Read this guide to make sure you don't pass Dublin's best shops and I tell you where to find them - it's easy when you know how!
Grafton Street - upmarket shops
Found between Trinity College Dublin and St Stephen’s Green, this shopping area attracts upmarket shoppers who favour designer labels and have a budget to stretch. Brown Thomas (88 Grafton Street, Dublin 2; +353 6056666; www.brownthomas.com) is the Holy Grail for slaves to catwalk trends, local and international, and while the store (known locally as BTs) is a beautifully laid out and glamorous hang out, only fashionistas and socialites are regular faces here. BT’s Christmas window display is a tourist attraction in itself. The younger offspring of BT, catering to a trendy market, BT2 (28/29 Grafton Street, Dublin 2; +353 6056666; www.bt2.ie) is found almost opposite. There are cafés upstairs in both stores. Classy Grafton Street is well worth a browse but check out quirky stores on side streets before you spend your hard earned pennies.
Arcades and malls - explore Grafton street surrounds
My personal spending preferences are the cafés and boutiques along Wicklow Street, leading from Grafton Street to South Great George’s Street (parallel). You’ll find more affordable stores along Wicklow Street, and delicious eateries, as well as the alternative music store Tower Records (6-8 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2; www.towerrecords.ie) with an in-store café. Behind Grafton Street are upmarket Westbury and Powerscourt Malls (59 William St, Dublin 2; +353 6794144; www.powerscourtcentre.com). Powerscourt Centre is set in one of the finest Georgian town mansions in Dublin, housing speciality shops, antiques, jewellery and art as well as vintage, ethical and Irish designs on the second floor in the original and funky The Loft Market, open Fri-Sun. It’s a beautiful spot for a relaxing coffee. George’s Street Arcade (S Great Georges St, Dublin; +353 283 6077; www.georgesstreetarcade.ie) in this area grants an entirely different shopping experience, where 40 individual stores sell , alternative, vintage and second-hand wares.
For Irish souvenirs, if expensive ones, head to Avoca Handweavers (11-13 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2; +353 677 4215; www.avoca.ie) for three floors of leading Irish fashion and crafts or nearby Kilkenny Design Centre (6-15 Nassau Street, Dublin 2; +353 677 7066; www.kilkennyshop.com) also specialises in Irish design. Grafton Street's legendary tea and coffee house, in an oriental inspired building, Bewley’s Cafe (78/79 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, +353 (1) 672 7720, www.bewleys.com) is the ideal stop for a snack en route to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre (Stephens Green West, Dublin 2; +353 4780888; www.stephensgreen.com). This is a major landmark where you’ll find more affordable shopping and eating than along Grafton Street - adjacent to the centre are popular fashion stores H&M, Zara and Topshop.
Henry Street - affordable city centre shopping
Henry Street on the north side, off O’Connell Street, offers more affordable city centre shopping. Head to Arnotts Department Store (12 Henry St, Dublin 1; +353 805 0400; www.arnotts.ie) for popular high street clothing, footwear and homeware labels or similarly, nearby ILAC and Jervis Street Shopping Centres (125 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1; www.jervis.ie). Moore Street off Henry Street is one of Dublin’s most historical shopping strips where local fishermen and food growers sold their wares from modest pop up stalls. You'll find bargains but the quality these days is poor.
O'Connell Street is a busy traffic thoroughfare, home to Dublin's oldest department store Clery's (27 O'Connell Street Lower Dublin 1; +353 8786000; www.clerys.ie) -- stocking designer and well known high street labels today. Directly opposite, you'll find the gargantuan one stop shop for all manner of reading and writing material, plus a cute cafe, Easons Book Shop (40 Lower O’Connell Street, Dublin 1; +353 8583800; www.easons.ie). The Spire marks the street end, as does the Gresham Hotel, a good choice for lunch.
Dundrum - a fantastic suburban shopping complex
Dundrum Town Centre (Sandyford Road, Dundrum, Dublin 16; +353 2991700; www.dundrum.ie) is a fantastic suburban shopping complex 10 minutes south from St Stephen’s Green (city centre) on the Luas. Head here if you're in the mood to shop ‘til you drop for high-street and international labels. Opening hours are extended in Dundrum from 9am-10pm Mon-Fri, or 9am-7pm Saturday and 10am-7pm on Sunday.
International department stores such as House of Fraser are in here, alongside trendy shops such as Urban Outfitters and excellent cafés and restaurants framing a carefully landscaped central space with fountains and a walkway. The area even has a cinema and theatre, and bars that are at their liveliest on Thursday and Friday nights. This is shopping at its easiest, and you’ll be spoiled for choice – there are even milk bottle warming stations in the main complex for mothers with infants in tow.
Where to stay
Any of my recommended city centre Dublin Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Dublin are an excellent choice for these main shopping districts, especially The Fitzwilliam Hotel, The Shelbourne, The Cliff Town House , Buswells Hotel and The Merrion all within a short stroll of the Luas and also Grafton Street. The Hilton Dublin is close to the Luas for Dundrum Town Centre. Closer to Henry and Jervis Streets, Gresham Hotel Dublin, Trinity Capital Hotel and The Clarence are handy.
More expert advice on Dublin
Read my shopping overview on my Shopping in Dublin page.