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Photo: Natalie

Eva Sandoval lays out the city’s most avoidable attractions…and what you should do instead.
1. Don’t… get lit in Temple Bar

Temple Bar is home to several bars that drunken tourists in green face paint love to frequent. There are lovely things to see in historic Temple Bar — for example, the Irish Photography Centre, the Temple Bar Music Centre, and the Irish Film Institute — but save your tour for the daytime, before things get pagan.

Do… tie one on like the locals

Head to the area around Georges Street in City Centre or make your way down towards Rathmines. 4 Dame Lane and The Globe for your clubbing clusterfreaks; The Duke, The Bernard Shaw, The Bleeding Horse, and Roddy Boland for your beer and GAA matches.

Those in search of the dirty singles scene might entertain the idea of hitting Copper Face Jack’s — a local institution, described in disgusted tones by my Dubliner friends as “a meatmarket,” “full of nurses and gardaí (Irish police),” and “hell on earth.” But, you know, wildly popular with the locals.

You’ve been officially warned.

2. Don’t… expect to drink all night

Most pubs close at 11:30pm on weeknights and 1am on weekends. Something about curbing alcoholism. Well done.

Do… make friends

The party still goes on after-hours in people’s homes. Make sure to hit the off-license before 10:30pm to stock up or you’ll be doubly out of luck.

3. Don’t… try to get inside Oscar Wilde’s birthplace

21 Westland Row is not a museum. It’s the writing centre for the Creative Writing and Irish Literature Master’s of Philosophy students at Trinity College Dublin.

There are no tours; just would-be writers attending lectures and jumping in shock each time you ring the buzzer and shout: “Oscar Wilde!” I speak from personal experience.

Do… visit the Yeats exhibit at Kildare Street

Brilliant. Free. Definitely open to the public.

Or if it’s still Oscar you’re after, visit 1 Merrion Square to see the house where he grew up or the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square.

4. Don’t… call an Irishman (or Irishwoman) British

This goes for the whole of the Republic of Ireland. Want to start a fistfight? Talk about how Dublin is the greatest capital city in the UK; tourist goes down.

Do… get it right

The Republic of Ireland is independent of the the crown. It has been a Free State since 1922. Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

5. Don’t… automatically dismiss the food

I might be a bit biased here because I find traditional Irish fare incredibly satisfying: hearty shepherd’s pie, fat pink Irish salmon, mussels, chips, and potato boxty — what’s not to like?

Dublin is a vibrant capital city, full of trendy restaurants offering ethnic and traditional specialties. New Irish cuisine puts heavy emphasis on organically sourced ingredients and it’s the norm to find vegan and coeliac options on most menus.

Do… try Irish classics with a twist

For souped-up takes on homestyle Irish classics like fish pie and bangers & mash, try The Farm or The Winding Stair.

Yamamori on Eden Quay has great fresh sushi, or try Fafie’s French Crêperie on Kevin Street for crepes and gallettes. Jo Burger in Rathmines has quite possibly the world’s perfect burger with homemade fixings from the Breton buns to the homemade spicy ketchup, and patties of 100% locally sourced beef, chicken, and lamb. Prior fasting recommended.

6. Don’t… stick to British Colonial and Irish Civil War historical sights

Dublin’s got serious Viking DNA, dating from the 9th century, and plenty of local prehistory to explore.

Do… take the Viking Splash Tour

20 Euro gets you a seat on the Viking Splash Tour — a bright yellow amphibious vehicle that parades you around Dublin’s city centre to learn about its Viking past. At the end of the tour, the vehicle slips into the Grand Canal Docklands for a cruise.

Best of all, the tour leader encourages passengers to shout “ARGH!” like Vikings at hapless pedestrians. Bonus: Everyone gets to wear plastic Viking helmets.

Alternatively, visit The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology to see bog people — bodies preserved to eerie near-perfection thousands of years ago in Ireland’s peat bogs. Free admission every day.

7. Don’t… attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a bucket-list goal for many — too many. Try to be content with simply being in-country for the holiday, unless you like vomit-lined streets, exposed genitalia, and sidewalk-to-sidewalk crowds.

Do… head somewhere on the West Coast

The West Coast has less crowds and less tourist nonsense. Try visiting Achill Island for their annual Piper Celebration.

8. Don’t… order a Murphy’s

Why would you? Murphy’s stout comes from Cork! Gasp.

Do… order a Guinness

You’re in the land from whence the mother’s milk flows, after all. Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease on the Guinness Factory in Dublin 2, so you’ve got plenty of time.

Photo: LenDog64

9. Don’t… expect an “authentic” trad music session

These days, catching a trad music session in Dublin is like watching a rodeo in New York City. While you might get some sessions in touristy Temple Bar or at The Duke, you’ll have better luck finding spontaneous traditional Irish music out on the West Coast or in the countryside.

Do… find Dublin-style standup comedy

On Monday nights, the International Bar at 23 Wicklow Street in City Centre hosts Glór — an open mic poetry, music, and writing slam — held in both English and Irish. Brilliant cultural fun.

10. Don’t… take a photo next to Molly Malone

During my first visit to Dublin, my Irish then-boyfriend forbade me to set foot near the statue of Molly Malone for fear I’d get myself — him — pegged as a tourist.

Turned out, there wasn’t even a point in trying to get a photo; Dublin’s most famous working girl still has people crawling all over her.

Do… find another idol

Try taking a photo next to the statue of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on Harry Street or James Joyce at North Earl Street and the Spire for an easier photo op. Dublin has lots of terrific statues that aren’t mobbed by tourists.

What NOT to do


About The Author

Eva Sandoval

Eva is an American freelance travel writer who has lived in four countries in the past four years. She likes to write about her daily humiliations as an expat. She is currently living - and driving very badly - in Terracina, Italy.

