A student’s guide to living in Dublin
Dublin is a famously friendly and walkable city, where ‘town’ is in the centre of everything and everyone’s lives.
Dubliners are a proud bunch, and love nothing more than to welcome new faces to the city and show off why they think it’s one of the best in the world.
Staying active and Irish sports
When studying is your top priority, sometimes staying healthy can take a bit of a back seat. Staying fit doesn’t have to cost a fortune and it doesn’t need to be boring either. Here are some of the best ways to keep active in Dublin, including some Irish sports.
FLYEfit have 13 gyms across the city with membership starting from €29 monthly, which includes all classes and can be paused at any time.
Need a bit of extra motivation, or had a big day buried in books? Try Dance Fit, Boxercise or Bounce Fit for a change to your usual fitness routine.
Sports & Fitness Markievicz have a pay and play rate for access to their swimming pool for only €5.90. It’s the best value you’ll find in the city centre and the perfect way to switch off from studying while you swim a few lengths.
Learn all about Ireland’s ancient national sports, hurling and Gaelic football, in the best way possible – by taking part in a game.
With Experience Gaelic Games, you’ll watch an audio-visual intro into how the Gaelic games are played before trying your hand and competing against your friends. They’re an integral part of Irish culture, and if you like what you see you might even decide to join your college club, or at least go along to watch a match from the side lines.
Rent a bike in Phoenix Park
Home to both the President and more than 500 wild deer, the Phoenix Park is the biggest urban park in Europe and the perfect place to spend a few hours on its 14km of cycle paths.
Bike rental starts from €6 including a helmet, and while there are cafes in the park, you can save a few pennies by bringing your own picnic to enjoy on the grass on a nice sunny afternoon. You’ll feel a million miles away from the city.
Ericsson Skyline Tour – Croke Park
With your newfound knowledge of Irish sports, head to Croke Park, Dublin’s 80,000-person capacity GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) stadium for the highest open viewing platform in the city.
Enjoy panoramic views of the city out to the sea from 17 stories high on the rooftop walkway. There’s a platform suspended over the pitch and multilingual audio guides available. It’s not for the faint hearted – and make sure you don’t forget your camera.
Get out of the city
When you have some spare time on the weekend, it’s nice to leave the city. Day trips are also a great way to make new friends and explore what Ireland has to offer.
Luckily, you never have to go too far from Dublin to find some beautiful nature.
Powerscourt Gardens and Cool Planet Experience
Both spots are just a 30-minute drive away from the city centre in County Wicklow. The grounds on the sprawling estate span 47 acres with stunning walled gardens and plenty of quiet areas to relax surrounded by nature. Student entry is €8.50.
While you’re there, check out the Cool Planet Experience. It’s Ireland’s first climate action experience - an immersive learning journey through the science of climate change and how we can help. Student tickets cost €7.50.
Ballymoney Blue Flag Beach
Near Gorey, in County Wexford, is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach just over an hour’s drive from Dublin. Head to Courtown Adventure and grab a Tower Ticket for €21 which includes aerial trekking, a climbing wall and 150m long zip wire and makes for one of the most exciting day trips.
For a more chilled afternoon, take a walk around Gorey Town and visit Zozimus, a charming second-hand bookshop, then stop for coffee and cake at Wexford Lavender Farm Cafe.
Bray or Greystones
Take the DART (Dublin rail) out to either of these places and take the marked cliff walk 7km along the coastal path between the two beach towns.
Keep your eyes peeled for porpoises swimming off the rocks and stop for lunch at The Happy Pear, a vegetarian restaurant.
Cliffs of Moher
For something further afield, Paddywagon run day trips from Dublin to the world-famous Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. As well as the stunning sea cliffs, you’ll also visit The Burren, Doolin and Bunratty Castle for short stops along the way.
Sit back on the bus journey and use the onboard WiFi if you’ve got any college deadlines hanging over you. The return trip ticket price is €45 for students.
The train from Dublin to Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, takes just two hours from Connolly Station and brings you right into the city.
Things to do in Dublin when it's raining
Forget the weather forecast, you always need to be prepared for rain to pour down in Dublin. You also need to be prepared for a few seasons in one day – it really is unpredictable, and you’ll often need both sunglasses and an umbrella at the same time.
