Where to Stay in Dublin: 10 Best Areas

Where to stay in Dublin

With a compact city centre and frequent, reliable public transport to get you back and fore, wherever you stay in Dublin, you’re never that far from what you want to see or where you want to be.

Sitting astride the River Liffey and one of Europe’s favourite short-break destinations, the Irish capital is a city for everyone. 

With a history dating back to Viking times, it has historic charm, Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian architecture, museums, theatres, music venues, art galleries, shops, lively local pubs and top-quality restaurants.

With such literary luminaries as WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney all being Nobel Prize winners, Dublin itself became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010.

The city’s musical talent is also legendary, with its boy bands, rock groups and solo singers topping music charts worldwide.

Throw in a young, vibrant population who enjoy a pint or three of its world-famous Guinness (you can tour the brewery). Add its unrivalled hospitality, and maybe even the odd leprechaun, and you have the makings of an excellent short city break.

To help you choose where to stay in Dublin, I’ve put together this list of the 10 best places to stay in Dublin, and what you can expect to find locally.

Where to stay in Dublin: Best Areas

1. O’Connell Street, the best place to stay in Dublin to be at the centre of things

O´Connell Street

Although a busy, bustling, wide avenue full of shops, department stores, banks, bars, restaurants and hotels, O’Connell Street continues to be a favourite choice for visitors to stay in Dublin due to its many historical landmarks.

Over 300 years old, this one-time small residential road went by the initial name of Drogheda Street and then Sackville Street. Over the ensuing years, much of the land around the street was bought up by speculators, and in the 1740/50s, the road was extended down to Henry Street.

By now, with new Georgian buildings going up, the street had grown to over 1,000ft in length and 150ft in width.

Sackville Street continued to increase in size with the opening of the Carlisle Bridge in 1792. During the 1800s, it also became locally known as O’Connell Street, although it wasn’t until 1924 that the name was made official.

During the 1800s, several prestigious properties were built, including in 1814 The General Post Office, in 1817 the Gresham Hotel and in 1822, Clery’s department store.

Having for many years fought to throw off the shackles of British imperialism, in 1916 things blew up with the Easter Uprising, much of which took place on O’Connell Street, and again in 1922 with the Battle of Dublin and the start of the Civil War. 

Reminders of this turbulent period can be seen in the many bullet holes in The General Post Office.

Dublin’s latest landmark is the 120-metre-high Monument of Light, erected on the former site of Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell Street in 2003.

Other monuments and places of interest include:

  • The Post Office and its museum tour
  • The O’Connell Monument at the bottom of the street
  • Sculptures of James Larkin, Charles Stewart Parnell and Sir John Gray

Around the city centre, you will find plenty of coffee shops, bars and cafes to rest your legs during the day, and busy restaurants and lively pubs to explore during the evenings. 

O’Connell Street is a great area to stay in Dublin to be at the centre of things.

Accommodation from hostels, B&Bs, Airbnb, and hotels at all levels can be found on O’Connell Street.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN O´CONNELL STREET

2. Temple Bar, where to stay in Dublin for nightlife

Best places to stay in Dublin

A pleasant 15-minute stroll from O’Connell Street to the southern side of the River Liffey will bring you to the Temple Bar district, one of Dublin’s most popular attractions.

In the 1600s, the Temple Bar district was just marshland close to the river’s edge. The land was reclaimed through the years, and large homes for the wealthy, English aristocrats and politicians, were built.

However, its opulence was short-lived, and by the time the 18th century arrived, it had declined into an area of empty and decaying properties and become the city’s red-light district

Unfortunately, little was done to alleviate the situation through the 19th and early 20th centuries, with just a few residents and small businesses surviving hand to mouth, with few people choosing to visit the district.

In the late 1970s, plans were mooted to demolish the area to make way for a new bus station. However, during the interim, the council began offering many vacant properties at a low fixed rent. 

So successful was the initiative, attracting artists, entrepreneurs and business start-ups, that demolition plans were scrapped, and Temple Bar was totally revamped.

Now considered Dublin’s bohemian and cultural quarter, Temple Bar is a district of colourfully painted businesses, narrow, cobblestone streets and flagstone alleyways. 