  • Rebecca

    nice post, Eva!
    “The party still goes on after-hours in people’s homes”. Agreed….for days :)

  • Kristin Conard

    I completely agree with avoiding Temple Bar!!

  • guyguy

    offlicence’s stop selling at 10 oclock, not 10.30; this could be a fatal error to the chances of any craic that night. :)
    otherwise incredibly insightful and enjoyed reading it even as a local.

  • Candice

    Love this! Will remember for the next time I visit Ireland. And hey, I do enjoy some exposed genitalia.

    • Eva Sandoval

      Thanks, Candice! I considered telling the flashers about the P-Mate – you know, just in case – but I figured, why bother….

      • Candice

        Hahaha, good plan!

  • Sean

    Haha, this made me laugh. You think you know Ireland but you clearly don’t. I think Matador need to do more checks on articles they publish instead of just hitting the send button.

    • Eva Sandoval

      Sean – writing an article about Fianna Fáil next. Stay tuned….

      • Sean

        I look forward to it.

  • Racheli

    I don’t agree that one shouldn’t attend the St. Patrick’s day parade. When I was there it was simply amazing, the best place in the world to be in on that day, and I definetally didn’t see any exposed genitalia…

    • Sean

      I agree. The St. Patricks Parade in Dublin is brilliant. You definitely don’t have to come to Ireland to see exposed genitalia.

    • Westyireland

      …despite an intensive search for some..

  • Lindi Horton

    While I wouldn’t recommend the Dublin Trinity, Guiness, Baileys, and Jameson… I would certainly say get locked up in the Kilmainham Gaol. Of the touristy stuff I did, that was by far the best and most educational. Awesome piece!

  • Paul D’Arcy

    You’ll still find quite a few bars that stay open until after 2. My advice to the tourist is to do your research before hand and not after you get kicked out of a bar at 1am!!

    I recommend Kehoes, The Long Hall, The Stag’s Head, Neary’s, Grogan’s and Bowe’s if you’re looking for old fashioned pubs in the city centre. (They’re not open much later than 1 on weekends though.)

    As for calling an Irish person British, the same applies for the North as well as the Republic. Whilst you’re 100% correct in saying that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it should probably be clarified that the island of Britain consists only of England, Scotland and Wales. Many Irish (north & south!) and British people of all beliefs and opinions get this wrong!!!!

    I have to say that this is a great post! You’re very in tune with the city.!!!

    Paul (currently living in Laos – moving to Vietnam soon!!!)

  • Anne

    This was a great post. I’d love to go back to Dublin someday.

    I’d add the National Gallery to the list – it’s in a really quiet part of the city, not far from the centre, and the building looks out over a very pretty picnic-friendly garden. For those rare sunny days, it’s perfect.

  • Laura

    “What NOT to do in Dublin”….stay too long – get the bus up the road to Belfast, brilliant spot! 

  • Rosdubh

    There are a lot of inaccuracies in this article.
    1) Temple Bar was never Dublin’s Jewish ghetto (Portobello was the Jewish area).
    2) The Temple Bar Music Centre has been called ‘The Button Factory’ for about three or four years now.
    3) The “Yeats exhibit at Kildare Street” is actually part of the National Library – the article states that this is “definitely a museum”. It’s not. It’s a library.
    4) No Irish person would hit a tourist for calling them ‘British’ – you’ll probably get some eye-rolling and exasperated sighs, but Irish people are not savages that floor people for little or no reason.
    5) Viking Dublin dates from the 9th century; not the 7th century.
    6) As for the “vomit-lined streets, exposed genitalia and sidewalk-to-sidewalk crowds” during the St Patrick’s day parade, this is completely wrong and highly offensive. The parade takes place in the morning, before noon, and children from all over the country come to watch it. This is an irresponsible comment and potentially damaging to Ireland’s tourism industry.
    7) There are many authentic trad sessions if you can be bothered to leave Temple Bar – the Cobblestome Pub is Smithfield or O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row are just two that spring to mind.
    This is just a lazy article. Do your homework before writing, next time.

    • Hal Amen

      Thanks for highlighting these issues, Rosdubh. I’ve made changes above.

  • Blah

    Off Licence is open till 10pm, not 10:30pm

  • Droghegan

    Don’t go into a pub and try to start the old “Catholic versus Protestant” whiskey-Jameson vs. Bushmill’s argument.  That likely will get you thrown out.

  • Alan Fanning

    Hi from Dublin,
    Great fun article – agree with almost all apart from the Dublin Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – it is a ‘must attend’ part of the week long celebrations (I’m a volunteer).
    I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience please believe me this is not the norm.
    Anyone needing Dublin advice can contact me anytime.

  • Alan Fanning

    Hi again – I forgot to add – DO NOT pay commissions for accommodation or tours or attraction entry tickets.

  • Flights and Frustration

    Some great tips for Dublin but you didn’t mention Irish Stew! I quite like the Murphy’s but Guinness is good too.

  • ohiokla

    #7???? REALLY???? This was one of the best parts of our trip! And we didn’t see any vomit or genitalia…. Just some drunk 16 year olds hahaha. And we knew there would be lots of crowds. You’d be stupid not to. And the crowds are part of the whole experience! The floats were out of this world AWESOME and nothing like those here in the US! And why would anyone call an Irshman British??? Obviously if you travel to Ireland, you should know its a different country. God help the world traveller that doesn’t ever look at a map.

    Don’t take to this chick’s article to heart. Pretty ignorant, I think.

  • Jessica Maybury

    The Guinness factory is in Dublin 8 not Dublin 2. Maybe have this written by someone who’s actually done their research next time. Seriously doubting the veracity of other articles posted here now.

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