Call it cozy. When you think capital city of a European nation, you think major metropolis. But Dublin -- the city center, anyway -- is a surprisingly intimate place. A sightseeing tour of downtown highlights is no more than a day on foot. But that's not to say there aren't a lot of things to do. There are places to go, people to meet and typically Irish experiences to enjoy. For Dublin has culture in abundance: arts culture, historical culture...pub culture. It's all here and all within easy reach.
The Irish are quite proud to be Irish and Dublin is proud of its heritage, as is evident in the museums and galleries that abound here. For a wide-ranging lesson in Irish history, check out the National Museum of Ireland. To learn about the country's fight for independence, stop by Kilmainham Gaol Historical Museum. For modern Irish art, there's Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane. To learn fascinating facts about Dublin's many famous authors, the Dublin Writers Museum is a must-see. (Did you know Oscar Wilde was a promising boxer at Trinity College Dublin?)
If you visit Dublin in summer, spend a few hours at one of the city parks, where you'll see all sorts of locals come out to enjoy the sun. Start at Trinity College, walk up pedestrian Grafton Street and enjoy Saint Stephen's Green. If you have kids along and they get restless, take them to Imaginosity Dublin Children's Museum, which is full of fun entertainments for children 9 and under. The most popular tourist spot in the city is the Guinness Storehouse, where you can absorb the history of the beer and the company that makes it (and find unique souvenirs). Other landmark sites to add to your itinerary include Malahide Castle, Bedford Tower and St. Audoen's Church. For an enlightening excursion around town, there are double-decker bus tours with guides who have that inimitable Irish gift of gab.
If shopping is one of your indulgences, you'll find more than enough in Dublin. There is uniquely Irish merchandise everywhere you go. There are the trendy fashion boutiques and sweater shops on charming Grafton Street and Suffolk Street. There are Irish craft stores, specialty shops and antique galleries like the large Avoca Handweavers store and Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. If you're staying for the weekend and are inclined to do even more shopping, make a visit to the Blackrock Market. It's one of Dublin's "capital gems" and it offers a wide variety of goods, from modern art to furniture, secondhand and new, much of it sold from stalls overseen by friendly proprietors.
Dining and Nightlife
The Dublin night begins in the pub -- virtually every night -- as friends gather to catch up over a pint of Guinness or two (or 10). Much of what happens after dark takes place in the Old City around lively Temple Bar. It's where you'll find all the restaurants, music venues, theater shows, cafes and pubs to satisfy your culinary and social cravings. Temple Bar is sort of a city within the city, a pedestrian street distinguished by historic architecture where you can amble up and down, choosing from a wide variety of fare, from Irish to Chinese, and find a pleasant pub to pop in, have a pint and meet a few of the very amiable Dubliners. Some of the oldest pubs in the city are the Big Tree (nice beer garden), the Stag's Head and the Brazen Head (Ireland's oldest pub, established in 1198).
St James's Gate
St. James's Gate