A local's guide to Dublin Ireland

Shay and her boyfriend Kurt are some of my very best friends from San Francisco who currently live in Dublin, Ireland. They are masters of everything ‘Dublin’ and have agreed to share their favorite things to do for fun, favorite food stops, and what it’s like to be an ex-pat in Ireland! Enjoy!

How to Do Dublin Like a Local

How to Do Dublin Like a Local

Why did you move to Dublin?

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and moved to Dublin in April of 2016. My Bay Area based company decided to open a Dublin office and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! Having lived in San Francisco for just over 4 years, I was ready for a change of scenery and a new adventure. Although I wasn’t as bold and adventurous as The Traveling Spud to travel for a year, I was ready for a change in my life and felt this was just what I needed. My boyfriend, Kurt was in the same headspace and we packed up our Marina apartment, said bye to all of our friends and family and moved our lives across the world!

How long do you plan on living in Dublin?

We will be living in Dublin until April 2018, as my visa is good for 2 years. I think that is the perfect amount of time to explore Europe, get accustomed to the Irish lifestyle and of course, drink as many Guinness as possible.

Guinness beer

What is it like being an expat in a foreign country?

I can’t lie, I was pretty nervous about this at first. However, Ireland has proven the PERFECT place for any expat to move. Not only is the language English (although extremely hard to understand at first) but the people are incredibly helpful, kind and have such a charm about them. I always tell visitors you can walk in to any pub and leave with 10 new friends. The Irish are so nice, witty and have hilarious banter. They will make fun of you for almost anything but you find yourself laughing alongside of them.

There is no real sense of urgency here and I mean that in a good way. It is clear people work to live and don’t live to work…. a nice change of pace coming from Silicon Valley. In addition to the people being incredibly friendly and the language barrier almost nonexistent, Dublin itself is such an easy transition and an all around cool place to live. There are so many quirky neighborhoods, similar to San Francisco with neighborhood pubs and restaurants a plenty.

expats in Ireland

On a scale of 1-10 how good would you say Dublin is for expat living?

No question, it is a 10. Everything you need is here but with a European/Irish twist.

What are some cons to being an expat?

I haven’t found many con’s. In fact, it’s kind of fun because everyone will instantly strike up a conversation with you because you are in expat. It usually starts with Trump but once you get past that, they genuinely want to know how you got here and why one would ever leave sunny California.

**A few items I miss:

  • A full size refrigerator. Ours is the size of the mini fridge you had in your college dorm room.
  • Proper Mexican food. There are a million and one burrito shops here but can a girl just get an enchilada?
  • Clothes dryer. We have a “washer/dyer” combo, which literally just spins your wet clothes around and boils them. We wash our clothes and hang dry which basically turns them in to cardboard. 

How would you describe Dublin in a few words?

Charming, historical, a party.

O'neill's Dublin

Where are your favorite places to eat in Dublin?

Holy smokes, there are so many places to eat! I must admit I am still working my way through a bunch of hot spots, as new ones are always popping up.

Brunch, Breakfast

  • Sophie’s – beautiful view and amazing traditional full Irish brekkieSophies Brunch
  • Bear – delish brunch with a twist
  • Queen of Tarts – just went here for the first time but normally there is a line out the door. Insane pastries, cakes and of course tarts!


  • Doughboys – I am a sucker for a good sandwich and just LOVE the California Club. They put avocado AND BBQ chips on it.
  • The Health Punnet – I love going here for a healthy salad or wrap during the week. They have bulletproof coffee as well (yum!) and have a small general market you can buy really healthy groceries from.
  • Green Bench Café – holy moly. This place also has a line a mile long EVERY DAY. If you time it right you can be through the queue in about 15 minutes. They have a few daily salads and sandwiches that are made from scratch and it doesn’t disappoint.


  • Bunsen burger – number one on my list. Think adult style In n Out Burger with insanely fresh Irish beef. I go at least once a week.Where to eat in Dublin Like a Local
  • Green 19 – great modern Irish food at a decent price! Delish cocktails too.
  • Featherblade – just went here for NYE dinner and it is incredible!! Really small menu but delicious starters and steaks. Please go there and get the Truffle mac n cheese. How can you not?


