Dublin, the big smoke of Ireland, is a compact and charming city. Here, the Guinness flows as freely as the River Liffey, and the city still embraces every ounce of its old-world charm. Like many old European cities, Dublin is almost totally devoid of skyscrapers but what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for with pub density.
The city is remarkably walkable with almost all of its top attractions within walking distance from each other. And if the chilly drizzle prevents you from walking, there is bound to be a bus or Luas (tram) stop within spitting distance.
So, whether you want to go from the bar straight to bed or prefer something quieter, there is a Dublin location for you. Here is a look at the best areas to stay in Dublin for any kind of traveller.
It will come as no surprise that Temple Bar is the place to be for first-timers (and basically anyone who likes a good time). This area is the mecca for pubs and restaurants in Dublin and the charm oozes from every corner.
Here you find rightly decorated facades, cobbled streets, edgy urban art and centuries of history all blended into one. The area is on the south side of the river and cornered in by Trinity College to the east and Christ Church Cathedral to the west.
Undoubtedly the best way to experience Dublin is to get lost in Temple bar. Staying here allows you to easily walk between all the major touristy places and wander in the myriad of captivating alleyways in between.
Stay at Temple Bar Hotel for a modern stay in the heart of the city.
Rating the best area for couples in Dublin is a bit more difficult to pin down. Do you want to spend your evenings on a riverside stroll, or do you prefer after-brunch walks down a tree-lined avenue? Perhaps you are more in the mood for a hotel room with a panoramic view of the city (these are a little harder to come by) or you want to live your best domestic-bliss life in a Georgian brownstone.
Search for a hotel in the area around Grafton Street or Dawson street for a well-balanced blissful experience. These areas are filled with romantic restaurants and intimate bars and lots of top-class shopping.
You are close to all the main attractions but the hotels have an upscale feeling as many Georgian-era buildings have been revamped into boutique hotels.
Stay in The Grafton Hotel for romantic views over breakfast.
If you are travelling with kids, you will know the importance of getting a good night’s rest. But because Dublin is so compact, you don’t need to travel very far to get away from the bustling nightlife streets. Merrion Square gives you the best of both worlds. Here you can enjoy a quaint village vibe but also reach the tourist-heavy areas within a short 10-minute walk.
Merrion Square is just right of Trinity and is characterised by its grand Georgian townhouses and ample greenspaces. Families will love walking along the manicured streets with emblematic colourful doors and large bronze knockers on the way to the fascinating museums in the area. Walk through Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square Park and St. Stephen’s Green for some fresh air and prioritise a visit to the “Dead Zoo”, or the National Museum of Natural History.
Stay at Stauntons on the Green Hotel for a hotel with stunning family rooms.
Although the city centre has its fair share of restaurants and bars, all seasoned foodies know that you need to look beyond the tourist humdrum for the best spots.
Portobello is the place for hip and eclectic eateries. This is where James Joyce found inspiration at the bottom of a glass and you will most likely find yours at the bottom of a plate.
This neighbourhood is in the south of Dublin and is teeming with innovative restaurants and equally tantalizing shopping. Hop on an e-bike and cycle in the tree-lined lanes in search of one baked good and fine dining experience after another. Whatever you do, make brunch a priority. In Portobello, it is a way of life and the overload of mid-morning eateries is a testament to that.
Stay at The Camden Court Hotel for a trendy stay close to the best restaurants.
Budget accommodation in Dublin is about as scarce as leprechaun sightings and you will be hard-pressed to find something that compares to regular budget options you might have grown accustomed to. But the city’s effective and far-reaching public transport network means you don’t have to worry too much about location.
That being said, you will be surprised to find quite a few budget options in and around Trinity. The location is great as you can walk nearly anywhere from there and you are still very close to the hip-and-happening nightlife areas.
Trinity has a few options for budget-friendly hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. In holiday times, Trinity College also offers-up student accommodation for cash-strapped tourists.
Another option is Phibsborough on the north side. It is a little further removed from the city centre but the neighbourhood is still up-and-coming leaving you with many budget options. It is gritty yet trendy and perfect if this is your return visit to Dublin.
Stay at Ashfield Hostel for a comfortable and cheap option.
When it comes to “living like a local”, Dublin is a funny one. Most locals commute from residential areas on the outskirts of the city so that is not entirely ideal for tourists. Smithfield offers a good solution as it is not too far from the city centre but it is still untapped by tourists.
It is on the northern side of the river, just opposite the Guinness Storehouse area. As recently as the early 2000s this was a gritty industrial area but it has been reclaimed and transformed into a trendy semi-suburban area.
Smithfield Square is the main attraction with plenty of chic bars and restaurants around but the most important point of interest is the Jameson Distillery.
The area is right on the Luas line and still within walking distance from the historic centre of the city.
Stay at the Maldron Hotel Smithfield for panoramic city views and excellent bars and restaurants just outside the door.
Last Updated 6 September 2023