The Lesser-Known, Quirky European Neighborhood Rick Steves Can't Get Enough Of

Few people have done more to celebrate Europe over the past couple of decades than Rick Steves, the famous American author and travel enthusiast. From Istanbul to Helsinki, Glasgow to Rome, and many other places in between, he cheerfully encourages fellow tourists to not only take in the major sights but get off the beaten track and absorb some authentic culture as well. His passion for under-the-radar places and mingling with the locals was on full display again in January 2024 when he took to his Instagram page to recommend a lesser-known Dublin neighborhood: Stoneybatter.

Over recent years, Dublin has become a popular destination thanks to cheap flights, plentiful accommodation, fascinating history, lively nightlife, and Ireland's reputation as the most friendly European destination to visit. The city's cobblestone streets and ancient buildings inspired literary giants like James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde. As with any attractive location, Dublin's tourist boom has grown so large that, before the pandemic, Irish officials feared that over-tourism was becoming an issue.

There is nothing wrong with rubbing shoulders with hordes of rowdy weekenders drinking over-priced Guinness around the historic center if that's your bag. But Rick Steves, as always, advises breaking away from the crowd and exploring more low-key neighborhoods. If you follow Steves' tip, then Stoneybatter is a happy compromise, one of Dublin's hippest districts just a stone's throw from the more well-trodden areas on everyone's travel itinerary.

What Rick Steves says about Stoneybatter

People have lived in the area now known as Stoneybatter since the time of Viking settlers, but over the past decade or so it has gained a reputation as one of the hottest places to be in Dublin. It might not look like much if you take a virtual stroll on Google Maps, but Rick Steves was eager to introduce the neighborhood to his social media followers:

"This low-key neighborhood is effectively one street at the edge of the city center (a longish walk or quick bus, tram, or taxi ride from downtown). Stoneybatter's main drag is lined with narrow storefronts, colorful cottages, indie bookstores and boutiques, lively street art, more than its share of stay-awhile cafés, a variety of global food eateries, and some fine dining options."

He went on to praise one local family-run restaurant in particular: Grano, an Italian vineria serving organic wines and fresh seasonal ingredients, a recommendation seconded by Time Out. Highlighting its proximity to more well-known destinations in the city like Smithfield Square, Steves concludes that Stoneybatter was just the kind of place where he'd enjoy hanging out for a few weeks trying all the local brunch places.

Labeled Dublin's Hipster Quarter, Stoneybatter isn't big on illustrious sights but it is a very pleasant neighborhood to wander around. One of its key attractions as a burgeoning foodie destination is that you're never far away from a decent pint and a bite to eat.

Things to do in and around Stoneybatter

Stoneybatter may not be a household name among Dublin's districts but that's part of the charm, populated by a mix of long-term residents and a hip new crowd who have turned the once-neglected streets into one of the trendiest parts of the city. Voted one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world by Time Out in 2019, there is enough to keep you occupied for a few days beyond hanging around in cafes and checking out art spaces and boutique shops. If the weather is fine, you can wander through Arbour Hill Military Cemetery, the last resting place of several prominent figures from the 1916 Easter Rising. More open spaces await in Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed parks in Europe, where you can spot deer or visit Dublin Zoo.

Beyond the Batter's hazily defined borders, Dublin's walkability means that most of the city's top tourist attractions are within a 30-minute meander, such as the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Tour at the brewery's storehouse at St. James Gate. Luckily, you don't need to take the tour or head to the famous Temple Bar for a decent pint of Ireland's internationally-loved stout. Stoneybatter has plenty of great pubs serving the black stuff at a cheaper price. The Glimmer Man is a proper old-school Irish boozer serving a range of craft beers as well as Guinness, plus a jukebox and tasty Vietnamese grub from the street food joint next door.