For a small island with a modest population, Ireland has one of the best rugby teams in the world. It’s a source of great pride for Irish rugby fans up and down the land, and that pride is on full show when the Ireland national team plays on home soil. The strikingly modern Aviva Stadium in Dublin is rugby HQ, and the site of some stunning recent triumphs, including the Six Nations Championship Grand Slam win against England on 18 March 2023 – the day after St Patrick’s Day, no less!
The Six Nations Championship in spring and the Autumn Nations Series are the two main times of year when you can see Ireland play in front of an electric home crowd in Dublin. So, do you fancy a spring city break to see us take on European rivals such as France and Italy? Or would you prefer an autumnal adventure with games against southern hemisphere opposition like New Zealand and South Africa? The choice is yours... and you could always do both! Either way, here’s hoping for a fun weekend, and an Ireland win, of course.
The Shelbourne, Dublin
Where to stay in Dublin
The accommodation options in Dublin are extensive. You could go all-out with a super-fancy stay at the five-star Shelbourne or Westbury Hotel in the heart of the city centre. Or keep things trendy at boutique spots such as The Dean, which is near Dublin’s most famous club – Copper Face Jacks. There are also several Maldron hotels dotted around the city which provide a cheaper place to rest your head after a busy day of rugby fun.
If you want to stay close to the action of the Aviva Stadium, Sandymount Hotel is a great four-star option just a five-minute walk from the stadium. Grand Canal Hotel and the Herbert Park Hotel are also nearby. Wherever you stay, our famously warm hospitality is guaranteed!
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland play all of their home rugby matches at the Aviva Stadium, known formerly (and still by many locals) as Lansdowne Road. The 51,711-capacity arena is a world-class sporting venue. Tickets for Irish rugby games can be like gold dust, but you can try and nab some here. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on match tickets, prepare for the rugby experience of a lifetime. Pints will be flowing and local supporters will be in fine voice, belting out chants and tunes as the men in green take to the pitch to do battle.
No ticket? No problem! Luckily, there are plenty of buzzing bars near the stadium where you can jostle with locals for a spot near a big screen to watch the match. Some would even call such a set-up the best seat in the house! Try Searsons on Baggot Street, where famous Irish writers Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan used to hang out. The Bridge 1859 is another great shout, and you might even see retired Irish rugby stars such as Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney there as they own the joint! Ryans Beggars Bush is also worth a visit. Over 100 years old, this traditional establishment claims to serve the best pint of Guinness in the area. Well, there’s only one way to find out...
Night out in Dublin
After the game, Dublin is well and truly your oyster. In fact, why not try some tasty Irish oysters at Oyster Bar Dublin? Here they source deliciously fresh oysters from Carlingford, Connemara, Achill Island, and Galway Bay. For a lively city centre spot, opt for l’Gueuleton, which serves modern French cuisine in homely red brick surroundings. Want to go big? Dublin is home to a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Chapter One and Glovers Alley. Book these fine dining showstoppers well in advance – they’re pricey, but offer an unforgettable foodie experience.
If you want to eat right after the match, there are loads of great places on the doorstep of the stadium. The Chop House is a gastro pub that serves up sublime steaks. Neopolitan-style wood fired pizza is on the menu at Paulie’s Pizza. And Baggot Street is lined with several tasty eateries including Saba, a funky Thai and Vietnamese restaurant that also does a mean cocktail.
Dinner then drinks, such is the way of life in Dublin! The city is home to more famous boozers than we could possibly mention. The Palace Bar is an authentic, Victorian heritage pub in Temple Bar. The Long Hall on George's Street is another top spot – it’s where Bruce Springsteen goes for a pint when he’s in town! Round of your night with a fancy cocktail in Bar 1661 on the north side of the River Liffey. Their aim is to champion the Irish spirit poitín, a colourless distilled beverage that varies in alcohol volume from 40-90%... so go easy!
St James's Gate, Dublin
Away from the rugby, there is so much to see and do in Dublin. The city is compact and walkable, so even on a short city break you can fit in loads of bucket list items. Savour the best pint of “the black stuff”, as well as a fascinating dive into the history of Ireland’s famous brew at the Guinness Storehouse. Explore over 400 years of history at picturesque Trinity College Dublin. Visit Dublin Castle, see Kilmainham Gaol, discover the Phoenix Park – the itinerary could go on and on.
If you have more time, adventure awaits outside the city. Along the Dublin Coastal Trail you can visit charming seaside towns and villages such as Howth and Dalkey. Inland, walking trails and cycling routes snake their way through the Dublin mountains. You could even buy a rugby ball and have a throw about in a local park. Now that’s some way to finish off the perfect rugby weekend in Dublin. Until next time...