Travel Guide | Dublin

College Tourist’s City Guide to Dublin, Ireland

“Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible.” – Charles Haughey

Dublin is both the capital city of Ireland and a multi-cultural hub of Northern Europe. Located on Ireland’s east coast, Dublin is Ireland’s largest and busiest city with the most diverse population. While the population of Ireland is around 4 million, Dublin holds nearly ¼ of that population. Dublin is one of Europe’s busiest cultural capitals, complete with universities and a high student population of over 100,000. This diverse student population leads to plenty of different ideas, customs, and activities throughout the city.

The name Dublin literally translates to “Black Pool” in Irish, and was named by Viking Settlers in the early eighth century. Rich in history, Dublin is also the center of the 1916 Easter Rising, which eventually led to Ireland’s independence from Great Britain. Dublin is also a UNESCO world heritage site for literature. There’s never a shortage of things to see, read, experience, and eat in Dublin, Ireland.

The River Liffey divides Dublin into the North and South side, each with their own attractions and places to see. The river serves as the focal point throughout the entire city, and people are very passionate about which side of the city they are from. This leads to funny biases and misconceptions about North and Southsiders. Some argue that there is even a difference in the North and South Dublin accent!

The city centre is located on and around the North side’s O’Connell Street, named for Irish revolutionary Daniel O’Connell. The newest and most recognizable landmark in Dublin is the Millennial Spire, dedicated to the city in reference to all the social progress made in the 21st century. Complete with shopping, dining, museums, and more, Dublin has everything a student traveler could desire.

Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin

The Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

Top 5 Attractions

St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened in 1191, and is a popular tourist destination year round. Complete with breathtaking gothic architecture and a beautiful neighboring park, it is a must-see cultural icon for Dublin.

St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin Ireland study abroad image

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Guinness Storehouse: For a student discount, you’ll get a self-guided tour of how Guinness is made and distributed, tasting lessons, and a free pint at Guinness’s impressive Gravity Bar. Check out the 360 degree view of your new city!

Phoenix Park: On Dublin’s North side, you’ll find Phoenix Park, one of the largest walled parks in Europe! Come prepared with apples or carrots, the wild deer are friendly and they’ll come right up to you and say hello. Phoenix Park is also home to the delightful Dublin Zoo, which has a student discount throughout the year.

Temple Bar: Dublin’s infamous Temple Bar is a notable venue for a great night out in the city. Explore all the pretty cobblestone streets in the daytime, and notice all the restaurants and pubs playing traditional Irish music.

Trinity College’s Long Room and the Book of Kells:  Trinity College is located directly in the heart of the city centre on Dublin’s south side. For the ultimate book lover, the college’s Long Room is the perfect place to spend a drizzling afternoon. Get lost in the stacks of over 200,000 volumes! The Book of Kells is located in the same exhibit, and is a stunning historical manuscript of the Gospels. The books looks like something straight out of a fairytale.

Long Room Trinity College Dublin Ireland study abroad image

The Long Room at Trinity College

Back Streets

George’s Arcade: The area of South Great George’s Street in Dublin is a young, hip neighborhood that is perfectly tailored to students. The area itself is full of inexpensive cafes and restaurants, and George’s Street Arcade has incredible thrift shopping. The arcade has a great clothing selection and work from local artists.

Smithfield: Another neighborhood with a younger vibe, Smithfield is an excellent shopping district located near Phoenix Park. It is also home to the Cobblestone Pub, known throughout the city for its traditional Irish music performed every night.

Fun for Free

Temple Bar Book Market: Every Saturday from 10-2, Dublin’s Temple Bar opens its streets to a book market. If books aren’t your thing, browse all the vinyl record sales and antique postcards!

The National Museum of Ireland- Archaeology: Completely free for the public, this museum has artifacts and exhibits from throughout history. The most interesting artifacts are the mysterious bog bodies, found in Ireland during medieval archaeological digs!

