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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 sights
National Museum of Ireland
An extensive collection of archaeological artefacts spanning 2,000 years of Irish history, including the eighth-century Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch. Kildare Street, 01 677 7444
National Gallery of Ireland
Ireland’s finest collection of native and European painting. Works from home-grown talents including Jack Yeats and William Orpen, and works by masters such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt can also be found here. Merrion Square West, 01 661 5133
Built in the 17th century, Ireland’s foremost contemporary and modern art gallery is set in impressive surroundings. There are also art trails through its leafy grounds. Royal Hospital Kilmainham, 01 612 9900
Trinity College’s Old Library
Trinity College’s Old Library is home to one of Western Europe’s most important illustrated manuscripts, the ninth-century handwritten gospel The Book of Kells. The atmospheric Long Room houses over 200,000 of the college’s oldest tomes displayed in oak bookcases. Trinity College, 01 896 2320
Christ Church Cathedral
First founded in the 11th century by the Vikings, the imposing cathedral has served both Catholic and Church of Ireland congregations throughout its 1,000-year history. The 12th-century crypt is the oldest surviving structure in Dublin and the largest of its kind in Ireland and the UK. Christchurch Place, 01 677 8099
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
Our top five events
January: Temple Bar Trad Fest
One of the country’s largest celebrations of traditional music and culture takes place in pubs and venues in and around the atmospheric, cobble-stoned Temple Bar district.
March: St Patrick’s Day Festival
The capital’s celebrations, which stretch over several days, culminate in the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade through the centre of Dublin with its marching bands and pole twirlers.
Every 16 June sees the annual homage to one of Dublin’s literary giants with a celebration of all things Joycean to commemorate character Leopold Bloom’s wanderings in the celebrated “Ulysses”. There are events all over the city from bicycle rides to literary walks as well as the traditional Bloomsday breakfast.
September: Culture Night
Galleries, museums, institutions and cultural centres open their doors until late into the night with an array of special performances and events laid on for visitors.
September/October: Theatre Festival
Traditional and contemporary forms of performance are celebrated during Dublin’s annual theatre festival. It showcases both established Irish and international playwrights and directors.
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.
Accommodation in Dublin
Dublin has no shortage of places to stay and there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. South of the Liffey River is a greater concentration of more luxurious options whether it’s the gracious Georgian proportions and crackling log fires of The Merrion Hotel (21-24 Upper Merrion Street, 01 603 0600) or the buzz of the historic The Shelbourne Hotel (27 St Stephen’s Green, 01 663 4500) that overlooks Saint Stephen’s Green. Part Georgian townhouse and part modernist mews, Number 31 (31 Leeson Close, 01 676 5011) is one of Dublin’s most charming places to stay and something of a hidden gem.
Dublin Airport is 12km north of the city. The easiest way into town is a taxi, which takes about 20 minutes. Aircoach is a regular coach service that drops off at several points in the city centre and south Dublin. Car hire is available from a number of providers located in the main arrivals halls.
Dublin Airport Information
CityJet Flight Routes
Amsterdam to London City
Amsterdam to Avignon
Amsterdam to Brive - Dordogne Valley
Amsterdam to Perpignan