Unusual Things To Do In Dublin That Are Not In Your Guidebook

By Ekemena Ogodo, a social science student from Dublin who is always exploring the lesser-known parts of the city with her friends.
Edited by Elodi Troskie

The multicultural capital of Ireland is a merging of historic Europe with a touch of modernity – this is what makes Dublin so unique. The city center is quite touristic, and with good reason since this is where you’ll find many of the best places to eat and drink. But if you want to explore Dublin off the beaten path, I suggest branching out towards the outskirts of the city. Here are a few ideas for unusual things to do in Dublin that you won’t find in your guidebook!

Watch A Panto Performance

Watching a pantos show is a must-do activity in Dublin. This always takes me back to when I was a kid and we used to go on school trips to see a show at one of the pantos theaters. Pantomime, informally known as ‘panto’, is a type of musical comedy theater aimed at children’s audiences. It’s become a cultural institution in Ireland, combining songs, slapstick comedy, dancing and gender-crossing actors with a well-known folk tale to put an interesting twist on something familiar. One of Dublin’s most famous pantos theaters, The Gaiety Theater, is one of my favorite places to go for these shows. The theater has been in business for almost 150 years and always a range of really cool shows to choose from. A really great option for families visiting Dublin with kids (or anyone looking for some alternative entertainment!). Tickets for the theater can be booked online.

Take Pictures Of The Umbrella

The colorful umbrellas just off South Anne Street in the city center has become one of the most photographed scenes in Dublin. This lane filled with umbrellas in all the colors of the rainbow isn’t something you see every day! It’s a beautiful sight to see and make for incredible Instagram-shots! The umbrellas have become a defining feature of Zozimus, the upscale cocktail bar right next to this installation. Zozimus is a must-visit place when you’re in the area. In addition to their extensive cocktail menu, they offer an amazing Asian food experience with traditional favorites like Hong Kong style dim sum, Singapore noodles and shitake prawns. The bar is open daily from 15:00 until late and the restaurant’s serving hours are from 17:00 every day except Mondays.

Tour The City’s Murals

If you’re looking for more photo opportunities in Dublin, there are a couple of really cool street art installations around the city. There is a very active arts and creative scene in Dublin’s city center, and you can spend a whole morning walking around to explore the colorful murals. A good place to start your street art tour of Dublin is in Drury Street, by many considered as the city’s main creative district. You’ll see a lot of colorful graffiti around this area. Just up from Drury Street is Grafton Street, another vibrant canvas for Dublin’s best street artists to showcase their work. Tivoli Car Park has become somewhat of an outdoor gallery for graffiti artists – there’s always something new to see here and it seems as though new pieces show up overnight! Of course, Temple Bar is also a great destination for Dublin’s street art. This is one of the city’s most hip and happening areas with a vibrant arts and cultural scene, encouraging local artists to share and exhibit their work.

Try Dublin’s Street Food

If you’re wondering where to eat in Dublin, my first suggestion is to visit Eat Yard. This food hub, located next to the Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street, is hard to miss (and it’s definitely not something to miss out on in Dublin!). The space features a variety of different food stalls inspired by international street food dishes. This is without a doubt the best place to find good street food in Dublin. The vibe is amazing, with lively music, friendly faces and mouth-watering flavors. A cool new initiative is Market Park, a weekly market held at Jam Park on Sundays. Market Park will feature a handful of rotating food, drinks, craft and retail vendors, as well as a medley of live music, games and other events. The first of these markets will take place on 14 July – a great way to kick off the summer weekend in Dublin. Eat Yard’s regular opening hours are from 12:00 until 22:00 from Thursdays to Sundays.

Go Vintage Shopping

If you’re into vintage goods, a great place to visit for shopping is George’s Street Arcade. In business since the 1870’s, this street market has a rich interesting as one of Dublin’s oldest shopping centers. A large part of the market was destroyed by a fire nearing the end of the 1800’s, but it didn’t take long to rebuild the center in the same style. Today, there are more than 40 regular independent vendors who make the arcade one of the coolest places to shop in Dublin. You’ll find stalls selling vintage jewelry and clothing pieces as well as other quirky gems like foreign infused teas and one-of-a-kind scented candles. You can even get your fortune told! I love this place because I always see something interesting that I didn’t notice before, plus the vendors are all so friendly – an altogether amazing experience. George’s Street Arcade is located in the heart of the city center, less than 5 minutes’ walk from the beautiful Grafton Street. Opening hours are daily from 09:00 until 18:30.

Go To A Summer Festival

Summer is definitely the best time to visit Dublin. This is when options for cool activities and over weekends are the best since the weather is so great and the holiday-spirits are running high. A really cool event is Longitude, the biggest outdoor festival in Ireland, taking place on the outskirts of Dublin every summer holiday. This music festival started in 2012 and has been drawing partygoers from all over the country for the past few years. The festival is aimed at the younger crowd with headlining acts from international artists like Post Malone, Solange and J Cole. 2019’s Longitude festival, scheduled for 5-7 July, will feature performances from Chance The Rapper, A$AP Rocky and Future. Another popular music festival is Forbidden Fruit, a three-day event taking place in Dublin in early June every year. This festival features artists that appeal to a wider age group and visitors vary from 20-40. Is there any better way to kick of the summer than with a fun music festival?

Party At A Silent Disco

Still on the festive topic, one of my favorite things to do with my friends is going to a silent disco party. If you’re looking for cool things to do in Dublin at night, this could be an interesting twist on a regular night out in the city. My go-to place is a club called The Academy, located just off O’Connell Street. This is a great place to visit if you want to lock yourself in your own world and dance it out – a wonderfully crazy experience! The Academy also hosts regular live music shows from local artists as well as weekly themed club nights, like the futuristically neon Friday nights and the colorful circus Saturday nights. The club has different rooms and stages for different kinds of music depending on what you’re in the mood for. Keep an eye on their website to stay updated with upcoming shows and events!

Improvise At An Open Mic Night

Another slightly more unusual thing to do in Dublin at night is going to an open mic night to show off your impressive improvisation skills. Performance art is a big part of Dublin’s nightlife and cultural scene, so there’s quite a lot of places hosting weekly open mic nights since it’s such a popular night-time activity around here. For aspiring singer-songwriters, Whelan’s hosts their popular Song Cycle night every Monday at 21:00. Located in an upstairs venue in Wexford Street, this pub invites locals and foreigners alike to take to the stage to share their original music. Another cool occurring event for standup performance is the International Bar’s Circle Sessions, celebrating a mixture of established artists and new talent. Starting from 20:00 every Monday, this event encourages all kinds of performance art like slam poetry, acoustic music and stand-up comedy. You don’t need to sign up in advance and can volunteer to perform as an impromptu artist.

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