Last updated on September 7th, 2022
Featured image: The legendary Temple Bar pub in Dublin, Ireland | Photo by © jon_chica on Adobe Stock
Best ways to enjoy Dublin from a woman’s perspective
Curated by Evelyn Hannon, Founder, JourneyWoman
Fiona Hillard is a well-known travel writer based in Dublin, Ireland, where she authors her travel blog, Travel Edits. We asked Fiona to advise our readership on the best ways to enjoy the Irish capital from a woman’s point of view. She writes…
Kelly’s Hotel South Great Georges St/Fade Street. Reasonably-priced boutique hotels with great locations are hard to come by in any city which is why this is such an excellent Dublin find. Kelly’s Hotel is situated in one of the city’s trendiest areas, The Creative Quarter, so-called because of its close proximity to Dublin’s coolest restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Look out for special offers on their website.
Suzy Guese, a travel writer from Denver, Colorado visited Dublin recently and told me about Number 31 Dublin. This charming B&B/guesthouse is located in a former architect’s house and the building itself is considered to be one of Dublin’s hidden architectural gems. Their website is found here.
The Times Hostel on College Street is one of Dublin’s most popular hostel locations, probably due in most part to its excellent location which is within easy reach of Trinity College, Temple Bar, and Grafton Street. Click here.
Best breakfast in town
The Bakehouse on Bachelor’s Walk is one of the latest fun, value for money eateries cropping up around town. Although only a recent addition to the early morning Dublin scene, their breakfasts have already attracted a loyal following. This is due not only to the huge portions but also the traditional Irish recipes and gorgeous freshly baked bread that accompanies most dishes. Address: 6 Bachelor’s Walk.
Lovely lunches in Dublin
Depending on appetite levels, there are plenty of options to choose from including light tapas, hearty traditional dishes or a modern take on just about any international cuisine. As it happens, all of my lunchtime recommendations begin with the letter ‘P’! The Porthouse on 64a South William Street (great tapas and wine), The Pig’s Ear on 4 Nassau Street (traditional Irish with a twist), The Pepperpot in Powerscourt Townhouse, S. William Street(lovely vegetarian options) are always good, but my favourite is Pichet which is located on Andrew’s Lane. This award-winning bistro offers great value for money – their delicious lunch menu offers 2 courses for 20 euro or three courses for 25 euros.
Interesting places to have tea …
Ireland is a nation of tea-lovers and nowhere is this more apparent than in the cafes of the capital.
For a special occasion, try the Afternoon Tea in the lavish surroundings of the Merrion Hotel.
Dublin does not have an Eiffel Tower or a coliseum. There isn’t one standout landmark that everybody has to photograph to prove they’ve been here. In Dublin, it’s more about the atmosphere on the streets, the banter in the pubs and the warmth of the locals. In saying this, however, there are several places that are well worth including on a ‘must-do’ list. The Guinness Storehouse is consistently voted Dublin’s top tourist attraction. Although a little on the pricey side, it’s a special experience to sink a pint of the black stuff while looking out over the whole of Dublin from the lofty heights of the Storehouse’s Gravity Bar.
To make up for the money you’ve splashed out on the Guinness tour, take advantage of the free entry to Dublin’s main museums and galleries. Both the National Museum of Ireland and the National Gallery offer free admission and are definitely worth a few hours of your time. If you visit The National Gallery, it’s worth making an effort to see “Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” by Frederic William Burton. This romantic portrait was recently voted Ireland’s favourite painting. You may have to queue to view it however as it is only open to the public for 3 hours a week due to the fragility of the canvass.
A guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol is another excellent way to get to know Dublin’s dramatic history. Apart from the Ha’penny Bridge, the Spire on Dublin’s O’ Connell St is probably the closest we get to any sort of landmark monument. If you’re looking to capture the full magnitude of the “Monument of Light” it’s best to take your photographs from Henry Street or O’Connell Bridge.
Irish specialties and souvenirs
Head to Celtic Note music shop on Nassau St and take home an audio souvenir of all that lovely folk and trad music you’ve been listening to in Dublin.
The majority of the high-end Irish specialty shops are located on this street including Kilkenny and House of Ireland – more Waterford Crystal and Donegal tweed than you can shake a leprechaun at!
On the northside of the Liffey, just off O’Connell Street, The cute Lighthouse Cinema is the best place to catch a blockbuster or an arthouse film. Meanwhile, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) on 6 Eustace Street in Temple bar showcases the best movies from around the globe. If you’re visiting during the summer months you may be lucky enough to catch a free outdoor screening of a movie during the Sunday Times Outdoor Film Festival on Meeting House Square in Temple Bar. For a classy cocktails-and-movie experience check out the Sugar Club on 8 Lower Leeson Street. They regularly host decadent movie-themed parties where guests dress as their favourite screen idols before sitting down to watch the classic movie in question. Past movie nights have included Breakfast at Tiffany’s – don’t forget your bling!
Rent a bicycle in the Phoenix Park and spot deer in their native habitat. Besides being great exercise, it’s also a really fun way to spend a sunny afternoon. Bicycle rental costs €5 per hour or €7 for two hours and a map is included in case you get lost! Alternatively, take a stroll around St Stephens Green or climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage for a romantic jaunt around the park. Also in the city centre, you’ll find The Iveagh Gardens (just off Harcourt St) to be one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets – a true urban oasis.
England is one of my heart places. It’s where I grew up, have moved back to twice, and have spent many holidays. I will never get tired of visiting. Here are a few tips for you if you decide to go.
Best place for a stroll
Follow in the footsteps of all the greats from Oscar Wilde, to James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw and find out why Dublin is listed as a UNESCO City of Literature, by taking a literary walking tour of Dublin.
