If you’re wondering where to stay in Dublin, the affluent area of Ballsbridge is well worth considering.
With its charming village atmosphere, Ballsbridge is a swanky suburb of Dublin that’s home to wide tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian architecture.
There’s also lots of excellent restaurants in Ballsbridge and plenty of lively pubs, as you’ll discover in a moment.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Ballsbridge and the history of the area to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Ballsbridge
Although a visit to Ballsbridge in Dublin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Situated on the River Dodder, Ballsbridge is an exclusive neighbourhood just 3km southeast of Dublin city centre. The area has many foreign embassies and sports stadiums including Aviva and the RDS Arena. Located close to the Grand Canal, it’s a leafy suburb that’s well connected to the city by bus and DART train.
2. Tree-lined avenues and Victorian buildings
Wide tree-lined avenues and beautiful old buildings add a sense of timeless history to this delightful Dublin suburb. Merrion Road is lined with sports pubs, restaurants and independent shops while Herbert Park graces Ballsbridge’s southwest corner.
3. A great base to explore Dublin from
Ballsbridge is within easy walking distance of many of the best places to visit in Dublin, from St Stephen’s Green and Dublin Castle to the National Gallery and more. It’s conveniently close to the city but feels like you’re well outside it.
Located on the River Dodder, the first bridge was built by the Ball family in the 1500s. Naturally it became known as ‘Ball’s bridge’ which morphed into ‘Ballsbridge’ over time.
Even in the 18th century it was a small village on an area of mudflats but the river powered several industries including a paper mill, linen and cotton printworks and a gunpowder factory.
By 1879 the Earl of Pembroke began developing the rural land and the RDS moved in and held their first show in 1880. It put Ballsbridge firmly on the map.
In 1903, an area known as Forty Acres was donated by Sidney Herbert, 14th Earl of Pembroke to establish Herbert Park and it hosted the Dublin International Exhibition in 1907.
Some features still remain, including the lake and bandstand. Ballsbridge has been home to wealthy politicians, writers and poets. Many houses have plaques and there are several statues and busts commemorating them.
Things to do in Ballsbridge (and nearby)
Although there’s a handful of things to do in Ballsbridge, there’s endless places to visit a short walk away.
Below, you’ll find everything from one of our favourite walks in Dublin to heaps of other things to do near Ballsbridge.
1. Grab a coffee to-go from the Orange Goat
Ballsbridge has quite a few cafés and coffee shops, but the Orange Goat is our firm favourite. Located on Serpentine Avenue, it has been in business since 2016, serving homemade food and speciality coffee.
Open weekdays from 8am for breakfast (9am on weekends) it is renowned for its toasted breakfast bun and full Irish breakfasts. Hang around for lunch and tuck into toasties, wraps, club sandwiches, burgers and steak paninis, all crammed with tasty fillings.
2. And then head for a stroll in Herbert Park
After refueling, take your coffee-to-go and head into Herbert Park for a pleasant walk in all seasons. It’s hard to imagine it was the site of the World Fair in 1907! After the exhibition was over, the area was redeveloped as a public park.
It’s divided by a road but a full circuit measures exactly a mile. The south side has sport pitches, formal gardens, a playground and a fish pond. On the north side there’s a playground, tennis and bowling green.
3. Or walk 30-minutes to the coast and see Sandymount Strand
If you’re feeling energetic, head east along the Grand Canal and in about 30 minutes you’ll arrive at beautiful Sandymount Beach overlooking Dublin Bay.
The beach and seafront are ideal for a stroll with workout stations along the way. Keep walking north along Sandymount Strand and you’ll reach the Great South Walk sheltering busy Dublin Port.
4. Followed up with the Poolbeg Lighthouse walk
If you’re looking for active things to do in Ballsbridge, this should be right up your street. From Sandymount, head east along the Great South Wall Walk (aka South Bull Wall) which extends out about 4km into Dublin Bay.
It was the longest sea wall in the world when it was built. It can be pretty breezy at times as you walk along the top of the sea wall but the views are amazing. Right at the end is the red Poolbeg Lighthouse, built in 1820 and still keeping ships safe.
5. Visit St. Stephen’s Green (30-minute walk)
Two km northeast of Ballsbridge is St Stephen’s Green, a historic park square within the heart of Dublin city. It’s a fine half-hour walk from Ballsbridge, passing some landmark buildings, office buildings and bars along the way.
Park paths connect many commemorative statues and memorials marking Dublin’s historic past. The are ponds, fountains and a sensory garden for the blind.
6. Or visit hundreds of other Dublin City attractions
Like most capital cities, there’s endless tourist attractions in Dublin, regardless of whether you’re looking to admire architecture or dive into some history.