Tattoo parlours, hair salons, and touristy shops selling your favourite leprechaun, work side by side with cafes, bars, bistros, pubs, restaurants, B&Bs and boutique hotels.

You will also find the Irish Film Institute, the Project Arts Centre and the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar.

Although strolling around the area and doing a little window shopping during the day is an experience in itself, as the sun begins to set, the real Temple Bar begins to stir.

You will find Irish pubs on every corner during your stay in Dublin. The Temple Bar District however, with its pub of the same name, is the accepted capital of the city’s nightlife

As the evening progresses, the restaurants and bars fill with locals and visitors determined to party until the early hours, often spilling into the surrounding streets.

There is plenty of excellent accommodation at all levels around Temple Bar, with the proviso that the closer you are to the centre of things, the noisier it will be, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN TEMPLE BAR

3. Trinity/St. Stephen’s Green/Grafton Street, where to stay in Dublin for sightseeing

Best areas in Dublin

Heaving, noisy bars and heavy alcohol consumption are not everyone’s idea of the perfect night out, especially if younger family members are in the party. 

If this is you, look at the Trinity Square, St Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street areas for where to stay in Dublin. Just a short walk from the Temple Bar district, these combined areas are all close together. 

Historical monuments, beautiful parks, excellent shopping opportunities and pubs, cafes, coffee shops and restaurants ensure everything you need to fill your days and evenings.

Trinity College and its campus on College Green were founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. After sightseeing at the college and grounds, look out for Suffolk Street, and you will find the statue of Dublin’s famous Molly Malone.

Merrion Square & St. Stephen’s Green are two magnificent Georgian-style parks full of greenery, trees, borders and wide walking trails. Here you will find fountains, lakes, and statues of Irish heroes. 

In Merrion Square, the figure of Oscar Wilde can be seen reclining on a large boulder, complete with bullet damage from the Easter uprising.

Alongside the parks, cobblestone streets are bordered by grand 18th-century townhouses with colourful doors, big brass door-knockers and ornate entrance ways. 

Around the area, you will also find the National Library, National Gallery, the National museum of archaeology and National Concert Hall.

The Little Museum of Dublin, a modern local history museum, and the Museum of Literature Ireland are located in St Stephen’s Green. While the Museum of Natural History can be found on Merrion Street.

For those who enjoy a little fine dining on their short city breaks, you’ll find the 2-Star Michelin Restaurant, Patrick Guilbaud, also on Merrion Street. One of 18 Michelin-starred restaurants dotted around the city.

From Trinity College at one end to St Stephen’s Green at the other, Grafton Street has developed into Dublin’s premier go-to for high-end shopping, with many national and international designer labels to be browsed at your leisure.

While exploring Grafton Street, check out the surrounding roads. Clarendon Street, Drury Street, William Street and South Great George’s Street have fabulous little specialist shops, independent traders, trendy chic boutiques and second-user outlets, as well as coffee shops and cafes, bars and restaurants.

Around these areas is plenty of excellent accommodation at all levels for your stay in Dublin. Wherever your final choice, you will be just a short walk from some of Dublin’s favourite attractions, restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment bars.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ST. STEPHEN´S GREEN

4. Portobello, a popular place to stay in Dublin in the south of the city

Best places to stay in Dublin: Portobello

A lovely corner on the edge of south Dublin, Portobello is bordered by the Grand Canal in the south, Upper Kevin Street in the north, and Lower Camden Street and Lower Clanbrassil Street on either side.

Every major European city these days has its cosmopolitan, trendy, hipster area, and Portobello is Dublin’s.

You can enjoy a romantic stroll along the leafy, tree-lined Grand Canal. Then, heading up South Richmond Street, you can browse the windows of small antique shops, bric-a-brac, collectable and curio stores. Or linger a while over your favourite coffee in one of the pretty cafes.

The quiet terraced streets make a pleasant change from the noise of the busy city centre. Its plethora of modern pubs, cafes, bistros and top-quality restaurants draws hip residents and visitors from across the city looking for a more sophisticated night out.

In the late 1800s, thousands of east European Jews arrived on the Island of Ireland, seeking sanctuary from the conflicts of their homeland. Portobello was their chosen place to settle, and the district became known as ‘Little Jerusalem’.

