bad news is that it's the 8th most expensive city in Europe and pricier than the rest of Ireland, and even parts of the UK.
What is the currency in Ireland?
The currency in Ireland is the Euro, and here's what things cost* during our stay:
- Pint of Guinness - €5.95 (₤5.20)
- Pub meal - €13.50 (₤11.80)
- Coffee - €2.50 (₤2.19)
- Hotel room - €170 (₤149) per night
*Rate of exchange correct on 22/03/18.
Can I pay with card in Dublin?
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted throughout Dublin and you'll be able to use them without any problem. And one quick tip, if a chip and pin machine gives a choice of being charged in pounds or Euros, always choose Euros. Shops will generally give a worse exchange rate than your bank.
Alternatively, if you're unsure about using your card or carrying a lot of cash, it might be a good idea to pick up a currency card, such as the FairFC money card before you leave. You can load the card up with your travel money before you set off for Dublin, meaning all your funds are readily accessible wherever you are. You can even manage your money on the go via the FairFX app, available on iOS and Android.
And one last thing on money, travel insurance. Make sure you book it! It could cost you as much as ₤25,000 to get you back to the UK if you hurt yourself. Seriously, book insurance!
Things to do in Dublin
Now that you're a pro at navigating your way around Dublin and knowing how to get the best deals, let's take a look at some of our favourite things to do in Dublin.
Dublin's nightlife is legendary and Temple Bar is at the centre of it all. Yes, it's where all the tourists go but Temple Bar is packed with pubs, bars, live music and clubs. If you want to have a great night out in Dublin, this is where to go.
Book of Kells
The first is the Book of Kells. Written by Irish monks around 800 AD, the book is a decorated version of the four gospels that's kept at the centre of an exhibition in Trinity College. Just don't expect a photo as no cameras are allowed near the book, no even ours (spoil sports)!
Our highlight was definitely the Long Room, which houses over 200,000 books and seems to go on and on (and on and on) forever. Our top tip: if you love Harry Potter and want to feel like you're at Hogwarts, this library will whisk you there quicker than you can say 'Diagon Alley'.
Next is Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced 'kil-MAIN-am jail'), the former prison that held many of Ireland's revolutionaries of the past, in particular the leaders of the 1916 Easter uprising. Abandoned in 1924, it was restored in the 1960s and now acts as a museum where you can come to learn about the history of Irish independence.
The gaol is 3.5km out of the city centre so you'll need to get the Luas or the bus here. It's open from 9:30am every day except on the anniversaries of the executions of the leaders of the Easter uprising, when it opens from 2pm. The gaol is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Tickets are available online, you book your timeslot and the website recommends arriving 15 minutes before your tour is due to start. Because the museum can only take a limited number of people at a time, booking ahead is the only way to guarantee entry on the day. The last tour starts at 4:15pm.
Dublin Zoo is the most popular family attraction in Ireland. It's in Phoenix Park, a 15 minute walk from the Hueston Station Luas stop.
There are over 400 animals here, spread across 28 hectares split into zones such as Asian Forests and the African Savanna. However, what we really like about the zoo is it's involved in lots of conservation projects across the globe.
It works together with many others to maintain breeding programmes and reintroduce endangered species into the wild. It's had particular success with animals such as the golden lion tamarin and the scimitar-horned oryx.
Dublin Zoo opens at 9:30am and closing times vary by season. There are discounted family tickets available, and we recommend booking online before you arrive so you can skip the queues for tickets on the gate.
They say good things come to those who wait, and last on our list is the Guinness Storehouse.
The Storehouse is a seven-storey monument to the history, production and advertising of Ireland's most famous export. Inside you'll be able to pour your own pint of the stout, learn about how Guinness can be used in some traditional Irish cooking, discover some of the secrets that go into the brewing process and finally enjoy a complimentary pint in the panoramic Gravity Bar on the top floor.
The storehouse is a 20-minute walk or 10 minute bus journey from the centre of town. As usual, we recommend booking your tickets online as you'll save 20% on adult tickets and you'll be able to use the fast-track queue.
Overview of Dublin
And that's a wrap on our time in Dublin. We hope we've given you a taste of just some of the amazing things to see and do in this stunning city. But reading about it and experiencing it first hand are two very different things, so treat yourself and take the plunge in Dublin. If you enjoyed this, why not check out our travel guides to other top destinations from around the world, including Vancouver, Copenhagen and Mexico.
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