Hands up who’s visited London, Paris and Berlin purely to shop? Yes, shopping there is legendary, but the logistics are difficult. I've collapsed into cafés in these cities, far from my hostel/hotel, exhausted, vowing to return to complete the shopping mission another time. There is no such hassle in Dublin.
Dublin is big enough to offer distinct shopping districts that are small enough not only to explore on foot, but to stroll between. Quirky markets, trendy boutiques, designer stores and chic cafés are easy to find. The best shopping complex outside the city centre is Dundrum Shopping Centre, 10 minutes away by tram (Luas). There's no need for frustrating map navigation or stressful underground travel. Read more in my guide Shopping in Dublin: Four Key Areas .
Where to shop
Two of the main shopping areas are pedestrianised and are found either side of the River Liffey. Grafton Street is on the south side and Henry and Jervis Streets are on the north side. The Jervis Street Shopping Centre is the main complex in the latter area (125 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1, www.jervis.ie).
Around the corner from Jervis and Henry Streets, you'll find Penneys (O'Connell Street, Dublin 1, +353 (1) 656 6666, www.primark.ie) - this is an Irish bargain basement for funky, trendy but throwaway fashion and accessories and is much loved amongst Irish fashionistas - just don't expect your buys to last a lifetime!
Just 10 minutes away, Grafton Street tends to attract an entirely different market, especially its flagship store Brown Thomas (88 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, +353 (1) 6056666, www.brownthomas.com) where you'll find much more extravagant shoppers in search of designer wares. Don’t let this put you off if you’re on a shoestring, though, as there are some funky markets and eccentric vintage shops tucked away in the small roads and alleys that connect Grafton Street with its surrounds. My favourite is George's Street Arcade (S Great Georges St, Dublin, +353 (1) 283 6077, www.georgesstreetarcade.ie) where you'll find quirky and and second-hand gems.
The Powerscourt Shopping Centre (59 William St, Dublin 2, +353 (1) 6794144, www.powerscourtcentre.com) - where you'll also find the ever creative and evolving The Loft Market every Friday-Sunday, on the second floor, championing emerging young Irish designers - and Westbury Shopping Mall (off Grafton Street, Dublin 2) are well worth checking out for individual boutiques and original fashions, tasty cafes and classy bars.
St Stephen's Green shopping centre (Stephens Green West, Dublin 2, +353 (1) 4780888, www.stephensgreen.com, main photo above) is a massive, glass-walled complex at the top of Grafton Street. If it's high street labels you're after, you'll find them here. I, however, find the centre too packed at weekends to enjoy browsing.
Dundrum Town Centre (Sandyford Road, Dundrum, Dublin 16, +353(1)2991700, www.dundrum.ie) is another extensive shopping complex 10 minutes outside the city centre, accessible easily by the Luas at two stops, Balally or Dundrum. This is a designer and high-street Mecca on many floors under one massive roof and there's ample parking (but it's not cheap) as well as public transport facilities. There's a large cinema here, and a great selection of restaurants, too.
En route to Dundrum on the Luas, you'll fall upon Ranelagh, a buzzing village that's more than worth a stop with wonderful boutiques, cafés, restaurants and bars.
Original weekend markets are where adventurous shoppers will find creative designers, original crafts and delicious Irish food at low prices.
As well as The Loft Market every Friday-Sunday, on the second floor of Powerscourt Shopping Centre (mentioned above) that champions Irish and ethical fashion, you've got Designer Mart at Cow's Lane (Cow's Lane, Old City Temple Bar , Dublin 2, +353 1 677 2255; www.templebar.ie) or the Temple Bar Food Market (Temple Bar Cultural Trust, 12 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; +353 1 6772255; www.templebar.ie), both on Saturday , as well as the Point Village Market, two Luas stops from O'Connell Street (1 N Wall Quay, Dublin 1, 086 827 4839, www.pointvillagemarket.ie; closed until Spring 2011 check the website for opening date) on Sunday, are the main city centre markets. Read more in my guide Shopping in Dublin: quirky villages and vibrant markets.
Temple Bar houses quirky boutiques, second-hand shops, and jewellery stores. Weave slowly through the cobbled streets and you'll find a few nuggets.
Travel a little further (using public transport) to the pretty coastal villages on Dublin's outskirts where funky weekend markets often take place, such as Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Malahide and Howth . Boutique shoppers will also find some treats in these towns.
- Shopping times are generally 10am to 6pm, with late shopping on Thursday nights until 8pm or 9pm daily in the larger stores.
- The Luas costs from 1.80 euros to 2.50 euros to travel from the city centre to Ranelagh or Dundrum shopping districts on the Luas line south of city centre.
- The cheapest Irish store for great bargains is Penneys - you'll find Penneys on O'Connell St and in Dundrum Shopping Centre (both address above).
Read more in my shopping guides Shopping in Dublin: Four Key Areas and Shopping in Dublin: quirky villages and vibrant markets.