If you’re heading over to Dublin for a long weekend to soak up some genuine Irish atmosphere, you’ll need to look beyond the usual tourist haunts. Ireland’s capital is much, much more than a tourist destination: it’s a thriving, vibrant city with its own unique character and plenty of Irish charm.
You don’t need to be a culture vulture to enjoy wandering its cobbled streets or taking in the beautiful sights of its historic architecture. And if, at any point, you feel that things are getting a little too serious and cultural, there’s always a local pub, café or restaurant to pop into and enjoy a traditional Irish welcome.
If you’d like to savour the gastronomic specialties that the city has to offer, check out my guide to the pubs and eateries you should make a point of visiting on your next trip to Dublin.
Organising a flash trip to Dublin? Be sure to check out our guide to the top things to see.
The Brunch Champions
Those who’ve never visited Dublin before may wonder why brunch is such a big thing in the Irish capital. But don’t worry, once you’ve joined the locals for one of the city’s legendary nights out you’ll understand, only too well, that late mornings and a large amount of good food are the best way to recover your natural sense of wellbeing.
I’ve had many such mornings on my visits to the city, and these are the places which have always managed to straighten me out.
Nowhere have I ever had better mushrooms on toast than in Bear, a restaurant located on South William Street. The mushrooms are fried to perfection in miso and butter, and the staff will happily add everything from bacon to avocado on the side if you need a little extra lift.
The menu changes regularly in this stylish café on Canal Street, but there’s always one guarantee: a great brunch with delicious fresh and local ingredients – not to mention some of the best coffee you’ll find in Ireland. My favourite is the Eggs Benedict with shredded ham hock and farm-fresh eggs, which is not always available, but well worth crossing your fingers for.
When nothing but a Full Irish will do, you’ll need to head further along Canal Street to Herbstreet. You’ll find the full works comprised of the best ingredients, including McCarren bacon, sausage, eggs, corned beef hash, black pudding, tomatoes and beans. If there was ever a way to eat yourself out of a hangover, this is it.
Get Your Guinness In
While no one wants to be part of the ‘drunken English’ scene, it is true that drinking, pubs and, of course, Guinness are part of the very fabric of city life here. For that reason, one could argue that not trying Dublin’s famous stout would simply be rude!
Here are my favourite spots to sample a pint.
Let’s start with the cultural stuff. If you’re in Dublin for the first time, it is virtually compulsory to visit the Guinness Storehouse, which is the stout-maker’s museum and working brewery. But don’t worry: this is not a dry educational experience. The museum, built in the shape of a pint glass, has a bar on every floor, where you can always stop for a quick pint. What’s more, you’ll enjoy some of the most extraordinary views of Dublin from the museum’s rooftop bar.
If you’re looking to enjoy the ‘craic’ at a traditional Irish pub, then Kehoe’s in Temple Bar may be just what you’re looking for. The cosy, wooden interior is just how I’ve always imagined the city’s pubs, and the staff are as friendly and welcoming as you could hope for. It does get crowded, but that just adds to the lively and hospitable atmosphere.
You won’t find any Guinness at Porterhouse in Temple Bar because the city’s oldest microbrewery only serves its own stouts. But believe me: you’ll be glad you went once you’ve tried the pub’s Oyster Stout – which is made from real oysters. Head here at lunch or supper time, and you can make the most of the delicious traditional Irish fare on offer. I highly recommend the Irish Stew!
Coffee and Cake
Of course, there is much more to this place than drinking alcohol: Dubliners also love a good coffee. There are so many independent coffee shops and cafés that you’ll have no problem creating your own list of favourites. But, just to get you started, here are a few of mine.
This is about as far as you can get from traditional, but Network on Aungier Street serves some of the very best coffee in town, along with a range of cakes and pastries which will have you coming back for more. The sleek, cool interior – complete with contemporary furniture by up-and-coming Irish designers – makes it a stylish place to hang out and meet up with friends.
Brother Hubbard on Capel Street has become somewhat an institution in recent years with their delicious fresh food spawning its own cook book. But don’t think you can only come here at meal times! There are delicious sweet treats and great coffee, which are brought in from the experts at 3FE and served throughout the day.
With such a great range of independent eateries, there is really no excuse for not trying out the excellent local grub on your visit.
If you are looking for something as unique and charming as the town itself, then book yourself a table at the Vintage Kitchen. Its small quirky interior is adorned with an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac and art, and features a box of vinyl records that you can select and have played on the restaurant’s turntable. The food is also great: you’ll be able to choose from lots of wholesome dishes with a European twist. And, even better: the restaurant’s bring your own bottle policy allows you to save money on the alcohol.
Set in an old warehouse on the West Pier, this waterside eatery has a cosy bar and is a great place to come for a scrumptious Sunday lunch. Unsurprisingly, the food here is focused on local seafood, but there are also plenty of meat-based dishes to keep the carnivores happy.
Bóbó’s in St. Stephen’s Green is definitely in the running for the ‘best burger in town’ award: it has made an art form out of putting a bit of meat between a sliced bun. Ingredients include everything from chorizo to halloumi, and the wide range of sauces enables you to eat here regularly and never have the same meal twice. Pair your burger with chunky chips and a delicious homemade milk shake and you’re good to go.
How to Get to Dublin
Dublin Airport is located just a short distance outside of the city and is served by a variety of airlines, including British Airways, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Flybe. If you’re travelling in a group, one of the most economical and convenient ways to get into the city is to organise shared group transfer with Shuttle Direct, which you can pre-book online before you set off.
About Shuttle Direct:
As the principal provider of group and private airport transfers in Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct services a huge range of airports. It specialises in offering a convenient and cost-effective way of getting from the airport to your accommodation. Book a ride on our user-friendly website today!