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Dublin has enough buzzing pubs and destination-worthy landmarks in its city center for travelers to never explore beyond this border, but that would be a crying shame. Because while the heart of Dublin is a vibrant place to visit, the Irish capital is actually a city of villages, and each village or neighborhood has its own character and hospitality (not to mention its own literary history). Here are seven neighborhoods in Dublin you won’t want to miss.
Trinity College (home to the Book of Kells), Dublin Castle, and St. Stephen’s Green are all clustered in Dublin’s city center, affectionately called “town” by locals. First-time visitors will likely spend significant time here shopping along Grafton Street, ordering a Guinness in the historic pubs, and wandering through museums such as the National Gallery of Ireland. From Merrion Square to the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), this bustling neighborhood is also fairly compact and easy to explore on foot or bike.
Insider tip: Do “town” right with a picnic in Iveagh Gardens or a concert at the National Concert Hall.
This riverside neighborhood has a reputation for rowdy pubs, but there’s much more to Temple Bar than crowds of tourists and bachelor parties. This historic quarter is actually known to locals as a cultural neighborhood, with arts attractions from the IFI (Irish Film Institute) and the Photo Museum Ireland to small theaters including the Smock Alley Theatre. It’s also home to beloved bookshops, trendy boutiques, and the weekly Temple Bar Food Market in Meeting House Square. There are late-night cocktail bars and pubs, too, but don’t skip a stroll in Temple Bar during the day.
The area just north of the River Liffey is a favorite place to stay for budget-conscious travelers. In addition to value hotels around Parnell Square and hostels for those on a tight budget, this neighborhood is also known for its combination of historic sites and affordable restaurants. Learn about Dublin’s history and art with visits to the General Post Office on O’Connell Street (an important landmark in the 1916 Easter Rising), the Hugh Lane Gallery, and the Dublin Writers Museum. When hunger hits, check out the restaurants along Parnell Street, which is known for a variety of Asian restaurants including Korean, Sichuan, Japanese, and more.
Sometimes compared to Brooklyn, Portobello is a destination for worn-wood pubs, contemporary restaurants, and late-night antics. Portobello is also an easy stroll from the city center and is flanked by a pretty canal, home to swans and waterside park benches perfect for people watching. It’s a trendy area, but lacks popular attractions (with the exception of the Irish Jewish Museum), so this is the spot for a leisurely brunch, reading at a local coffee shop, or browsing at independent boutiques.
What was once a warehouse district on the north side of the River Liffey is now Smithfield, one of Dublin’s hippest neighborhoods. The central Smithfield Square is home to seasonal flea markets, food fairs, and a 19th-century whiskey factory, plus the Cobblestone pub, which hosts one of Dublin's best traditional music sessions. In addition to these historic staples, the neighborhood also has a modern edge thanks to cool coffee shops, the Lighthouse Cinema, vegan restaurants, and small venues for contemporary concerts.
The Liberties is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Dublin, and has undergone a revival in recent years. Industry (and businesses that catered to workers) once dominated this neighborhood, and the Liberties has returned to its roots with the opening of several whiskey distilleries. Spirits enthusiasts are now drawn to the area to tour and taste at the Teeling Distillery, Pearse Lyons, and the Dublin Liberties Distillery. Beyond distillery tours, the neighborhood also offers Liberty Market, popular cafés, and historic pubs.
Another trendy neighborhood with easy LUAS tram access is Ranelagh, a pretty southside village that’s ideal for strolling. Gastropubs and sleek restaurants are side-by-side with coffee shops, a bookstore, and in recent years, a trendy hotel in this mostly red-brick neighborhood. The architecture alone is a charming reason to visit, as are the historic pubs and the opportunity to be surrounded by Dublin accents, rather than fellow tourists. It’s a polished place to go for a stroll—visitors who love real estate ogling may want to include a walk along lovely Dartmouth Square.