What's it really like?
Dublin has long been known as one of Europe’s most welcoming cities, with famously friendly locals that are always ready to chat over a glass of whiskey or a pint of cold Guinness. It’s a relatively small city for a capital, which gives it an intimate vibe that makes everyone feel at home. It’s no wonder then, that as Ireland has shed its more conservative values regarding LGBT acceptance and legislation, Dublin has become one of the gay-friendliest cities in Europe.
The gay scene is small, tight-knit, and inclusive. There are long-standing institutions like The George, which has been the heart of the Dublin LGBT community for over 25 years, as well as local favorites like Pantibar (owned by Ireland’s favorite drag queen Panti Bliss) and newer venues celebrating all things fluid and queer. There are no gay clubs, but regular gay parties assure late-night partying for gays on the weekend.
Although gay Dublin can be loads of fun, it’s worth exploring everything the city’s nightlife has to offer. No visit to Dublin is complete without a raucous night spent in the iconic riverside district of Temple Bar, where you will find more pubs than you can logistically fit into a single night as well as a handful of gay venues. These include The George, Street 66, and The Boilerhouse, the largest gay sauna in town.
One of the best times to visit gay Dublin is during Pride, held every June across the city. The festival has a family-friendly, cultural atmosphere, but there is still loads of fun to be had both at the parade and at the various after-parties. Make sure to book your hotel well in advance for this, as the city gets crowded during this time of the year. Other LGBT events to look out for include the International Dublin Gay Theater Festival, the GAZE Film Festival, and Béar Féile (Bear Festival).
Of course, you won’t just be coming to Dublin for the gay nightlife. The city has something to offer for everyone. Looking for some culture? There are first-class museums like the Dublin Writer’s Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland, and the National Museum of Ireland. Want to immerse yourself in Irish history? Head to Dublin Castle and go see the Book of Kells. Into your Irish tipples? The Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery are must-sees. Finally, don’t forget to stop by the statue of famous Dubliner Oscar Wilde, facing his childhood home, to pay your respects to one of the most iconic gay figures of all time.
Dublin’s emerging reputation as a first-rate European destination for shopping, dining, and culture means that there is a wide range of amazing hotels to choose from. If you love design, you’ll love one of the city’s many trendy boutique hotels, many of which feature vintage nods to the city’s 19th and 20th-century architecture.
The gay nightlife area of Dublin is, conveniently, the same as the general nightlife area of Dublin: the cultural and party hub of Temple Bar. This is where most tourists spend the bulk of their time in Dublin, especially in the evenings. As well as all the pubs and clubs you could ever want, Temple Bar is home to museums, shops, and landmarks like Dublin Castle and Trinity College.
Ireland has seen a dramatic change in LGBT attitudes and policies within the space of a generation. For many years, Ireland was a conservative country with a strong religious influence, but in 2015 it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage on a national level by popular vote. People have the right to self-declare their gender, and there are strong protections from discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of sexuality.
While you may still find traditional perspectives on homosexuality in rural parts of the country, Dublin is as gay-friendly as they come. The city is known for its open-minded attitude and its multicultural diversity, so pretty much everyone is welcome here.
Nassau Clinic offers free, confidential HIV tests every Sunday – you can book online on their website. You can also get a test at most hospitals across the city, although this will most likely not be free. A test at a private clinic can cost up to € 100, more if you want a full STI screening.
Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, most health clinics in Ireland are either closed or only accepting telephone or online appointments If you need a test during this time, call a clinic or a hospital to discuss your options.
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