Mention you’re from Ireland in any conversation and you will instantly find yourself with new friends. Our country is world famous for its culture, scenery and buzzing atmosphere and people travel from afar to see what we have to offer. Dublin, in particular, is a great hub of life and excitement. But for those of us who have grown used to the capital, or even those who have just arrived, it can be easy to miss the city’s hidden gems. So, here is your quick refresher.
Let’s start with the basics, or perhaps the most important: where to eat. It is all too easy to stop by the trusted Wagamamas, Eddie Rockets or even McDonalds, but you’ll be missing out on a whole bunch of other good stuff. Dublin is packed with quirky cafés and fresh delis. Head down to Temple Bar and you will find food from all over the world, whether you fancy burritos, burgers or a Mongolian buffet; but beware, the area can be pretty expensive. On Saturdays, Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, is host to a Farmer’s Market. This is a must for those searching for homemade cakes, yummy Mexican food or even the more adventurous looking to taste a bit of horsemeat.
For a cool down a walk through George’s Street Arcade can offer a refreshing bubble tea at Bubblicity or a helping of self-served frozen yoghurt at Yogism (guess the weight in your tub and you get the FroYo for free!) while you check out the vintage books or jewellery stalls. And finally, for a chilled place to have a cup of tea or a mug of white hot chocolate, there is no place better than Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge located on Stephen Street Lower. It’s open until 11pm nearly every night (10pm Sundays) so it’s a good alternative to the pub for an evening catch-up. Also, on the first Sunday of each month, they hold the Slam Sunday Poetry Slam where local poets show off their skills and talent, but tickets must be booked in advance to avoid missing out.
Dublin is a big supporter of culture and history and, as a result, the public museums and galleries are free for visitors. The Natural History Museum, the Archaeology Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland are found right in the city centre on Merrion Street. Each has an impressive collection and, seeing as they are free, there is no excuse not to go!
Another culture stop-off is the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. They show both old and new films that you won’t find in your average cinema. They also hold a number of events throughout the year, such as the IFI Documentary Festival from 23rd-27th September, so check out their website to keep up to date on events.
Of course, when talking about Irish culture, the Guinness Storehouse must be mentioned. It was recently named Europe’s best tourist attraction in the World Travel Awards, beating even the Eifel Tower and Buckingham Palace. A tour of the brewery is finished off with a pint of Guinness in the Gravity bar, with stunning 360° views over Dublin. Do make sure to bring your student ID with you to avail of the special student price.
And finally, nights out in the city centre! It can be difficult to find a place to drink on a budget, but student deals such as €3 cocktails in Captain America’s on Grafton Street and happy hour offers in T.G.I.Friday’s can help. Most nightclubs in the city offer guestlist or cheaplist on their Facebook pages which essentially translates as reduced or even free entry before 11pm. For those looking for live music, Whelan’s on Wexford Street holds regular gigs and also puts on a silent disco every Wednesday, alongside an Indie DJ during the week.
Dublin is teeming with cool and interesting things to do and see, even for those on a budget. Whether you are a visitor from abroad or a native, it is worth making the most out of our fair city. For more ideas, check out the Dublin Event Guide on Facebook and the Happenings Facebook page. There are always things to do, if you know where to look!
– Shannen Plunkett