Dublin's creative genius shines at weekend markets and in suburban villages where you'll uncover funky designs, vintage gems and gourmet stalls
If, like me, you get bored and frustrated by crowds in large shopping centres, or maybe you'd just prefer to take in some fresh air when you have some precious shopping time to yourself, this is the guide for you.
Dublin is a creative hub so markets and weekend stalls are where you’ll find interesting fashions and quality local gourmet foods. The Point Village Market (1 N Wall Quay, Dublin 1; +353 86 827 4839; www.pointvillagemarket.ie; closed until Spring 2011) is the place to be seen at weekends and well worth a browse in the shadow of The Wheel of Dublin, a giant Ferris Wheel offering great city views.
Temple Bar Square (Temple Bar Cultural Trust, 12 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; +353 1 6772255; www.templebar.ie) is home to a thriving gourmet food and drink market every Saturday from 11am-5pm in Meeting House Square, now with a retractable canopy to protext foodies from the Irish elements, while George's Street Arcade (S Great George's St, Dublin; +353 283 6077; www.georgesstreetarcade.ie) is a trendy landmark with 40 shops and stalls, a fortune teller, a specialist second-hand bookshop, tasty treats and collectables. Stop here for a tasty lunch and some chill out time.
Vintage shops are dotted around this corner – Jenny Vander (Drury Street, Dublin 2; +353 1 677 0406) and Harlequin (13 Castle Market, Dublin 2; +353 671 0202) are two of my firm favourites and A Store is Born (34 Clarendon St, Dublin 2, +353(1) 2857627) opens on Saturday from 11am-6pm . You’re sure to find a bargain in one of these treasure troves. Head to The Loft Market (Top Floor, The Powerscourt Townhouse, 59 South William Street Dublin 2) for a cool blend of vintage, contemporary, ethical and original Irish designs from 12-6pm every Friday and Sunday and 11-6pm on Saturdays.
Temple Bar - alternative shops and vintage haunts
Stroll by Trinity College Dublin and head towards the cobbled Temple Bar streets that meet Dame Street and flow down to the Liffey. This area is well worth browsing as the side streets and lanes are narrow and winding, offering alternative shops, eccentric fashions, pokey second-hand and vintage haunts on every corner.
Crown Alley is the main strip, usually hosting buskers to break the urban noise, especially on festival weekends. There are great bars here but they can be quite rowdy as it’s a pure tourist trap, and prices are also the most inflated in the city. Design Mart at Cow's Lane (Cow's Lane, Old City Temple Bar, Dublin 2; +353 677 2255; www.templebar.ie) offers delights from emerging designers to suit everyone’s budget every Saturday from 10am-5pm. Weather permitting, this is a must for lovers of fashion and quirky creatives.
Ranelagh - the place to be seen outside the city centre
Five minutes on the Luas from Stephen’s Green is Ranelagh, an upmarket and trendy village of red-bricked Victorian buildings - the place to be seen, shop, eat and drink outside Dublin city centre. I live in Ranelagh (lucky me) and I’m amazed by the creative initiatives. An excellent indoor market now takes place at weekends (opposite the Luas stop). Ranelagh is one of the oldest villages in Dublin and it’s beaten the recession by opening excellent boutiques such as Bow & Pearl (13 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6; +353 4967408; www.bowandpearl.com) and Kelli (45 Ranelagh Village, Ranelagh, Dublin 6; +353 4970077); restaurants such as Eatery 120 , Dillinger’s, Tribeca, The Wild Goose; vibrant bars Smyth’s, Humphrey’s, Mcsorley’s; and cafés. If you want a break from the city centre bustle, jump on the Luas (or in a taxi, only five minutes) and spend a relaxing day eating, drinking and shopping your way up and down Ranelagh Road.
Rathgar - quaint shops, boutiques and restaurants
Rathgar Village is another distinctive old village that's home to quaint shops, boutiques and restaurants, offering a timeless feeling of village life in Dublin with a 150 year old church and a wonderful bookshop/café, two traditional butchers, old pubs Comans (2 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6, +353 (1) 490 3501) and The Rathgar (formerly the 108, Terenure Road East, Rathgar, Dublin 6), wine shops, 69 Bistro (69 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6, +353 (1) 4922 444) and Bijou restaurant (7 Highfield Road, Rathgar, _353 (1) 4961518). Beuys & Beuys (99 Rathgar Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6; www.beuysandbeuys.com) is a fantastic boutique offering designer labels in a homely space; all ten minutes in a taxi from Dublin city centre.
Exquisite boutiques, independent stores and thrilling weekend markets are waiting to be discovered throughout the towns and villages outside Dublin. Malahide, Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock and Dalkey are just some of the places that offer you a more relaxed, more scenic and alternative shopping experience where you’ll meet interesting and genuine locals to make your stay more memorable.
More expert advice on Dublin
For suggestions on where to stay in Dublin, see my Dublin Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Dublin page.
Read my shopping overview on my Shopping in Dublin page.