ROMANTIC HOTELS IN DUBLINDUBLIN – WHY GO?
Gone are the days when you skipped a stopover in Dublin and headed straight for the mountains and magic of Ireland’s west coast. Once-lacklustre Dublin is now one of the hottest cities in Europe, and the old grey capital has had a serious makeover. Happening? You can say that again.
Affluent Dublin is now abuzz with trendy cafes, chic bars and nightlife. Shopping malls and markets are thronged with shoppers, the music scene is humming and the Guinness can’t be beat. Cranes spear the skyline and once-quiet streets are nose-to-tail with shiny 4x4s.
After years in the artistic doldrums, the city that spawned such literary icons as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett now boasts a vibrant year-round arts scene. Dublin’s arts calendar is now packed with top international music acts, traditional Irish music, stand-up comedy and a lively clubbing scene.
Dublin is compact and eminently walkable. Stroll along the Liffey boardwalk to the Dublin Writers Museum at Parnell Square, crammed with letters from the likes of Behan, Swift, Wilde and Joyce. You’ll find some of the world’s best Georgian architecture around the city’s squares, with rows of graceful houses and grand front doors.
From O'Connell Street (seat of the Easter Rising in 1916), you can walk across the Liffey to Trinity College, whose old library houses Ireland’s most famous manuscript – the medieval Book of Kells. Wander through the historic campus, and you’re within easy reach of Grafton Street, packed with shoppers and buskers, and the green lung of St Stephen’s Green.
Admire St Patrick’s cathedral before paying homage to Dublin’s best known export at a church of a different kind – the Guinness Storehouse. Your entry ticket buys you a tour and a taste of the black stuff from the glass sided Gravity Bar, where you can soak up panoramic rooftop views.
Dublin come alive after dark, and Temple Bar is party central. Kick off the night in one of the bars lining the district’s cobbled streets or head for the smarter pubs of Dame Street. Grafton Street is also pretty lively, while the Octagon Bar at the Clarence Hotel is a good people-watching spot. For some serious round-the-clock partying, come here for St Patrick’s Day (which takes up the better part of a week) for street theatre, bands and parades.
Dining out in Dublin is no longer a case of spuds cooked three different ways. Whether you want Thai, tapas or a Michelin star, you’ll find it here. And with more than 1,000 pubs, Dublin is just the place to experience the craic – that glow of bonhomie that goes with a well-filled glass and good company.
You’ll find Victorian spit ‘n’ sawdust throwbacks with an Irish band reeling away, mellow pub oozing literary history and cool new bars. And of course you’ll bump into some Dubliners – some of the friendliest and most down-to-earth people you can meet.
Start your shopping outings around Grafton Street – though don’t expect many bargains. Roches and Arnotts are great home grown department stores, while the craft stores on Nassau Street or the arcades and markets around Henry Street are great for picking up bric a brac and vintage clothes.
For a breath of Dublin fresh air, take the DART line north to Malahide, and visit its grand old castle. Nearby Howth and Dun Laoghaire are great sea-fishing spots, while the Wicklow Mountains beckon to the south.