*Sponsored by: Tourism Ireland
What to do in Dublin? I wanted to find out and visited Ireland for a long weekend away in collaboration with Tourism Ireland this autumn. I started by visiting Northern Ireland for a press trip and decided to treat myself to a city break and end my stay with a weekend in Dublin. I want to finally share my tips for the best hotels, restaurants, and sights in the Irish capital.
Both Finnair and Norwegian offer direct flights to Dublin from Helsinki. The flight time is around three hours.
Top hotel picks: where to stay in Dublin?
When it comes to hotels, Dublin caters for all tastes from luxury to affordable hostels. The grandest luxury hotels in the city are located south of the river Liffey. Midrange hotels, as well as hostels, can also be found in central locations, including the famous Temple Bar area.
I stayed at Iveagh Garden hotel, which combines modern luxury with a good location. Iveagh Garden is a relatively new hotel and it impresses with a stylish design the moment you step into the lobby. The grand lobby raised the expectations for the hotel, but unfortunately, the service did not quite live up to the first impressions and there were a number of small disappointing problems during my stay. In terms of style, location, delicious breakfast, and quality cocktails I can give Iveagh Garden a warm recommendation. Unfortunately, the hotel was let down by the service on more than one occasion and there was too much noise from the street on the weekend, even on the higher floors.
Opposite to Iveagh Garden, you can find the similarly stylish Dean hotel, where I will definitely stay on my next adventure in Dublin. The Dean is a stylish and modern luxury hotel but combines it with a young and relaxed feel.
While I have never stayed at a hostel in Dublin, there are plenty of options. Jacobs Inn hostel is a trendy option for budget travel and located only a five minute’s walk away from Temple Bar. Dublin also has the Generator Hostel, which has proven an excellent option for budget travel at least in Stockholm.
Foodie dreams in Dublin + top restaurant picks
Dublin proved to be a surprisingly delicious city during the few days I stayed there. Greasy pub lunches might come to mind, but the city has a lot more to offer. The local food scene is going through positive changes and young restaurant owners want to respect traditional food by updating it and creating more modern dishes.
In fact, on my second day in the city, I took part in a Dublin Tasting Trail organised by Fab Food Trails. For three hours we were able to enjoy the tastes of the city by visiting various different places while learning about the food culture and trends in Dublin. The tour included a visit to a local cheese shop, the oldest bar in the city and Temple Bar Food Market. I warmly recommend this tasting trail!
Restaurant recommendations for Dublin:
Dublin has everything from fine dining, plenty of pub food, trendy hipster vibes to quality cafes. I tried to visit as many places as I possibly could during my weekend getaway and want to list my own favourites as well as the top picks recommended by Tourism Ireland.
The Seafood Cafe
The Seafood Cafe is part of the Klaw-chain that owns two seafood restaurants in Dublin. The idea is to bring traditional quality fish to the lunch table with affordable prices and make it part of everyday life. The Seafood Cafe located near Temple Bar has a very Instagram-friendly style and the food was delicious. I had seafood soup, oysters and a bloody Mary with oyster for lunch. This restaurant has a place on the must dine section for Dublin!
Ely Wine Bar & Restaurant
Ely Wine Bar & Restaurant is an elegant dining restaurant that has great food but an even better wine list filled with quality wines. The menu focuses on traditional Irish tastes, which have been fine-tuned to fit a stylish a la carte dinner.
Peruke & Periwig
Peruke & Periwig is a unique restaurant located on the busy Dawson street. It focuses on wine and quality cocktails. A dinner here is a great way to start your weekend as you can carry on in any of the lively pubs lining the street. Peruke & Periwig serves traditional Irish food a la carte style.
Temple Bar Food Market
Temple Bar Food Market is an outdoor market that is open on Saturdays in the Temple Bar area (surprise, surprise) from 10 am to 4.30 pm. Head there for lunch and sample treats from small local producers. My favourite was the Oyster Bar, where a marine biologist will show up to serve fresh oysters if enough have been caught.
Murphy’s Ice Cream
The best ice cream in Dublin can definitely be found in Murphy’s Ice Cream. The ice cream is made out of local produce using as natural ingredients as possible and vegan ice cream is also available. My favourite was the salted caramel and gin!
Sophie’s (The Dean -hotel)
Sophie’s is one of the few rooftop bars in the city and therefore worth a visit for a drink. Dinner here is also excellent and worth trying – I recommend the pizza!
Some tips for experiencing the Dublin nightlife
If any city in Europe is known for its busy nightlife, it must be Dublin. The pub culture here is centuries old. The oldest pub in Dublin is The Brazen Head, where you should have a beer or a whiskey. The liveliest areas in Dublin on a weekend can probably be found around Temple Bar and Dawson Street, which are full of pubs.
Surprise finds in Dublin: vintage clothes
While walking the streets of Temple Bar I could not avoid noticing the many shops selling vintage clothes in Dublin. Even if you have never shopped for vintage clothes, these shops can be a source of inspiration. I think I visited nearly ten vintage shops in one day and ended up buying some souvenirs from a few of them. If you are interested in vintage shopping, I recommend visiting at least these shops: Lucy’s Lounge, Siopaella, and Carousel.
What to see on a weekend in Dublin – don’t miss these
Dublin has a lot to see and experience, but at the same time it is a city where you don’t have to stress about all the must-see sights. There is nothing like the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum that you must definitely add to your bucket list.
I made a list of some of the places you should visit if you have the time and are interested in the history and stories of the city.
Beer is not my drink, not even in Ireland. While most visitors recommend the Guinness Storehouse, it was not on my list. The Storehouse is a seven storey beer museum. Make it to the top and you will have a cold pint and some spectacular views waiting for you. Book your tour beforehand here.
If you are interested in traditional architecture and history, visit Dublin Castle, even if it is not necessarily the grandest castle in Europe. To get the most out of your visit, consider taking a guided tour.
Trinity College and its library
One of the most Instagram-worthy sights in Ireland has for the past couple of years been the majestic library of Trinity College, which is worth exploring. Tours of the whole campus are available, but if you only want to see the library, just venture in by yourself.
Temple Bar is one of the most popular areas in Dublin for tourists. As you can guess from the name, the area has many bars, including the most famous Temple Bar. My guess is none of the locals would go to Temple Bar for a night out, as it is packed full of tourists, so I decided to just take a picture and keep walking.
St Stephen’s Green
St Stephen’s Green is the best-known park in Dublin. You can find it near the busiest shopping street, Grafton Street. This was the park where a pigeon landed on my hat and was reluctant to fly away. Somewhere in Germany, there is a group of tourists whose holiday pictures star the “crazy Irish pigeon lady”, also known as me.
My greatest regret is that I did not have time to visit the Jameson Whiskey Distillery on Bow Street. My love for whiskey grew stronger in Ireland, but at a different distillery in the north. Take a guided tour and enjoy a sample at the end before shopping for souvenirs to take home. Book the tour of Jameson Whiskey Distillery here.
Are you staying for longer than a weekend? I recommend day trips to Northern Ireland to follow in the footsteps of Game of Thrones. Read more here.