Destination Insight: Dublin City Guide
Destination Insight: Dublin
A highly skilled workforce and enterprising outlook makes Dublin a strong business setting and a lively hub for Ireland’s growing technology, finance, professional services and tourism industries. The economic crash of 2008 may have taken its toll but it's still a force to be reckoned with and comfortably Ireland's most international city.
No prizes for guessing what ranks as Dublin's top visitor attraction. The Guinness Storehouse is impossible to miss, since the building’s shaped like a giant pint of the famous black brew. Here you’ll be schooled in Guinness lore, before enjoying a complimentary glass in the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city.
Another attraction boasts a Guinness connection too. The Georgian-Victorian gem of a country house Farmleigh House was built in the 18th century by Edward Cecil Guinness. Besides the house itself, there's a sprawling estate of grounds, complete with a Sunken Garden, Walled Garden and an iconic Clock Tower.
The vast Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) provides a snapshot of Irish history, having detained many of Ireland's foremost military and political leaders through the centuries, from 1796 until its closure in 1924. Take a guided tour to get an often disturbing sense of how punishment and correction was meted out in times gone by.
One of Dublin's newest and most intimate museums ranks among the city's best. The Little Museum of Dublin only opened in 2011, but has already won many plaudits. It aims to give a glimpse into the people's history of 20th century Dublin, encompassing everyone from the protagonists behind the 1916 Rising, to the likes of U2, John F Kennedy and Queen Victoria.
The National Gallery houses 2,500 artworks, including Vermeers, Van Goghs, Picassos and Monets, while the beautiful 9th manuscript the Book of Kells awaits discovery in Trinity College’s library.
The National Botanic Gardens on the banks of the River Tolka are well worth a stroll, and you can savour the city’s medieval history at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
If you're intent on packing a lot of sights into your downtime, then the Dublin Pass and its brand new app covering free entry to 25 of the top attractions might also be worth.a look.
The Dylan is possibly the chicest boho bolthole in town, offering Ren toiletries and in-room GHD hair straighteners, not to mention a legendary cocktail menu.
For a more budget-friendly option, check out the Marker Hotel in the recently regenerated Docklands area, with marble-clad bathrooms and a rooftop bar.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, then the U2-owned Clarence Hotel in Temple Bar should be a sound bet, with elegant Arts & Crafts interiors and statement restaurant the Tea Room.
Restaurants to Impress
Ross Lewis’ Chapter One is a suitably rarefied place, wedged in the bowels of the Dublin Writers Museum, with exquisite dishes spotlighting small, local producers.
The Saddle Room at the Shelbourne Hotel packs an opulent punch, with its secluded booths and historic oyster bar. Take advantage of the pre-theatre menu to experience this institution on a budget.
More traditional fare can be found at Gallagher’s Boxty House in the heart of Grafton Street, serving boxties (Irish potato pancakes) and other no-nonsense classics at prices not to be sniffed at.
Food & Drink
Some local delicacies can be something of an acquired taste, like Coddle (boiled sausages and potatoes) or a horse meat sandwich (yes, really) from Paddy Jack’s at Temple Bar Market, but we’re betting you’ll want to try a bag of fresh doughnuts from O’Connell Street, just maybe not immediately after a visit to a decent chipper. Save some space in your case for a bottle of Connemara Peated Single Malt.
The Bailey was once the setting of James Joyce’s Ulysses, where hero Leopold Bloom lived, inspiring literary types to congregate here. These days it’s a chic watering hole with a pleasant terrace.
With its long bar, half moon booths and warehouse feel, buzzy Dakota is ideal for an afternoon pow wow, when it’s also far less busy.
For a true insider’s vibe, give Paul Lambert a buzz. He’s the award-winning mixologist behind The Blind Pig, a prohibition-themed speakeasy in a secret location.
Dublin can be reached with direct flights from over 20 UK airports, including London City, which runs over 70 flights a week to Dublin, with around a dozen daily departures on week days, from 6.45am until 9.20pm.
The main business area is now the Docklands on both sides of the River Liffey, home to the 3Arena and Dublin Convention Centre, and easily reached by LUAS trams.
Dublin is fairly well served by public transport, thanks to the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) trains, a connecting bus service and the more recent LUAS tram system, all of which makes car hire fairly redundant.
Save on cash fares by getting a LEAP Card, Ireland’s answer to the Oyster, for maximum convenience.
Surprisingly, there’s no direct rail link from the airport, but at £8 for a single the Aircoach shuttle bus is a reliable option, whisking you to Grafton Street in 30 minutes.
Learn more about Dublin on the tourist board’s website.