Dublin – city of villages

Dalkey, County Dublin

Each part of Dublin has its own unique character. So why not leave the city center behind and explore the city's vibrant villages


There's so much happening in this busy spot that you may never need to leave. Rathmines is at the edge of the Grand Canal – perfect for a quiet stroll along its leafy banks – and the 20-minute walk from the city center will take you through some of Dublin’s most vibrant spots. Camden St, Aungier St and Portobello are all bustling with award-winning restaurants and some of Dublin’s best nightlife.

Start your night with a delicious Manifesto pizza, winner of multiple awards at the Pizza World Championships. As well as their classic offerings, they have delicious gluten-free pizzas cooked in a separate kitchen. Then stop off at the Stella Theatre, a 1920s cinema that has been restored to its full Art Deco glory. Packed with original features and serving cocktails and food to your seat, this glamorous picture-house hosts a mix of the latest blockbusters, golden oldies and special events.


South-west of the city center is one of Dublin’s most historic areas: Kilmainham. This is the home of Kilmainham Gaol, the grim Victorian prison where some of Ireland's most famous political rebels were held – a guided tour is almost like a journey through Ireland's history. If you think the Gaol looks familiar, maybe that's because it's been used as a film set for everything from The Italian Job to Paddington 2. Jump from the past to the present with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in the spectacular, 17th century Royal Hospital Kilmainham – home to more than 3,500 works by Irish and international artists. You can wander the galleries at your own pace or take a guided tour to see a city at the forefront of modern art.

Continue the modern vibe with dinner in Union 8, which offers simple, seasonal menus in a contemporary space. Or you could mix things up with an authentic Italian meal at O’livia. Linguine with freshly caught Irish mussels gives you the best of both worlds – delicious Irish seafood with a modern European twist.

Smithfield is one of Dublin’s most exciting inner-city villages, located with easy walking distance of the center. A must-see here is the Jameson Distillery, where you can immerse yourself in the history of Irish whiskey, watch the distilling process in action, and indulge in a few tastings straight from the cask. You can even take part in a whiskey masterclass to learn how to make the perfect cocktail.

Movie buffs will love the Light House Cinema, host to numerous film festivals and events throughout the year as well as regular seasons of classic movies, world cinema and art house specials. But if you're looking for something a bit livelier, Smithfield is also known for its buzzing nightlife. Token offers fun and food with its huge range of classic arcade games. They’ve turned fast food into an art form so order a Cheesed Off Big Dogg and try to beat your Tetris high score. And for live music in an amazing venue, Dice Bar is a Dublin classic. Sample their homebrewed craft beer for a real taste of the city.


Situated in the north of the city, Glasnevin is best known for its cemetery, which houses the graves and memorials of some of Ireland’s most important historical figures. But the ordinary people of the city are not forgotten here. The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum holds the burial records of over 1.5 million people, making it an invaluable resource for anyone tracing their family history. You can finish your visit by climbing the striking O’Connell Tower to get panoramic views of the city. But if you're looking for something a bit more upbeat, the nearby National Botanic Gardens are a glorious natural showcase where more than 300 endangered species of flower, trees and other plants are on display. They even house six species already extinct in the wild.

If you’re feeling hungry, Glasnevin has some fantastic restaurants. The Washerwoman serves delicious food made with local produce in a charming stone cottage dating from 1700. Tolka House Gastropub has been a staple of the area since the 19th century, and between its carvery, innovative daily menu and pizza oven it's sure to satisfy all tastes.

When you get off the Dart at Dalkey you won't believe you’re still in the city. This picturesque south Dublin village with its winding streets is the perfect break from the urban bustle. Learn more about the area at Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre, which brings history to life through costumed performers and live theater. Or experience Irish culture and folklore at Biddy’s Cottage, where you can sit by the fire with tea, cake and traditional Irish storytelling. Then take in the views at Coliemore Harbor and make the most of Dalkey's seaside location with kayaking, fishing or a boat ride to Dalkey Island.

Back in the village there are plenty of places to eat and drink. If you catch Dalkey on a sunny day, soak up the heat at the Corner Note Cafe, which has a beautiful outdoor area. If you need to warm up and fancy a hearty meal, there’s no better place than Finnegan’s, a favorite spot of Bono and the late author Maeve Binchy.


The beautiful harbor town of Malahide on Dublin's north coast is packed with things to see and do. You can start with a tour of medieval Malahide Castle, which dates back to the 12th century and is surrounded by a gorgeous botanical garden boasting more than 5,000 varieties of plants and 22 acres of ancient woodland. Then take a stroll around the village and explore the huge variety of boutique shops offering local crafts, exquisite jewelry, unique antiques and artisan foods.

Feeling peckish? Head down to Malahide marina to find restaurants with stunning views of Dublin Bay. For fine dining, Nautilus offers a seasonal menu that emphasizes local produce. To spice up your visit, Kajjal has exquisite Pakistani dishes that make the most of the fresh local seafood. And if you can’t quite make up your mind, the Greedy Goose’s tasting menu will make sure you find something special.

Dun Laoghaire

You’ll never be short of things to do in this busy seaside town to the south of the city. Ireland’s National Maritime Museum will take you through the harbor’s fascinating history with stories of discovery, heroism, war and disasters at sea. Take a dip in the sea at the famous Forty Foot, a 15-minute walk from Dun Laoghaire. Formerly a men’s bathing spot but now open to all, it was immortalized in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Every year on Christmas Day hundreds of people gather for a refreshing dip in its icy waters. For more literary history, visit the nearby James Joyce Tower and Museum, based in the Martello tower where Ulysses is set.

Finish the day with a meal on the waterfront. Hartley’s, situated in the old Victorian railway station, has delicious food with an old-world feel. Then round off your evening with a show in the Pavillion Theatre,

Situated at the northern end of Dublin's Dart rail line, this seaside village offers up the perfect day trip. Once a small fishing town, Howth is now a busy hub of restaurants, shops and farmers' markets. Howth Market is open seven days a week and full of freshly cooked food so you can fuel up for your hike along the Howth Cliff Path. But if you're not feeling that energetic, don't worry – there's a regular bus to the summit. Don't forget to stop in to the 800-year-old Howth Castle on the way where you can learn the history, take a tour and even get cooking lessons in its 18th century kitchens.

Make the most of the seaside location at one of Howth’s incredible seafood restaurants. For battered fish and chunky takeaway chips try Beshoff Bros, or head to Beshoff’s of Howth for a sit down meal. For a lighter bite, Octopussy has innovative seafood tapas, while Aqua will give you wonderful views of the harbor.

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