Set at the mouth of the River Liffey on the east coast of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin was founded by the Vikings in the 7th century. This is a modern and old world city – with a large sample of splendid medieval and Georgian architecture – where nearly 2 million Dubliners live. The city was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010 and tourism is a major industry here. Dublin Castle, St Patrick's Festival, the Guinness Storehouse and of course, live music and good craic are among the drawcards here. There's something for kids (of all ages) in Dublin and there's still lots to do on the off-chance you get caught in the rain.
A narrated hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the city is an enjoyable way to orient yourself in Dublin. A large portion of the city's national museums, galleries and libraries have free admission so culture and history-lovers can feast here on the smallest of budgets. Dublin Castle (built in 1204 AD), Trinity College (which houses the Book of Kells) and the Dublin Writers Museum also draw international visitors year-round. Dublin is also famed for performing arts, so book ahead for a performance at the Abbey or Gaiety Theatre. Beer-lovers flock to the Guinness Storehouse and if you're in town around St Patrick's Day, get ready to experience the city in a whole other way. If you're short on things to do in Dublin at any point, just ask a local what they'd suggest – you might have a whole other adventure.
With more than 1,000 pubs in Dublin, you'd be hard pressed to try them all. Rock stars, politicians, the literary set and the locals are all equal at the pub. Whichever of the 1,000 pubs you chose – whether you're tucked by a fireplace with a whisky, or drinking a pint of Guinness in a beer garden in summertime – you'll get a slice of culture, custom and reasonably-priced food. Consider starting near St Stephen's Green, Grafton Street or Temple Bar and just work your way along from there. You'll also find Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, seafood, Asian and vegetarian Dublin restaurants. Don't fret if you want something more upmarket; this city does Michelin stars too.
Where to Stay
Dublin accommodation has ample representation from all budget brackets. If you're looking for an alternative to hostels, try university campus accommodation. There are great quality rooms, both self-catering and serviced, available at select times of the year. Experience a local welcome at a bed-and-breakfast or guesthouse. If you don't need to stay in the city itself, and would like some quiet, why not try a farm house in County Dublin? If you're set on a hotel, you can find good deals at what where once much pricier properties. A handful of stylish, beautifully-appointed hotels include The Shelbourne, The Westin and The Westbury.
Central Dublin shopping at its best is in the area between O'Connell Street and Grafton Street. Grafton Street is home to Dublin's most expensive department store, Brown Thomas. Antiques hunters will find a delightful array of shops along Frances Street and stationery lovers should seek out the basement store within Eason's-Hanna's Bookshop, opposite the side entrance to Trinity College. Dublin also has an eclectic mix of indoor and outdoor markets. Get among the locals at Cow's Lane, the arts and crafts market at Newmarket Square (the Dublin Flea Market is also here on the last Sunday of each month) and the Christ Church Cathedral Lunchtime Market.
Dublin like a Local
Here are a few gems tucked away, and in plain sight, that visitors may not come across on their own. Start you day with a little slice (or baguette) of France on Moore Street at the Paris Bakery. Pay a visit to St Audeon's Church, the oldest city church still in use and possessing the last remaining city gate. Uncover haunted Dublin on a tour with Hidden Dublin Walks. See the cages readers were once kept in at Marsh's Library and finish the day amid the lilt of Gaelic, with a brew, at Conradh Na Gaeilge bar. If you're feeling energetic, add a lesson during the day on the skills and history of Ireland's sports at Experience Gaelic Games.