St. Patrick’s Day won’t be the same this year, since parades from Dublin to New York have been canceled, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from reminiscing about years past or preparing for the years ahead. If you plan on traveling to the Emerald Isle some day to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, here’s a quick guide to help you get the most out of it.
St. Patrick’s Day, referred to as Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish, began as a way to mark the death of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick. Folklore has it Saint Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century and while he was at it, banished snakes from the island. Over the years, the holiday has morphed into green beer and tales about magical leprechauns but historically, it was a religious holiday for the Irish.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin have a history of extending into five days of rowdy revelry, so if you’re planning to head to the city for the holiday get there early. The entire downtown area closes to traffic on the 17th and over the course of the week in order to share their cultural heritage with hordes of tourists for dance performances, parades, live music, and plenty of authentic food and craft beers galore.
Whether you’re in Dublin to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, or any day, it helps to get familiar with some of the local slang. While most of Ireland speaks English, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the Irish language before you start rubbing elbows at the bar with the locals. We’ve highlighted a few authentic experiences to tuck under your belt while in Dublin in the video above, including advice from locals on the lingo you’ll need to know before you go.
If you’ve still got room for more in your itinerary, step this way. We’ve got some guidance about how to devour the best of Dublin during your stay
Eat in Dublin
Tour the Temple Food Market: This cheap and oh so delicious destination has everything from chippers (Irish slang for fish & chips or french fries) to cronuts. Yes, that’s the happy marriage of a croissant and a donut. Bring cash though because it’s a bit of a haul to the nearest ATM and most street vendors don’t take credit cards.
Dig into Dublin’s Foodie Scene: As an international city, Dublin has lots more to offer than pubs and fried food. Their foodie scene is popping with plenty of diversity and dynamic ethnic cuisine. Try buzzworthy downtown icons like 777, where next-level tacos are served alongside eclectic decor.
Speak with confidence:
Long night at the pub? If you need a hearty breakfast to handle that hangover, head out to one of Dublin’s many breakfast spots for a “fry up,” which usually includes hearty portions of perhaps the best bacon on the planet, sausages, baked beans, eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, toast, and leftover potatoes.
If you’re headed to the toilet, look for signs for the WC (water closet), or as the Irish like to call it, “the jax.”
Drink in Dublin
Craft beer: Dublin is known for Guinness, but that’s not the only brew to sample. Head to the cultural district for a lively pub scene and be sure to stop by iconic spots like Temple Bar and Doheny & Nesbitt’s to get those coveted tourist snapshots. Need a primer on pub etiquette? We’ve got you covered: Your Guide to Irish Pub Etiquette
Hot Chocolate: Dublin has more to offer than just bars and beers. Sample European hot chocolate at breakfast spots like Brother Hubbard, where the thick chocolate ganache comes accompanied with a side of fresh cream.
Speak with confidence:
Raising a glass? Say “sláinte,” which means health in Irish. This toast is used more often in Ireland rather than the English cheers or bottoms up.
When things get a bit rowdy at the bar, don’t be surprised to hear the word “craic” thrown around. In Dublin, that means it’s all in good fun. If you get a little far into your cups, the locals might say you’re “head the ball” but it doesn’t mean you have athletic prowess. It just means you’ve gotten a bit crazy.
Do in Dublin
Tour the Guinness Factory
It’s worth the extra dough to take the factory tour and sampling Guinness at the source. You can also take a trip up to The Gravity Bar on the top floor of the Guinness factory which provides unparalleled views of the city. Not into beer? Tour the Jameson factory instead and learn more about Irish whiskey.
Stop by Dublin Castle
You don’t have to venture into the Irish countryside to step into a historical castle. The Dublin Castle is an iconic property, close to the main downtown area, and fairly inexpensive to tour. It’s still a working government building and often features historical exhibitions.
Speak with confidence:
When you’re rubbing elbows with locals, you may hear them ask “What’s the story?” They aren’t asking for an account of your life or details of your day. In Ireland, it’s slang for “How are you?”
Want to be polite as you depart Dublin’s iconic tourist destinations?
Say “slan leat agus go raibh mile maith agat,” which is Irish for “Goodbye and thank you very much.”
Talk of the Town
Linger in Dublin’s Libraries
Dublin’s Trinity College is home to The Long Room, perhaps one of the most famous libraries in the world and certainly one of the most photographed. You’ll need to purchase advance tickets as the lines for admission can be quite long. Another Dublin library worth touring is Marsh Library which was Ireland’s first public library and contains some of the oldest books in Ireland dating back to the 1400s.
Foodie like a local
Taste Tradition at Murphy’s Ice Cream
Undoubtedly one of the most famous things to sample in Dublin is Murphy’s Ice Cream, an artisan ice cream made in Ireland. With flavors like Dingle Sea Salt and Irish Brown Bread, you’ll have trouble not coming back for seconds.
St. Patrick’s Days in Dublin
If you’re headed to Ireland’s capital city to take part in the St. Patrick’s Days festivities, don’t miss these iconic experiences.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place on the 17th and results in the majority of the downtown area being closed to anything but foot traffic. The parade route runs from the northern part of the city at St. Mary’s Place all the way through to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the south.
Grab breakfast early and head to O’Connell Street where you can get a prime viewing spot.
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Once you’ve taken in your fill of the parade, head to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This church bears the Saint’s namesake and is one of the largest and tallest cathedrals in Ireland. Admission is fairly inexpensive, although you’ll want to book in advance if you’re coming during the holiday festivities.