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By Jessica Colley—
Tourist traps are the same everywhere: Prices are higher than they should be and they’re packed with tourists instead of locals. In some cities – like Dublin – certain tourist traps change by day and by night. It isn’t enough to avoid entire areas, you need to know when to avoid them.
Here is some advice on how to skip Dublin’s tourist traps, and just as important, how to find the authentic experience within them.
Tourist Trap: Temple Bar
Temple Bar is the well-known historic neighborhood of Dublin that flanks the River Liffey on the south side. Its cobblestone alleys and street musicians can set a great atmosphere – if you know when to visit.
This neighborhood is home to a number of pubs (the Oliver St John Gogarty, the Quays Bar) that few Dubliners ever set foot in. The reasons are simple: pints here are overpriced compared to other areas of the city, and the pubs are typically full of tourists and rowdy bachelor parties.
Yet there’s another side of Temple Bar. The neighborhood is also known as Dublin’s cultural quarter, and it takes on another life during the day. Visit on a Saturday morning to nibble your way through the Temple Bar Food Market in Meeting House Square. Take in an exhibit at the Gallery of Photography next door, or if it’s a rainy day, join the locals in the IFI (Irish Film Institute) for a film or a pot of tea in the café.
Do: Visit Temple Bar during the day for its galleries, markets, and cafés.
Don’t: Fall into the trap of Temple Bar’s overpriced pubs at night.
Tourist Trap: Trinity College and the Book of Kells
One of the top attractions in Dublin is Trinity College and the ancient Book of Kells. It is so popular that there is often a long line to get in and a hefty price tag attached to try and squeeze up to the pages of the Book of Kells in a dimly lit room before being shoved out by the next guy in line.
The Book of Kells exhibits closes daily at 5 p.m. (4:30 p.m. on Sundays) so why not show up half an our before closing time? Not only will the aforementioned line by nonexistent, but the entry fee is also sliced in half. Then instead of seeing the Book of Kells and the incredible Long Room library with a crowd – you will have it all to yourself.
Do: Visit the Long Room Library and Book of Kells right before closing.
Don’t: Skip this worthwhile attraction or wait in the long line during the day.
Tourist Trap: Taxis
When visitors to Dublin hear that the capital city doesn’t have a subway system, some think they are going to be stuck taking expensive taxis. First of all – the city is quite small and manageable to be explored on foot – and second there are many affordable methods of public transportation to help you get around.
On a sunny day, nothing beats renting a Dublin Bike (“db” for short) and cycling around the city. There is also Dublin Bus, the LUAS trams, the DART train, and even the Hop On, Hop Off double decker bus that stops at 25 of the top tourist attractions in the city.
Do: Explore different parts of the city.
Don’t: Rely on expensive taxis to get around.
Not a trap
There are some attractions that people might suspect as tourist traps – such as the Guinness Storehouse – that are actually some of the best things to do in the city. Taking a first sip of a perfect pint on top of the 365-day a year brewery at sunset, and you’ll no longer think of calling such an important piece of Dublin history a tourist trap.
Do you have any tourist trap advice to add to our list? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Also on EuroCheapo: Our editors inspect, review and photograph the best budget hotels in Dublin (some of which are in Temple Bar, but none of which are tourist traps!).