The River Liffey cuts through the centre of Dublin, dividing north from south. At its western end are leafy parks, coming back in towards the centre are Kilmainham Gaol and the red Victorian terraces of the Liberties. The cobbled streets of the nightlife and cultural hub Temple Bar are in the heart of the city, south of the river. A short walk further south is St Stephen’s Green and beyond that the shopping magnet of pedestrianised Grafton Street. North over the Liffey, broad O’Connell Street is a mix of high-street shops and department stores. Follow Dublin Bay south for the charming coastal district Dún Laoghaire.
Book a hotel in Dublin and sink a smooth pint of Guinness in a Victorian snug (booth) around South Great George’s Street, where you might lose all sense of time chatting away to the locals. Impromptu traditional music sessions carry on into the night at Cobblestones in Smithfield, or check out the live local rock bands in Wexford Street’s bars. Fans of Dublin’s literary greats can see Beckett’s or Wilde’s plays at the Abbey or Gate Theatre.
On a Dublin city break, families can rent bikes for the children and even tandems to explore vast Phoenix Park on the lookout for deer. For wilder animals try Dublin Zoo inside the park. Step back a century to experience a Georgian childhood at the children’s nursery at Number Twenty Nine house museum. For a seaside retreat, the speedy DART train reaches Dún Laoghaire in just 20 minutes where you can promenade while tucking in to the famous ice-cream at Teddy’s.
Grafton Street is the busiest shopping street, a traffic-free strip of high-street chains and elegant shops like Brown Thomas department store. Dublin’s foodies adore Fallon & Byrne for its gourmet food hall and basement wine-cellar, and the weekly market at Temple Bar, a cobbled square filled with stalls selling soft Irish cheeses. Take home traditional crafts like Celtic rings, Waterford crystal and creamy Belleek ceramics from stores along Nassau Street.
A Dublin city break packs in centuries of history. Discover Viking skeletons at the National Museum and the 12th-century baptismal font at medieval St Audoen’s Church. Flat-fronted, five-storey Georgian terraces radiate gracefully from Merrion Square, where you’ll find a marble statue of a wistful Oscar Wilde and bust of republican Michael Collins. Look out for the bullet holes on the General Post Office’s pillars on O’Connell Street, a sobering reminder of the 1916 Easter Rising and the venue of the Declaration of Independence.