Where to Stay in Dublin | A Guide to the Best Neighbourhoods

Where to Stay in Dublin | A Guide to the Best Neighbourhoods

You just booked your flight to Dublin and the dreaded time to pick a place to stay has now come. You are scrolling through booking websites hoping to get a sense of what part of the city is best, but you are still unsure.

Let me break down Dublin’s best areas to stay for you. As a tourist or party-goer, you want to stay close to the city centre where you’ll find the main sights, heap of restaurants and pubs. And because public transport at night is not to be relied upon, you want your accommodation to be easily accessible on foot. That’s for the general rule.

Be aware that Dublin city centre is not a uniform district. It is made of several neighbourhoods with their own character and highlights, and I have selected the ones best suited for a stay in the Irish capital. I’ve listed their pros and cons with the aim of making your search for the best place to stay easier. You’ll also find a selection of hotels based on price in each area.

Disclaimer
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link, I earn a little money at no extra cost to you.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is renowned internationally for its colourful pubs which pour Irish music into its picturesque cobbled streets. Temple Bar has been labelled a tourist trap but it is more than that. This area of Dublin is indeed home to award-winning restaurants and a thriving cultural scene with music venues, theatres and festivals.

Temple Bar, Dublin

What’s nearby?

  • Dublin Castle
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • The Chester Beatty Library
  • Trinity College
  • The Ha’penny Bridge
  • The Irish Film Institute
  • The Project Arts Centre
  • Smock Alley Theatre

Pros & Cons

Pros: You’ll find yourself right in the action. Temple Bar is ideally located with many sites at a walking distance, including world famous Trinity College Old Library, Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral. For those on a shopping spree, Grafton Street is only ten minutes away. You’ll find plenty of good restaurants literally at your doorstep. And the party-goers will enjoy the buzzing night scene with pubs and bars located all around the neighbourhood. Temple Bar is easily accessible from the airport with buses stopping on O’Connell Bridge, just a five-minute walk from there. 

Cons: The noise. Temple Bar attracts thousands of visitors during the day with streets performers adding to the noise. If loud crowds are a cause of stress, better avoid the area. In the evening, party-goers take over the streets of Temple Bar until late into the night. If you need your beauty sleep, bring earplugs or simply stay away from Temple Bar. Plus the bars are expensive and you won’t meet with many locals.

Hotels in Temple Bar

Budget Hotel

The Barnacles Hostel: travellers on a budget will enjoy the very central location of the Barnacles Hostel. Be warned though, you might not catch a lot of sleep.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Mid-range Hotels

Jurys Inn Christchurch: For those wanting a quieter night without losing out on the location, the Jurys Inn on Dame Street offers three star accommodation only a five-minute walk from Temple Bar.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Morgan Hotel: If you want to enjoy Temple Bar’s night scene without compromising on your comfort, the Morgan is for you. This four star hotel, right in Temple Bar, is also super easy to access with AirCoach.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

High-end Hotel

The Westin: Just across from Temple Bar on Westmoreland Street and overlooking Trinity College, this 5 star hotel can’t be more central and has everything you need for a luxurious stay in Dublin.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

You might also be interested in:
Ireland Travel Books | The Best Guidebooks to Plan your Irish Adventure
How to Get Around Dublin by Public Transport
20 Real Money Saving Tips to Visit Dublin on a Budget

The Docklands

To the east of Dublin city centre, the Docklands sprawls on both sides of the river Liffey. This modern part of the city has seen extensive redevelopment for the last 20 years. Modern architecture blending glass and steel has sprouted from the ground all the way to Dublin Port. 

The Docklands, dubbed the Silicon Docks, is now home to international corporations and startup companies attracting a multinational workforce. But the Docklands are not just big names like Google and Airbnb. Hotels and restaurants have also found their place among financial institutions and tech companies. And visitors can enjoy the vicinity of Dublin Convention Centre and state-of-the-art entertainment venues.

Dublin Docklands

What’s nearby?

