Ready to see Dublin like a local? Listen, there’s loads of amazing things to see in Dublin as a tourist, from those classic Georgian doors around Merrion Square to the crypt of Christchurch Cathedral. But pepper in these authentic experiences for a chance to see Dublin the way locals do–from the best local day trips, to the best way to get around town.
1. Catch a ride on the Luas
With a name meaning “Speed” in Irish, the Luas light rail trams glide through the central city on north-south and east-west routes. The relatively new trains first arrived in 2004, marking a return to trams for Dublin more than fifty years after the original trains were removed. While not as famous as the trams of Prague or Lisbon, they’re still a smooth, efficient way around a city where the buses are often stuck in traffic!
A single fare starts around 2 euro, and ticket vending machines are located at each stop. With stops at popular tourism destinations like Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green, you can rest tired feet or duck out of a Dublin rain shower in between sightseeing.
2. …or just walk!
Dublin’s central city is so pedestrian-friendly, several of its major commercial roads have been completely closed to traffic. Shop flagship stores and local favorites on Grafton Street without ever stopping for a red light–just keep an eye out for the enthusiastic street-sweepers zipping through crowds on motorized vacuums, keeping the shopping strip spic and span. It also helps if you’re not in a hurry. You’ll find the crowds here move at a browsing, wandering pace, not ideal if you’re trying to make time.
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Even if you’re not in a shopping mood, you’ll find walking is a viable way to get around town. Most of Dublin’s tourism attractions and historic sites are within a few minutes’ walk of one another, so you’re never far from your next destination. That being said, what’s pleasantly centralized for pedestrians is cramped and congested for cars, and central Dublin can host some pretty impressive traffic jams. If you’re debating hopping on a bus or into a taxi, take a peek at traffic–it might be quicker to walk.
3. Dart to the seaside
Okay, DART stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transit, but it’s still the quick route out to Dublin’s remarkably pretty seaside suburbs. You’ll join floods of Dubliners on the weekends with good reason–the coastline boasts castles, cliffs and historic towns, along with world-famous views.
Zip north for Howth, a village home to a 14th-century castle (open to tours on summer Sundays), a medieval abbey and gorgeous cliff walks. Looking for a scenic walk on the beach (and some million-dollar houses?) Travel south for Killiney, where the seaside views have been compared to the breathtaking Bay of Naples in Italy.
Or make the train your day-trip. With an all-day ticket you can explore Malahide Castle, visit the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire, the James Joyce Museum of Sandycove, see some daredevils splash into the sea at The 40 Foot, hike up Bray Head, and visit the resort town of Greystones, where the Wicklow Mountains meet the Irish Sea.
4. Stroll through Phoenix Park
A city is only as great as its parks, and Dublin has a prizewinner in Phoenix Park. Situated just northwest of the central city, this park sprawls over 1750 acres and is one of Europe’s largest urban parks. It’s so big, the president of Ireland lives there, along with a herd of fallow deer and the residents of the Dublin Zoo. And because it’s Ireland, there’s a castle, too: Ashtown Castle is a medieval tower house which adjoins the park visitor’s center. This stone structure has an interesting twist to its history: no one even realized it was there, until an 18th-century mansion built around it was demolished due to dry rot.
You can walk all day here, so pick a few spots and follow the signs. Will it be the massive monument to the Duke of Wellington, born in Ireland, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo? The Botanic Gardens? The Papal Cross, marking where the Pope addressed more than a million people in 1979? It’s all up to you.
While you’re out in the park, you can also stroll to the nearby Farmleigh House, an Edwardian estate where the Irish government puts up dignitaries and guests of the nation. The house was built by the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness–you know, the fellow who came up with Guinness–and today the estate is home to a working farm, ornamental gardens and a library of rare books.
5. Taste Your Way Through a Food Market
A city is only as great as its food, is what we meant to say, and don’t think the artisanal food movement has passed Ireland by just because you’ve been eating traditional fare in country pubs during the rest of your Ireland vacation. It’s time to get curious about what’s up and coming in the Dublin foodie scene, and food markets are where locals go for new flavors.
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If you’re staying in the city, Saturday’s Temple Bar Food Market is close and convenient to everything else you want to see. Heading out for the weekend? Dun Laoghaire and Howth both boast artisan food markets where you can taste locally-sourced meats, fish and vegetables, as well as international offerings from the many chefs who call Dublin home.
6. Have a pint on the Baggot Street Mile
Centered on Baggot Street just east of St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street, the Baggot Street Mile is the name of an infamous 12-stop pub crawl. For more sober pursuits, maybe just stop for a pint and some music in one of these varied watering holes. From old-fashioned, Victorian-era pubs with live traditional music in the evenings, to upscale contemporary bars with rooftop terraces, there’s a perfect pub for everyone on Baggot Street.
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The famous O'Donohues Pub on Baggot Street, Dublin. #landscapephotography #photography #irish #ig_ireland #ireland #loveireland #roamireland #youririshadventure #thisismyeurope #dublin #tourismireland #irish_daily #bestirelandpics #dublinpub #odonnoghues #pub #baggotstreet #dublincity #discoverdublin #lovesdublin #dublincitycentre #thedubliners
With a lot of action and history packed into a relatively small space, Dublin makes an amazing destination for a long weekend or a few days’ visit as part of your Ireland vacation. Plus, with just a short flight you can enjoy a London/Dublin vacation. And one of our favorite Ireland tours even includes an additional day in Dublin for you to enjoy at your leisure — perfect for anyone who wants to see Dublin like a local.