Dublin is a little place that packs a lot in. Located on the coast, it boasts some stunning and serene seaside villages, and yet the city still has all the rí-rá agus ruaille buaille (Irish for “divilment” and “good fun”) of any bustling urban hotspot.
Indeed, whatever Dublin lacks in size it makes up in attractions and distractions; the sheer number of cafes, restaurants, bars, activities, and events constantly on tap is impressive. This–alongside the friendliness of the locals–is undoubtedly why Dublin is a must-visit city in Europe, and why spending a weekend here is always a good idea.
Where to Stay:
The Sandymount Hotel is a family-run hotel that prides itself on its values as much as it does its top quality service. Having been voted Europe’s Leading Green Hotel at the World Travel Awards (twice! In 2017 and 2018), this is an ideal choice for those who appreciate nature’s bounty and want to ensure their trip incurs minimum negative environmental impact.
The Alex is one of the most stylish hotels to spring up in Dublin recently. Boasting both beautiful design and an incontestably good location, it’s the kind of place you’ll definitely look forward to returning to after a day spent exploring the city. Pro tip: if you’re there on a Sunday, be sure to take a stroll around the Merrion Square “outdoor gallery,” where local artists hang their work on the park railings every week.
If it’s something a bit more personal you’re after; something with a touch of authentic Irish charm, then this is the spot for you. Located in a stunning Georgian house, here you’ll find home comforts finished off with a modern polish. History enthusiasts should also note that the house is steeped in history and each room is named after a famous local legend (like Maureen O’Hara or James Joyce) who has been connected to the abode at some point through time.
Recently updated and very well located, The Shelbourne Hotel is an Irish hospitality institution. Originally opened in 1842, the City Centre property boasts plush rooms with ornate interior detailing. The Saddle Room is an excellent fine dining option, the Lord Mayor’s Lounge offers impeccable high tea, and No. 27 Bar is perfect for lunch or an afterwork cocktail. The Horseshoe Bar racing-themed decor is iconically in tact from its 1957 construction, and people staying at The Shelbourne won’t want to miss out on the fire place and terrace overlook at the exceptionally stylish, guest-only 1824 Bar.
Where to Eat:
Despite being a relatively new kid to the Dublin cafe scene, Bread 41 has already acquired “absolutely must try” status amongst the city’s passionate bread-loving community. With a drool-worthy range of croissants, cronuts, sourdoughs, and salads, whether it’s an indulgent breakfast or a healthy lunch you’re after, Bread 41 has you covered. Pro tip: Aim to get there earlier rather than later, as the team’s strict “zero waste” policy means that once the grub is gone, it’s really gone.
One of the most exciting new restaurants in Dublin comes from chef Holly Dalton. This casual, all-day dining spot is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks. With spins on classic Irish dishes (the bacon and cabbage dumplings come to mind) as well as an excellent burger and wine selection, there’s something for everyone at this chic and inventive spot.
Sure, pizza might not be the traditional stew ‘n’ potatoes fare that you anticipated guzzling in Dublin, but trust us when we say that Pi Pizza is not to be missed. Describing themselves as “wood-fired pizza fundamentalists”, the Pi team make their dough fresh each day and use only top quality ingredients. This, combined with the fact that it’s all cooked up in an authentic wood-fired oven, could explain why Pi Pizza was voted the seventh best pizza restaurant in Europe in 2019.
Delahunt is a contemporary Irish restaurant known for its modern and masterful manipulation of old school classics such as Guinness bread and oxtail soup. From a visual point of view, the restaurant has an impeccably restored Victorian interior; complete with dark wooden paneling and cozy, secluded snugs. Don’t skip out on the bar upstairs, which makes excellent craft cocktails in a living room-style space. It may also be worth mentioning that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose to dine here during their visit to Ireland in July 2018, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
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Where to Drink:
Grogans is as much of a Dublin institution as any; with its reputation for serving up the best pint of Guinness in the city, and its ability to attract half the city to its doors as soon as the weather gets nice. An authentic “old man pub,” (what we locals would call a genuine, traditional Irish pub, which is discernable from the more touristy places thanks to the presence of local, older Irish men enjoying a pint or two in the premise) it’s the kind of place where strangers chat openly over a “good glass of the black shtuff.” Pro tip: If you want to do Grogans like a true Dub, pair your pint with a cheese toastie; sometimes in life the simple pleasures are the best.