  • Baxter and Greene – a chain but right next to my office and I go almost every day for my coffee!
  • Café Bliss – amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner! Super cheap.
  • Bird Cage – so so so cute and delicious coffee! They have croissants the size of your head.

Where are your favorite bars and pubs?

  • Bleeding Horse – right next to my house and your quintessential Irish pub! It’s huge and has great music. Also fun to watch any sporting match at.
  • Bernard Shaw – graffiti on all the walls and an outdoor section with music and TV’s! In the outdoor section is a big blue bus that serves a delicious pizza.
  • House – super cute, almost Alice in Wonderland back patio. It is a magical garden feel with unreal craft cocktails. The last one I ordered was actually smoking!

Molly Malone in Dublin

What’s your favorite touristy thing to take people to do?

  • Well no matter what, you HAVE to go to the Guinness Storehouse. It’s almost a right of passage when you come to Ireland.
    Guinness Storehouse
  • There are tons of sights you can see on the hop on hop off bus.
  • My favorite touristy/Irish thing to do is to take a bus up to Johnny Fox’s and partake in their Hooli Night. It is the highest pub in Ireland and is home to amazing cuisine and incredible Irish music. You even get to see the Irish dancers, which is so fun to see! Think Riverdance but more authentic.

Johnny Fox’s

What are your top 3 favorite neighborhoods?

  • D2/City Center – this is where I live and where there is a ton going on! In fact, almost all the restaurants I mentioned are within a 5-minute walk of my house. There is so much to do in fact it can sometimes be really noisy but what can I say? I love being in the center of it all.
  • Ranelagh – I love this neighborhood and have a couple of friends that live here. It is so cute and nice. It has it’s own main street with shops, pubs, and restaurants but is more of a neighborhood vibe. I particularly love Urban Health, which has the best protein pancakes and avocado toast you could ask for.
  • Baggot Street – Another neighborhood I have friends in. This is kind of a mix of where I live and Ranelagh. It has it all, the neighborhood vibe with a ton to do just a short walk away. Plus one of my favorite bars/nightclubs, Xico, is right there. 😉

How to Do Dublin Like a Local

Where would you tell people to stay if they were visiting?

I would literally tell you to stay next door to where I live, it is an AirBnb. (Get a discount on Airbnb for $40 off with this link). I think staying near me is really in the center of it all and you can literally walk anywhere. Also I have friends that AirBnb their places out as well so there are tons of options! Look on Airbnb to be near St. Stephen’s Green. I live a little south of that but anywhere are there and you are set!

When is the best time of year to visit Dublin?

I would say there are probably two times that are the best. The fall – meaning September or October is kind of the start of the rainy season. Although the weather is hit or miss, there will be NO tourists, which allows you to not only see all the sights in Dublin but also rent a car and drive around the whole country! The second best time would probably be April because it is right after Paddy’s Day and right before the summer madness kicks off.

How to Do Dublin Like a Local

What is your favorite thing to do on weekends in Dublin?

When we first moved here, Kurt couldn’t leave the country because we were waiting on the proper paperwork, so we did a TON of sightseeing around Ireland. I absolutely taking a day or two to travel to the little towns around Ireland, listen to live music and have an Irish meal.

How to Do Dublin Like a Local

What has been your favorite memory so far?

One of my favorite Irish memories so far is taking the train out to Dun Laoghaire and jumping in to the Irish Sea at the famous cliff diving spot 40 Foot. It’s a must do activity living in Ireland and really cemented the fact that we live here!

Irish Sea - How to Do Dublin Like a Local

Thanks, Shay and Kurt for showing us how to do Dublin like a local!!


The Ultimate 2 Week Ireland Itinerary

20 Reasons Why You MUST Roadtrip Through Ireland

3 Days on the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland

The 10 Best Views in Ireland

Shanghai Like a Local with Expat Lyndsey