Authentic Experiences in Dublin – Not where you’d think

I'm sure you've seen the iconic picture of the richly painted The Temple Bar in Dublin. No doubt if you've been to Dublin you've likely stopped in for a pint here or your friends have told you it is the 'must see' spot in the city. When I visited Dublin, I learned the secrets and here's what you should know:

Temple Bar District

  1. Temple Bar is a district, not solely one bar. The name 'Temple' district is presumed to have been named after the Temple district in London which was a stately and affluent neighbourhood at the time.
  2. The famous "Temple Bar" is a tourist trap. It's great for the kids or a sloppy night out, but if you want a pint and some great local music without getting your shoes slopped on, this is not the place! I always thought Temple bar was a local hangout with historical significance and was literally shocked to learn none of that is true. It is simply a bar that has done well for its location, marketing and word of mouth. It's popular amongst the youngins looking to tie one on or hook up with other travellers. You'll rarely find a local there, other than a few staff members and the occasional local Irish musician.
  3. Even more shocking ... The average price of a pint of beer in the city is 6 - 6.50 euros. The Temple Bar charges 8 Euro midday, with prices rising late at night and on the weekends. By midnight if you're still hanging around you'll be paying 9 or 10 euros per beer.
The Temple Bar

Alternative Authentic Experiences

If you are looking for a more authentic experience in Dublin with more locals, more history and fewer tourists, add these spots to your list.

  • For a pint and a meal head to Grogan's Bar on Williams Street or P. Mac's on Stephen's Street.
  • Care to try Fish n' Chips? I heard from the locals that the best is Leo Burdock's. You might want to go for dinner though as I literally got shoed out at lunchtime!
  • If there's a big sporting event on and you'd like to take in the historic Irish pub atmosphere with a mixed group of tourists and locals while watching on big screens, give Sinnott's Sports Bar a try! They've also go an excellent fresh carvery for lunch!
  • Take a walk in St. Stephen's Green where lots of locals go for exercise, meet with friends or go for a lunchtime stroll to get away from the office.
  • If you do wish to explore the Temple Bar District, do it for the arts rather than the beer. You can visit the National Photographic Archive or Gaiety Theatre. In the area, you'll also find DESIGNyard, the Project Arts Centre and the Irish Film Institute where many great Irish actors did their studies. And don't miss out on lots of amazing street art and installations. My favourite of course is this important artistic and political statement about how plastic is harming our oceans and rivers.

If you truly enjoy exploring places to understand their history, culture and their people, make sure you get outside of the most popular areas. Take a city tour to get the lay of the land, then talk to your local guide and ask for recommendations. Ask someone on the street where their favourite pub is. Take a food tour or an off-the-beaten-path tour of the Liberties district (my personal favourite!). Don't just follow the tourist path, make your own path and discover what Ireland is all about.

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