Craig and I lived in Dublin for a year in 2003.
I was recently exchanging emails with a friend sharing my tips of things to do in Dublin when I thought this really deserves a post.
Our experience living in Dublin
I lived in Dublin in the summer with my best friend in 1999, working at Oliver St John Gogarty’s restaurant in Temple Bar, and another local’s pub off Grafton St and living in Ranelagh.
They were some of the best months of my life.
Craig and I lived close to there when we returned in Rathmines, the student area and one of the most desirable places to live for its vibrancy and proximity to downtown.
We loved not owning a car. Dublin was so easy to get around and we would walk everywhere. We loved being just a short walk to the Liffey through such cool neighborhoods along the way.
Craig worked in construction in various locations through ut the city and I taught at a school in Knocklyon teaching the Irish minority children and teaching ESL to small groups.
It is always great to get advice from people who have not just travelled to a country, but lived there.
There is more to an area, then just what the tourists see. Although, I must say that in Dublin, there is so many tourist places that are worth seeing.
You can listen to our podcast of our time living in Dublin here. We miss it so much and are dying to get back next year and show the girls a home close to our hearts.
Our favorite Things to do in Dublin
Unwind in St. Stephens Green
St Stephens Green is a small garden park at the end of Grafton Street on the South side of the city, and is one of the most relaxing things to do in Dublin.
It is the largest of the Georgian Square parks.
St Stephen’s Green was one of my favourite places in Dublin to sit and relax, watch the world go by, and have a beautiful picnic lunch.
You will find it popular with visiting tourists, students and workers taking a break from a busy day at the office.
Tour Trinity College
Trinity College is located right in the centre of Dublin, and is Ireland’s oldest University and most well known.
The lawns and cobbled quads are a pleasant escape from the mad rush of the city that lies beyond its walls. Take your camera and make sure you take a photo in front of the famous Trinity Bell.
The cobbled stones of Trinity College will transport you to the 18th century when the magnificent old Library Building was constructed.
We recommend this guided tour to see the famous Book of Kells, a ninth century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world followed by a walk through the gardens and grounds of the college and a visit to Dublin Castle.
We never visited the Book of Kells!! We were too interested in the life and culture of current day Dublin. Which leads us to our most favorite thing to do in Dublin …
Drink in a Pub and Listen to Irish Music
And guess what?
You will never be left scratching your head as to where on earth you can do this.
Dublin has a pub on almost every street corner and one in between.
See our post on the best pubs of Dublin for some ideas, or just find a pub in whatever street or suburb you are wondering along.
The atmosphere is warm and cozy, the food delicious, the beer flows freely and the craic is good.
I recommend making an afternoon or evening with this enjoying some good old Traditional Irish music and dancing.
You’ll be bopping, singing and dancing with the local crowd after only a couple of pints of Guinness.
History lovers will not want to miss the Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland. Craig celebrated his 30th birthday here.
Visit The Guinness Storehouse
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, which was actually called the Guinness Factory when I first lived there.
The Guinness Storehouse is one of Dublin’s main tourist attraction … for a reason.
It definitely should be on your list of things to do in Dublin as it’s one thing that makes up the culture of Ireland.
This was where I had my first pint of the velvety black stout, and was not to be my last. I was hooked. Be warned here, once you drink a Guinness at its original location here at the brewery, no other glass of Guinness in the world will taste as good.
One of the reasons I loved living in Dublin was the access to pure Guinness. It’s my favorite drink.
It is not just a pint of Guinness that comes with the entry fee, that is worth the visit, the museum gives a fascinating insight to the history of Ireland’s favourite drink, how it is made and the influence it has over the world. Click here for tickets.
You might as well visit the place that is responsible for that strange malty hoppy smell that can be smelt all over the city.
To top it all off when done, you can sit in the top level bar, Gravity, that gives a magnificent 360 degree view of Dublin.
We thoroughly enjoyed taking our visiting guests there, especially when they did not like Guinness and thought it only fair to hand their free pint over to their tour guides.
Drink Irish Coffee and Wine Bars
My best friend and I used to spend many a three am morning in the late night “coffee” bars. This was the only place you could find a “drink” after the midnight curfew.
They not only look great with their layers of caramel coloured layers topped with silky white cream, but they taste divine. You will find an Irish coffee in any bar or restaurant.
If you are planning a big night out, make a wine bar a place to stop after a few pints in the pub. The wine bars are lots of fun to drink at. Some have evening jazz and wine tasting events.
Of course wine or champagne is all that is on the menu, and it comes at a price, but it was often the only place you could continue partying into the early morning hours, and the underground, cavernous buildings they are held in the streets running off the Georgian Square of St Stephens Green makes it just a cool place to have a drink.