  • The 3Arena
  • The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
  • Dublin Convention Centre

Pros & Cons

Pros: You’ll find a good selection of contemporary and affordable hotels in the area. Being essentially a business district, the Docklands are quieter at night so you won’t have to worry too much about the noise. This part of town is home to two major entertainment venues, the 3Arena and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. If you are planning to see a show, staying in the Docklands for the night sounds like a good idea. Finally, transfer from and to the airport is made easy with buses serving the area.

Cons: The location is not the most central. You can still make your way to the main sites on foot though (don’t forget to bring comfy shoes). At night, you might want to take a taxi to get back to your hotel if you don’t feel safe walking on your own. The area is known for some good, modern restaurants like Nutbutter (love their breakfast) or Herbstreet, but they are few. As for the pubs, the selection is again limited, the popular Ferryman being one of the last traditional pubs still standing in the area.

Hotels in the Docklands

Mid-range Hotel

The Spencer Hotel: The Spencer is a modern, four-star hotel right on the river Liffey with Airlink 747 and 757 buses to and from the airport stopping along the street. It also has a gym and a swimming pool with a sauna to relax after a long day out and about.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

High-end Hotel

The Marker: With its striking, modern architecture, the Marker Hotel has become a well-known feature of Dublin’s Docklands. This five-star hotel is ideally located next to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and has even a rooftop bar if you fancy a cocktail with a view.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Smithfield

Smithfield is located on the North side of the Liffey to the west of the city centre. Formerly a market square where farmers were selling their horses (no kidding), Smithfield has since been redeveloped. The square is now surrounded by modern apartment blocks, an independent cinema (my favourite!), restaurants and cafes.

For those interested in Irish whiskey, Smithfield is also the historical home of the Jameson Distillery. The distillery stopped producing whiskey in the area a long time ago though. Instead the site has been turned into a popular attraction that many around the world come to visit.

The Luas, the local tram, will take you from Smithfield to the city centre in little less than ten minutes. Heading in the other direction, the National Museum of Ireland is the next stop or just ten minutes on foot. If you like walking, you can reach the Christ Church area in approximately fifteen minutes from Smithfield.

Smithfield, Dublin

What’s nearby?

  • Jameson Distillery
  • National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
  • The Lighthouse Cinema

Pros & Cons

Pros: If you are visiting on a budget, think about giving Smithfield a go. Smithfield being located on the fringe of the city centre, room prices are lower in the area. This neighbourhood also benefits from being connected to the city centre and Dublin’s two main train stations by tram, which can come handy if you’re planning a day trip outside Dublin. Restaurants, bars and cafes in the area are also less crowded than the city centre making for a more relaxed and local (although hipstery) experience of Dublin.

Cons: From the airport, getting to Smithfield by public transport is not straightforward. You’ll have to get the bus to O’Connell Street then hop on the Luas. This is not the best option if you arrive late at night or travel heavy. Although the area around Smithfield is not known for being unsafe, it is better to stick to the main streets at night time. 

Hotels in Smithfield

Budget Hotel

Generator: The design-led company behind the Generator brand has created some the coolest budget hotels in Europe. With social spaces for art exhibitions and live music, a bar and a restaurant, Generator Dublin is a place where travellers and locals mingle.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Mid-range Hotel

The Hendrick Hotel: dubbed “Dublin’s first street art hotel”, the Hendrick is a boutique hotel with a contemporary feel that opened in 2019. The rooms feature street art while art works are shown in the hotel’s common areas.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

O’Connell Street

Backdrop of the 1916 Easter Rising and now home to a controversial piece of art called the Spire, O’Connell Street is probably Dublin’s most famous thoroughfare. The General Post Office and its imposing columns in classic style dominate the 500 meter long street running north of the River Liffey.

The O’Connell Street area is known to be a popular shopping district. At the corner with the GPO, pedestrian Henry Street attracts the weekend crowd with heaps of shops, two shopping centres and two department stores. O’Connell Street is also just a ten-minute walk from Temple Bar.

O’Connell Street is well connected to the airport with Airlink and AirCoach buses. Taxi ranks are also available along the street. If you don’t like walking around town, Dublin’s two tram lines interconnect in the area.

