Designated a UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin City also boasts hip shops, cool pubs and stacks of history making this a top city break destination.
From high-octane thrills to leisurely golf, Dublin’s a treasure chest of sporting fun
Join the thrill seekers with slalom or white water racing down the River Liffey in winter, or else take things at a gentler pace with canoeing and rowing on the river all year round.
Fishing in Dublin is the real deal with the Rivers Liffey and Tolka, the Royal Canal and beautiful Dublin Bay offering a wide range of opportunities for enthusiasts.
The biggest sports museum in Ireland houses an excellent interactive exhibition on Irish life and heritage.
Dublin has an abundance of top quality golf clubs, both near to the city centre, and a little further afield. Try Castleknock; Druids Glen Golf Club; Luttrellstown Castle Golf Club; Malahide Golf Club; and Portmarnock Golf Club - they all offer spectacular golf and scenery.
Dubliners-in-the-know hit the pretty Iveagh Gardens in summer for relaxed picnics and lazy afternoons. It’s a true urban oasis.
A beautiful park right in the heart of the city surrounded by Georgian buildings. On the weekend Merrion Square becomes an impromptu art gallery with local artists selling their wares along the railings.
Occupying a beautiful 48-acre site on the banks of the Tolka River, the gardens are a favourite with Dubliners and contain over 20,000 different plant species.
Dublin's playground and the largest urban enclosed park in Europe with a total area of 1,760 acres. Livestock graze peacefully on pasturelands, deer roam the forested areas and horses settle scores on polo fields. Bliss…
Surrounded by mountains and coastlines, County Dublin is a delightful spot for horse trekking. Try the highly recommended Paddocks, which is BHS approved and overlooks the city and bay.
Test your skills on the water, or learn new ones at the Fingal Sailing School. Established in 1973, it’s got a stunning location on the picturesque Broad Meadow Estuary.
Dublin’s waters may look icy, but that doesn’t put off the locals who swim at South County Dublin spots like Seapoint (with its Blue Flag), and the 40ft at Sandycove right throughout the winter – Christmas Day sees swimmers taking the plunge by the dozen. You may prefer the more temperate months of August and September when the Irish sea glistens a beautiful blue.
Covering some 270 acres in addition to extensive woodlands, water features and recreational facilities, St Anne’s Rose Gardens are of international importance and are at their peak in June, July, August and September.
First enclosed in 1664, the 22 acre park was laid out in its present form in 1880. Landscaped with flowerbeds, trees, a fountain and a lake, the 1887 bandstand is still the focal point for free daytime concerts in summer.
The gardens were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot in the years 1948 to 1973, and cover an area of over eight hectares of shrubbery and walled gardens.
Take part in the Liffey Challenge when the river swells and some of the world's greatest paddlers and rowers take to the water.
Hold on to your seat and enjoy a fantastic speedboat ride around Dublin Bay while getting up close to Dublin’s birds and sea life.
With its compact size, Dublin is ideally suited for exploration on foot. Try a traditional music or a historical walking tour.
Make the most of Dublin’s natural surroundings with water-skiing at locations around Dublin Bay, or maybe take a bike along Grand Canal Way, the Phoenix Park or the expansive seafront.
Penguins, puppets and plenty of thrills – Dublin’s a children’s paradise
With over 700 animals and birds from around the world, Dublin Zoo is set in a beautiful landscape of 66 acres.
An award-winning exhibition that recreates the sights and sounds of medieval Dublin.
Haunting yet compelling, Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied gaols in the world and is at the centre of some of Ireland’s most heroic and tragic events from the 1780s to the 1920s.
Founded by master ventriloquist Eugene Lambert, this theatre presents puppet shows designed to delight.
Pack in all of Dublin’s attractions with a bus tour that takes in the Guinness Storehouse, Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo, the Irish Whiskey Trail at the Old Jameson Distillery, Christ Church Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral and more.
The Dublin-born author of Dracula lived very near to this new hi-tech centre, which is devoted to his life and works.
The magnificent Dublin Horse Show is Ireland’s largest equestrian event featuring riders from across the globe.
For a particularly peculiar view of the city, take to the water in a reconditioned World War II amphibious “Duck” vehicle and explore Dublin’s historic sights on land. Plus, you can also enjoy scaring unsuspecting passers-by with the rather boisterous Viking Splash Tour “roar”!
Culture & festivals
From modern art to music festivals, Dublin has the cream of the cultural scene
Internationally renowned and dating back over 90 years, the Abbey is Ireland’s national theatre and stages works by esteemed Irish playwrights including Yeats, Synge, O'Casey, Beckett, Behan, and Tony Award-winner Hugh Leonard.
Dublin has a wealth of unspoilt Georgian terraces and squares and vibrant street life. Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares are of particular quality, as are Trinity College, the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland.
This impressive building right in the heart of Dublin City hosts a multi-media exhibition, which traces the evolution of this historic city from 1170 to the present day.
Discover Dublin’s rich literary history with a celebration of the lives and works of renowned poets, authors and playwrights, such as Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and W B Yeats.
Enjoy Dublin cultural life at its best with one of the city’s top festivals including the Taste of Dublin, the Dublin Theatre Festival; the Dublin Film Festival; the excellent Fringe Festival; the Bulmers International Comedy Festival and the BudRising Music Festival.
A must for modern art fans, IMMA houses an innovative range of international and Irish 20th century arts within the spectacular 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
Located by the sea near the pretty village of Sandycove, the James Joyce Tower (the setting for the first chapter of Ulysses) was used by the author as a residence and is one of a series of impressive Martello towers built to withstand a possible Napoleonic invasion.
