Smithfield on Dublin’s northside has grown up since its gritty days in the early 2000s. Nestled between vivacious Temple Bar, expansive Phoenix Park and free-spirited Stoneybatter, staying here will give visitors true insight into local life. Most activity revolves around Smithfield Square, a former market right off the Luas tramline. The large cobblestone plaza has been transformed into a cluster of independent restaurants and artisan cafés. Between all the wining and dining, there are tons of family-friendly festivals and cultural happenings to take part in. Bustling pubs and warehouse clubs around the square mean you’ll be kept busy well into the wee hours.
Taking inspiration from street vendors and food trucks, Token’s menu centres around burgers, tacos and other foods you eat with your hands. After your meal, play Space Invaders or catch a ’90s movie at the cinema. The next morning, head to Third Space and unwind. In addition to serving enormous Irish breakfasts, sumptuous wraps and fresh pastries, this bright, informal hangout hosts an array of community events.
For a dependable, family-run local, head to the cosy, ill-lit Glimmer Man. Catch the nightly seisiún at the Cobblestone for another classic Smithfield experience. When you want something wilder, LGBTQ-friendly PantiBar is ready with drag shows and music bingo.
Taste Jameson straight from the barrel at the Bow Street Distillery, which has been running since 1780. Choose from three immersive experiences in the world of whiskey and take some home to impress friends and family.
Youthful visitors will love the uber-cool yet reasonably priced Generator Hostel right on Smithfield Square. Dorms and private ensuites are available, though guests tend to spend more time in the industrial-chic café-bar. Closer to the park, Ashling Hotel is a polished four-star option.
If you only do one thing…
Pack a picnic and head to the park. Wild fallow deer share the walking trails and flower gardens that dot Phoenix’s 1,750-plus acres. Dublin Zoo, Ashtown Castle, a Viking cemetery and the President’s residence are all hidden inside.