O'Connell Street, Dublin

What’s nearby?

  • The General Post Office and its museum
  • The Spire
  • Garden of Remembrance
  • Hugh Lane Gallery
  • Dublin Writers Museum
  • James Joyce Centre
  • Ha’penny Bridge
  • The Abbey Theatre
  • The Gate Theatre

Pros & Cons

Pros: If you are travelling on a small budget, hotels located on the Northside are always cheaper than those on the more sought-after Southside. The area is well connected by public transport with buses to and from the airport and very central. Henry Street nearby will delight visitors on a shopping spree. And the major attractions are at a short walking distance.

Cons: This area can be a little more gritty and safety can be an issue late at night if you’re alone. Be aware of random groups of teenagers engaging in antisocial behaviour. 

Hotels near O’Connell Street

Budget Hotel

Abbey Court Hostel: Located in a former Georgian house overlooking the River Liffey, this busy hostel can be found on the quays around the corner from O’Connell Street. Be warned of the loud traffic passing by.

Check prices: Booking.com. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Mid-range Hotels

Holiday Inn Express: The well-known brand turned what used to be office space into a brand new, contemporary and affordable hotel on O’Connell Street.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Gresham: this four-star hotel on O’Connell Street is one of Dublin’s landmarks. Dating from the 19th century, destroyed during the Civil War in 1922 and rebuilt in the 1920’s style, the Gresham was even the scene of IRA assassinations. Renovation undergone in the last few years has brought this elegant hotel into the 21st century.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Merrion Square

The heart of Georgian Dublin, Merrion Square is the most sought-after location in the city’s Southside. The elegant townhouses (with colourful doors!) that line up the streets around Merrion Square were the homes of Dublin’s upper class in the 19th century. They have now been turned into embassies and desirable office space for consulting firms.

The vicinity of Leinster House, the seat of the Irish Parliament, adds to the prestige of the area. High-end hotels have found a natural home in this affluent, quieter neighbourhood dotted with museums and art galleries.

With Grafton Street, Dublin’s most famous shopping district, just a short walking distance away, Merrion Square is the perfect base for a weekend shopping spree. Numerous pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs in the area leave the door open to fun nights out.

Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland

What’s nearby?

  • The National Gallery
  • The National Museum of Ireland – National History
  • Trinity College
  • The RHA Gallery
  • The National Library
  • The Museum of Literature Ireland
  • The Little Museum of Dublin

Pros & Cons

Pros: Merrion Square is one of the poshest and safest parts of Dublin. Several of Dublin’s main attractions are very close by including the National Art Gallery and the Old Library at Trinity College. It is the perfect neighbourhood for a luxurious and romantic get-away in the Irish capital.

Cons: Being further away from the airport, it will add to your travelling costs to get to Merrion Square, especially if you choose to get a taxi at the airport. It is an expensive location, the chances are, you won’t find a cheap hotel around the area.

Hotels near Merrion Square

Mid-range Hotel

The Alex: a mid-range hotel but still on the expensive side, the Alex is a sleek-looking, contemporary hotel around the corner from Merrion Square.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

High-end Hotel

The Merrion Hotel: probably one of the most exclusive hotels in the city, the Merrion is a luxurious five-star hotel with butlers, spa and exquisite cuisine. Expect to bump into a celebrity or two.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Harcourt & Camden Street

Harcourt Street and Camden Street run parallel to each other in Dublin’s Southside. With plenty of pubs and clubs lining up these two thoroughfares and smaller side streets, they form Dublin’s most popular entertainment district.

Harcourt Street is well known for its clubs attracting Dublin’s youth eager to party and dance until late in the night. On the other hand, Camden Street has a more laid-back atmosphere with pubs and bars filled to the brim with locals and expats chilling around pints of beer.

You’ll often find live music spilling into Camden Street from Whelan’s. This popular pub is a hot spot in Dublin’s music scene. Whelan’s hosts regular music gigs where local and international bands alike perform.

Camden Street, Dublin

What’s nearby?

