Tis’ the season to be jolly- and the Irish sure know the best way to make the most of the Holiday season. Dublin City, the capitol of the Republic of Ireland is renowned for its giddy spirit and undoubted commitment to celebrations. Spending 10 days in Dublin with relatives over the holidays was a dream come true after travelling solo for eight months (especially over Christmas when you can feel extra home sick!).
Few people know that when I was younger at just 18 years old, I actually lived in Dublin city center. I was young, naive and incredibly bold- so I made it my mission to find all the little gems that it had to offer. Heading back 4 years later, I was astonished with how much the city had changed. The new upper town bar scene was thriving, the Christmas festivities where in full throttle and it was then I realised I needed to revitalise my Dublin City Guide.
Scrapping the old guide, which is now rather redundant, it is time to start fresh and bring you the best that Dublin has to offer (especially during the silly season!).
Native Tongue: English and Gaelic- during Christmas Gaelic text can be seen on many signs and stalls to hone in on the Irish heritage- but everyone speaks fluent English).
City Layout: Divided by the River Liffey, Dublin North and South are very different areas. The North side is known for the luxury, it’s prestigious accommodation and quality shopping, whilst the South is a bustling hub of Irish pubs, discount stores and majority of inner city housing.
Getting Around: Walking this small but lively city is possible, but not if you are expecting to do all the sights in one day! I suggest using the City train/tram system, the Luas- which connects the whole city and costs about 3 euros per trip- very cheap and easy to use.
WHAT TO DO:
The Fitzwilliam Hotel: Contemporary Afternoon Tea
The iconic Fitzwilliam, located at the peak of Grafton Street and St. Stephens Green, has recently released a new, fabulous Late Afternoon Tea. My cousin and I spent a wonderful afternoon within the warm ‘Inn On The Green’ restaurant sipping out of delicate glass tea cups, with a range of flavoured teas, including Irish Cream and Peach Kabbalah. The selection is fantastic and we were left very content. To top that off with an expresso martini or bespoke cocktail of your choice was a delightful bonus. I would highly recommend this Afternoon tea for those looking for a classy, unique twist on their day in Dublin. It truly makes you understand the elegance of the Grafton Street area and the concept of the Fitzwilliam itself. Price ranges seasonally from around 30-40 euro all inclusive. Served daily between 2-6pm. Bookings required.
Temple Bar, take your pick!
Famous favourites include The Dubliner, The Porterhouse, The Temple Bar and The Quays.
One of my favourite hot spots in Dublin, DTwo is a great bar during the day and a pumping club at night. Separated into a genuine hotel-style Irish bar, with funky beer garden out back, it is great price and always lively. 60 Harcourt St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Market Hacienda Bar
This TOP SECRET boutique bar is a truly unique find in such a big city. Celebs flock to The Hacienda for the peace and quiet, including Mr. Ed Sheeren himself. Some nights they even lock the doors with a secret password for entry!
This is a fantastic part of the city. Running off the larger ‘Dame Street’ these weaving cobble stone boulevards (the main named Temple Bar of course) have hundreds of cool and funky taverns, restaurants and clothes stores to explore. This really is the heart of Irish life in Dublin city and you can’t help but smile at all the banter and music surrounding you.
St. Stephens Green
Located at the top of Grafton street in the city center, this lovely park has lakes, wildlife and trails to spend a beautiful day picnicking! In the winter months and festive season you will find all different activities going on, including small Christmas festivals and carolling. Grab a sandwich from a local store, find a quite spot and people watch to your hearts content.
The luxe shopping district of Dublin City. This is for the upper class, big spenders- but is also a joy to window shop! Over Christmas, the famous Brown Thomas opens its window displays to an assortment of magical themed exhibitions including Swan Lake, the Nutcracker and Wizard of Oz. The wide streets, buskers and beautiful stores are just the beginning, with many side alleys to explore and devote a day to!
Europe’s largest park- this place is just amazing. Not only does it have a zoo, castle and lake- but it is over 11km wide. I suggest grabbing a bike (or renting one in the city) and spending a WHOLE day venturing the vast natural haven of this area. Seriously one of my biggest highlights in Europe and a must see. You may even spot Rudolf and his buddies feeding in the wild!
From Trinity College you can take a short walk to the Dublin Castle. Steeped in history, the walking tours here are great as you can immerse yourself in the vast history and see a few hidden spots along the way.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
This beautiful college is home to some of the smartest people in the world- but also some of the greatest ancient history that stands today. With big names such as Oscar Wilde as alumina this is one of the world’s most prestigious education centers. Its grand structure, tailored gardens and stunning exterior are all exemplars of this. The Book of Kells- an ancient Irish relic that holds the four gospels of the New Testament. It takes a couple of hours to explore the grounds, see the book and take in the history of Ireland but it is well worth a visit.
Merchants/Inns Quay, Four Courts & Christ Church Cathedral
An area rarely seen by tourists, it is one of my favourite in Dublin. The Four Courts is Dublin’s law hub and holds many of the trials and battled that are key in the country today. The Quay itself is beautiful, with the two parallel streets of Inns and Merchants. Do a loop and take in the architecture here, then make your way up North past the Audoen’s Church to Christ Church Cathedral. A true gothic masterpiece, this is a sight that even on dull, gloomy days, looks like a fairy-tale.
For all you beer drinkers, this is a must do whilst In Dublin. By far the most famous Irish beverage out there, the Guinness Storehouse brings you through the early ages of creation, how to pour the perfect pint and you can even experience one of the best views in town from the Gravity Bar.
WHERE TO STAY
$$$$: Fitzwilliam Hotel
St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 1 478 7000
$$$: Trinity City Hotel
Pearse St, Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 1 648 1000
$$: Generator Backpackers
Smithfield, Dublin, Ireland
+353 1 901 0222
$: Air BnB
Host accommodation. There is a great range here for you to choose from!
I have done many day tours from Dublin City and honestly think they are one of the BEST ways to reach and and see the countryside of Ireland. Extreme Ireland Tours, along with Tourism Ireland, have fantastic trips and are very reasonably priced. I recommend the Giants Causeway and The Cliffs of Moher with those who have more than a few days!