When the sun is shining, the leafy canal banks of Portobello are idyllic. Take some bread along and join locals in feeding the resident swans and ducks of the Grand Canal.
Best place to hear traditional Irish music
Most Dublin pubs will host evenings of traditional Irish music but there are a few special pubs that have earned a reputation for having great live music. The Cobblestone fits into this category. Located on North King Street, Dublin 7, it is a traditional, casual, city centre pub that hosts some of the best traditional music and roots sessions in all of Dublin.
O’ Donoghues in Merrion Row has been associated with traditional Irish bands including The Dubliners and the Furey Brothers for what seems like forever. Both used to play regular sessions in the pub. Not much has changed in O’ Donoghues, including the décor which still maintains many of its original features. Traditional Irish music sessions place weekly and are highly regarded among musicians.
M Hughes on 20 Chancery Street, Dublin 7 is probably the least touristy of these pubs, due in most parts to its out of the way location (you’ll find it behind the Four Courts Building). It’s the type of place where you’ll just happen to stumble upon set dancing classes and traditional music performances. The easiest way to reach M Hughes is to follow the Luas red line.
Best place to go for a drink
Music and drinking go hand in hand in Dublin. Those in search of jigs, reels, and Guinness will adore The Cobblestone, The Stag’s Head or O’ Donoghue’s on Merrion Row. Indie and alternative rock fans can soundcheck their favourite bands in Whelans and The Village in Wexford Street/Camden Street but if you’re dressed to the nines and ready to clink cocktail glasses, check out the upmarket bars and lounges of South William Street. Or – weather permitting, grab a seat outside Grogan’s and soak up the evening sunshine and after-work chat.
There are lots of nice bars in this area including the Bar with No Name at 3 Fade Street which is hard to beat for quiet drinks or lively banter on the terrace.
Craft and food markets
Situated in the banks of the Grand Canal, opposite the Mespil Hotel, The Mespil Lunchtime Market takes place every Thursday from 11 am-2.00 pm.
The market offers a great range of Irish and international cuisine including wood-fired pizza, rotisserie chicken, lamb/horse skewers, paella, Spanish stews, German bratwurst, Palestinian wraps and salads, Mediterranean Grill, Irish chocolates, curries, coffee beans, artisan breads, Chinese noodles, Mexican burritos, cupcakes, burgers and Hungarian Goulash to name but a few dishes on offer.
Over on the north side of the Liffey, Moore Street (just off Henry St) is famous for its larger-than-life market traders with their battered Silver Cross prams piled high with oranges and giant Toblerones. These ladies are so synonymous with Dublin Street life that they even starred in a recent photo exhibition.
Where to get a good haircut
If you’re looking for the best place to get a hair-cut in Dublin to take your unruly locks to South William Street where you’ll find the who’s who of Dublin’s finest salons including Dylan Bradshaw, Style Club, Brown Sugar, and Zeba ready to snip your mane into line. Have your Euro at the ready though – when it comes to a quality cut you get what you pay for! Look out for special offers on their individual websites, especially on quiet days such as Mondays. On average a good haircut can cost anything from 40 to 120 Euros. Prices vary wildly between city centre salons so it’s worth shopping around if you’re counting the pennies.
A visit to the shoe department in Brown Thomas is a real payday treat, but other independent shoe shops including Fitzpatrick’s on Grafton Street where they source leather shoes from their own suppliers in Italy are also worth a visit. If you’re shopping with a conscience, check out the Natural Shoe Store on 25 Drury Street. This shoe shop sells flats and foot-shaped shoes which they say are far better for your feet than anything you’ll pick up elsewhere. They’re also famous for their selection of vegan-friendly shoes and boots and provide a mail-order service if you haven’t bargained on paying for excess luggage.
Luxurious spa and massage
Mandala Spa at La Stampa Hotel on Dawson Street is one of Dublin’s best urban retreats. This upmarket spa is so spacious and tranquil that you’ll easily forget that you’re in the centre of a major capital city. Be sure to try the oriental teas as you flop in the plush “Arabian Nights” style chill-out area.
Yoga in Dublin
The Samadhi Centre in Dublin offers classes for all abilities and its location in the centre of Temple Bar makes it the perfect place to relax and rewind if you’re on a flying visit to the Irish capital. Lotus Yoga on Wicklow Street is another option, offering pay-as-you-go options from €10 per class.
Aside from all the major fashion chains, there are lots of nice little boutiques in Dublin. Some of my favourites include Carousel on Exchequer Street, which sells vintage and vintage-inspired clothes. I also like browsing the rails of the various designers inside department stores such as Arnotts – look out for Irish label Laundry Room for cute dresses. A-wear is an Irish chain selling a catwalk-worthy collection of bags, shoes, casual, party and workwear at affordable prices. Look out for stores on Grafton Street and Henry Street.
Best thing to do for free in Dublin
Take a walk down Grafton Street and catch the “next big thing” busking in the open air before they get too famous.
What to avoid in Dublin
On the weekends, Temple Bar after dark is the epicenter of Dublin’s “touristy” nightlife. Some may find the loud bars and jammed streets too much to handle. But if you’re planning a wild night on the tiles, by all means, be our guest!
Scenic journey we recommend
A lazy scenic drive around the dramatic Dublin coastline lets you appreciate the beauty of the Irish capital from a whole new perspective. Choose between Howth and Malahide on the northside and Dalkey and Killiney on the southside of the city.
These coastal villages are the “Millionaires Row” of Dublin. Famous Dalkey residents include Bono, as well as Enya and Van Morrison.
There are a number of ways to travel around these scenic routes including Dublin car hire, Dublin Bus Coastal Tours and Irish Rail (check timetables and rates before you go).
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