South-West of the emerald eye, lies the capital of this island nation. Dublin is a cultural city, famed for its craic and home to the black stuff’ i.e. Guinness. It hosts an eclectic blend of Georgian and modern architecture and is a great destination for a short city break, with friends or your loved one.
Hailing from north of the border, I have been lucky to have visited this intriguing city on a number of occasions, from both a working and personal experience, both solo and with others. It was this fair city where I found my dream work placement, tried my first ever Wagamamas and experienced the luxury of living out your hotel room. But that’s by-the-by, my point is, I think it’s a city which touches many individuals for different reasons. Whether you’re backpacking alone or travelling in a group, there is plenty for you to see and discover in Dublin.
In the heart of the city lies the bustling shopping district that is Grafton Street. Here modern architecture sits alongside the old, with many historic buildings still standing along the strip. Local department store Brown Thomas is worth a mention, as is Bewley’s Coffee House. Providing a speak-easy atmosphere with a cosmopolitan vibe, where you can sip on your espresso and contently watch the world go by. Other personal recommendations on Grafton Street and close-by are Butler’s Chocolate Café and Irish home brand Avoca (which also boasts a pretty cool dining experience to boot). There is nearly always something going on the street as well, with regular street performances from budding artists and musicians.
The St. James’s Gate Brewery is known all over the globe as the home of the black stuff. I visited those famous gates several years back when my partner first visited my home land. However, sadly those great black gates were fastened shut, as we just missed the last tour of the day. Still we were pleased to have visited, maybe one day we’ll return to actually enter the gates. But I’ve heard good things from those I know have visited. They have a rooftop bar from which to sample the infamous tipple. No visit to Dublin should pass without a trip to its beating heart.
O’Connell Street, aka. Europe’s widest urban thoroughfare, or so I’ve been told to believe. Found on the opposite side of the River Liffey (the main body of water which runs through the city), it is hard to miss, as it boats the large needle monument otherwise known as ‘the Spire’. This pinnacle is also thought to hold a record as the world’s tallest freestanding sculpture. This possibly concludes the highlights of this classically Irish named street, However, the surrounds provide the most prominent shopping district on the Northern side of the coty and ‘Europe’s widest street’ does house a few impressive architectural standings, such as the old post office building.
Ah, my personal favourite, Dublin’s green heartland, St Stephen’s Green. Needless to say I have many fond memories of this place as in any city, the maintained gardens prove a welcome breath of fresh air. The parkland takes its namesake from the square in which it is located, St Stephen’s Green Square; found lying at the far end of Grafton Street. The Fusilier’s Arch provides a grand entrance to what appears a Georgian pleasure garden within this vast industrial city. You can even opt to take a traditional horse and cart ride round its perimeter, or take the Luas (Dublin’s tram system) if you prefer.
Word of warning, it can get quite busy at peak time during the summer months, but you should still find a nice patch of on which to bathe under infrequent pockets of Irish sunshine. It’s also worth noting that there is also a glorious Victorian mall of the same name. St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre can be found adjacent to the Fusilier’s Arch entry.
Last, but by no means least on the ‘to do list’, should be an essential visit to Temple Bar. Dubbed as the city’s cultural quarter, it undoubtedly projects a lively ambiance at peak times and prove a popular tourist attraction to any visitors. There is a fine selection of choice when it comes to drinking and dining out, however the Temple Bar Pub gives the district its namesake and so on my most recent visit, I thought it only fitting that I finally get round to visiting the inspiration!
The area is not only home to great nightlife, but is also home to many Irish institutions, including the Irish Photography Centre, National Photographic Archive, Project Arts Centre, Irish Stock Exchange and Irish Film Institute & Archives and Gaiety School of Acting to name but a few!
Other key sites to visit across the city include the statue of Molly Malone, a trip to the Olympia Theatre perhaps and of course you must cross the Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey (pictured above). Although I would love to hear your suggestions too! Feel free to comment on your experiences below 🙂