Dublin. The epitome of Irishness. A city famous for The Spire, Guinness and Molly Malone to name a few. Not to mention the sky high prices and the tourist-filled streets of Temple Bar and the likes. Considered to be among the most expensive cities on Europe, a trip to Dublin could leave you coming home with empty pockets.
Yet, despite the expenses, which to be honest are a factor in any European capital, Dublin is a great place to visit. The ambiance as you walk along the streets, passing bars blaring traditional tunes and Irish shops enticing tourists from far and wide to buy bodhráns, sliotars and hurleys. The distinctive smells of Guinness and Jameson wafting in the air.
A trip to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Phoenix Park, home to the presidential home of Áras an Úachtarán and home to the selection of wild animals in Dublin Zoo. The park is easy to access on a direct bus from the city centre at a cost of less than €3, and within the park you can stroll around at your leisure. The Wellington memorial is worth a visit too, even if just to take a quick snap, as it towers above anything else in the park and acts as a poignant wartime memorial. A stone’s throw away and you have reached the gates of the Zoo. Once inside (at a cost of about €16), you will notice that many animals are kept within glass enclosures, and others have more open spaces to roam. The selection of animals is vast, covering exotic lions and tigers, brightly coloured birds and cute monkeys. My personal highlight was seeing a giant gorilla leaning with his back against the glass enclosure, hand on his head, appearing to be in the depths of despair, which only served to draw more attention his way! Another monkey favourite was the chimpanzees trying to kiss through the glass, blissfully happy with their lives! One word of warning is be weary of the construction that is underway in the centre of the Zoo within the red panda and flamingo areas, as this was a bit of an eyesore. Also, having been to the Zoo as a child, I was eagerly awaiting the sight of the polar bear…which never happened! All in all, it is definitely worth a trip and you don’t even have to spend another cent once inside (but if you wish to have a nibble or grab a coffee, or even a soft toy than there are plenty places to choose from!)
Another worthy sight is the Guinness storehouse which houses the famous ‘black stuff’, or as you will find out once inside…’the red stuff’. All your senses will be tingling as you approach St. James’ gate and join the queue with the hundreds of other tourists. If you’re Irish, you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride upon entering as this is a definitive moment in your life, as touristy as it may be! The 7 floors are filled with a variety of reading, interactive activities, touching and tasting experiences. The most enjoyable levels have to be the Tasting Room and the top-floor Gravity Bar. The first of these (which isn’t a gimmick by any means!) is a white scent-filled room where you can inhale the different aromas which combine to make the perfect pint. Next, you are invited into a second room where you can sample a mini pint, tasting it like an expert would, as instructed by the obliging staff. (Apparently the key is to inhale through your nose, drink for a few seconds, then exhale through your nose, while taking note of the initial tastes of sweetness and bitterness!) The final floor overlooks the entire city, as you collect your complimentary pint in the aptly named ‘Gravity Bar’. Notable landmarks are highlighted including the Wicklow Mountains and Aviva Stadium, and it provides a great backdrop for a selfie, pint in hand naturally! If you are lucky enough to find a seat, grab it and bask in the views and company. Truly a memorable experience for €18!
Now, as the saying goes and as people ever so kindly remind us Irish folk, this nation is famous for its drinking culture and craic! To join the crowd and avoid flocks of tourists, head to Camden St. where you can choose from Asian cuisine to pub grub and everything in between, not to mention a generous handful of pubs dotted around the place too! Flannery’s is an ideal spot for both a decent trad session while also attracting a more young vibe with current tunes. It’s in a good location at the top of St. Stephens Green, past the famous Coppers nightclub and late night bar. Which leads me there, with no night out in Dublin complete without a few cocktails (at a reasonable price of €5) in Capital, soaking up the dimmed lighting and pumping music, followed by a 20 minute stroll to CopperFace Jacks on Harcourt Street! Coppers guarantees a good night out, plenty of drinks and a choice of bars to boogie on down in! Avoiding Temple Bar, due to its insanely overpriced drinks might be best, however, it’s definitely worth a visit by day, as there is something very charming and colourful about its cobbled streets and bright facades.
Now obviously if shopping is your thing, than Dublin is a great spot! It boasts Ireland’s only Forever 21 amongst others and it has no shortage of decent high-street filled shopping centres, like Jervis St and the gigantic Dundrum. Grafton St. is Dublin’s equivalent to Oxford St, along with Henry St. which seems to target a younger market. Both streets are worth a gawk, with Henry St. being more enticing, as it also allows you to take a good snap of the Spire from a side angle!
Suburbs like Dun Laoghaire and Sandyford are ideal for Sunday strolls and are conveniently located by the sea, so can be the cure to a stubborn hangover (speaking from experience!). The first of these is a personal fave as it has a really warm and inviting atmosphere, similar to Kinsale for Corkonians. There are so many other hotspots outside the city that you could dedicate an entire post to these alone!
Dublin also features a great array of West End shows in the modern Bord Gáis Energy Theatre along by the quays, the 02 Arena (now named 3Arena), Aviva Stadium and Croke Park hosting many international artists of all music genres and the smaller intimate theatres like the Olympia and Gaeity Theatre which host super concerts also but more importantly…Riverdance! Tickets average around €65 and shows are seasonal, however, if you can plan a trip to Dublin around the summer season than you have to get to see this insanely magical performance. (Yes, it is coming to Cork and often frequents Killarney too!). Enough said on that.
If sport is your passion, head to Croke Park and visit by day, or soak up the match day craic if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on tickets! Aviva stadium is a world class stadium also, which is electric for rubgy matches (or so I hear!) so that’s another option too.
Basically, you won’t be stuck for things to do in Dublin. It has attracted people from all nations as the iconic Irish city (yet we all know Cork is the real capital!!) and will continue to do so for another while yet. Grab a Vicking boat duck tour and sit back as you enjoy the sights of the city on land and water from an amphibious vehicle. Hop on and off the big red and green buses. Saunter around the prestigious grounds of Trinity College. Head over to the many museums and galleries as an art enthusiast. I can’t stress the amount of things there are to do. And I know I have missed so many already.
Home to many legends like The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, U2 and The Script, it’s hard to not be tempted by this city.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed,
Next week’s post will be venturing further afield,