Although fewer than 1,000 remain, a museum housed in an old synagogue tells the history of Jewish life in Ireland. Located on Walworth Road, on Portobello’s South Circular and full of memorabilia and testimonials, the Irish Jewish Museum is well worth a visit.

Accommodation around Portobello is good, and very popular due to its excellent evening entertainment venues, and closeness to the city centre and Temple Bar for daytime activities. 

Choose from Airbnb, B&Bs, guest houses or hostels, to 3 and 4-star hotels close to the centre of Portobello, or around the outskirts by the canal.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN DUBLIN IN PORTOBELLO

5. Smithfield – Stoneybatter, where to stay in Dublin in up-coming districts on the edge of town

Where to stay in Dublin: Smithfield

Located on the city’s northern boundary and north of the Liffey, the neighbourhoods of Smithfield and Stoneybatter sit side by side, and were a run-down working-class area of Dublin until the turn of the century.

However, in recent years both districts have enjoyed something of a rebirth, with increasing numbers of visitors choosing Smithfield and Stoneybatter as their places to stay in Dublin. And with good reason.

The area is just a ten-minute stroll or two-minute tram ride from the bright lights of the city centre. 

Sitting next to Stoneybatter is Europe’s biggest city park. Phoenix Park, with over 2.5 square miles of greenery, woods, monuments and herds of deer roaming free, is a favourite go-to for many local Dubliners on their days off and at weekends.

Old businesses have been refurbished, and new ones built. Old guesthouses, B&Bs and small hotels have received facelifts to attract the new trailblazing visitors wanting to enjoy the relatively quieter areas of Dublin.

The one-time Smithfield Market is now Smithfield Square, an attractive, large cobblestone and flagstone plaza with modern hotels, hostels, trendy restaurants and fashionable coffee shops and cafes around the borders.

Much of the architecture in surrounding streets is still Victorian-style cottages, providing that old village feel to the area.

Visitor attractions around Smithfield and Stoneybatter include St. Michan’s Church, the National Museum of Ireland and a tour of The Jameson Distillery on Bow Street.

The area has also become home to many people and businesses involved in the creative arts industries.

With so many creative minds wandering the streets of Smithfield and Stoneybatter, it’s not surprising bohemia is also making something of a comeback, with a proliferation of young men sporting unkempt beards and droopy moustaches.

Whether your preferences are the latest chic café or Charlie’s greasy spoon for brunch or lunch, or a local Irish pub playing folk music or a fashionable gastropub in the evening, you’ll find them in Smithfield and Stoneybatter.

Accommodation in Smithfield and Stoneybatter is reasonable from hostels upwards, and generally cheaper than around the city centre districts.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SMITHFIELD – STONEYBATTER

6. Phibsborough, where to stay in Dublin close to city-centre 

Best places to stay in Dublin: Phibsbrough

Although at first glance not everyone’s first choice of where to stay in Dublin, Phibsborough is another northern district of the capital, and a bit of an anomaly.

On the one hand, it has received this prestigious accolade from Time Out Magazine (twice actually). On the other, it is an old working-class district undergoing a significant facelift, which remains a work in progress. So how do the two relate?

Average property prices might be one indicator. For example, houses in Phibsborough fetch slightly above similar properties in the rest of the city.

Although just two kilometres from the city centre, improved public transport in the area has reduced travelling time for visitors and those working in the city and surrounding areas.

Red brick Victorian-era homes and businesses have received a make-over with colourfully painted window frames and doors. 

Pleasant Dalymount Park and leisurely canal walks away from the constant traffic noise allow visitors to enjoy a little more nature time.

The young, energetic population are opening new ventures of all kinds. Quirky, modern cafes vie with old-style eateries for the lunchtime business. While new gastro enterprises compete with traditional Irish pubs for the evening trade.

Visitor interests in the area include Blessington Basin Park. A walled park surrounded by residential homes with seating, footpaths and a duck pond.

Glasnevin cemetery. The final resting place of over 1.5 million people, including such historical figures as Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell and Arthur Griffith.

The Botanic Gardens. Free to visit, its historic glasshouses protect thousands of rare and endangered plant species from around the world. It is also one of the few places you will see red squirrels. Open seven days a week, it has a tearoom where you can eat in or take away.