Hotels in Ballsbridge
Now, we’ve a dedicated guide to what we think are the best hotels in Ballsbridge (from luxury stays to boutique townhouses), but I’ll pop in our favourites below.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. InterContinental Dublin
The InterContinental is one of the finest 5 star hotels in Dublin. It’s a short walk from Herbert Park and the Grand Canal. Sumptuous rooms, satellite TV, marble bathrooms and cosy bathrobes make for a relaxing stay.
The hotel has a Spa and Wellness centre, a chandeliered Lobby Lounge and a courtyard garden. The elegant Seasons Restaurant offers international cuisine including an award-winning breakfast using the finest local ingredients.
2. Herbert Park Hotel and Park Residence
Another Ballsbridge landmark, the Herbert Park Hotel and Park Residence is a stylish modern hotel close to Dublin city centre. It boasts beautifully furnished rooms with full height windows overlooking the 48-acre Herbert Park.
The wonderful service extends to breakfast in your room if desired. Opt for an apartment and have your own microwave and refrigerator or enjoy the chef-created dishes in the Pavilion Restaurant.
3. Ballsbridge Hotel
The well-located Ballsbridge Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in this classy area within easy reach of Dublin city centre. It has bright, spacious rooms with luxury linens, comfy mattresses, cable TV, free Wi-Fi and tea/coffee facilities.
Tuck into the buffet breakfast in Raglands Restaurant or grab a coffee to go from the Red Bean Roastery. The onsite Dubliner Pub serves Irish cuisine in a super-friendly atmosphere.
Restaurants in Ballsbridge
There are some excellent places to eat in this area, as you’ll discover in our guide to the best restaurants in Ballsbridge.
I’ll pop in a few of our favourites below, like Baan Thai, the very popular Roly’s Bisto and the brilliant Ballsbridge Pizza Co.
1. Baan Thai Ballsbridge
This authentic family-owned Thai restaurant in Ballsbridge has been serving excellent Thai cuisine since it opened in 1998. Located on Merrion Road, it I in a distinctly Thai building which is rich in history. Admire the exquisite carved wood and oriental decor while enjoying a delicious meal. Mouthwatering starters such as the Mix Platter are great for sharing, while tasty main courses include curries, noodles and stir fry dishes.
2. Ballsbridge Pizza Co
For a light and tasty take-away, the Ballsbridge Pizza Co on Shelbourne Road has got it covered. Open Thursday through Sundays from 5-9pm, it has outdoor dining in the Chili Garden and take-aways. The head chef learnt his trade in Milan and has been serving perfect pizzas in Ballsbridge for over 20 years. The menu goes above the ordinary with drinks and sides too.
3. Roly’s Bistro
Roly’s Bistro has been serving Ballsbridge locals with fine quality dining for over 25 years. This busy first-floor bistro overlooks leafy Herbert Park and employs 82 staff! Offering smart food at reasonable prices, it continues to be a very popular Ballsbridge restaurant with locals and visitors. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with gourmet sandwiches, coffee and ready meals while the restaurant showcases the best Irish food.
Pubs in Ballsbridge
After you’ve spent a day exploring Dublin, there’s few ways to polish off a day as fine as an evening spent in one of the old-school pubs in Ballsbridge.
Our favourite in the area is Paddy Cullen’s, but there’s plenty to choose from, as you’ll discover below.
1. Paddy Cullen’s Pub
Paddy Cullen’s Pub is one of Dublin’s most renowned traditional pubs and the only local in Ballsbridge with an open fire. Located on Merrion Road, this landmark institution is minutes from Dublin city centre. Local artworks, caricatures, sporting memorabilia and hunting pictures create a sense of local history that other sports bars lack. Dating back to 1791, it’s a top spot for traditional food and drinks in friendly surroundings.
2. Horse Show House
Pop into the Horse Show House, a friendly pub on Merrion Road with a lovely beer garden. It’s the largest pub in Ballsbridge and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. It serves wonderful Irish food in smart surroundings and it boasts one of the best beer gardens in Dublin, too.
Known for pouring some of the best Guinness in Dublin, Searsons on Upper Baggot Street is a must-see if you’re visiting Ballsbridge. It’s a lovely pub for a lingering over a pint and the breakfast and steak sandwiches are spot on. The timeless well-stocked bar attracts a full house when sports matches are playing at neighbouring Aviva Stadium.
FAQs about Ballsbridge in Dublin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is Ballsbridge posh?’ (yes, very!) to ‘Is Ballsbridge a City?’ (no, it’s an area within the city).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Ballsbridge worth visiting?
I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Ballsbridge, unless I wanted to head for a walk in Herbert Park. The area, however, makes a great base to explore Dublin from.
Are there many things to do in Ballsbridge?
Aside from Herbert Park, great pubs and excellent restaurants, there isn’t a huge number of things to do in Ballsbridge. There is, however, endless things to do near Ballsbridge.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.