Many visitors to Dublin can make some mistakes, especially on their first visit, so here’s a number of suggestions to make the most of your trip to the Irish capital and what you should expect from your visit.
Don’t Drive: Not only will you have to navigate driving on the left side of the road, you’ll also have to tackle Dublin’s sometimes arduous traffic, and the city’s aggressive drivers. Much of the city, particularly the central areas, were never intended for car traffic, and you’ll need to find parking which is an additional burden, and cost.
Instead: Rather than facing the hassle of renting a car, finding your way in a foreign country, and driving on the left, use public transport to get you in and out of the city. Dublin Bus, the Luas tram system, and DART trains will take you pretty much anywhere you might want to go in the city. Many attractions are also within easy walking distance of each other, and there are several hop-on, hop-off bus tour companies operating within the city.
Don’t Get a Taxi from Dublin Airport: There’s no need to use a cab from Dublin Airport to reach the city centre, unless you’re staying in obscure accommodation, you require door-to-door service, or the members of your group are willing to split the bill. If you’re staying at Paddy’s Palace, we operate frequent free transfers between the airport and the city centre and vice versa.
Instead: Use the Paddy’s Palace shuttle (it’s a green Paddywagon bus) or, if you’re not staying with us, board one of the Dublin Bus services which connect to the airport. These include the 747, which is the fastest way into the city as it takes the Port Tunnel to bypass most of the traffic. Alternatively, a 16A will also get to the city centre and costs less, but takes more time and can get stuck in gridlock, especially at rush hour. If you’re looking for a Dublin cabbie’s worldview, it may be worth the extra cost simply for the chat, and they tend to be very chatty.
Don’t Expect Stunning Views from the Guinness Gravity Bar: Being Ireland, there’s always a chance that rain will be tumbling down and you won’t see much anyway, but even on a clear day Dublin’s skyline isn’t the most remarkable thing in the world. You can get a fine view of the Wicklow Mountains from here, but it’s really the complimentary pint that attracts visitors. One proviso to this is a night time visit, which can definitely be worth it. This is best done in winter, as it gets dark early and the lights should be on by 17:00.
Instead: The best way to see the city is by using a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, and there are several options available offering either audio guided or live commentary. Dublin is a vastly more appealing city on street level, and moving through the streets on the top floor of a double decker bus is a perfect way to familiarise yourself with the city’s landmarks. The official Dublin Bus tours (double decker green buses) offer commentary from the drivers so check when you buy your ticket to make sure the narration isn’t pre-recorded.
Don’t Expect to See a Lot of the Book of Kells: This famous illuminated manuscript is on display every day in the Old Library of Trinity College, the problem is only two pages are displayed each day. You’ll need to hope that the day you visit will be a day with two of the more elaborate pages on display.
Instead: Take time to read the information panels on the walls before you reach the book itself, as you’ll learn about how it was made and see copies of pages not on display. Once you’re done, continue to the spectacular Long Library (the inspiration for the Jedi library in Star Wars), before reaching the large gift shop.
Don’t Choose a Music Session off a Flier: Several places in Dublin offer traditional live music sessions with Riverdance-style performances, with plenty of promises of the ‘craic’ six or seven nights a week on colourfully printed brochures. Many of these sessions are certainly fun, but lack the authenticity of what you’ll find in a pub not aimed at tourists.
Instead: Smaller towns will likely have a few great pubs to drink a fine pint of the Black Stuff while soaking in the lively atmosphere of a session, or you can ask a local for their suggestions. Even in Dublin, there are several good venues which you might miss by sticking to the tourist areas. The capital also offers a number of alternative entertaining pub evenings, such as the Literary Pub Crawl, the Musical Pub Crawl, and the Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl.
Don’t Eat or Drink in Temple Bar: Temple Bar has been designated Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, and the venues you find there have a habit of ripping off visitors on the price of food and drink. The young and often drunk tourists in the area each night might put you off in any case.
Instead: Explore Temple Bar during the day and see the sights. You don’t need to go far to find a charming venue with much more reasonable prices. Good pubs nearby include the Foggy Dew and the Long Hall.
Don’t be Tempted to Cross the Street Like a Local: Dubliners typically view traffic signs as more like guidelines than actual rules and have developed a notorious habit for jaywalking. While locals are experienced at it, this practice doesn’t really work for visitors, especially those who are used to traffic coming from the left rather than the right and, no matter how many people you see doing it, jaywalking is technically illegal.
Instead: Try to be patient and follow the traffic signals, it may seem like you’re waiting an age, but it’s better than rushing out into oncoming traffic. Stay safe and just use your common sense.
Don’t Just Shop on Grafton Street: Grafton Street and the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre may be the premier shopping street in Dublin, but there are plenty of other options.
Instead: Board a Luas just outside the Shopping Centre and make your way to Balally, the stop is just across the road from Dundrum Town Centre, which has a range of stores to suit all tastes and budgets. You can also wander over to the Henry Street area of the city, which has a number of fine department stores but tends to be a little cheaper than you might find on Grafton Street. Finally, remember that much of the best shopping is to be found outside of Dublin, and non-EU citizens can avail of tax-free shopping on some purchases.