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A friendly city with international status and local charm, there is something for expats of all persuasions among the Irish capital’s attractions and activities. The lifestyle in Dublin is characterised by high energy and clean living, offering expats in the city an excellent quality of life. Those who are after a pint will certainly have no shortage of lively pubs, or fellow local revellers to frequent them with.
There are also plenty of opportunities for shopping in Dublin, along with a slew of historical attractions, vibey eateries, as well as good entertainment venues, sports facilities, annual events and spas.
Shopping in Dublin
Shopping in Dublin is centred in two main areas, which are conveniently a 20-minute walk apart. Jervis Shopping Centre offers clothing, cosmetics, jewellery and electronic goods, while Blanchardstown Centre is the largest mall in Ireland, housing almost anything an expat could want. Grafton Street hosts expensive boutiques and is one of Dublin's main shopping streets, along with Henry Street. The Blackrock Market is another essential shopping spot stocking local souvenirs, crafts and delicious food.
Markets in Dublin
Expats in Dublin will be able to find open-air markets taking place almost every day of the week. Expats need never miss their home food for too long, as artisan stalls usually cater to every national food group possible. And in spite of the glam shopping streets everywhere, Dubliners still find time to browse clothing markets too. The Howth Market and Harcourt Street Market are two excellent shopping outings for new expats in the city.
Nightlife in Dublin
If there is one thing the Irish are known for, it’s imbibing. Unsurprisingly, this reputation is rooted in a lively nightlife scene. With a plethora of pubs, expats will have no problem finding a local haunt for a post-work pint. For a night out on the town, clubs, lounges and live music fill the streets of the Temple Bar District.
Outdoor activities in Dublin
With one of the biggest enclosed outdoor spaces in all the capitals of Europe, Dublin has a wide selection of outdoor activities sure to appeal to expats who prefer fresh air and green fields. The sprawling grounds of Phoenix Park are a perfect place for a stroll, and visitors to the park may also spot some wild deer roaming the grounds. There are many buildings of historical significance in the park too, along with Dublin Zoo.
Sporting expats can round up some friends to play ancient Irish sports at Experience Gaelic Games. Those after something at a slower pace can cruise down the River Liffey, or hire a kayak of their own. There are also a number of options for expats looking to maintain their fitness in Dublin, including hiking, cycling and surfing.
See and do in Dublin
With the city's multitude of attractions and fascinating history, expats will certainly have no shortage of exciting things to see and do in Dublin.
Sightseeing the classic tourist attractions is a great way for new arrivals to get to know their adopted city. A good way to learn more about local history while saving money is the Dublin Pass, the city’s official sightseeing card which allows access to many of the best attractions in the area.
Below we list some of our favourite attractions in the Irish capital.
Founded in 1204 by order of King John, Dublin Castle has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. By the 1600s the castle was home to the Law Courts, a banqueting hall and meetings of Parliament. It now hosts a museum, guided tours, cafés, gardens and an international conference centre.
The Dublin Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The zoo boasts various exhibits of animals from the Arctic to the plains of Africa, and houses rescued tigers, elephants, orangutans and many other fascinating creatures. Animal lovers will be glad to know that the zoo is also involved in numerous conservation projects, including the breeding of endangered species.
This iconic drink may be brewed all over the world, but there’s nothing better than a Guinness in Ireland. It just tastes better. Take a tour of the famous storehouse that was set up in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, and then head up to the Gravity Bar to enjoy a pint while taking in the bar's fantastic view over Dublin.
National Museum of Ireland
Expats interested in seeing the Emerald Isle’s richest treasures need look no further than the National Museum of Ireland. Marvel at specimens dating back thousands of years, learn about Ireland’s natural history and dig through the centuries to find out about local culture and traditions. Famous exhibits at the museum include the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice, both of which date back to around the 8th century.
What's on in Dublin
With so many vibrant and exciting events taking place throughout the year, Dublin has plenty of options for expats looking to get out and about. Here are some of the city's most well-known and well-loved yearly events.
St Patrick’s Festival (March)
For a rip-roaring good time, there’s no better party than the St Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin. The varied events include performers, clowns, games, singing, dancing and, of course, plenty of Guinness.
Dublin International Literature Festival (May)
Literary fans have a whole week in which to catch their favourite authors at a variety of workshops, masterclasses, debates and other events all across the city. The list of big-name writers at this festival grows more impressive every year, and we’d recommend interested visitors book their event tickets early.
Dublin Marathon (October)
The 26-mile (42km) run through Dublin's Georgian streets is dubbed the 'Friendly Marathon'. Since 1980, the marathon has become an excuse for a huge public street party. Today it attracts around 10,000 runners and even larger numbers of spectators.
Dublin City Pub Crawl (December)
Not just any old pub crawl, this drinking tour is both fun and educational, and celebrates the city’s history and pub culture – Guinness in hand, of course. Keen crawlers are taken on a journey to Dublin’s oldest pubs and taught how and where it all began.
Meeting people and making friends in Dublin
Arriving in a new city and not knowing a soul there is daunting to say the least, and it can be difficult to figure out where to start meeting people. Joining local clubs and societies is a sure-fire way to meet like-minded people. Here are a few recommendations.
Expats looking to explore the Irish outdoors would do well to check out Mountaineering Ireland, which holds regular events around the country for all levels of hikers. This is a great way to get fit and take in some fresh air while having the opportunity to meet those from all walks of life.
Culture vultures will be in seventh heaven at United Arts Club (UAC). The club focuses on nine arts – namely literature, music, dance, theatre, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and architecture. With WB Yeats himself being among the club's founding members, the UAC has a suitably illustrious history.
With more than 300 members of over 60 nationalities, the International Women's Club is a great place to meet fellow expats from around the world. The club's self-professed aim is to welcome and assist new arrivals and their families, as well as furthering members' understanding of Ireland. Club activities include language conversation groups, book clubs, cooking demonstrations, coffee mornings, Zumba and more.
►For fun family days out, see Kids and Families in Dublin
"There are many activities and places where you can meet people and make friends: pubs, gyms, sports clubs and places where you learn languages or go dancing as well as religious places or even charities." Read more of Alejandra's expat interview.
"We like visiting various public parks, pubs and scenic lookout areas. The Wicklow Mountains just south of Dublin have incredible hiking trails and viewpoints." For more, see our expat interview with Darren.
Are you an expat living in Dublin?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dublin. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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