Dublin is Ireland’s liveliest city. Although it’s often considered a bit of a tourist trap because of its world-famous Guinness Storehouse, picturesque castles and prestigious Trinity College, there are also many off-the-beaten-track attractions. Hidden gems are scattered all over the city, including markets and eateries, quirky museums, as well as street art districts. You just need to know where to look…
Dun Laoghaire Market
Every Sunday, somewhere between 40 and 50 vendors set up their stall in People’s Park to display their crafts at Duo Loaghaire’s Market. Selling artisanal goods and seasonal produce, the market has an authentic and friendly vibe. There are loads of craftsmen exhibiting their art and crafts, all of which make the perfect keepsake to bring home. If you’re feeling peckish, you can also enjoy some freshly cooked hot food and baked goods or purchase some honey and jams to savour later.
Top Tip: You might consider bringing a rucksack with you. Chances are that you’ll see lots of artisanal treats that will excite your taste buds.
The National Leprechaun Museum
You can’t go to Ireland and not explore this brilliant museum, which is dedicated entirely to Irish mythology. The first of its kind, this gallery allows you to explore wonderful Irish folklore and stories. There is even an interactive section that lets you step inside the fairytale land and get an insider’s perspective on Irish cultural identity and imagination (don’t worry, it’s not just for kids!).
Tivoli Theatre Car Park
Hidden down a side alley just off of Francis Street, you’ll find an unexpected array of colour and creativity. The Tivoli Theatre Car Park is a brilliant display of street art and spray-painted murals, reminiscent of New York’s 5 Pointz.
Top Tip: Don’t forget your camera. There are some extraordinary graffiti displays that you’ll regret not capturing on film.
James Joyce Museum & Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
Whether you’ve given Finnegans Wake the old university try or you’re impassioned by Joyce’s portmanteau language, it’s worth taking a trip to his museum. Founded by the ambitious Sylvia Beach, who first published Joyce’s work, it is located in the impressive Martello Tower.
Fun fact: the museum is situated at the very spot where the opening scene of Ulysses takes place. If you head down to the famous Forty Foot swimming spot, you can experience it firsthand (and, if you’re feeling brave, you can even go for a traditional early morning swim!).
If you want to celebrate Ireland’s other genius writers, you can also go on the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. Take a guided tour to all the landmarks that celebrate the likes of Beckett, Yeats, Behand and Flann O’Brien.
Walking Tour of the Dublin Mountains
For a quieter day away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city, you can pack a picnic and go on a free guided walking tour through Dublin’s Mountains. It’s a wonderful way to meet some friendly travellers and to soak up the stunning views of the greenery and bushy forests.
Silent Disco at Whelan’s
If there is one quirky thing to do in Dublin, it is this. A silent disco is an experience quite unlike another other. You’ll be given personal headphones to dance to the music of your choosing as you become your own DJ. With everyone grooving to different beats, there’s a hilarious atmosphere with some clubbers just bopping about while others are going full out. On Wednesday nights, Whelan’s silent disco is the place to be (and entrance is free!).
How to Get to Dublin
Reaching your Irish off-the-beaten-track adventure is quick and easy. You can catch a 90-minute flight from London to Dublin Airport with a range of budget airlines, including Ryanair, British Airways, Flybe or Aer Lingus. You can then book a group or shared (or private) airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow travellers as soon as you land or to ask your driver for any local tips. You will be in the city centre in roughly 35 minutes.
Where to Stay
Garden Lane Backpackers: This hostel is ideally located in the city centre and has a friendly atmosphere. You can interact with your fellow travellers over breakfast (a continental is served every day) or out on the terrace for a drink. In your room, you will have a wardrobe and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms are shared with other guests.
Generator Hostel Dublin: Located right next to the tram station, this award-winning hostel is another great choice. They have en-suite rooms that are reasonably priced, as well as a bar with quizzes and movie nights for evening mingling. They also serve traditional breakfasts every morning and light snacks at the bar.
The Gate Hotel: This family-run hotel has a very comfortable and laidback feel to it. With home-cooked traditional Irish breakfasts in the morning, cable TV in the rooms, as well as en-suite bathrooms with hairdryers, it’s a friendly place to be. The bar is open late and regularly hosts entertainers, so you can easily meet the other guests and swap insightful tips about Dublin’s hidden gems.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading airport transfer provider in Europe and North Africa. They offer private, group and shared transfers which can be booked in advance via their easy-to-use website. Their drivers are very friendly and always ready for a chat. They may even be able to provide you with some helpful tips or insider knowledge on the local hot spots that you won’t want to miss.