Perched just beside Dublin’s iconic Georges Street Arcade, Loose Cannon manages to combine all the sophistication and style of Paris alongside a distinctly relaxed Irish feel. Here you’ll find thoughtfully curated natural wines alongside an impressive array of charcuterie and Irish cheese, all served up by staff who know their stuff. At night, the set-up takes on a more sultry tone, and makes for a lovely date spot.
Is there any better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Dublin than enjoying a good pint and hearty roast in one of our many cozy pubs? Hint: the answer is no. Mulligan Grocers is located on the Stoneybatter mainstreet (another one of Dublin’s other very cool neighborhoods), and it has become something of a buzzy, laid-back hotspot of a Sunday. Between the extensive drinks list showcasing local beverages, and a stunning food menu; Sunday or otherwise, time spent here is always time well spent.
Another classic Irish pub, this is the place to come if you want to catch a rugby game. Established in 1661 and under the same ownership for generations, the bar still displays the original beer casks and floor tiling. If you’re not looking to explore Dublin’s raucous rugby culture, it’s still a great place to grab a Guinness if there’s not a game on.
If you’re in Temple Bar (Dublin’s famed nightlife neighborhood) looking to escape rowdy American tourists, Vintage Cocktail Club is the place to go for inventive cocktails in a cozy, retro atmosphere. Speakeasy vibes abound, and the space’s many rooms offer great places to hang out in groups. It’s best if you can reserve a table ahead of time.
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What to Do:
This museum resides in a beautiful renovated Georgian house and, as the name would suggest, you can get around the entire space in the course of the average lunch break. Room by room, decade by decade, the Little Museum of Dublin guides talk you through Dublin’s history over the last century; describing the tales, triumphs and calamities that this fair city has experienced, complete with hilarious quips and jokes a-plenty.
There are a few things that the Irish value in particular, and they are: a well-poured pint, a warm welcome, and a good laugh. The Irish sense of humor is second to none, so we’d definitely recommend heading along to one of the many comedy shows that takes place every night of the week. Local favorites include Comedy Crunch (Sundays), Inn Jokes (Wednesdays) and the famous International Comedy Club every other night of the week.
While there are many weekend markets taking place in Dublin these days, there is none quite so big, nor as beautifully located, as the Dun Laoghaire People’s Park Farmers Market. Overlooking the stunning harbor, there is a huge array of local artisan food producers and craftspeople showcasing their wares here, so you’re sure to find something tasty to tickle your fancy as you peruse around the stalls and soak up the sea breeze.
Get stylist Aisling Farinella’s fashionable Dublin guide here.
Taking a trip on a Dublin Bay Cruise is a great option as it allows you to see lots of Dublin in a short amount of time. The trick is just to get a seat near one of the guides onboard, who are full of knowledge and hilarious anecdotes. Pro tip: Howth Village is known for its sensational seafood offering, so be sure to finish the trip with a basket of calamari or a bowl of muscles in one of the local eateries when you dock—we recommend Octopussy’s Seafood Tapas Bar.
Bray-Greystones Coastal Walk
This coastal trail is hugely popular amongst locals and visitors alike, who pound its pathway whenever the weather allows. To do it properly, take the DART (coastal train) out to Bray, and treat yourself to a soft serve ice cream before starting your climb up Bray Head. The walk is relatively easy and takes about 1.5hrs, after which most people finish the experience with a healthy, hearty lunch in The Happy Pear cafe.