Many visitors to Dublin will spend their entire time exploring the main tourist attractions close to the city centre and never once meet a local. If you want to take a step off the beaten tourist trail, there are plenty of areas in Dublin where you will have a great time meeting locals, especially where they live.
Some of the most popular areas of Dublin to visit are along the coast. The neighborhoods of Malahide, Howth, Dalkey and Killiney have scenic views and great amenities like cafes and restaurants. While areas like Phibsborough, Ranelagh, Stoneybatter and Harold’s Cross are closer to the city centre.
As a local, I find that some of the best places to visit in Dublin are neighborhoods a little further out, like in the suburbs. Each of these areas has their own unique sense of self and community and the residents will usually be more than happy to share the best of their area with visitors.
The Best Neighborhoods in Dublin to Visit and Explore
Dublin is a diverse city that should have something to offer almost everyone who visits. Most people who visit, will tend to stay close to the centre and there are amazing places there to explore. The Templebar district might not have the best reputation among locals, but it is a lot of fun, especially at night.
Capel Street in Dublin was pedestrianized in the summer of 2022 and is a really unique place. It offers great nightlife with traditional Irish bars and the main part of the city’s gay district, in addition to Asian street food and craft beer. But all of the side streets off Capel have something to offer the intrepid explorer.
The inner city of Dublin, south of the River Liffey has gorgeous Georgian streets and squares, most famously Fitzwilliam Street and St. Stephen’s Green. These are great places to wander around, take pictures and see the sights!
If you want to meet more locals and see the city where most Dubliners call home however, you will have to venture outside of the city centre. There are so many places to chose from, so I just want to mention some of the neighborhoods that are the most “up and coming”, but also some of the more mainstream favorites.
Neighborhoods on the Coast of Dublin
The Coast of Dublin is easily accessible by the DART light rail system, which serves the communities along it very well. There are also plenty of bus routes to these areas from the city centre.
Malahide is a beautiful town, located north of Dublin city. It is famous for its castle and gardens and offers a great family day out.
Howth is a peninsula located just north of Dublin. It has numerous hiking trails around the cliffs on its shores, which all offer scenic views of Dublin Bay and city. The community itself was established in the medieval period and includes castles and historic sighs, some of which date back many millennia earlier.
Today Howth is a fishing village and has some of the best seafood on the East Coast of Ireland. Here, you will often find seals swimming in the harbour and dolphins can occasionally be seen off the coast in the bay. This is in addition to the countless seabirds that make Howth their home.
In the video above you can see how beautiful the town of Dalkey is to explore. It is a fantastic little medieval town with plenty of great pubs and restaurants offering great food, including traditional Irish fare.
Famously, the American actor Matt Damon, stayed here for a few weeks during the height of the lockdown restrictions here in Ireland and you can find out more on what he had to say about it below.
The generally accepted boundary of the city centre of Dublin today are its two canals. The Grand Canal is to the South of the city and the Royal is to the North. Both are great places to explore in their own right and you will see great views along their banks with wildlife in abundance.
Some of the most exciting neighborhoods in Dublin are along the each of these canals and are within easy walking distance of the city centre. Areas like Phibsborough and Harold’s Cross regularly receive international recognition for how fun these places are to live in and how great they are to visit.
Located to the north of the city centre, Phibsborough is accessible by foot, bus or the luas light rail system. This area is full of Georgian and Victorian buildings, but many are much smaller than their counterparts in neighborhoods south of the river.
Phibsborough has been undergoing gentrification in the last decade or so and many people who grew up here have lamented about the increase in house prices. Having said that, plenty of great establishments have opened up here recently, most famously the popular Bernard Shaw pub moved here with its Eatyard venue and set up along the canal.
This community is just south of the grand canal and is also accessible via the luas. Once you leave the station and arrive at the main crossroads, you will easily come across some amazing locally owned pubs, restaurants and stores.
As you walk through the streets of this district, you will find plenty of public parks and beautiful Georgian buildings.
Where do the Rich Live in Dublin?
The Irish version of the “Valley Girl” stereotype from the US is a “D4”, this refers to the Dublin 4 postal district in the city. The generally accepted view is that the “South Side” of Dublin is the wealthier area, with the “North Side” of the River Liffey traditionally being more working class.
Though there is some truth to this, the reality is not as simple, there are plenty of poorer areas south of the river and wealthy areas to its north. As a general rule today, the wealthier neighborhoods in Dublin are closer to the coast.
If you want to find the most wealthy communities in the city, along the coast of the Dublin mountains is a good place to start. There, you will be able to visit areas like Killiney, Foxrock and Dalkey.