Travel Bucketlist: Dublin

What’s the craic? Looking for a fun little get away not too far from home? Well Dublin’s your place!

For just a short flight, you can visit Ireland’s charming capital city, full of heritage and hedonism. The city has plenty to do, from pub crawls to museums, so what are you waiting for?

Why Dublin?

The Pubs

dublin-pubs

The Irish sure do love a drink and you haven’t really experienced true Dublin culture without paying a visit to one of their traditional pubs. With over 1000 watering holes in the city, you’re spoilt for choice, so there really isn’t any excuse not to pop in and sample one of the local craft beers.

Temple Bar is one of the liveliest areas of the city and is certainly the place to head to if you’re looking for nightlife. Explore the cobblestone lanes to stumble upon some of city’s best bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as some lovely independent shops, art galleries and Dublin’s only art-house cinema.

O’Donoghues is one of Dublin’s most popular pubs, offering everything that you would expect from a traditional Irish boozer, from limitless beer, to a lively atmosphere brought to life with traditional Irish music.

Kehoe’s feels like you’ve just stepped into someone’s front room and that’s what people love so much about it. The cosy Irish pub offers an intimacy unlike any others and it’s a real hit among the locals and tourists alike.

The Architecture

dublin-architecture

Dublin is the perfect combination of historic and modern, offering contemporary architecture blended with remnants from the Victorian, Georgian, Medieval and even Viking eras. When making your way around the city, you’ll come across an abundance of beautiful gardens and squares, Gothic churches and medieval castles to explore, though one of their most charming attributes has got the be the Georgian townhouses with their characteristic doorways.

Dublin’s architecture is like looking through a keyhole at the city’s history and it’s this mish-mash of the old and new that makes the city so unique.

Dublin Castle is at the heart of historic Dublin and has taken centre-stage in Irish politics for more than 800 years. Though much of the original structure was destroyed by fires back in the late 1600’s, the original Record Tower survives and the Medieval details of the castle were replicated with as much accuracy as possible when it was rebuilt. Dublin Castle has recently been featured in BBC series the Tudors, where some of the grand rooms and the central courtyard were used to represent the Vatican.

Christ Church Cathedral is Dublin’s oldest building, built in 1030 for Sitriuc, King of the Dublin Norsemen. Renowned for it’s beautiful architecture and exquisite floor tiles, the cathedral is now home to the famous 12th Centry crypt and the important Treasures of Christ Church, including manuscripts and ancient artefacts. You can also find a spectacular exhibition of original 16th Century costumes from the historical series The Tudors.

The Trinity College campus is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll, formed from a beautiful mix of classical and contemporary buildings, stitched together with serene gardens. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday morning or outside of term time to avoid the hoards of students.

The Museums

 dublin-prison

Museums are almost always the first thing on a tourists itinerary when visiting a new city and there are plenty of museums scattered around Dublin, offering you an insight into the city’s history and culture. From galleries, to historical sites, there is something to suit everyone’s interests.

The National Gallery of Dublin is free to the public and boasts over 12,000 works of art, including paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints and sculpture. Located close to the city centre, it is a great way to spend your afternoon immersing yourself in European and Irish masterpieces. Free audio guides and tours are available, as well as activity packs for the kids.

Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Kilmainham. Built between 1792 and 1795, the sinister building played a huge role in Ireland’s battle for independence and it held some of the most famous political and military leaders in Irish history, such as Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell and Eamon de Valera. You can still experience a real chill as you take a tour or the eerie gaol. It also homes an exhibition detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration.

The Little Museum of Dublin occupies a traditional Georgian townhouse and dedicates itself to the 20th century, showcasing over 400 artefacts that reflect Dublin’s development over the last century. For a €5 entrance fee, you can explore a selection of art, photography, advertising, letters and ephemera, that offer insights into Dublin’s culture and its people.

The National Leprachaun Museum is a really fun exhibit, specialising in Irish folklore and myths. The interactive attraction gives adults and children alike the opportunity to experience what it’s like to live in a leprechaun sized world, as you transport through twelve chapters or Ireland’s mythological history.

The Attractions

dublin-zoo

Dublin isn’t all museums and Guinness, you know? OK maybe Guinness does take centre stage… But there are plenty of other things to keep you occupied during your stay. From brewery tours and novelty museums, to the zoo and Aqua Park, there is something for all of the family. For some of the attractions you may be required to book an advanced ticket, so be sure to do your research beforehand.

The Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most visited attraction, luring thousands of people each year to learn all about the history of ‘the black stuff’ and how it’s made, as well as even having the opportunity to pull their own pint. Whether you’re a fan of Guinness or not, the Storehouse is well worth a visit to experience the stunning panoramic views from their Gravity Bar, if not for anything else.

The Old Jameson Distillery is the original distillery of the world famous whiskey, however it has now opened as a museum, showcasing some of the original distilling equipment. Visit for a guided tour of how the whiskey is made and a free tipple at the end.