  • St Stephen’s Green
  • The Museum of Literature Ireland
  • Iveagh Gardens

Pros & Cons

Pros: Even though this area is on the southern edge of Dublin city centre, it is still at a walkable distance from Trinity College and other interesting sights. As the rest of the Southside, Harcourt and Camden Street are deemed to be safe. If travelling to Dublin for a hen or stag party or simply enjoy a good night out, this is the place to stay!

Cons: The noise. With clubs and bars all around the neighbourhood, it could be difficult to get some rest if you’re a light sleeper. This part of town is not directly connected with the airport. Once on O’Connell Street, you have to hop on the Luas to Harcourt Street or pay a taxi to your hotel.

Hotels near Harcourt & Camden Street

Budget Hotel

Times Hostel: if you prefer to save your money to party all night in Dublin, the Times Hostel is for you. Located just off Camden Street, it is the perfect location for the party-goers.

Check prices on Hostelworld. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Mid-range Hotels

The Camden Court Hotel: this large, four-star hotel on Camden Street Lower even has a gym and a swimming pool to relax in after a day out and about in the city.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Dean Hotel: located on Harcourt Street, this chic boutique hotel as a popular rooftop bar and restaurant with a panoramic view.

Check prices on Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Grafton Street & the Creative Quarter

Designer and souvenirs shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, this neighbourhood has it all. Grafton Street is the mecca of shopping. High street brands like River Island or H&M can be found along this pedestrianised and busy part of Dublin South just 5 minutes from Trinity College. If it’s Channel or Gucci you’re after, let the dapper-dressed doorman welcome you at Brown Thomas.

At the heart of the Creative Quarter, Powerscourt Centre is another shopping hotspot in the neighbourhood. This former townhouse has been transformed into a shopping centre and is home to designer shops, jewelries, craft shops and cafes. More shops, bars and restaurants can be found as you explore the streets nearby.

Grafton Street, Dublin

What’s nearby?

  • St Stephen’s Green
  • The Museum of Literature Ireland
  • The Little Museum of Dublin
  • Trinity College
  • Molly Malone statue
  • The Gaiety Theatre

Pros & Cons

Pros: This is a great location to enjoy Dublin’s food scene and shop during the day, while you’ll find an array of bars to explore when the night comes. The area is safe and lots of interesting sights are close by. It is definitely one of the best areas to stay if you want to make the most of Dublin.

Cons: It is a desirable location and it shows on the price tag. Aircoach and Airlink buses circle around the area so you might have to walk a little bit to reach your hotel. Travel light and you should be fine.

Hotels near Grafton Street

Mid-range Hotels

The Marlin Hotel: This brand new hotel opened in 2019 just at the back of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. The striking triangular shape at the front hides a modern and industrial look inside.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Drury Court Hotel: Just a five-minute walk from Grafton Street, with heaps of restaurants, cafes and pubs in the vicinity, its location cannot be faulted.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

High-end Hotels

The Westbury: this five-star hotel is only two minutes away from Grafton Street and sits on the edge of the Creative Quarter. The best of both worlds.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Shelbourne: A landmark of Dublin, this historic and sophisticated five-star hotel that counted John F. Kennedy as one of its guests, overlooks beautiful St Stephen’s Green.

Check prices: Booking.com | Expedia. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Essential Tips for Visiting Dublin

  • Getting There |  Find flight deals with Skyscanner. It also has a great tool to help you plan the best route to reach Dublin, especially when departing from an airport with no direct flight to Ireland. You can also sail to Dublin from the UK or France with Irish Ferries.
  • Planning | Lonely Planet Dublin city guide is one of my favourite guides when it comes to researching and planning a trip to Dublin. Buy a copy online and take it with you, it always makes for a great travelling companion! Rick Steves Snapshot Dublin is another guide worth having, its pocket size is ideal when travelling light.
  • Travel Insurance | Don’t forget to buy travel insurance before visiting the Irish capital. Heymondo has a nifty app to help you get the assistance you need while on the go.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link, I earn a little money at no extra cost to you.


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