Ah, Temple Bar.
Tourists know it as “the” place to go out and have a wild night. Locals know it as the area over-saturated with tourists and overpriced drinks. Everyone knows it as the messy headquarters of drunkenness come nightfall.
But, Temple Bar is actually much more than what both locals and tourists give it credit for. Locals tend to stay away most of the time because of the bad rep the tourists have given it. And tourists mainly go at night and dirty up the streets with trash and bodily fluids during their drunken escapades. But, it’s so much more than what it becomes come nightfall.
Since no trip to Dublin is complete without a look into Temple Bar, 99.9% of all tourists in Dublin WILL end up in there, and WILL want to see what the hype is about and why all the guidebooks always say to visit. Some may find that it’s overcrowded, overhyped, and overpriced. And it is. But there’s a also a certain magic to Temple Bar. You just have to know when and where to look for it.
There’s a hidden magic to Temple Bar, once you can see past it’s rough exterior. It’s Dublin’s bohemian and cultural quarter, with a diverse array of restaurants, bars, independent shops, cafes, hostels, and hotels. Temple Bar also boasts the Irish Film Institute, art galleries, and the Rock N’ Roll Museum. But, as it is also the center of Dublin’s nightlife, these gems are cast aside by tourists for beer instead. Over-priced beer, at that.
The transformation that Temple Bar undergoes from day to night is truly amazing. By day it has pop-up markets, street performers, an eclectic mix of patrons and a generally good buzz. Coffee shops are busy. Some restaurants even have outdoor seating (weather permitting, of course). You’ll catch the odd hipster reading a book at a coffee shop, or a pierced local browsing the book market.
The evening starts off with the crowds of tourists getting steadily bigger, restaurants getting steadily more crowded for dinner…and when night truly falls, Temple Bar becomes home to obnoxious drunks, pick-pockets, beggars, the occasional pub brawl, and the not-as-occasional-as-it-should-be pools of unidentifiable bodily fluid in random corners of the streets.
Sure, an occasional wild night out in Temple Bar never hurt anyone (but it may hurt your wallet). In fact, it’s not a bad place to end up after a night out, as it’s always guaranteed to be “bumpin” no matter what day of the week it is. But to me, the REAL Temple Bar, the one that really has the best to offer, is in the daytime. Go explore it during the day and get out of there by 11pm, because after that, Temple Bar seems to bring out the worst in people.
Explore the hidden side streets. Pop into the many small vintage shops. Stop for a slice of pizza at Ray’s, or a burger at Bunsen. Admire the colorful graffiti and street art, and the web of cobbled streets. Browse the Temple Bar market, if it’s on. Listen to some of the amazing musicians playing in the square. Culture yourself at the amazing Irish Rock N’ Roll Museum, or the Irish Film Institute. Catch an amazing live act at the beautiful Olympia Theater. Duck into a small pub early (when you can actually get a seat) and listen to a trad music session. Try some craft beer at the Porterhouse.
But please don’t just use Temple Bar as an area to go at night to get sloppy drunk. You’ll be missing out on so much if you do.
As for a night out, I never recommend Temple Bar to my visiting friends as a place to get the “true Irish pub experience.” A short walk out of the Temple Bar area will prove that there are so many other amazing pubs around the city where you won’t have to spend your entire life savings to have a few beers, and you can interact with actual locals. Because – no offense – what’s the point of coming all the way to Ireland just to get drunk and hang out with American tourists? Can’t you just stay in America and do that?
Although there are pros and cons to the Temple Bar area of Dublin, I feel like in general, it’s mis-judged and under appreciated. Look past it’s gritty exterior, and it’s truly a beautiful, historic, and cultural area with lots to offer.