Updated: Sep 30, 2020
From the Guinness store house to Trinity College there are countless places and official initiatives to explore when visiting the capital of Ireland. But what about taking a step off the beaten track and discovering the city through a different set of eyes? I want to take you away from the usual tourist haunts and show you the exciting and unspoken side of Dublin city.
So, let’s start this journey where most of us start our days – with a steaming cup of coffee. Coffee shops are booming across Dublin right now. We seem to have finally caught up with our European counterparts in the coffee stakes and you will now find a café on nearly every street in the city!
Here are my top three places to get a coffee in Dublin:
This minimalist style coffee shop serves the most deliciously coffee. They keep things simple and don’t offer the likes of decaf coffee or soya milk. But they do, however, make the most amazing Oak Milk Lattes – something I had never even thought of drinking before popping in there one morning. I have never looked back.
This cafe has such a family vibe and is well worth the trip outside the city centre, you are guaranteed to be greeted with a smile and a chat as you wait for your coffee. They put a lot of pride into choosing the beans and the results speak for themselves.
These guys seem to make it into every guide to coffee in Dublin, but it is no surprise why! Delicious coffee and one of the coolest venues to drink it in. If you are a coffee enthusiast you can’t come to Dublin and without grabbing a cup in here!
Dublin is a fantastic city to do a spot of shopping, within the city centre we have the forever bustling Henry street which is packed to the gills with high-street favourites as well as the charming and historic Arnotts (albeit for the more finer of budgets) and across town you have the equally lively Grafton street and Stephens green shopping centre.
Go further afield, just a short trip on the Luas tram, and you can visit one of Irelands largest shopping centres – Dundrum shopping centre. You could happily spend an entire day out here shopping, eating and also catch a movie if you want! They even have an Ice rink around Christmas.
But one shopping experience that has made a massive leap into the main stream in recent years in the Vintage shopping scene. Cities like London and New York have long since boasted their love affair with vintage fashion, and up until recently if you wanted a wide selection of this type of store it meant taking a flight across the pond to our British neighbours, but thankfully those days are over. With the opening of many vintage stores in the city centre, vintage fashionistas have loads of spots to choose from, right at their finger tips.
My top three vintage fashion store:
This kilo store is a goldmine for one of a kind vintage finds. With equal emphasis on both men and women’s fashion this place is for anyone who is interested in this style of clothing and shopping. And it is more than affordable – they work on a pay by kilo basis, so each item is weighted for sale. I’ve picked up shirts and skirts for less than €5 each, the most I think I’ve ever spent was about €30 on a heavy jacket, so this place won’t break the bank.
The upstairs of this store is full of trinkets and jewellery, it’s not unusual to see one of the staff sitting in a corner making something that will later be sold on the floor. But it is down stair that holds the real treat, the basement is full of vintage cloths! Rails and rails of them!
A bit pricier that the other two mentioned, but again they have a wide range of vintage fashion to choose from. They also have their own brand of clothing made in-house and in the retro vintage style that all vintage loves adore.
Is food not the best part of visiting any city? Well Dublin, of course, is no different. Every type of restaurant you could possible want can be found in the city. From dawn ‘till dusk – there is no shortage of tasty options.
Top three lunch places:
Hidden away in the north side of the city, this small deli has a huge personality! Their daily special is always bound to delight, and the twist that they put on classics like the club sandwich, make it so worth a stroll at lunch time
The freshest of the fresh! Everything in here is delicious, from the freshly baked bread to the cakes and treats they have on display, you could not walk in here and leave empty handed.
If you fancy some traditional fish and chips on a sunny day in the city, then Leo Burdocks is the place to go. Fluffy fresh fish with crispy chips, served up in paper, their food has the mouth watering feel good factor. Don’t forget to ask for a portion of crispy bits!!
Top three dinner places:
This one was easy for me; it is easily my favourite place to eat in the whole city. Not exactly traditional Irish food, but it is the best Japanese cuisine that I have had anywhere in the world (and I really do try sushi everywhere I travel!). An authentic looking Japanese restaurant that has something for everyone, perfect for a date night or catching up with friends and family. The food is so flawlessly prepared that you won’t want to stop eating! Their tranquil cocktail bar at the back of the restaurant is the perfect hideout for a chilled Friday night.
If you were to cross an old-man-pub with a hipster bar you would get Bison bar. Its quirky and dark and filled with the most delicious aromas of BBQ food. I highly recommend a portion of ribs with their homemade coleslaw and potato salad! Absolutely gorgeous!
Anyone searching for somewhere a little more up market in the city, as well as an explosion of taste, then I would send them straight to BANG! The menu isn’t cheap but the food and atmosphere more than makes up for it. Perfect for a party or a special occasion – I’m already looking forward to my next meal in this place.
The Irish do have a reputation for partying, but with such a wide selection of venues to choose from in the capital is it any wonder? Whether you are looking for live music, all night dancing or just a quiet drink with friends, there is somewhere for you close by.
Top three bars:
It’s dark and cozy vibe makes you immediately want to settle in for the night when you arrive. It’s quirky and artistic, with lots of mismatched and old furniture. There are writing and scribbles on every surface and lots of antique lighting fixtures around the place. Downstairs, in the dungeon-esk basement, there are hosts of couches and candlelight tables. With traditional board games on every table – Cassidy’s is a great place to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Frank Ryans is, in my eyes, a hidden gem of Dublin. From the outside, it looks like just another Dublin pub, but when you step in you are greeted with something entirely different. With fairy lights draped throughout, and the warm atmosphere, it’s almost too easy to let your hours slip past you once inside.
The Globe has the perfect balance of pub & late bar. Upstairs there’s a funky vibe, live music can be found playing in this area. The downstairs area lends itself to club nights, with cool ceilings and lots of nooks and cranny’s, a night in here is always a good one.
Other places to visit
There is so much do around Dublin, so many places worth visiting, and definitely too many to mention here! But I had to squeeze in a few more places that you just can’t miss if you are looking to try something different in the city during your visit.
This has to be one of my favourite places in the city. The building itself is gorgeous to look at, it is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe, and is home to lots of shops, stalls and eateries. My favourite smoothie place in the city has its home here – ‘Juicery’. There’s also a really cool retro clothing store, fittingly called ‘Retro’, that sells old style rockabilly dresses.
Quintessentially Dublin, a stroll along Dublin’s most recognisable beach in any weather is good for the soul.
Not only is it an incredibly funky bar it is also home to a market on Saturday mornings!!
This one is more for someone spending a longer bit of time in the city, with access to a kitchen. The Oriental Emporium is a large Asian supermarket filled with every kind of ingredient you would need to cook your own delicious oriental meal at home.
If you are looking for an alternative option to accommodation in the city then you have to try the Abbey Court hostel on Ormand’s quay. It’s my favourite hostel in the city, this building is huge inside and every wall in the place has been covered with extravagant murals in the style of street art. With lots of stairs that lead into hidden rooms, this places feels like it’s been plucked straight out of Alice In Wonderland.
So, whether you are visiting the capital for a couple of days or planning a longer trip, you won’t need to worry about running out of interesting things to fill your time with. The easy access to the airport (buses running every 10-15 minutes to and from the city centre) makes Dublin the perfect European destination!
Written with love,