When the quaint, cobbled streets are lined with countless taverns filled with Irish men flashing a cheeky smile and singing their heart out from behind a guitar, it’s not hard to fall in love with Dublin. Ireland’s capital has a personality of its own: charming, charismatic… And these are just the adjectives that start with the letter C. Dublin should be high up on your travel ‘to-go’ list – and here’s what to do when you reach the Emerald Isle.
LIVE MUSIC AND ‘CRAIC’ AT TEMPLE BAR
Though Ireland has long been known and loved for its hearty live music scene, Gerard Butler in ‘P.S. I Love You’ put Ireland on the map for any girl born after 1990 (amirite, ladies?!). When the evening falls, follow the crowds, and let yourself be drawn to the warm lights of the Temple Bar area, just south of the river. Rickety bar stools are perched on and pubs are filled with friendly folk as the air is saturated with laughter and live music. The bars pulsate with energy, the music is captivating and the buzzing atmosphere and all-round good times – craic, if you’re Irish – are infectious. Venture to the Porterhouse, Dublin’s first microbrewery pub, for three floors of live music and home-brewed beers.
LOCAL BREW AT THE GUINNESS EXPERIENCE
Guinness is the lifeblood of the Irish, and no more so than in the heart of Dublin, where the brewery first started producing the black stuff in 1758. This heavy, dauntingly dark beer topped with a frothy white head has become a global icon and the unofficial Irish national mascot. Simply put: if you haven’t cottoned on yet, it would be a crime not to sample a glass – and the best place to do that is on the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse, in the glass-surrounded Gravity Bar overlooking the whole of Dublin. Learn about the brewing process and journey through the history of the beer (not at all as boring as it may sound) and have a go at pouring your own. Cheers!
GO CULTURE HUNTIN’
Dublin is home to a castle, some stunning cathedrals and a beautiful seafront harbor, so it’s your duty as a good tourist to go and see all of them. First, head for the castle – but blink and you’ll miss it – hidden in plain sight, this hotchpotch of rounded stone turrets, modern attachments and manicured grounds is the middle of Dublin’s winding streets. Ireland’s largest church, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, is also just around the corner, set in its own pretty grounds. Since you’ve got the camera out and poised, the green gardens and ponds of St Stephen’s Green, sat at the heart of Dublin, are not to be missed either. While you’re at it, why not check out the art, history, Irish whiskey or even leprechaun museums?
BEST GRUB IN DUBLIN
Combine a delicious dinner with the evening’s entertainment by heading to The Norseman in Temple Bar. Downstairs, talented local musicians perform in a cozy setting, while upstairs, you’ll find a charming restaurant serving some of the greatest pub food in Dublin. The homemade pies are hearty and beyond tasty, the succulent burgers ooze happiness, and the portions are wonderfully generous. And the best part? The music from downstairs is piped into the restaurant, so your candlelit grub can be enjoyed to the sweet sounds of acoustic Irish voices. The following morning, head over to Whitefriar Grill: with 10 different ways to do eggs, a brunch grill menu and an assortment of ‘pick me up’ drinks to set you up for the day, this is the place to get your brunch on.
BE AT ONE WITH NATURE
Drag your eyes from your phone and look up, way up and further than the streets around you: if it’s a clear day you’ll see that the horizon is broken and speckled with mountains. Ireland is famed for its gorgeous natural scenery, and it’s fitting that the capital city is nestled right at the foot of it. Less than an hour away lie some truly stunning landscapes – totally unspoiled, completely beautiful and 100% ready to be explored. If the picturesque tranquility of the mountains isn’t your scene, follow the river through the city center and check out the craggy coastline, beaches, and sand dunes of Bull Island in the bay. Your Instagram account will thank me #honest.