Safest Areas in Dublin: An Expert Guide
Find out where the safest areas to stay in Dublin are, and what you can see and do there
Let's start with some good news: Dublin is relatively small. It’s divided into the North and South side, with the River Liffey acting border. The Northside is viewed (economically at least) as underprivileged, and the Southside overprivileged. A classic tale of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ perhaps? Regardless, the Irish are well known for their warmth and generosity. They’re some of the most welcoming hosts anywhere in the world and we doubt you’ll have any issues wherever you stay. Having said that, like any other world city, it’s just a good idea to practise common sense. Keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. If it gives you extra peace of mind, then there are several areas which have a reputation of being very safe. Here at Plum Guide, we’re experts in this kind of thing and pride ourselves on doing the hard work for you, so we’ve got you covered with this essential guide to the safest areas in Dublin.
Merrion Square and St. Stephen’s Green
If you have a fancy, romantic image of Dublin in mind, the area around Merrion Square and St. Stephen’s Green is probably it. For starters, it’s chock-a-block with impressive Georgian architecture, historic townhouses and cobblestone streets. Where there is history, there is also culture. For some art and literature, head to the National Gallery and the National Library. There are tons of museums too, including The Little Museum of Dublin, the National Museum of Ireland and the Oscar Wilde House, dedicated to one of Dublin’s most well-known former residents. If there’s only one thing you do here, make sure it’s a self-guided Oscar Wilde tour. The tour starts at his childhood home and ends at the impressive Trinity College campus.
Before you catch a show at the National Concert Hall (also in the neighbourhood), head to Etto to experience the best of Dublin’s fine dining. This award-winning restaurant serves Italian inspired and Irish infused dishes, with a particularly excellent wine menu. If you’re one of the lucky ones and get to see a sunny day (they do happen from time to time), this area is within easy walking distance to peaceful, manicured parks such as St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square Park. On the flipside, Grafton Street shopping area is only a few minutes walk away, showcasing just how lively the city can get.
This charming, mostly residential neighbourhood is one of the safest areas in Dublin. Although only a ten minute stroll from the city centre, the Portobello area of Dublin gives you that classic Irish warmth, making you feel like you’re in a cosy little village. The Grand Canal runs through here and is perfect for an afternoon walk, picnic, or just enjoying the sun (honestly, it does happen every now and then). Portobello is nicknamed ‘Little Jerusalem’ thanks to the Eastern European Jewish community who made their home here in the 19th century. You can learn more about their history and their contributions to politics, law, medicine, academia, art, music and culture at the Irish Jewish Museum. We did tell you there’s a lot of museums here in the Irish capital. Feeling creative? Why not pop into the Copper House Gallery. This local art gallery showcases contemporary Irish art, from photography to fine art.
Meanwhile, if you’re a shopaholic then you’re in for a treat, as Portobello has a whole array of independent shops and boutiques. Whether it’s homeware or fashion, antiques or jewellery, you’ll never know what treasures you’re going to come across. After a long, hard day of shopping, we strongly recommend Clanbrassil House. Chef Gráinne O’Keefe focuses on small plates of the best Irish produce cooked over a wood-fired grill. Alternatively, head to the Michelin recommended Richmond Restaurant for some hearty comfort food (and an exceptional wine list).
Of all the safest areas in Dublin, the Docklands is arguably the most fancy. Nicknamed ‘Silicon Docks’, the area is essentially one huge, well-established tech scene. Not only is it teeming with Irish Mark Zuckerbergs (as socially awkward as ever), it really is a safe area. There are plenty of waterfront entertainment venues, attractions and haute cuisine that stretch along the River Liffey. Plus, it’s the place to be if you want to get away from the tourist crowds.
Even the museums around here are high tech. Have you ever wondered why and how the Irish have gotten seemingly everywhere? You could be on a tiny beach in the Caribbean and there’d still be an Irish pub. Well, the award-winning EPIC Irish Emigration Museum tells the story of Ireland’s people and its emigrants. Through 20 interactive galleries, you’ll discover tales of sacrifice, adventure and endurance, making the journey through Irish history and culture. Well worth it. Though it may be surrounded by shiny new architecture, the Docklands still holds a few old treasures. The Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, is one of the country’s leading cultural institutions. First opened to the public 1904, the theatre was closely linked to the Irish Literary Revival. Today, the theatre showcases traditional Irish plays alongside classic and new works from around the world.
For a spot of shopping, head to Point Village. As well as a shopping centre, you’ll also find entertainment venues like Odeon cinema and the 3Arena music venue. Once you’ve put a considerable dent in your wallet, we recommend heading to Charlotte Quay Restaurant and Bar. Enjoy panoramic views over Grand Canal Dock as you tuck into Mediterranean inspired dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Ballsbridge and Donnybrook
This affluent, residential area has a strong sense of community and family ties. So strong, in fact, that you can find family graves in the Donnybrook Graveyard which date back to the 8th century. Sports fans in particular will enjoy staying here, as the Energia Stadium, home of Leinster Rugby, is in the neighbourhood. They frequently have last-minute tickets on sale, so it’s worth catching a game. If this rough-and-tumble sport isn’t really your thing, there’s the Elm Park Golf & Sport Club nearby. You’ll also find the RDS Main Arena and the Aviva Stadium, which both hold sporting events like rugby, football and equestrian shows, as well as music concerts. While you’re in the neighbourhood, make sure to visit Herbert Park. One of the most popular parks in Dublin, you’ll find native tree trails, sports fields and facilities for tennis, croquet and bowling, and a children's playground.
Hungry and feel like checking out the restaurant scene in downtown Dublin? There are plenty of bus links to get you into town. But if you feel like staying put, we recommend you try Irish fine dining at Mulberry Garden. In case you have one or two too many glasses of wine and momentarily forget where you are, just take a look around. From the soap in the bathroom to the linen tablecloths, the restaurant prides itself in using Irish products. Naturally, the ingredients are all locally sourced to create the best of Irish dishes.