Eat Irish Food
When we lived in Dublin, we were big meat eaters. I’m not sure how we would manage now being vegetarians. Irish food is delicious and well worth spending a day or tour sampling.
Some of our favourites were potato and leek soup, bacon and cabbage, Guinness or Irish stew, and of course potato.
Never fear about having the opportunity to try this. Each dish you order will come with three varieties- mashed, baked, and boiled. The Irish don’t want you forgetting about those famine years.
Grafton Street Shopping
Grafton street is on the South Side of the Liffey and is a high end street for shopping.
If you don’t have the money to spend in boutique and departments stores such as Brown Thomas, you can window shop as you walk amongst the crowds along the cobblestoned street, people gazing and watching the ever-present buskers that line the streets.
There are plenty of places to rest your weary feet for a coffee or drink. I love the atmosphere on Grafton St and happy to walk through it almost every day.
I worked in a pub during lunches parallel to Grafton St, it has incredible atmosphere!
Attend a Hurling and Gaelic Football Match
One of the best live sporting matches I have ever seen was the semi-final gaelic football match between Donegal and Armagh.
The stadium was a sea of brightly coloured orange and green of jerseys and team flags madly waving in the crowd.
The atmosphere was truly electric with fans on the edge of their seat screaming and cheering with every play of the ball. It was non-stop thrilling action.
I cannot recommend highly enough that on your trip to Dublin, you organize tickets to a live match of either hurling or Gaelic football at Croke Park as one of your things to do in Dublin.
Visit the Outer Suburbs of Dublin
Dublin has so many great outer suburbs that are worth visiting for a taste of local living. Our favourite was, of course, our student village, Rathmines, that was full of great bars and Irish pubs.
Donnybrook and Ballbridge are two of the more affluent suburbs in the South of Dublin, and are worth a leisurely stroll to see some of Ireland’s finest Victorian architecture. Shrewsbury Road in Ballsbridge is the 6th most expensive road in the world.
Dalkey and Killiney is where you may run into celebrities such as Bono and Enya, who have homes in these upmarket neighbourhoods by the sea.
Killiney Hill offers panoramic views of the surrounding Dublin mountains. You can reach these towns by the DART, the Dublin train service.
Howth, popular for the climbing of the 171m high hill on Howth head, is located in the North of Dublin. Just try to climb it on a fine day. Ha Ha Good luck!
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for a reason!!
Visit Guinness Lake (Lake Lough Tay)
Only an hour south of Dublin is a scenic drive that takes you through the Wicklow mountains to an impressive lake set in the valleys.
Guinness Lake is aptly named for its dark colour, and with its white sand sitting at the top makes it look like a foaming pint of Ireland’s finest.
Actually I have heard it is named for the Guinness family whose property surrounds the area but I like the other reason better.
It is a beautiful spot for photographs and to enjoy the peace of the Irish countryside.
You can walk around the area to see various waterfalls, large boglands with sheep and streams, forests and historical places such as Glendalough.
While you have the car, drive up to Johnny Foxes for a drink at the very famous “Ireland’s highest pub.”
These are tips you may not find on any other things to do in Dublin list, because these are the local’s secrets!
Literary Pub Crawl
Ireland is not just known for its black ale and leprechauns, but for the incredible literary talent that has come from the hills of the Emerald Isle.
One way to get to learn more about these literary geniuses is by doing a Literary Pub Crawl through the streets of Dublin, visiting these author’s old writing and drinking haunts. (grab your ticket here)
Two actors take you on a tour through the maze of narrow streets into several pubs where they act out scenes from the work of Joyce, Behan, Beckett, Yeats, Oscar Wilde and more.
The tour takes you to eight pubs, including the grounds of Trinity college and goes for about two and half hours.
I was never really that interested in the Irish writers; I tried my best to read Ulysses but soon gave up. We went on this tour with some friends, and surprisingly had a great time, and learned a whole lot as well.
I now feel like going back to Dublin and doing all these things again.
One thing’s for sure, your trip to Dublin will be nothing short of memorable.
We’re planning an Ireland road trip in 2021. It has been some time since we’ve visited Dublin so please leave your best tips in the comments – especially any tips on things to do in Dublin with kids! We never had to research that when we lived there.
Save money on Dublin attractions
The Dublin Pass gives you free entry to top Dublin attractions, Hop on and Off sightseeing tour, and fast track passes at popular Dublin attractions. Get yours and save money on travel to Dublin.
More Ireland travel tips:
- You can see my tips on things to do in London from my local perspective (2 years living there on a working holiday visa)
- My teaching experiences abroad
- Podcast of my working holiday experience in London and Dublin
- 6 jobs you can have abroad (what we did!)
Plan Your Trip to Dublin
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