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First settled by the Vikings, Dublin occupies a commanding spot in the centre of the gentle arc of Dublin Bay. Sliced in two by the meandering flow of the Liffey River, the city centre is a mosaic of handsome Georgian buildings, squares and streets, interspersed with leafy squares and more modern additions like the Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre and the James Joyce Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. Dublin’s unique mix of its rich cultural heritage, lively contemporary scene and its legendary, welcoming atmosphere makes for an ideal city break any time of the year, with plenty to discover whether you are a first-time or returning visitor
Our top five activities
The opulent, K Club (Straffan, Co. Kildare, 01 601 7297) hosted the Ryder Cup in 2006 and has two championship courses designed by Arnold Palmer. In a picturesque setting in nearby County Wicklow, Druids Glen (Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, 01 601 7297) is often referred to as the Augusta of Ireland.
Howth Head on the northern tip of Dublin Bay is a favourite with strollers and affords panoramic views of the Irish Sea, while the forests and heather-flecked heaths of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains are also popular.
Guinness’ spiritual home is the St James’s Gate Brewery. The former Storehouse tells the story of the black stuff and there are fantastic 360-degree views of the city from its rooftop. St James’s Gate, 01 408 4800
The Dublin Bikes cycle scheme was one of the first and most successful of any of its European counterparts and is a great way to explore the city. 1 850 777 070
Dublin has a burgeoning foodie scene. Discover its hidden gems on one of the Dublin Tasting Trails offered by Fabulous Food Trails. This relaxed two-and-a-half-hour stroll through the city visits many established names, pubs, bakeries and butchers and plenty of off-the-beaten-track finds. 01 497 1245
Dublin’s leading shopping thoroughfare is the pedestrianised Grafton Street. Brown Thomas (88-95 Grafton Street, 01 605 6666) is stuffed with designer brands. For an elegant glimpse into Georgian Dublin, visit the flagship store of Irish designer Louise Kennedy (56 Merrion Square, 01 662 0056), which occupies an 18th-century townhouse and sells clothes, accessories and homewares. The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre (59 South William Street, 01 679 4144) is carefully carved out of Lord Powerscourt’s original Georgian mansion. To experience a slice of the Dublin of old, pay a visit to the fruit, flower and vegetable stalls that populate the Moore Street market north of the Liffey River, which is one of the city’s few remaining historic street markets.
Food & Drink
Despite the economic gloom, Dublin’s dining scene is constantly evolving. The Greenhouse (Dawson Street, 01 676 7015) is one of Dublin’s most exciting new additions, from Finnish chef and long-time Irish resident Mickael Viljanen, who is renowned for his innovative combinations and love of seasonal, foraged ingredients. Fade Street Social (Fade Street, 01 604 0066) is one of Dublin’s latest buzz-worthy eateries. Occupying a large Victorian building, there is a restaurant on the ground floor and a more informal bar serving modern-style tapas and a winter garden on the upper floors. The Pig’s Ear (4 Nassau Street, 01 670 3865) showcases local Irish ingredients with a contemporary twist and has fine views over Trinity’s College’s playing field – perfect for lunch.
Dublin has a lively nocturnal scene, from traditional pubs to live music venues and slick cocktail bars. A good city centre watering hole is the charming mahogany bar and snugs of Kehoe’s (9 South Anne’s Street, 01 677 8312), while the diminutive Horseshoe Bar, set in a corner of The Shelbourne Hotel (27 St Stephen’s Green, 01 663 4500), is something of a local institution. Whelan’s (25 Wexford Street, 01 478 0766) is one of Dublin’s most popular live music venues with regular gigs from Irish bands and more established international names. Established in 1904 by W B Yeats and Lady Gregory, The Abbey Theatre (Abbey Street, 01 878 7222) is Ireland’s National Theatre. Its productions include works from both well-established names like Brian Friel and Oscar Wilde and as well as emerging Irish talent.
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