Dublin Zoo is just the answer if you’re after a fun day out for the whole family. Exhibiting species from all around the globe, you’re bound to have a wild time!

Shopping

dublin-shopping

Whether you’re after your usual high street or designer clothing stores, quirky vintage and craft shops or open air markets, the shopping scene in Dublin is pretty much an all rounder. The two main shopping districts in the city are located on either side of the Liffey River, with the best spots sitting on Grafton Street and Henry Street.

Grafton Street is Dublin’s answer to Oxford street and is at the epicentre of the Dublin shopping experience. Here you can find everything from high end boutiques, to your most popular high street brands, while buskers and street performers line the pedestrianised road. At the top sits St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre, filled with an eclectic mix of shops, while at the other end you can find Brown Thomas, a luxurious department store stocking an upmarket mix of prêt-à-porter and haute couture clothing.

Temple Bar plays host to three different markets over the weekend, offering a unique shopping experience. On Saturdays you can find the Temple Bar food market in Meeting House Square, selling a variety of cheese, seafood and baked goods, in addition to the Designer Mart at Cow’s Lane, which showcases the best in Irish crafts. Open on both days is the Temple Bar Book Market, offering vintage books and vinyl for a great price.

Henry Street forms the main shopping hub north of the river. Here you can find a selection of shopping centres, high street shops, clothes stalls and Dublin’s oldest and largest department store, Arnotts.

The Loft Market is a New York-style indoor fashion market and is the perfect spot for tracking down quirky one-off pieces, as well as vintage clothing and jewellery.

The Coastline

dublin-coast

If you fancy an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, there are plenty of alluring coastal towns and villages to visit, just a short journey outside of Dublin. A day trip of exploring picturesque towns and wandering along the cliff tops and hidden beaches of the Dublin coast is the perfect way to relax and clear your head.

Malahide sits just 16km outside of Dublin city centre and can be easily accessed by bus of the DART. The colourful seaside town is the perfect spot for sailing, a fishing trip from Malahide Marina or a wander along the stunning coastal path to Portmarnock. The main attraction is most certainly the 12th Century Malahide Castle and its picturesque grounds, however, where you can join a guided tour to explore the site.

Dalkey is one of the more affluent of Dublin’s coastal towns and has become home to numerous celebrities. The town has a number of little harbours dotted along the coast, as well as some of Dublin’s finest restaurants, bars and cafes. The village is steeped with history and a visit to Dalkey Castle will give you an insight into life back in medieval days, as actors bring history to life as they guide you around the castle.

What to pack

Dublin’s weather is pretty much on a par with ours in the UK, so you can use this as a guide for what you might need on your trip. The best time to visit Dublin is probably over the summer months, as this is where it’s at its warmest and festivals bring the streets to life. The city can also offer a really charming winter break, however, just be sure to take a warm coat with you!

Ladies…

Practical shoes

Like any city break, you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking during your stay, so you want to be comfortable. A pair of flat boots or trainers will be your best friend as you explore the city by day.

comfy-shoes-ladies

SHOP: Hudson Track Sole Chelsea Boots / Michael Kors Tweed Allie Trainers / UGG Classic Mini Boot / Adidas Superstar Trainer

A cross-body bag

Cross-body bags are perfect when you’re on the move. You can keep all your essentials safely stored away, while keeping your hands free to take photos, navigate a map, or whatever else you require them for!

shoulder-bags

SHOP: Vivienne Westwood Cross Body Bag / DVF Suede Saddle Bag / Michael Kors Cross Body Bag

A warm coat

Unless you’re visiting at the height of summer, Dublin can get pretty chilly, so it’s a good idea to go equipped with a warm coat.

winter-coats

SHOP: Woolrich Military Parka / Joseph Double Face Coat /Moncler Tinuviel Down Coat / Velvet Reverse Shearling Coat

Men…

A comfortable pair of shoes

Though I doubt towering heels frequent your wardrobe, you’ll probably want to choose some of your comfier shoes to pack, as you’re likely to be on your feet a lot. A pair of trainers or chukka boots are perfect for wearing out and about around the city during the day.

shoes

SHOP: Armani Jeans AJ Low Top Trainers / Moncler Emilien Trainers /Polo Ralph Lauren Odie Boots / Timberland Larchmont Chukka Boots

Winter accessories

Beat the cold weather over the winter months by accessorising with cosy winter beanies, scarves and gloves. Not only will they keep you snug, but they’ll add that all important finishing touch to your outfit.

winter-accessories

SHOP: Polo Ralph Lauren Check Scarf / Boss Kilox Leather Gloves / Barbour Cassop Fleck Beanie / Armani Jeans Navy Ribbed Scarf

A warm coat

It can get a bit nippy, so don’t forget to layer up!

mens-coats

SHOP: Michael Kors Puffa Jacket / Joseph Caversham Coat / Parajumpers Kodiak Parka / Lagerfeld Hurricane Coat