Dublin Neighborhoods & Towns
Dublin city has a population of about half a million, with the greater Dublin area housing 1.5 million, more than a quarter of Ireland's total population. The city center is relatively compact, with most of the popular tourist sites located on the south side of the River Liffey, which splits Dublin in two and flows into the Irish Sea. It's one of the nicest in European cities for walking, and you can wind your way from north to south to see some of the most famous Dublin attractions.
South of the Liffey
To the south of the Liffey you'll find the essential Dublin attractions. Starting east at Dublin's main transportation hub -- Heuston Station -- you can find nearby the famous St. James Gate Brewery (or the Guinness Storehouse), the centuries-old home of Ireland's national beverage. Tours of the brew process and tastings of "the black stuff" are offered. Temple Bar lies east along the river and has retained the medieval design of its streets, with the majority of the area open only to foot traffic.
Temple Bar is home to several popular pubs and restaurants and many museums and art galleries, including the Gallery of Photography, the Irish Film Centre and the Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. Following the Liffey farther east, you'll come across the grounds of Trinity College, Ireland's most prestigious university. Here you'll find the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript written in Latin by Irish monks in 800 AD, which is decorated in ornate writing and drawings. Browse the shops along nearby Grafton Street, which offers chic clothing stores and exhibits some of Dublin's finest street musicians. Heading south on Grafton Street you'll run into St. Stephen's Green, a small pleasant park that is perfect for relaxing after a long walk.
To the south of the river near Temple Bar lies Dublin's Old City, a preserved cobble stone area that contains some of Dublin's oldest structures, including two remaining segments of the Medieval City Walls and St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland.
North of the Liffey
Dublin's north end has experienced resurgence in the past decade, though it is still light on the tourist attractions. The main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, contains several historically significant buildings, including the Dublin General Post Office, which was the bloody site of the 1916 Easter Uprising between the IRA and the British government. The Spire of Dublin, a 390-foot free-standing structure, stands directly in the middle of O'Connell Street near the post office. North of the Liffey also houses the famous Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe, and an often-recommended spot for afternoon strolls. Families frequently visit Phoenix Park for the Rodrigues fruit bats or Moluccan Cockatoos of the Dublin Zoo. Dublin's northern half also contains some excellent Irish cultural centers, including the Dublin Writers Museum, which showcases the city's rich literary history, and the Old Jameson Distillery, which showcases another one of Ireland's favorite beverages: whiskey.
Dublin's outskirts also offer some fascinating sites, especially near the coast. Ten miles northeast of Dublin city is Howth, a coastal town that offers great cliff-side views of Dublin's Bay. Travel writers also suggest visiting Bull Island and St. Anne's Park, two large municipal parks that offer a nice break from the busy city center.
Dublin is relatively safe, though TripAdvisor says, "The city has a serious drugs problem, predominantly heroin, and some of the more deprived residential areas are best avoided at night." The city center, on the other hand, is usually pretty safe, even at the wee hours of the morning. But you should note that the area around Temple Bar can get pretty raucous, as all the drunken revelers exit the bars and clubs.
- The Temple Bar district has a mixture of food, drink, shopping and music. … Its central location also makes it easy to walk to from Dublin's Centre. However, late night revellers tend to make it an unpleasant place to be after dark. It can be taken over by drunken stag and boisterous hen parties, many who travel cheaply from the United Kingdom to avail of Temple Bar's delights!" -- Wikitravel