Ireland’s vibrant capital city centre combines the cosmopolitan vibe of a cosmopolitan city with the buzz of a small town. Here, you can completely wander the streets without jumping on a bus or taxi, or you can run into old friends and catch up with them along the way.
Tourists may flock to the trendy Temple Bar or the main shopping district on Grafton Street. But in the winding alleys of these thoroughfares, you can find the real treasures of the city center. Here’s how to get around Dublin city centre like a local.
Coffee shops and cafes
A short walk from Grafton Street to South William Street and a short way further on you’ll find Lemon, where you can kick off the day with a cordial, omelette, sandwich or pastry washed down with a cup of coffee. To ensure plenty of stamina, you can try the Power Plus Coleslaw with spinach, cheddar cheese, bacon, fresh chives and garlic mayonnaise. For those with a sweet tooth, try the Avocado Quesadilla with seasonal fruit and Canadian maple syrup. Gluten-free pancakes are available and are made with a buckwheat-based pancake mix.
Here, you’ll find spacious and chic surroundings with boxes of loose tea and coffee stacked on the walls for you to savor at your leisure.
If you’re in the mood for a Chinese snack but want a guilt-free treat, look no further than Blazing Salads, a whole food deli with a range of guilt-free cakes.Blazing Salads uses natural sweeteners, including guava syrup, apple concentrate and maple syrup. Other healthy ingredients include organic flour, unbleached almonds, seeds and nuts, unbleached oil, dried fruits, and earth eggs. Our recommendation is a banana and walnut cake dipped in dark chocolate.
After a full meal, take a walk in the luxurious surroundings of the Powerscourt Shopping Centre. Marvel at the charming architecture of this 18th century building while perusing the unique boutiques, accessories shops and antique galleries. The Design Centre showcases the latest work from Irish designers including John Rocha, Roisin Leenane, Synan O’Malley and Philip Treacey, while Kennedy & MacSharry and Genius are for the fashion conscious man.
Antique hunters can peruse the Courtville Antiques and Delphi Antiques for the perfect find. Eco-friendly visitors can spend time in The Garden and the floral and botanical gardens in The Bonsai Shop. If you want to know the history and facts, you can book a tour of the building.
Then stroll down to Georges Arcade, a historic red brick building and the oldest dedicated shopping centre in Europe. This enclosed Victorian marketplace is filled with quirky, independent boutiques and stalls selling funky clothing, jewelry, funky music, collectibles and memorabilia.
Check out Bombay Banshee, which has an eclectic range of jewellery, as well as Gift of Warmth gifts such as slippers, baby clothes, bedding and lamps.
Fans of vintage clothing should head to Retro, which specializes in clothes from the 1940s and 1950s. There is also a large selection of petticoats in various colors, as well as pencil skirts and swing dresses. Here, you can keep an eye out for some of the selections of celebrities,including Blondie, who are shopping here.
Then head to Carousel, a vintage inspired independent clothing and accessories store. Check out its own label ‘Circus’, which offers feminine nostalgia-inspired fashions in fun and eclectic prints, patterns and fabrics for classic flattering looks.
Take a shopping trip to Dublin and experience the colourful and elegant surroundings of Avoca. It is an Irish family business that takes its name from a small village in Wicklow, where it is one of the oldest surviving manufacturing businesses in the world. Farmers bring their wool here to spin into comfortable blankets, throws and bedding. The downtown store has seven floors and is the perfect place to browse or buy thoughtful gifts. Its iconic handmade blankets and throws are made from 100% pure new lamb’s wool, mohair, cashmere, cashmere, cotton and linen.Avoca’s design studio has created its own fashion line, the Anthology collection for women, and its Nest collection includes ceramics, glass, candles, perfumes and bags for the home.
The Suffolk Café on the top floor of Avoca is a great place for lunch. The restaurant is bright and airy with a view of Trinity College and the food is made with fresh Irish ingredients. The restaurant is always busy, so it’s best to make reservations in advance. If you can’t find a table, there’s a food hall, deli and grill in the basement with great salads and carefully selected artisanal food that you can take out.
Another great lunch or dinner option is Cornucopia, a vegetarian restaurant on nearby Wicklow Street, where you can enjoy home cooked vegetarian and vegan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, juices, breads, cakes and desserts. The menu is changed daily and uses quality, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Don’t forget to try the customer favorites, the garlic potato and roasted nut salad. Regular entrees include sweet potato and tofu stewed potatoes, eggplant and zucchini, served with cashews and a herb cream sauce, and topped with toasted almonds. If you’re looking for something light to eat, special soups, salads, homemade breads and pastries for lunch should satisfy your appetite.
For dinner, head to La Mere Zou restaurant for a French meal, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the iconic Sherburne Hotel. Enjoy Galway Bay oysters and Kilkenny Rose veal in a chic atmosphere, with a premium wine pairing for a unique Irish twist.
Café En Seine on Nassau Street also offers a Gallic vibe in the heart of Dublin. This Parisian-style bar offers an extensive cocktail menu and dining options that exude sophistication and joie de vivre amidst lavish decor.
No trip to Dublin is complete without a pint of Guinness in one of the atmospheric, cosy pubs.
Have a drink at The International Bar at noon. The 200-year-old traditional pub has a rich history, retaining the original Victorian décor, even referenced in James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses. There is an Irish music show in the pub and a small theatre upstairs that showcases plays and comedy.
If your thirst for a dark beer has been quenched, but you still want another, The Porterhouse on the edge of Temple Bar is Dublin’s first brewpub, offering a variety of signature and traditional craft beers. Live music is also performed here every Monday night.
The Pygmalion Bar in The Powerscourt Shopping Centre is another great venue. It is named after a play by the Irish literary man George Bernard Shaw that tells the story of a down-and-out Scottish flowering maiden’s metamorphosis into a genteel lady. Fittingly, it’s also transformed from a cozy café during the day to an intimate nightclub at night. After the night falls, you can enjoy comedy from both local and international acts and then watch or join the eclectic crowd on the dance floor.Pygmalion will have free performances from up-and-coming local groups, and internationally renowned DJs will be visiting regularly.
If you’re lucky and it doesn’t rain, then take a stroll under the glittering lights of Trinity College for a night of fun in the heart of this historic and charming city.