Temple Bar is reputed to be Dublin's "bohemian quarter." It certainly is full of entertainment, art, and culinary action. It is generally regarded to be on the list of top attractions of Dublin and visited by everybody and their grandmother for the ceol agus craic.
It arouses mixed feelings. Some people could happily spend the rest of their lives in Temple Bar (or at least until the ATM no longer provides cash). Others have a look, maybe a quick pint (if at all, prices are high) and then call it a day.
The area was seedy and run down, earmarked for a railway terminus that never was built. Then the council decided to scrap the plans and replace them with a free-flowing area of cheap rents, business incentives, cobbled streets and "youth culture." From (illegal) brothels to bistros, Temple Bar was born and hasn't looked back since.
What you will find today are numerous restaurants, cafés, pubs, hostels, and hotels, as well as small shops selling everything from fishing tackle to drug paraphernalia with stuffed leprechauns and tattoo parlors in-between. Also located in Temple Bar are the Irish Film Institute, the Project Arts Centre, and DESIGNyard. All are well worth a visit. Most visitors, however, come for the beer.
This transforms Temple Bar during the course of the day: mornings are dull, afternoons start slow, the evening has the area filling up with the dining crowd and tourists. The later it gets, especially on the weekends, the less desirable Temple Bar can become. Obnoxious drunks, unidentifiable pools of semi-liquid consistency, pickpockets and very aggressive behavior can be encountered. And cheap it ain't. Temple Bar tends to be overpriced, overhyped, and overcrowded.
Our recommendation, therefore, is to have a look at Temple Bar before 11 pm, unless you are prepared for some detrimental encounters. And always remember: what may be one's "lively evening" is another's pandemonium! There are many more pubs in Dublin that are far less crowded and far cheaper as well.
The Pros of Temple Bar
- Huge and diverse amount of restaurants, pubs, art and entertainment venues.
- Center of Dublin's nightlife.
- Very vibrant atmosphere in evenings and at night.
The Cons of Temple Bar
- Can be very crowded with large numbers of loud groups of party-people.
- High prices.
- Beware of pickpockets, aggressive drunks and frankly unhygienic conditions later in the evening.
So, You Want to Experience Temple Bar After All?
Considering that it is certainly a big tourist magnet, and while many later feel that it is way overrated, about 99% of all tourists in Dublin end up in Temple Bar after all. Hey, it is central, and the guidebook said you have to go. To be honest, whenever we have guests who want the "real Irish pub experience" (whatever their idea of that might be), we prefer to stay clear of Temple Bar with them. Too crowded, not the most budget-friendly area, and doing the old pavement-pizza shuffle when the night matures, these all are things we tend to avoid.
There are better opportunities to visit a pub in Dublin.
But seeing Dublin would, after all, not be complete without a glance at Temple Bar, so everybody heads there: some for a quick shufti, others for a few memorable (or "lost") days.
You might do well to adhere to these "golden rules" when exploring Temple Bar:
- Watch your belongings, don't let nimble fingers make away with your camera, phone, or wallet.
- Don't drink too much, being incapacitated in Temple Bar is a recipe for all sorts of disasters.
- Watch your step ... the cobble streets are uneven, and the occasional detritus of other humans is not the nicest stuff on your shoes.
- Don't get into a fight - Dublin fights tend to be short but brutal, with retaliation for a perceived slight coming in thick and fast. Avoid confrontations, and never get too close.
- If you need to travel by bus or taxi, make sure to leave earlier than the others.