One of the things I see travellers struggle with the most when visiting Dublin is choosing where to stay while here. So, here is my list of the best Neighborhoods to stay in Dublin.
The Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Dublin:
- North of the River
- Georgian Dublin
- The Grand Canal
- The Docklands
- The Coast
- The Wild West
You can have a very different experience of Dublin depending on where you stay and each of these neighbourhoods has something unique to offer visitors.
Neighbourhoods in Dublin
Before we talk about the best areas to stay in Dublin, lets talk a little about the layout of the city. Traditionally, Dublin has been divided by the river Liffey into 2 halves, the northside and southside. With the canals marking the end of the city.
Today Dublin is a lot bigger than it was historically, most people have spread out and live in the city’s many suburbs, each of which has its own unique feel.
In fact, Dublin today feels more like a collection of towns and villages than it does a single city. There are chic areas near the centre and gorgeous seaside towns along the coast.
Former industrial areas have been turned into hipster hangouts and modern tech hubs. Dublin has a lot to offer and each one of these areas can be worth a trip themselves as they will all have plenty to see.
Though all of the areas that I will mention will have different sights and attractions, they are all within easy reach of the city centre and each other. So, if you choose to stay in one area, you won’t miss out on all the other stuff the city has to offer.
Now, let’s dive in and talk about some of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Dublin.
One of the most desirable places to live in Dublin today is Smithfield. Once, this area was known for its industry and was home to the old Jameson Whiskey distillery, among many similar establishments.
Like much of Ireland, this area fell on hard times during the 19th and 20th centuries, but the last 25 or so years has seen a massive change in Smithfield’s fortunes.
While the distillery may have moved across the country, you can tour the old building today and learn about its history. The old brewery is like a miniature city itself, with its own unique feel.
Smithfield is also home to one of the only proper squares in Dublin. This used to be home to a horse market that would take place throughout the year, but today the square has plenty of boutique cafes, bars and restaurants.
This is really the big appeal of living in Smithfield today, there are plenty of places to hang out and enjoy some of the best quality food and drinks in all of Dublin, right next to the city centre.
If you choose to stay in Smithfield, you will find yourself in the heart of modern, cosmopolitan Dublin. There will be plenty of other visitors milling about with recent immigrants and locals, who’s families have lived in the area for generations.
One of my favourite places in Smithfield is the Generator hostel, located on the main square right next to the Jameson Distillery. This is probably the best hostel in Dublin.
Unlike other hostels, here there will be gigs and events that will be attended by many locals and not just visitors like yourself. It really will bring you right into the heart of the city of Dublin.
Templebar is one of the most famous districts in Dublin, not just one pub! This area is the cobblestoned section of the city centre, on the south bank of the river Liffey.
Historically, not a lot of stuff happened in this part of Dublin, but then about 30 years ago the city government gave local artists spaces in this area to practice their crafts in for free.
Since then, the area has gone from strength to strength. It’s likely that you have heard of the famous Templebar pub, which is one of the most popular in the city. Many people visit here for at least one drink.
While the area has a reputation among locals as being a tourist trap, this is not necessarily the case. You can find some of the best pubs and restaurants in Dublin right here in Templebar, if you know where to look.
The Palace Bar is located right next to Westmoreland street and is one of the last remaining Victorian pubs in the city. If you are looking for somewhere to eat, try Burdocks for fish and chips.
This area is still home to some of the city’s best artists. Many art galleries make their home along Templebar’s cobblestoned streets and the area also has the Irish Film Institute and Ark Theatre.
Having said all that, the area is home to many tourists. Later in the evening you will hear accents from all over the world, but few of them will be Irish.
While this is not a reason to avoid Templebar, you should be aware that Irish people tend to. The reason for that though has nothing to do with foreign visitors, but for the expensive bar prices.
This area is one of the most expensive in Dublin for a night out. Make sure to use my guide to know exactly what to expect to pay in Dublin for a pint!
North of the River
The Northside of Dublin has been undergoing massive changes in just the last couple of years. While it has been neglected for decades, today you will be able to see dozens of cranes building hotels and office towers all over the area.
During the first half of the 20th century Dublin had some of the worst slums in Europe, most of them were here on the Northside of the city. My grandparents would have been born and raised in some of them.
After the 1950’s, they were cleared out and the city centre started to take on its modern shape. Fewer people live here today, but this is still the place where people come to hang out.
The Spire is the most noticeable monument in Dublin, located on O’Connell Street, the main street of the city. This is the perfect homing beacon for people trying to find their way back to their hotel after a night out in a new city.
Right next to the Spire and O’Connell street, you will be able to find some great accommodation. Many of the newest buildings in Dublin have been built in this area and are hotels.
This area also has great connections to the rest of Ireland. Staying in the Northside of the city centre will grant you easy access to Dublin’s 2 main train stations.
If you want a base from which to explore the rest of Ireland, this is where I would recommend you stay. From here you can either venture around the country, or explore the island via public transport.
Click this link to find out my advice on where in Ireland to experience as a day trip.
While Ireland has some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world, south of the river you will find some of the most beautiful parts of Dublin city.
Georgian Dublin is what we call the parts of the city that were built during the 18th century, when Dublin was wealthy and probably the 2nd city of the British Empire.
