The Irish capital has an infectious frivolity about it. There’s the wild nightlife of Temple Bar, the glorious Victorian park that is St Stephen’s Green and the River Liffey. By its banks, bars and restaurants overlook the water and watersports happen right in the city centre. Here is the Rough Guide to where to stay in Dublin.
Dublin is a thrusting, dynamic place. Despite its size, the city remains utterly beguiling and an essential part of any visit to the country. Most of Dublin’s attractions are found within a compact area, spreading either side of the many-bridged River Liffey, which divides the city between its Northside and Southside. These have very distinct characters, defined over the city’s historical development. Stereotypically, the south is known for its gentility while the north is seen as brash and working class, home of the true Dub accent.
Then there’s the sober, historical charm. There are two great cathedrals, a world-renowned university with fascinating exhibits, and museums aplenty exploring everything from leprechauns to Ireland’s past. Pre-eminent among the city’s historic sights is Trinity College, whose main draw for visitors is the glorious Book of Kells. From here, the city’s main commercial street, Grafton Street, marches off towards St Stephen’s Green, home to the rococo splendours of Newman House. Among the stylish Georgian streets to the east of Grafton Street, meanwhile, you’ll find the compelling displays of the National Gallery and the National Museum.
Whatever you want to do while you’re in the city, there’s somewhere to stay for every type of traveller. Plan your trip with our guide on the best areas and top places to stay in Dublin.
The huge parkland that makes up St Stephen’s Green is Dublin’s biggest, and there are some fascinating sights in and around it. The elegant houses that surround the Green are mainly Georgian, with arched doorways and ornate balconies. Inside the park you’ll find a bandstand, an arboretum and a small lake with a bridge.
Among many bronze sculptures, there’s a statue of Arthur Guinness – the famous brewer of Ireland’s favourite drink – and a moving memorial to the Great Famine. Nearby, the fabulous stuccowork of University-owned Newman House is well worth a visit.
Termed in the eighteenth century “Beau Walk”, St Stephen’s Green North is still the most fashionable side of the square. The Shelbourne Hotel here claims to have been “the best address in Dublin” since its establishment in 1824 (see The Inner Southside).
Best for Georgian grandeur:Stauntons on the Green
Situated right next door to Newman House, and almost as attractive. With classic decor and antiques throughout, it really gives you a sense of regal, Georgian Dublin.
Best on a budget:Avalon House
Just a five-minute walk from St Stephen’s Green, with a lively hostel feel. There’s free breakfast, and your own meals can be prepared in the communal kitchen. They also offer free walking tours from the property.
Best for the address:The Shelbourne Dublin, Autograph Collection
The Shelbourne Hotel Dublin is a historic, landmark hotel located on St Stephen's Green. Dining options at the Shelbourne includeThe Saddle Room
, a steak and seafood restaurant with classic touches, the No.27 Bar & Lounge and the Lord Mayor’s Lounge, where afternoon tea is served daily.
When most people think of Dublin they’re imagining Temple Bar. Here you'll find cosy, low-ceilinged pubs with dark beams and jolly Irish tunes blaring out, cobbled streets and – of course – free-flowing Guinness. This area of Dublin is where all the action happens after dark. The Auld Dubliner and The Temple Bar are two of the most popular places for a night out, with live music and craic aplenty.
It’s equally fun by day, mind. There's a healthy smattering of galleries and arts centres, and plenty of restaurants for a hearty Irish lunch. Its transformation into the city’s main cultural and entertainment district came about after a 1960s plan for a new central bus terminal here was abandoned after much procrastination. Instead, the area’s narrow cobbled streets and old warehouses, by now occupied by short-lease studios, workshops and boutiques, began to be sensitively redeveloped as an artistic quarter in the 1980s. If you don't mind the noise, Temple Bar is a great place to stay in Dublin.
Best for staying in the heart of Dublin:Temple Bar Hotel
The hotel has clean, modern rooms, a brilliant gin bar and a ping pong table for fun nights in. It’s just a few minutes walk from Temple Bar’s many pubs and restaurants.
Best for saving your pennies for pints:Oliver St. John Gogarty's Hostel
The best budget option in the heart of Temple Bar. Dorm rooms, free breakfast and communal social spaces make this an ideal hub for solo and budget travellers.
Best for boutique style:The Clarence
Dublin’s original rock 'n' roll hotel located right in the heart of Dublin. This boutique hotel offers rooms with super king-size, wrought-iron beds and velvet drapes.
Just west of Temple Bar, the area around Christ Church and St Patrick’s cathedrals is a more peaceful central stay. There are still plenty of bars and restaurants, but there’s far less of the Friday night Irish craic you’ll get in Temple Bar.
The cathedrals themselves are well worth exploring too. St Patrick’s dates back to AD 890 and sits on the site on an ancient well, apparently used by the patron saint himself. Christ Church was founded in 1028 and has some intriguing tombs and chapels. Take a guided tour to make the most of your visit.
Best for flexibility:Staycity Aparthotel
Offers the best of both worlds. You’ll get your own kitchenette for cooking meals, but have the option to eat at the in-house café which serves pizzas, paninis and other snacks.
Best for frugal travellers:Garden Lane Backpackers Hostel
This hostel is an excellent-value stay in Dublin and is one of the most highly rated hostels in town. There are clean dorms, modern shared bathrooms and a stylish social space at its centre.
Best for views of the city:Aloft Dublin City
Set 1,300ft from St Patrick's Cathedral, Aloft Dublin City offers a rooftop bar, restaurant and panoramic views of the city.
This is where Dublin’s well-to-do trendy types live. Northwest of the city centre, Smithfield is centred around the Plaza, which has cool restaurants and cafés and an independent cinema. Further north, Stoneybatter is red-brick buildings housing arts centres and hot yoga clubs. This is gentrification, Ireland style. If flat whites and fancy restaurants are your thing, this is the best place to stay.
Adjacent from the Smithfield plaza are the Old Jameson Distillery buildings, where John Jameson set up his whiskey company. They have long been turned over to a somewhat touristy shrine to “the hard stuff”. Guided tours are available to see the full distillery process, with plenty of tastings on offer.
Best for the cool kids:Generator Dublin
The Irish capital’s arm of the renowned worldwide hostel group. Known for their cool decor, brilliant social spaces and playful, party vibes, Generators are a solid choice in any city, and this one happens to be in the heart of hipster town.
Best for value:The Hendrick Smithfield
Rooms include a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Popular points of interest nearby include St Michan's Church, Jameson Distillery and The City Hall.
Best for something fancier:Ashling Hotel Dublin
This beautiful hotel is a five-star property to the west of Smithfield Square. Known for its fabulous breakfasts, there’s also a great bar serving reasonably priced snacks and cocktails.
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Top Image: The Samuel Beckett Bridge (the harp bridge) Dublin, Ireland © Peter Krocka / Shutterstock