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The basics
Ireland: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Dublin

As the capital of Ireland, Dublin’s a hard city to beat for student experience. Incredible nightlife, prestigious universities and great connections to the countryside are just some of what you’ll find.

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Dublin is Ireland's capital city and has been its economic, cultural, and historic centre for hundreds of years. This community of over half a million people is located within a wide, sweeping bay facing out into the Irish Sea and the British Isles beyond. The city has a rich history of trade, conflict, and cultural innovation to explore.


Dublin is a small capital city with an outsized reputation that stretches around the globe. As a result, it’s become a cosmopolitan city with a buzzing atmosphere 24 hours a day, all year-round. Its prestigious universities offer high-quality training and valued qualifications that are internationally renowned, and it’s home to a diverse, multicultural community of students ready for you to join.


Dublin is equally famous for its people as its pubs, who are known for their welcoming attitude and love of a good time. The city is a great party town, but there's more to it than that. The wide lawns and quiet libraries of its universities are an unbeatable place to study, while parks, gardens and riverside retreats are all around.


The university town of Maynooth can be found just outside the city, giving you the option to study in a relaxed, rural environment while still having great access to everything Dublin has to offer. The town has more than enough bars, cafes, and restaurants if you don’t want to go far. 


As a student in Dublin or Maynooth, you’ll be well-connected to the rest of Ireland, with train routes and motorways going to all other parts of the country. You’ll also have easy access to the United Kingdom, and the city’s international airport makes going home or receiving visitors easy.


Find out what Ireland has to offer international students.


What is Dublin like?


Location and demographics

Dublin is located about halfway up the coast of Ireland, on its east coast. The city is the country’s foremost port city, opening through Dublin Bay into the Irish Sea that lies between it and the United Kingdom. It’s located at the point where the River Liffey meets the sea and is mainly flat, apart from a range of low mountains to the south. Nearly all major roads in Ireland run to or from Dublin. Dublin is a diverse city that attracts an increasingly international population, 20 per cent of whom were born overseas.


You can research what it takes to get a student visa in Ireland and how to qualify for a post-study work visa


Culture and history 

Dublin was a Viking settlement from the 9th century onwards, probably chosen due to its protected bay and river access to the country's interior, before becoming a medieval settlement under the English for most of the medieval period.


It flourished as a major trade port in the 18th century and underwent a turbulent period of unrest in the late 19th and 20th centuries as Ireland moved towards gaining independence in 1937. Today it is a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city and global tourist destination.


Find out how you can apply to study in Ireland


Which universities are in Dublin?


Dublin is, by all accounts, the best city in Ireland for the range and quality of universities that you could choose to study at. Four of the eight top universities in the country are in Dublin, according to the QS World University Rankings 2023, and there are a total of 13 universities in the city.


Trinity College Dublin is the highest-ranked university in the country, and places in the top 100 globally according to QS 2023. With an education history of 430 years, you could be a part of this university’s distinguished history and long tradition of excellence. 


University College Dublin is the second-best university in the city and country, placing 181st worldwide (QS 2023). This research-intensive institution consistently ranks within the best universities worldwide for over 35 different subjects. 


Dublin City University and the Technological University of Dublin also rank amongst the best in the world placing in the top 1,000 in the world according to QS 2023



Less than an hour away from the city centre of Dublin city centre, Maynooth is a vibrant university town that offers students a peaceful rural environment in which to study, while being on the doorstep of the capital. You’ll be able to choose from dozens of courses at Maynooth University, which is ranked among the best 1,000 worldwide according to QS 2023.


Explore more universities in Ireland


What does Dublin offer students?


What transport is there? 

Dublin is a compact capital city served by various types of public transport, so you won’t have any difficulty getting around. You can get buses anywhere in the city, and there’s an electric train network that connects the further out districts with the centre – often travelling along the coast of the scenic Dublin Bay.


Read more about the top five things you can do in Ireland.


What entertainment and food is there?

It’s no surprise that Ireland’s capital is the country’s destination of choice for great food. The city’s chefs and cooks are becoming known worldwide for their creative approach to food that combines tradition and progression in equal measures. 


Dublin’s also known worldwide as a party town, with a young population and hundreds of bars, clubs, and pubs to spend your evenings and nights at. There’s plenty more however, with endless arts, culture, and entertainment options during the day too.


What about accommodation?

Dublin is Ireland’s biggest city by a long way, and as a result, there’s a huge range of accommodation types to choose from, whatever your lifestyle or budget. Many universities offer spaces in student halls, ranging from rooms in historic colleges to modern blocks right in the city. It’s also a great city to rent privately in, with various vibrant neighbourhoods to choose from.


Are there public services for students?

As an international student living in Ireland, you’ll be able to use a range of services and resources offered through your university. This is monitored and supported by the Irish Council for International Students to ensure your rights are protected. You may also be eligible to work in Ireland during your studies or as a graduate.


How much does it cost to live in Dublin?


The general cost of the city

Dublin is an expensive city and frequently places among the least affordable places to live in Europe. Although other cities around Ireland will be cheaper, none can offer the big city experience that Dublin can. Despite the higher costs, thousands of international students choose Dublin every year and can live a great lifestyle within their student budget.


Find out how much tuition fees in Ireland cost


Student budget

As a single international student living in Dublin, you could expect to spend between EUR 250 and EUR 500 per week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other living costs. Your budget will vary depending on your living arrangements, lifestyle, activities, and where in Dublin you live. 


Get more information on the cost of living in Ireland



Financial requirements

The Irish government asks that international students demonstrate that they have at least EUR 7,000 accessible for the first year of their studies, and evidence of access to a further EUR 7,000 for each additional year of study. Evidence of an equivalent value scholarship or sponsorship from a family member is also valid. 


Our guide to the top scholarships in Ireland may help if you need financial aid. 


What are the main attractions in Dublin?


The huge variety of things to see and do in Dublin has helped to make it one of the top tourist destinations in the world, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year. Dublin is a paradise for enjoying a drink, with hundreds of historic pubs and unique bars across the city and a friendly local population who like a good time! Whether it’s the famous Temple Bar for classic Irish whiskeys and beers, a drink in a restored church, or find any number of atmospheric locals’ pubs tucked around every corner, Dublin will never run out of new places to show you.


Beyond the ale house, you can immerse yourself in the history and production of world-famous beverages through tours at places like the Guinness Storehouse Factory and Jameson Distillery.


Dublin is steeped in history, and you can spend your downtime exploring architectural marvels like the 11-acre Dublin Castle estate and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, both established over 800 years ago.


The city’s universities also offer a wealth of history and architecture to explore, with Trinity College’s main plaza and famous library providing the perfect place to achieve your scholarly dreams. Just out of the city you’ll find the picturesque Wicklow Mountains, with rolling hills and enchanting meadows that you may recognise from the romance film P.S. I Love You.


Dublin is an incredibly popular city for both international tourists and overseas students. It’s clear to see why, as world-famous breweries and pubs, buzzing nightlife and a rich, though troubled, history come together to form an enchanting capital city. Don’t forget that you can find your ideal study path in Ireland using our course matcher tool

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