Some famous things built during this period include Trinity College, City Hall and the beautiful Georgian Squares. The latter of which have been turned into the city’s public parks and are free for you to explore when here.
If you want to really explore Dublin, you really should spend some time here, even if its only for an afternoon.
This area has some of the most popular shopping districts, like Grafton Street and the streets nearby. Its also home to many of Ireland’s national museums, like the archaeology museum and National Library.
If you want to stay here, the area has some of the best and most historic hotels in Ireland. The Shelbourne, for example, is today a luxury hotel where the Irish constitution was first written in 1937.
While these things are all fantastic to see, if you have the opportunity, they are not for everyone. Yet, even though the area can be expensive to stay, there are plenty of free things to see.
As mentioned, most of Ireland’s national museums are in this part of the city and many of them are free for you to enjoy. The old Georgian squares have also become free city parks.
But I think that these streets are great to just wander around. If you are lucky with the weather, a stroll through this part of the city can offer some of the most beautiful sights in Ireland.
The Grand Canal
If you wander south through the old Georgian part of Dublin, eventually you will get to the Grand Canal. This was the southern edge of the city right up to the 1950’s when people moved further out.
Today the Grand canal is the start of the suburbs of Dublin and many locals will cross it when going into the city centre to work, shop or just hang out.
The barges that used to bring cargo from the old breweries and distilleries have long since stopped. Today the only boats you will see here will be there for leisure purposes.
Walking along the green, leafy banks of the grand canal is a popular activity for locals and visitors alike and when the sun comes out, this area really comes alive.
While drinking in public is usually frowned upon by the police in Ireland, exceptions seem to be made on those few occasions when the sun actually shines. If it does when you’re here, head down to the grand canal to see the Irish people try to cope with sunshine!
One of the popular neighbourhoods along the canal is Portobello. Located between the canal and the southern city-centre, this area has some great cafes and pubs to explore.
Alternatively, you could cross the canal into Rathmines and see one of the most popular hang-out spots in Dublin outside the city centre. In the last 5 years or so, Rathmines has seen many new bars, restaurants and cafes spring up.
You can explore some of the best of Dublin’s nightlife here, while meeting many locals and not spending crazy, inner-city prices.
The Grand Canal meets the river Liffey just before it flows into the Irish Sea, at Dublin’s docklands. The Royal Canal does the same thing, just on the other side.
200 years ago, this area was a bustling hub of activity, with goods from all over the world coming into the city. Then the produce of places like the Guinness and Jameson breweries left.
The decline that the rest of the city felt, hit here the hardest and when I was growing up, during the 1990’s, this place was considered rough. All that has changed and these days the area is unrecognizable.
The European headquarters of companies like Google, Facebook and Airbnb have all set up shop in this neighbourhood and today the area is selling its wares to the rest of the world again, but on a much larger scale!
When exploring this area, you will be able to get a sense of its history, modern tech giants have set up in centuries-old warehouses and you can see the past meet the future here like nowhere else in Ireland.
It is more expensive to stay here than other parts of the city. Make sure to plan ahead if you want to stay right in the heart of things here.
But like the rest of the city, getting here is easy. The Docklands are about 20 minutes away from the centre of Dublin by foot, so you can explore the area easily.
The Docklands are also home to some important cultural institutions like the Bord Gais theatre, one of the largest in the country. Nearby, you will also find the Aviva stadium, which plays host to many international Rugby and Soccer matches.
I think that the most underrated part of Dublin is its coastline. Dublin bay has been recognised by the UN as being a unique ecological zone and you will be able to see some of the best scenery in Ireland right next to Dublin’s centre!
The DART line is a light rail system that runs right along the coast and links many smaller towns and communities. Using this, you can reach some really great sights in minutes from the centre of town.
To the north, there are communities like Malahide and Clontarf, but I always tell people to check out Howth, like here in my guide. This is a peninsula you can get to in about 20 minutes and have a great day outside of the city.
Heading south, you can see areas like Bray or Dalkey, but to my mind Killiney offers some of the best experiences. When walking to the top of the hills around there, you will be able to find some of the best views of the city.
If you want to explore Dublin’s coast and get a sense of what you will see in the neighbourhoods there, you can read my guide on day trips from Dublin, using public transport. All my best tips are there.
The Wild West
The final neighbourhood in Dublin that I want to mention is out west. Today, Dublin is expanding all around and most people live out in suburbs, especially in this direction.
Out here you will probably find some of the best deals on accommodation in the city. Areas like Clondalkin have great deals on hotels, especially for groups.
The only drawback is that there may not be as many things to see/ do as somewhere more central.
Having said that, there are plenty of great places out in the west of Dublin, where you can find some great attractions. In fact, some of Dublin’s best are west of the city centre.
Kilmainham is another part of the city that has started to gentrify in the last 10 years or so. Located past the Guinness Storehouse, this area has one of the most important sights in Ireland.
Kilmainham Gaol was where the leaders of the ill-fated 1916 Easter Rising were executed. This event would ultimately lead to the successful Irish independence movement.
This is one of the few attractions in Ireland that I think you should really go out of your way to experience, if you have the opportunity.
The only difficulty here is that it is so popular, you will need to book in advance. To find out more about that, or how to explore any of the places that I have mentioned in this article, make sure to check out my recommendations for Dublin. All of my favourite tours, attractions and accommodations are listed there, among many other things.