Gardiner Street stretches from the River Liffey at its southern end via Mountjoy Square to Dorset Street at its northern end. The Georgian Custom House terminates the vista at the southern end, and the street is divided into Upper, Middle and Lower sections.

Lower Gardiner Street South leads from Mountjoy Square to the fine stone Georgian Custom House overlooking the river Liffey. Several youth hostels are on this part of the street. The DART line crosses near the intersection with Beresford Place behind the Custom House; this end is only a few minutes walk from Connolly station, and around the corner from Lower Gardiner Street is the Luas red line stop at Busáras. There is heavy road traffic on Lower Gardiner Street, as it is also part of Dublin City Council's Inner Orbital Route and in the absence of adequate mitigation measures, pedestrian provision is not what it should be (despite being overlooked by the headquarters of the Department of the Environment which are in the Custom House).

Middle and Upper Gardiner Street are separated from the lower street by the west side of Mountjoy Square, a Dublin Georgian square noted for its cultural and historic connections. On Upper Gardiner Street is located Saint Francis Xavier Church, a notable stone Classical building dating from 1829 and with a connection to the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Gardiner Street has another notable poetic connection by way of featuring in Patrick Kavanagh's poem "Memory of My Father".

Commenced in 1792 and finished around 1820, Gardiner Street was developed by Luke Gardiner as part of his grand vision which was to see a crescent built where the Mater Hospital now stands. Georgian terraces remain at the lower end approaching the Custom House, at Mountjoy Square and in surrounding streets.