If you want a more in-depth idea of modern Irish culture and hospitality, consider booking Phibsborough for your stay in Dublin. 

Accommodation is good at all levels, and cheaper than in the city centre.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN DUBLIN IN PHIBSBOROUGH

7. Docklands, spoil yourself in one of Dublin’s favourite districts

Docklands Dublin

Sitting just east of O’Connell Street, Dublin’s dockside area is located where the Grand Canal and Royal Canal merge with the River Liffey on its journey to the sea.

Dublin’s Docklands was a one-time busy commercial hub first developed by the Vikings over a thousand years ago. Over the centuries, the Docklands on both sides of the Liffey flourished with increased international waterborne trade. To the extent Dublin Port was at one time considered one of the busiest ports in the world.

Flour mills were built. Coal and cattle pens put up. And warehouses were constructed to house the increasing range of goods and materials coming and going through the port.

With Guinness production just a mile up-river, the drink’s increasing popularity saw Guinness operating its own fleet of merchant ships delivering barrels of the black stuff around the globe.

As the old anecdote goes, ‘what goes up, must come down’. The advent of containerisation and super-size container ships heralded the demise of many ports around the world, and Dublin Port was one of them.

Over the following decades, Dublin’s Docklands fell into a state of decay and neglect until the mid-1990s, when a major and ambitious regeneration programme was implemented. 

Hi-tech was the name of the game, and the developers had internationally known high-tech companies banging at the door.

Today, Dublin’s Docklands is a fabulous mix of work and leisure facilities. It is home to tens of hi-tech companies and start-ups working on over 50 new projects, employs over 40,000 people and has over 26,000 full-time residents.

Whether for a day’s exploring, or somewhere to stay in Dublin for a few days break, Dockland’s is the place many visitors head for.

Visitor attractions around Docklands include a modern marina. EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, including a tour of the historic famine ship The Jeanie Johnston.

In the same building, and particularly popular with visiting Americans, you will find the Irish Family History Centre, where you can trace your Irish heritage.

If modern music is your forte, add a visit to the Windmill Lane Recording Studio to the list. Still a working studio, you can listen to over 40 years of your favourite tracks in studios used by the likes of Lady Gaga, U2 and Metallica.

For water sports fans, Surfdock Watersports offers equipment and courses for kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. Take a trip across the water on the Liffey Ferry, or book one of the numerous tours of the Docklands by boat.

If you enjoy escape rooms, try one a little different at Escape Boats in Grand Canal Dock. You have an hour to crack the clues.

You will find plenty of coffee shops and cafes, burger bars, takeaway joints, wine bars, pubs and top-class restaurants all around this attractive waterside area.

Accommodation is varied, although primarily modern, high-quality 4 and 5-star hotels well worth the additional premium.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN DOCKLANDS

8. Rathmines – Ballsbridge, where to stay in Dublin away from the crowds

Where to stay in Dublin: Ballsbridge

The suburban districts of Rathmines and Ballsbridge are about two miles apart, and around the same distance south of Dublin city centre. Both towns are just ten minutes away from the centre by public transport.

If you’re looking for where to stay in Dublin away from the crowds, but close to its many attractions, both towns have their positives. Most importantly, both are close enough to most places you may want to visit during your stay.

Both are far enough away from the more crowded districts. And both have enough leisure and hospitality venues to provide breakfast, brunch, lunch and evening entertainment.

With its younger and more cosmopolitan demographic, Rathmines has small independent shops, high street chain stores, Middle Eastern and Asian specialist businesses and local Irish delicatessens.

For the evenings, you have fast-food chains, an American burger bar, or Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Indian dine-in or takeaway restaurants. Pubs there are aplenty, from traditional Irish pubs to more modern bars popular with the younger set.

If you stay in one town, and visit the other, you will notice the difference in fortunes. While Rathmines is still a little worn around the edges, Ballsbridge has its green parks, canal walks and large, expensive Victorian properties.

Several foreign embassies are located in Ballsbridge, as are the Aviva sports stadium and the RDS Arena. The main street, Merrion Road, has specialist independent shops, trendy sports pubs and high-class restaurants.