Luckily, Dublin doesn’t really get extreme weather, but a windbreaker will be your best friend and wearing layers year-round is a smart idea.
Here are a couple of ways to entertain yourself, even when the rain hits Dublin hard.
The cinema has a student membership for €25 which will give you discounted deals, special members-only screenings, events and free online booking.
This isn’t just any old cinema, it was named by Guardian Film Awards as the Highly Commended Best Cinema and has singalong screenings, classic movie seasons and also runs annual film festivals.
Since, as the name suggests, you’re likely to get wet on the Viking Splash tour, it’s the perfect rainy-day activity.
Bright yellow amphibious boats take you on a 75-minute tour through Dublin, learning about the city’s old medieval and Viking past before splashing into the water at the Grand Canal. Don’t forget your raincoat!
This restaurant and bar doubles up as a retro arcade and pinball parlour.
Play Pac-Man and Donkey Kong or try the food challenge – it’s €20 per person for two kilos of bacon jam and parmesan fries, smoked brisket chilli ‘n’ cheese fries, and hot fries. Finish it in under twenty minutes to receive a Token t-shirt, your money back and your face on the Wall of Fame.
Ireland’s first alcohol-free bar serves up delicious virgin cocktails, non-alcoholic beer and wine in stylish surroundings on Capel St. It’s the perfect alternative to a coffee shop for a date or a great place to catch up with friends on a rainy evening.
This is the ultimate adults’ playground. There’s paradise disco golf, ping pong, a singalong cinema, board games, an escape room, markets, food, drink, you name it and it’s here – all under one roof.
Jump on the Swords Express bus out of town and make sure you’re wearing your comfy shoes.
Interpreting things Dubliners say
While we speak English in Dublin, you’re likely to come across a few sayings that’ll sound like a foreign language. Forget ‘to be sure, to be sure’ – no one says that in real life.
Instead, here’s a list of Dublin slang that often needs to be explained to out-of-towners.
‘What’s the story?’, or even just ‘story?’
This is how we ask ‘how you are’, ‘what’s been happening’, ‘what’s going on?’
No one is looking for an actual story here, although Dubliners do like to tell them. It’s more of a rhetorical question really, and you hardly ever receive a proper answer.
Another way of asking is, ‘what’s the craic?’ Craic (not to be confused with crack) can mean ‘goings on’, ‘fun’ etc. So the question is really ‘what’s up?’ Responses again are very vague - a one word ‘grand’ usually suffices.
Saying the word ‘grand’ works for; ‘good’, ‘ok’, ‘alright’, ‘mediocre’, ‘not bad’ and so on.
“You’re grand”, however, means no. Don’t worry, intonation and body language should give you some clues. Another way Dubliners love to say grand is in the context of refusing an offer.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Oh no, you’re grand.”
“Are you sure?”
“Ah yeah, go on.”
‘Come here to me’
This means ‘I want you to tell me something’ or ‘I have a question for you’.It’s kind of like saying, ‘listen up, I have something to say/ask’. It can also be followed up with ‘get away from me’ meaning I think you’re codding me/having me on (lying). Either way, it’s nothing to do with the distance of the people involved in the conversation, you can even use this one on the phone or by text.
‘Yer man’ and ‘yer wan’
This can relate to any man or woman whose name we do not know. Your ‘oul one’ and ‘oul fella’ are your mother and father.
You will hear and see Dubliners in their natural habitat using their unique slang and generally being gas craic (good fun), and very fondly using nicknames for people, places and things.
Names are often shortened or else we add an ‘o’ at the end. For example, Aidan becomes Aido. It’s quite common to call someone by their last name, e.g. Thomas Crosse becomes ‘Crossy’. Old people can have nicknames younger generations can’t quite get their head around, like ‘Peg’ which actually translates to Margaret. Of course, there’s the most Irish of them all, ‘Paddy’ for Patrick or Padraig.
But nicknames aren’t just reserved for people - the famous Spire of Dublin is ‘the pole in the hole’ (among others) and just one of the Molly Malone statue’s nicknames is ‘the dolly with the trolley’.