The area is the location of many Irish cultural institutions, including the Irish Photography Centre (incorporating the Dublin Institute of Photography, the National Photographic Archives and the Gallery of Photography), the Ark Children's Cultural Centre, the Irish Film Institute, incorporating the Irish film archive, the Temple Bar Music Centre, the Arthouse Multimedia Centre, Temple Bar Gallery and Studio, the Project Arts Centre, the Gaiety School of Acting and the Central Bank of Ireland.
After dark, the area is a major centre for nightlife, with many tourist-focused nightclubs, restaurants and bars. Pubs in the area include the Porterhouse, the Oliver St. John Gogarty, the Turk's Head, the Temple Bar, Isolde's Tower, the Quays Bar, the MEZZ, the Foggy Dew and Eamon Doran's, as well as the newly flourishing Bayfire. Two new squares have been created in recent years — Meetinghouse Square and Temple Bar Square. Meetinghouse Square has been used for outdoor film screenings in the summer months. Since summer 2004, Meetinghouse Square is also home to the Speaker's Square project, which is similar to Speaker's Corner in London.
Meetinghouse Square is home to the Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday. The Cow's Lane Market is a fashion and design market which takes place on Cow's Lane every Saturday. The Temple Bar Book Market is held on Saturdays and Sundays in Temple Bar Square.
In July 2005, visiting American singer Aimee Mann described her shock at encountering "overflowing pubs, drunks, urine stains and pools of vomit" . This and other increasingly adverse coverage has led to the introduction in October 2005 of a "Play Nice" campaign to help the area recover its bohemian image.