National Botanic Gardens: Take the Dublin Bus to Glasnevin, which is just a short distance from Dublin’s busy O’Connell Street in the city centre. The National Botanic Gardens are a perfect way to spend a rare sunny afternoon, and makes for a perfect first date location.

St. Stephen’s Green: Adjacent to Dublin’s busy shopping district on Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green is an idyllic temporary fix for greenery in the middle of Ireland’s capital city. Even on cold days, it’s bursting with flowers and plant life all year round.

St. Stephen's Green Dublin Ireland park study abroad image

St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, Ireland

What to Eat

Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge: Located on Stephen Street Lower, Accents is complete with delicious desserts, coffee, and kind staff members. It’s a great place to study with friends, and be sure to sample the vanilla chai!

Mes Amis: Mes Amis is conveniently located right on the Luas tracks outside across from the Jervis Shopping Centre, and has the best full Irish breakfast in town. Their small breakfast is the perfect size for a busy traveller, and will only cost about €7 per person.

The Bald Barista: The Bald Barista is located near two Irish universities on Aungier Street, and lots of students stop by for their handcrafted lattes or for an inexpensive homemade sandwich. The Bald Barista has a quiet and relaxing vibe, and is a great place to study on a rainy Dublin afternoon.

The Brazen Head: Ireland’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head has an exciting indoor and outdoor setting for a tasty dinner with your friends. Try the fresh fish and chips, and enjoy a stunning view of the River Liffey on Bridge Street Lower. The Brazen Head’s meals and appetizers have huge portions, so they are perfect to share with friends.

Try This

An inexpensive Irish staple is the chicken fillet roll, which is some breaded chicken with your favorite toppings in a baguette. Be sure to try a full Irish breakfast, complete with bacon, eggs, toast, beans, a refreshing tomato, and black and white pudding. Lastly, don’t forget to try a pint of Guinness!

Full irish breakfast Ireland study abroad image

Full Irish Breakfast

After Dark

Copper Face Jacks, also known as Coppers, is the must-attend nightclub of Dublin, and is lively every night of the week. Coppers is known for its diverse population, most of which students in Dublin, so its the perfect place to mingle with l Irish people.

Dicey’s Garden has the cheapest drinks in town at the start of each week. Located on Harcourt Street next to Coppers, Dicey’s progressively raises their bottle and pint prices throughout the week. Sunday and Monday will be the cheapest nights to go out, which are both big going out nights in Dublin anyway!

Temple Bar is the most popular (although expensive) partying area in the city. There are pubs playing traditional music as well as pop renditions on traditional instruments for a fun twist on your favorite songs. Be warned,Temple Bar is usually packed with tourists and pint prices can be as high as €8 or €9!

Whelan’s on Wexford Street has a great eclectic pub/club vibe, and is known for its live performances.


Students in Dublin can purchase a Leap Card for a discounted rate, which pays for the Dublin Bus, the Dart commuter rail, and the Luas tram. The Luas tram runs through the North and South side, with stops on Harcourt Street which is handy for nights out. However, it stops running at midnight on weekends, so be sure to employ a back-up option, such as the Hailo App for taxis. Hailo works like Uber, but is run through the Dublin taxi service. The Dublin Buses are an inexpensive method of moving between the suburbs and the city, but are infamous for being unreliable and late. The most efficient and cost-effective method of transportation is by foot. It takes approximately thirty minutes to get from one side of Dublin to the other, so it will save time and money by walking to your destination yourself.

Local Knowledge

If you hear or see the word ‘craic’, particularly at pubs, it translates most directly into ‘fun!’ So when someone asks you, “what’s the craic,” they are asking “what’s up?”

Dublin, Ireland city guide

Dublin, Ireland City Guide

Mary Sheehan

Elon University | 3 stories

I am currently a senior at Elon University studying creative writing. I participated in Semester at Sea in summer of 2014, and spent my junior year abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I enjoy reading, writing, and of course, traveling.

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