Guest Post written by: Kate Wilson
Europe’s great cities seem to be on just about every travel list in the world, and with good reason. Broadly speaking they’re beautiful, historic, and packed with vibrant culture and modern attractions alike. Even so, most guides and lists gloss over the details and focus on major sightseeing opportunities, famous establishments and the like.
I’m going to change things up a little bit in this brief guide to Dublin, tapping into some research to tell you how to enjoy the city like a true local.
1. Go Brunching
That’s right! Like many people around the world, you may think of Dublin as a place for pubs – and that reputation is certainly justified. The classic image of the “Irish pub” that has been replicated in cities all over the West, hails, in part, from some of the old establishments in this city. As much as the bar scene tends to thrive, however, it’s earlier meals that characterize local behavior. Said one local’s guide, brunch is a big thing in Ireland. The same guide went on to list some great spots in Dublin, including Taco Taco, Carluccio’s, and Bibi’s Café. Bibi’s, in particular, should be an appealing spot for tourists – an intimate, classic breakfast nook that describes itself on Google as an “eclectic restaurant” and offers takes on most popular brunch menu items.
2. Walk The Canal
Borrowing another tip from the aforementioned local’s guide, the canal in the Portobello area of town (that’s the name of the area) is a lovely place to walk about on a nice day. It’s by no means a major waterway, but it makes for a nice long stroll, and locals tend to be out and about. The Barge – a restaurant and pub on the corner where Charlemont Street crosses over the canal – is a particularly nice place to stop if you’d like to enjoy a pint in the middle of a walk (or at the end of it before heading back into town).
3. Hang Out At St. Stephens Green
When you look into park spaces in Dublin, you’re likely to find a lot of mentions of Phoenix Park. Over 350 years old as of a few years ago and known as one of the city’s best-loved free amenities, the park is considered a must-see area for tourists. There are wild deer, remnants of ancient settlements, striking monuments and small buildings – even the Dublin Zoo! While Phoenix Park should be seen, however, and is by no means exclusively for tourists, some might consider St. Stephen’s Green to be a little bit more authentic, for lack of a better word. Far smaller and more intimate than Phoenix Park but located in the thick of town, it’s a lovely place for a stroll, a winding jog (if you don’t mind doing laps rather than a full route), or to bring a small meal to enjoy.
4. See A Horse Race
If you’re looking for a particular activity to take in, you might consider horse racing, which is actually the sport that’s probably most deeply entrenched in Irish society. This may surprise some foreigners with a vague understanding of European sports who might expect more focus on soccer or rugby, but it’s certainly true for a lot of Dubliners. Horse racing is closely tied to the gambling history of the area, but remains a popular sporting activity for many locals whether or not they want to wager on outcomes. Specifically you’ll want to check out Leopardstown Racecourse a short distance south of central Dublin. No matter the size or prestige of the races on a given day, it’s a nice time out, and an activity that connects you to the culture and history of the city.
5. Try The Chip Shops
When you’re looking into a visit to any major city and food comes up, you tend to see two things in abundance: general overviews of the types of cuisine available, and lists of expensive fine dining spots to try. Both can be helpful, but if you’re looking for the more authentic experience (because it’s not as if the locals are dining out at five-star restaurants on a night-to-night basis), you might keep in mind that Dublin is known for its chip shops. These are affordable and casual fish ‘n’ chips places that can certainly rival those in the major English cities, where they tend to be a little bit more famous. Leo Burdock, off Fishamble Street near the River Liffey, is a particularly popular spot, but there are about a dozen chip shops at least that will leave you quite satisfied.
Hi gang! Kate wanted to share some travel focused content on the blog so that’s what 5 Ways to Enjoy Dublin like a Local is! Here are two things I want to say. 1) I LOVE getting a local perspective on the best ways to experience a city, and this post has some interesting suggestions. What’s the craic in Dublin? Spoiler: it involves brunch and going to the racetracks! 2) I traveled through Ireland for over a month last August, and I loved it so much, it was my first European city! I plan on returning this coming summer ’18 for an epic road trip.
Let us know in the comments if there’s something unique YOU experienced while traveling through Dublin that should be on the list! xo