Dublin is a city that thrives on its reputation for craic (good times) and you shouldn’t need any help finding one, especially now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. But how has Dublin changed since the pandemic? What can visitors expect?
Dublin is regularly voted one of the friendliest cities in the world, but for much of the pandemic there weren’t many visitors to receive with a warm welcome. That’s because Ireland has endured one of the longest streaks of COVID-19 restrictions in Europe with an ongoing cycle of lengthy lockdowns that have shuttered museums, restaurants, pubs and theatres.
But the situation is very different now. Most restrictions have disappeared and the doors are wide open to visitors, as the St. Patrick’s Day festival returns for the first time in two years. More than 800,000 people are expected to pass through Dublin Airport during this time as nationwide celebrations and parades begin. Those arriving in Ireland may find that some things have changed, particularly in the capital.
So is the city still famous for the craic? Are there new experiences to look for? New rules? New label? Here are some of the changes to expect when visiting Dublin in 2022.
1. Discover new museums and improved attractions
There is also a new visitor center in the 18th century Customs and a new exhibition space that tells the story of Irish sport at the refurbished GAA Museum in Croke Park. If you’re looking to explore more of Ireland’s culture, history and folklore in a more unusual setting, a new interior exhibition opened at Glasnevin Cemetery Museum to complement outdoor tours of the popular attraction.
2. Getting to the restaurant is… not easy
In fact it is almost impossible. Especially on the weekend when you will have as much chance of winning the winning lottery ticket as going to a restaurant in the city center. This despite the fact that Dublin has so many great restaurants to choose from. It may even be because of it, with people wanting to try the latest buzzing spot, from Michelin-starred fine dining to experimental small-plate wine bars.
When the pandemic forced almost everything to close, 73% of Dubliners said dining out was their most missed social activity and they are apparently making up for lost time now. If you don’t want to miss a thing, be sure to book at least two weeks in advance for a weekend table and a week in advance for a weekday reservation. You might get lucky in the meantime, but best to play it safe if you have a special place in mind.
3. You’ll probably need to book tables at bars and pubs on weekends
Dublin is a famous city fueled by spontaneity – but as it emerges from pandemic regulations, the city increasingly favors the prepared. During the pandemic, bars and pubs have required people to book and sit at tables in order to maintain social distancing. The government has removed this rule, but you will find that some businesses still apply it on Friday and Saturday evenings when demand is high in the city centre. It’s not a hard and fast rule and most places will let you in without a reservation regardless. But expect to be up most of the night. Again, if there’s a special pub on your wish list, it might be a good idea to call ahead and let them know you’re coming.
4. Getting your coffee fix in Dublin is easier
“A good riddle would be to walk through Dublin without pubs,” remade Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses. And as long as that still holds, in 2022 you could easily replace “pubs” with “cafes” and the riddle would still ring true. In 2021, Dublin ranked the second most coffee-obsessed capital in the world (beaten only by Amsterdam) and it’s obvious whether you’re downtown or in the suburbs, on a beach or in a park, there are cafes, kiosks and trucks everywhere. The quality is generally excellent but expect to pay over €3.50 in most places.
5. Masks aren’t mandatory – but people still wear them
Ireland has removed mask mandates in all indoor spaces except hospitals, nursing homes and airports. Masks are still encouraged in busy indoor spaces and you will find that many people are still wearing them regardless of the rule change, especially in shops, restaurants and cafes when queuing for food and In public transports.
6. Join Dublin’s renewed appreciation for the outdoors
The closures have forced many people to become better acquainted with the outdoors and in Dublin there is plenty to choose from. The town is cradled by the Wickow Mountains to the southeast and the Irish Sea to the east. It is also home to the largest enclosed public park of all European capitals: Phoenix Park.
Open water swimming was popular long before the pandemic, the closures seem to have drawn more people into the water. If you’re visiting Dublin without a car, you’ll find some of the best bathing spots easily accessible on the DART line from the city centre, including Sandycove, Vico Baths in Killiney, Howth Cliffs, Bull Island, The Forty Foot and Seapoint. .
And while Dublin isn’t as bike-friendly as its European neighbours, there are signs of progress (although sometimes frustratingly slow) with new cycleways and cycleways, including a new two-way seaside cycleway from Dun Laoghaire to Blackrock and a new designated cycleway in the coastal village of Howth, north Dublin.
7. Try some of the outdoor dining options
At the start of the pandemic, restaurants in Dublin got creative with patio furniture to attract customers looking for a safe way to dine. Initially, the experience was a bit rudimentary. But diners showed up, they stayed, and the experience gradually improved as businesses invested in better, permanent outdoor facilities. Despite the inevitable Irish rain, you’ll see locals lingering on terraces and people watching over pints all year round.
The best places to enjoy it are Drury Street, South Anne’s Street, Andrew Street and multicultural Capel Street (which is expected to be semi-pedestrianized this summer) which have plenty of covered options between them. But be careful, on a sunny day, you will find all the good spots taken as soon as the working day is over.
8. Save money when transferring between Dublin’s public transport services
Dublin is a notoriously expensive city and the cost of living crisis continues to fuel price increases for everyday goods and services. One way to save money when visiting Dublin this year is to use the new 90 minute rate initiative. It allows passengers to travel between the city’s buses, trams and rail services, including Dublin Bus, Luas and most DARTs and Go-Ahead Ireland, for a flat rate of €2.30 per adult.
The initiative, accessible via contactless jump card, makes it easier and cheaper to navigate Dublin’s slightly rambling public transport network. Transfers must be completed within 90 minutes of initial departure to avoid incurring additional charges. Additionally, tourists can purchase a Leap Visitor Card for unlimited journeys on Dublin’s public transport over a selected period of time.