Accommodation wise, there is plenty of availability in both towns. However, if you are travelling on a budget, rooming in Rathmines will generally be cheaper than the equivalent in Ballsbridge.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RATHMINES – BALLSBRIDGE

9. Drumcondra, where to stay in Dublin on a budget

Drumcondra

Drumcondra sits just four kilometres north of Dublin city and a 15-minute drive from Dublin Airport. 

It is a suburban residential area popular with students attending the nearby Dublin City University (DCU) and St Patrick’s college and with well-heeled city professionals and digital media executives who prefer to commute into town.

For travellers considering where to stay in Dublin while on business or sightseeing, it is well-placed for getting into the city, with a choice of the 11, 13, 33, 41 and 43 bus routes. The nearby rail station also serves additional districts around Dublin.

In the main, Drumcondra is a pleasant, friendly and quiet area full of Victorian terraced homes. You can enjoy towpath walks along the Royal Canal, take a 20-minute stroll into O’Connell Street, or explore delightful Griffith Park.

If Gaelic sport is your thing, Croke Park, Ireland’s 80,000-spectator stadium, is located on Jones Road, so expect the surrounding areas to be busy on match days during the Gaelic football season.

Even if you’re not a player, but Irish history and the history of Gaelic football interests you, Croke Park has a museum telling the eye-opening story of the sport, and Croke Park’s involvement in the 1920 massacre of spectators by British troops.

In Drumcondra, enterprise is also on the up. With the increasing cost of rents and rates in the city, young entrepreneurs are beginning to realise there is business to be had in the suburbs, with modern independent cafes and coffee shops, eateries, pubs and niche professions establishing themselves. 

The district has also recently set up its own weekly market, which is gaining in popularity.

Accommodation in and around Drumcondra is good but limited. Several Airbnbs, guesthouses and a few competitively priced 3 and 4-star hotels are available.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN DUBLIN IN DRUMCONDRA

10. Howth, a scenic seaside village 

Howth

Do you fancy spending a few days on the coast – while discovering the attractions of Dublin? Choosing to stay in Dublin at Howth means you can do just that.

Sitting on a peninsula on Ireland’s north eastern coast overlooking the Irish Sea, Howth is just 10 miles from Dublin City centre, or around 30 minutes travelling by car or 40 minutes by bus. It is also served by the Dublin Area Rapid Transit system (DART) from different parts of the city.

The history of Howth is known to go back at least as far as the 11th century, when Norse Vikings occupied the east coast and established the settlement of Dublin. Howth is thought to be a derivative of the old Norse name for ‘head’.

In the 12th century, the village was occupied by the Normans. It was the Normans that built the castle, and retained control of the area for several centuries.

Although a trading village from the 14th century, most of the trading was carried out off the beach, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that the pretty harbour was built.

It was also the century when stronger links with Dublin were established in the form of improved road and sea travel for the British mail packet boats that had started berthing in Howth.

From the late 20th century onwards, Howth has continued to grow and prosper, seemingly unaffected by all the economic ups and downs, and continues to improve and expand to this day.

For years Howth has been a favourite day-trip destination with Dublin residents wanting to enjoy the delights of coastal walks, quiet pubs and fresh seafood restaurants during the evenings.

Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors wanting to explore Dublin by day, while enjoying the quiet tranquillity of village life at night.

Howth also has plenty of attractions of its own:

  • Two lighthouses circa the early 1800s. 
  • Spot the seals that you’ll find frolicking around the fishing boats in the harbour. 
  • You can visit the 19th-century Martello Tower with its vintage radio museum. 
  • Explore 15th-century Howth Castle with its Transport Museum and rhododendron gardens. 
  • And see the ruins of nearby St Mary’s Abbey.

Howth is rapidly becoming a short-break destination in its own right, with international visitors and residents wanting to enjoy a little sea air during their time off.

Accommodation is very limited in Howth, tending to fill quickly during warm summer weekends.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HOWTH

So, there we have it. Whether you prefer the constant energetic buzz of the inner city, or somewhere a little more laid-back and casual, one of these ten best places to stay in Dublin should fit the bill.

READ OTHER TRAVEL TIPS

Photos: Shutterstock

Leave a comment