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I don’t know about you, but I have a thing when travelling where I feel like the less time spent stuck in “tourist traps”, the better. I’m talking about the likes of going anywhere near Oxford Circus in London, having to push your way through Times Square in New York (apparently if you live in NYC the rule is you NEVER go there) or thinking it’s an excellent time to visit Edinburgh Castle during the Fringe.
When I travel, I like to put some thought into where I’ll be staying, what I want to see and where I want to eat (and drink of course). And there’s no better place to travel like a local than in beautiful Dublin.
It may be a major tourist city, but if you read up on what to avoid – some of which I’ll detail here, know what locals like to get up and get the secrets on where they venture off to for a pint of Guinness, you’ll be able to enjoy Dublin like a local.
Here are some of my travel tips for anyone planning a little adventure to the Irish capital soon, and how to make the most of it.
Local Tip 1: Avoid O’Connell Street
It used to be that O’Connell Street was the main street in town. When you first arrive and see the prominent Spire in the middle of the road, it is quite impressive, but there’s nothing to keep you there. Locals see it only as a thoroughfare to get somewhere else and that it is, with the top half of the street (anything after the spire/ Burger King) a bit of a no man’s land.
If you know you’ll be staying in the Northside, you’ll want to stick around Phibsbobo (or Phibs as locals call it). It’s a trendy spot with a big student community, so you’re going to get trendy cafes, cute little restaurants and authentic Dublin pubs.
Some of my picks for the area include:
- McGowans – Near Croke Park, it’s a cosy little Dublin Sports bar
- White Moose Café – Legendary café knowing for a rude owner (check their socials)
- Bleecker St – An American style bar/restaurant that’s quite fancy inside
Local Tip 2: Dubliners don’t drink in Temple Bar
This part of town is almost like it was designed to be the world’s greatest tourist trap. Bars around the main square in Temple Bar and road leading into it can spot a tourist a mile away. Most locals won’t pay anything over €5 for a Guinness – pubs in Temple Bar will charge €8-€10 for the courtesy of you drinking there.
If you’re with a group and HAVE to go near Temple Bar, my shouts for a better pub to go to include:
- Porterhouse Temple Bar – a small Dublin chain that does their own craft beers
- Bad Bobs – check out what’s on in Temple Bar with this pub just around the corner that has free entry and live music that isn’t all “fiddley-dee” (even popstars like Anne-Marie go there for pop-up performances)
- Doyle’s – closer to Trinity at the end of Fleet St, it’s a real hidden gem and very popular with locals
Local Tip 3: You can walk everywhere
Unlike most other capital cities, Dublin has a surprisingly compact city centre. For example, the famous Ha’penny Bridge where everyone takes photos from is less than 500m from Trinity College, which is only 600m away from St. Stephen’s Green, which is only a mile from the Guinness Storehouse (you can see where I’m going with this).
As long as you have a comfortable pair of shoes on, you can spend all day and night making your way around town without ever needing a bus or taxi.
*Side note on transport: buses are exact fare only and drive don’t give change. So if you’re buying a €3 bus ticket with a €5 note, you’re not getting change. The city also has Uber, but it gets incredibly busy at night as it’s mostly tourists who use it to get in and out of town. There’s an Irish black taxi app called Free Now you should download before you go if you think you’ll need a taxi.
Local Tip 4: Gems are hiding in plain sight
Dublin sometimes has a sense about it that you could be walking by the best restaurant or bar in the city and wouldn’t even know it. There’s one street/area in particular that highlights this when you visit.
There’s a stretch of road that runs off Grafton St called Wicklow Street and Exchequer Street. Take a walk along it and look out two key places; Fallon & Byrne, and Mary’s Bar & Hardware.
Fallon & Byrne doesn’t have an impressive front façade but walking in you’ll find yourself in Dublin’s best deli where they sell food from all over the world. A whole corner of the deli is a café where they make their own snacks and lunches. It’s mostly locals who go into grab bits and bobs, but if you’re ever hungry in the middle of the day, sneak in and get a coffee and decent sandwich. It’s miles better than sitting in a fast-food spot or “just ok” café around the corner.
Mary’s Bar & Hardware further up the street is one of the best looking bars in Dublin because it looks nothing like any other bar in town. The whole inside is made to look like an old (we’re talking 1950s) hardware shop. In-between ordering a drink you can peruse the screws, nails, emulsion and bulbs. The funniest part is that you can buy these things, so you can buy a new bulb for the bedroom lamp and get a pint while you’re at it.
The best way to find these gems and out what locals are getting up is simply by checking sites like the Dublin Subreddit where genuine locals are advertising events you’ll never find in a guidebook.
Want more travel inspiration?
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