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Dublin: city guide. A packed weekend break of live music, stylish bars, galleries and great restaurants
December 8, 2015 | By: High50
Dublin, O'Connell Bridge. Photo Alamy

O’Connell Bridge spanning the River Liffey. Photo by Alamy

Why go

For those looking for a close city break destination, Dublin should be your number one choice. Not only is the hospitality of the Irish people legendary, but the city also has surprises up its sleeve.

Book a weekend in Dublin

This is a city that doesn’t sleep. The country’s love of live music is evident from the moment you walk out your hotel’s entrance. Bars, pubs and cafés are always bustling to an Irish beat. Interspersed within this vibrant night life are award winning spas, high-end restaurants and great shopping.

For visitors looking for a slower pace, the Dublin mountains offer magnificent views and long nature walks. And then there’s the Guinness!

What to do
Dublin. Trinity College

Book a guide tour of the hallowed halls of Trinity College

Arrive in the city, drop your bags and get out and enjoy. Dublin has a vibrant bar and cocktail scene, old pubs full of Irish charm, great shopping and a growing foodie scene.

A stroll through Trinity College, founded in 1592, will give you an inkling as to why Ireland is known as the land of saints and scholars. If you visit during the summer months, book a student to guide you through these hallowed grounds of learning.

Just a short walk from Trinity College is Grafton Street, the country’s pre-eminent shopping street. High street brands as well as couture can be found in the Brown Thomas department store.

Dublin. Guinness Storehouse. Cooperage exhibit

Spend an informative couple of hours at the impressive Guinness Storehouse

Hugh Lane Gallery shows Irish as well as Impressionist art, and is a must for Francis Bacon fans. The Guinness factory is large, and way more impressive and interesting than you might expect. The Glasnevin Cemetery is a bit morbid but if you have any interest in history, particularly Irish, you’ll enjoy it. Silly amounts of famous Irish people buried there.

Where to stay
Dublin. Shelbourne Hotel. Suite

If classic luxe is your style, check in to The Shelbourne

The Shelbourne is the grand old dame of Dublin hotels, located on the north side of St. Stephen’s Green. It opened in 1824 and is mentioned in Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses. It has a luxurious spa and a heated swimming pool.

The Westbury is a five-star hotel just off of Grafton Street, right beside one of the city’s most famous pubs, Bruxelles. The design is sleek and modern and many celebrities choose to stay here when they are in town.

Outside the city centre, the Intercontinental offers the luxe treatment. The hotel is situated in the city’s most exclusive suburb, Ballsbridge, right in the middle of the embassy belt, and is a short walk to the Aviva stadium.

Where to eat
Dublin. Crackbird restaurant

Great chicken at Crackbird on Dame Street

No matter whether you love a great hamburger with fries or fine dining, your tastes will be accommodated in style in Dublin.

Elephant & Castle in Temple Bar is an institution, popular with visitors and locals alike. The diner is famous for its spicy chicken wings, does a brilliant burger, and is loud and buzzing. Portions are vast. Crackbird on Dame Street also does cracking (sorry) chicken.

Wexford Street is a street fast gaining a reputation for being Dublin’s alternative restaurant scene. Head to Tapas de Lola, for meat, seafood and vegetable tapas, and a complimentary taster while you peruse the menu. The wine list is thrilling.

Dublin. Chapter One. Chefs table

The chef’s table at the stylish Chapter One

The Vintage Kitchen on Poolbeg Street allows you to bring your own wine and doesn’t charge corkage, and has its own small wine list. Go with a large appetite and book if you want to go on a Saturday evening. It’s next door is one of the city’s oldest and most loved pubs, Mulligans.

The Green Hen does excellent French food with an Irish touch; The Winding Stair – on the Liffey River and above a wonderful book shop – does some of the best food in Dublin. Mediterranean restaurant Coppinger Row is young, busy and buzzy – even more so since Beyoncé and Jay Z ate there last year.

For a night on the ritz, it is difficult to top Chapter One. It champions Irish artisan food producers and a meal here is the culinary equivalent of taking a tour around the island. Booking is essential. It is underneath the Dublin Writers Museum and next to the Hugh Lane Gallery.

Dublin Castle. Wikimedia Commons

Dublin Castle was a defensive fortification, then a royal residence, then seat of Irish and British government

Getting around

Dublin is compact enough for walking to be the ideal way to get around. It is also well serviced with taxis, buses, the LUAS and the DART (tramlines). Traffic can become very congested during peak hours.

When to go
St Stephen's Green, Dublin

St Stephen’s Green, a public park in the city centre

Any time is a good time to visit Dublin. Like the UK, the weather is inclement and changeable but the draw of the city goes beyond sunny days. Summer months (June, July and August) can be very warm (and humid). Spring and autumn are mild and the city is at its most beautiful in April when the parks start to bloom.

Don’t miss
Dublin. Dún Laoghaire. Unsplash Conor Luddy

Dún Laoghaire, Dublin: be sure to get out of the city, too, and see the Irish landscape

Be sure to catch some of the city’s live music. It’s well worth researching what’s on at the time you’ll be visiting. Make time to get out and see the stunning Irish countryside and coast, too.

Check out the Guinness Storehouse located at St James Gate. At the end of your tour go up to the Sky Bar, where you redeem your visitor passes for a complimentary pint.

Three things we like
  1. The Irish welcome. The people are incredibly warm and friendly.
  2. Phoenix Park sits right in the middle of the city and is the largest walled park in Europe and home to a herd of protected deer.
  3. The Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire is a small promontory into the Irish sea. Dubliners regularly swim here, even in the freezing winter.
Guinness flickr Mario Cutroneo
Something we don’t like 

While not a widespread problem, some parts of the city do have pickpockets operating so be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe.

High50 insider tips
  • When you’re in Dublin, a visit to an old pub is all part of the experience. Even if you’re a teetotaller, popping into The Long Haul, Kehoe’s or Donny & Nesbitt’s (or many others) is a must.
  • Just behind Dublin Castle (a worthwhile place to visit in itself) is the Chester Beatty Library. It’s home to an exquisite collection of books and art, and has a maze in its grounds.
Need to know
  • The currency is the Euro.
  • Tipping is expected but is optional. Generally ten to 12 per cent is the norm for good service. Bartenders do not expect tips and are salaried employees.
  • Taxi drivers are often a wealth of information and unofficial tour guides.

Main photo by Alamy.