Insider Tips

The Real Dublin Walking Trail

By Visit Dublin

14th July 2016

One of the most striking things you’ll notice while strolling through Dublin’s charming streets is the diverse range of design and architecture on show. Spanning the ages, the buildings lining Dublin’s streets offer insights into the city’s rich history – both culturally and commercially.

On the Real Dublin Trail, available as part of the free Dublin Discovery Trails app, you’ll be brought on a journey through the winding streets, laneways and alleys of the capital, hearing the fascinating stories and anecdotes that link beautiful design with the city’s thriving commercial history on the way.
Couple walking into Temple Bar from Merchant's Quay Powerscourt Townhouse exterior taken with a wide angled lens

Showcasing the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in our vibrant city, the trail kicks off at the beautiful gothic-style St. Andrew’s Church, before exploring the nearby Creative Quarter. In this bustling district you’ll find the Powerscourt Townhouse, a stunning Georgian building that dates back to 1774. Today this elegant space is home to boutique fashion houses, antique stores and Irish design shops, and is well worth a visit.

The famous Guinness family also features on this trail; as well as visiting the iconic Guinness Storehouse at St. James’ Gate, you’ll be brought to the Iveagh Trust Buildings, a red brick housing scheme funded by the Guinness family at the end of the 19th century. Adjacent is the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, built on the site at which the patron saint of Ireland is believed to have performed baptisms in the fifth century. A true hidden gem awaits around its corner too – pass through an ornate gate, climb a winding stone stair and you’ll find yourself in atmospheric Marsh’s Library, which has essentially remained unchanged for an astonishing three centuries.

Antique shopping in Dublin's Francis Street

On this trail you’ll also pay a visit to the Liberties, a real authentic slice of ‘old Dublin’ that has to be seen to be believed! A centre of public trade and enterprise dating back to the 13th century, today you’ll find lively Dublin street traders in the Liberty Market, selling everything from clothes and cosmetics to toys and bric-a-brac. Or, if you’d like to treat yourself or someone at home to a really special piece of art, jewellery or furniture, Francis Street is the place to go. Since the 18th century, this area has been known as the Antiques Quarter, and there you’ll find a wealth of unique stores and galleries selling finely-crafted antique pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind. You’ll happily while away an afternoon browsing this veritable treasure trove and chatting to the friendly characters who’ve helped make this area so special.

There are modern elements to this historic quarter too; the Digital Hub (Ireland’s largest enterprise cluster for technology, digital media and internet companies) and National College of Art and Design are here.

View of seated area at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Speaking of distilleries, all this walking may very well work up a thirst! The current Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new Dublin distillery in over 125 years, and highlights the fresh and exciting whiskey-making craftsmanship of younger generations. What’s more, it’s located just a stone’s throw from where Walter Teeling’s original distillery once stood, again symbolising the way old and new thrive together in Dublin. Be sure to pop in for a tour; as well as learning about the process, you’ll get to taste Teeling’s delicious whiskey, or, as it’s known in Irish, uisce beatha (the water of life).

Hailed as one of the best museums in Europe by Lonely Planet, The Chester Beatty houses the incredible collections of Irish-American mining mogul Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. Having travelled extensively during his lifetime, gathering manuscripts, paintings, rare books and artefacts from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, Beatty finally settled in Dublin. Upon his death, he donated many of his wares to the State, who chose to showcase them as exhibitions in this bespoke Library on the grounds of Dublin Castle. And as if you need another reason to drop in, entrance is free!

Crowds gathering outside Quays Bar Temple Bar Dublin

Finally, you’ll finish in Temple Bar, the cultural quarter of Dublin. As you stroll along its cobbled, bohemian streets, gaze up at its many merchant houses. Their pretty façades date back to a time when Temple Bar was the city’s centre of trade, with ships coming right up the Liffey to sell their goods. Today you’ll find galleries, vintage shops, restaurants, bars and markets.

That’s just a taster of what to expect from the ‘real’ Dublin; be sure to download the full Real Dublin Trail from our free app, Dublin Discovery Trails. Within the app, you’ll also find a selection of other trails, including ‘The Story of Dublin’, ‘Rebellion: the story of the 1916 Easter Rising', ‘Empire’ and ‘Echoes of War’.

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