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Dublin tips for a great visit

You probably have a long list of things you want to do, places you want to visit, and sites you want to see when you are in Dublin; if not yet, you might find our recommendations on things to do in Dublin helpful. Two sure things you’re very like to be doing in Dublin though are dining and drinking! To help you out on that front, we’ve compiled some of our best hints and tips for food and drink in Dublin, and where to go for the best of them. We’ve also thrown in some helpful bonus tips for good measure too; you’re welcome.

 

Traditional Irish food in Dublin


Traditional Irish food

There is a wealth of fantastic restaurants, cafes and pubs serving traditional Irish food in Dublin.

As with any city, places in and around tourist-dense areas, although highly populated with options, tend to be a bit pricier than elsewhere just a short distance away, so it's worth exploring the fringes of the likes of Temple Bar when hungry if you want to save a few euros.

Keep your eyes open as you are out and about as many eateries will advertise special meal deals such as a traditional main course with a pint, for example. Also, many places will offer lunch menus (typically noon to 4 or 5pm-ish) and 'early bird' menus (generally between 5 pm to 7 pm).

A 'full-Irish breakfast' is an ideal way to start your day, especially if you've had a few pints the night before. It usually consists of sausage, bacon (rashers), traditional black pudding (fried pig's blood mixed with oats), beans, egg, tomato, mushrooms, toasted bread, tea or coffee and, sometimes, potato hash-browns. Café Sofia on Wexford street does an amazing Irish breakfast for a great price (€8.50, bargain!) and even does a cracking vegetarian version. If that sounds like too much food for your first meal of the day, you can even get a smaller version for just €5. Amazing.

Always, always, ask your lovely local guides on your Free Tours of Dublin for recommendations for food. They know the city inside out and are totally up to date on all things culinary in Dublin, and more than happy to give you genuine, independent recommendations.

 

Drinks


Drinks in Dublin, Guinness

Dublin is the city for drinking! With more than a thousand watering holes, your options for a tipple are practically infinite.

That said, it is worth noting that, as with any city, prices in the 'tourist-trap' areas can vary wildly for drinks. You will no doubt be spending some time in the atmospheric Temple Bar district, so it is worth knowing that this is the most expensive area to drink in, with prices in many of the pubs in the area increasing at half-hour intervals throughout the night from 11 pm, often leading to astronomical and frankly ridiculous prices.

Dublin is famous for Guinness and no trip to the Irish capital is complete without having a pint of the black stuff; but, if you were to become accustomed to Guinness, you might soon realise subtle differences in pint quality in different pubs. Theories of 'good' and 'bad' pints have occupied Dubliners for many decades, but there is a general consensus that the best pint to be found in Dublin is a close-run thing between Grogan's on castle street, The Long Hall on George's street, The Stag's Head in Dame Lane, and Mulligan's on Poolbeg Street. Yours truly can attest that they are all delicious! Thankfully though, a 'bad' pint is a rarity, few and far between, throughout the city.

There is some local drinking etiquette to be observed also. The main one of these is the 'round-system' which is far too vast in its intricacies and variables to fully outline here but, in essence, it is simply that if you accept a drink from someone you should buy them one in return when the next drink is due, or at least offer to. This is a very Irish thing, but it is highly likely that you will quickly acquire some Irish drinking-buddies in a Dublin pub - the locals are famously friendly and love meeting people from distant lands.

There's a burgeoning craft beer revival happening in Ireland too, and Dublin is a focal point in this revolution with many pubs dedicating valuable tap-space to new, locally produced beers which you should try while you are in town as, often, these can be seasonal or limited editions or may even only be available in one pub.

Join a Pub Crawl – we highly recommend joining a Pub Crawl in Dublin for a great value night out. It's the original and longest running pub crawl in the city and visits 5 or 6 great authentic pubs & venues that the locals love. For just €12 you get a welcome Guinness, free shots in each bar, exclusive drink specials & deals, and free entrance to all venues including VIP nightclub. Fun-lovin' local guides and other night-life adventurers included, and you can even return as many nights as you like for free. It's a no-brainer.

 

Popular Restaurants in Dublin


There are so many restaurants and eateries in Dublin, and a majority of pubs offering food of some description, that the choice is virtually endless. Places popular among locals which are worth checking out are:

Jo' Burger – for fantastic gourmet burgers with a characteristic hipster vibe. Everything on the menu is local and of prime quality.

San Lorenzo's – for modern, yet traditionally rustic, Italian food with a New York style of cooking.

The Pig's Ear – Fantastic traditional, high-quality fare has made this a local favourite. It also houses a Chef's Counter offering excellent international cuisine.

The Lord Edward – This pub looks fairly dingy from the outside, the kind of place which has retained its old-school characteristic Dublin pub charm, but upstairs is a seafood restaurant which is renowned as one of the best in the country.

The Winding Stair - with a focus on Irish produce, especially fish & seafood, this place has become a local favourite and, when you've made your way up its winding stairs, offers nice views over the river Liffey as city-life bustles by below.

Queen of Tarts – a delightful little cafe and tea room serving delicious fresh brunch, lunch, cakes and other magical, tasty, sweet things.

 

Cool Bars in Dublin


Bars in Dublin

 

Dublin is the definitive pub city, and what constitutes a cool bar here will differ from one drinker to the next. There are upmarket, trendy cocktail bars, dingy dive bars, hipster pubs, live music bars, traditional pubs, and even what are affectionately known as 'old-man pubs'. With such variety in Dublin pubs and bars, the lines defining these types have become blurred - for example, the old-man pub is now considered quiet cool, hipster even, for being old-man pubs in the first place, while many live music bars might well be considered dive bars too... the city is a veritable cocktail of pub styles & character and it's oh so tasty!

Some great recommendations include:

  • Whelan's for incredible live music spanning all genres and a relatively young crowd

  • Darkey Kelly's for a nice mix between older and younger locals in an authentic setting

  • Anseo, The Bleeding Horse, and Cassidy's for your hipster fix

  • The Cobblestone and O'Donoghues for 'less-touristy' traditional Irish music

  • And Fibber Magees for heavy metal, nu-metal and the like.


 

Other handy tips to know in Dublin


Tips to travel to Dublin

If you're from a non-EU country you may be entitled to a partial refund of VAT, Value Added Tax (23%), paid on items purchased here so ask the retailer at the point of purchase and claim it back at the airport when flying out.
Many Dublin attractions that charge an entry fee will often have a discount for booking online, so it's worth checking out before turning up to attractions.

The Georgian area of Dublin is a great area to stroll and take photos in as there is an abundance of characteristic Georgian houses with brightly coloured front doors and ornate fixtures. Also, a walk down by the canal is a most pleasurable exercise to see more of the city.

Smoking inside is not allowed in Ireland, having been the first country in the world to introduce a smoking ban in workplaces, including pubs. This means that pubs found space to convert to, technically outdoor yet sheltered and comfortable, designated smoking areas and very often the best 'craic' is to be had in smoking areas, with even non-smokers tending to occupy them.

That’s your lot, for now, dear savvy Dublin-bound traveller. We do hope you’ll have a wonderful time in the Irish capital and that our helpful hints, tips and recommendations come in useful during your adventure.