The beautifully grand National Gallery houses Ireland's national collection of Irish art and European Masters. The more recent addition of the modern Merrion Wing has enlivened the gallery with a bright, dynamic space.
Ireland’s new museum on the banks of the River Liffey is home to a glittering national collection of decorative arts and history.
Test your stamina with a full-on five-day party, which transforms the streets of Dublin with a spectacular selection of music, fireworks, funfairs, street theatre and dance.
Out in the suburbs of Tallaght, this bright, modern theatre will reward you with fine productions both in the main theatre and the smaller studio.
This lovely 19th-century theatre is centrally located near to Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street and plays host to a wide variety of musical comedy, ballet, pantomime, and drama.
Established as a theatre in 1928, the Gate stages a broad range of Irish and international plays, and was the starting point for such luminaries as Orson Wells and James Mason.
The National Concert Hall is Ireland’s most prestigious music venue offering weekly performances by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.
Eating, Drinking & Luxury
Indulge yourself with the finest restaurants, chic cafés, hip boutiques, and the best pubs in the world
La Maison des Gourmets is a small, charming French pâtisserie with excellent French food and heavenly pastries. Dunne & Crescenzi is an atmospheric Italian café serving up crispy panini, excellent antipasto and frothy coffees. Literary types should head to the Winding Stair Café within a pretty bookshop overlooking the Liffey. A Dublin institution, Bewleys on Grafton Street may have undergone a transformation of late but it’s still an excellent place to grab a cup of coffee in the heart of Dublin’s shopping precinct. Cake fiends, meanwhile, should check out the super-tasty Queen of Tarts for freshly baked goodies. If you want to watch the world go by outdoors while sipping on a latté, then The Bailey is the place to go with one of the most popular outdoor seating areas in the city, right throughout the year.
Among some of the most popular spots are Mao for pan-Asian fare; Gruel for hearty grub in a diner-style environment; and the pint-sized no-frills Steps of Rome where you can eat in or takeaway. Also well worth a visit is the excellent Café Bar Deli for salads, pizzas and pasta; Wagamama for Japanese food in a bright, modern environment; and the 101 Talbot for excellent pre-theatre menus. Eden, meanwhile, is a great choice for modern European cooking with a pretty terrace on Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square. Frequently buzzing is The Unicorn, a popular spot with Dublin’s media crowd. If you’re after some fish, try some low-rent dining at Burdock’s chip shop, Christchurch. But if eating out of a paper bag doesn’t appeal, then head to the more salubrious surrounds of the Mermaid Café or the newly opened Mackerel in the converted Bewleys Café. Opt for a seat on the small balcony on a sunny day.
As well as a litany of pubs to down a pint of the Black Stuff in, Dublin has a plethora of stylish bars with cool tunes and cocktails. Check out Ron Black’s; the Clarendon; the Market Bar; Cocoon; The Globe; and The Bailey.
Indulge your palette at Dublin’s finest restaurants. Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is the top place to dine in the city with two Michelin Stars and modern classic cuisine. L’Ecrivain is an award-winning spot that has built a steady reputation for innovative Irish/French food. Chapter One serves up innovative and delicious food in an elegant dining room with exposed granite walls and fine art. Thornton’s Restaurant overlooking Stephen’s Green also enjoys two Michelin stars Dubliners also continue to enjoy perennially popular spots like The Tea Rooms at U2’s Clarence Hotel, and One Pico.
If you like to browse around before deciding where to eat, then try the top floor of the elegant Powerscourt Townhouse Centre with an abundance of casual spots; or the very popular Epicurean Food Hall with everything from towering bagels to spicy Indian feasts. Also worth a visit is the lively Temple Bar Food Market on Saturdays in Meeting House Square, with excellent food stalls serving global and Irish cuisine.
Dublin is awash with exceptional hotels that provide a tranquil retreat from the urban buzz. The Morrison, The Clarence, and The Morgan are all hip, stylish spots smack in the centre of the city and popular with the young and the fashionable. For utter luxury, try the Westin with an unbeatable location in a converted bank just near Trinity College; the Westbury in the heart of Dublin’s shopping district; the chic and minimalist Fitzwilliam; the elegant Merrion Hotel and the opulent Four Seasons, which is just outside the city centre in the district of Ballsbridge. For those after a more intimate experience, try La Stampa, Brooks, or Brownes.
Dublin kicks off after-dark with a hopping nightlife scene, which takes in everything from cool jazz theatre to heavy rock. Some of Dublin’s best live music venues include The Ambassador, Crawdaddy, Whelan’s, The Village, Vicar Street, and The Sugar Club. Also, try JJ Smyth’s for a spot of jazz right through the week. If you want to hit a club, then some of Dublin’s hottest venues include the ever popular Lillies Bordello and Renards; the massive superclub Spirit, or the very chic Spy. For dance music and visiting DJs, try The Vaults, Wax and The Hub.
Dublin’s pubs are legendary and are at the heart of the city’s social life. If you want to see where the writers hung out you could always try the Literary Pub Crawl. Otherwise, for a slice of authentic pub life, head to Kehoe’s; Mulligan’s; the Stag’s Head; Grogan’s Castle Lounge; Neary’s; Peter’s Pub; and the Palace.
Gay & Lesbian
Find your way around Dublin’s vibrant gay scene from festivals to fabulous bars
Lesbian night on the first Saturday of every month in the Irish Film Institute, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
Alaf stands for A Lesbian Arts Festival, with music, visual arts, poetry, drag, theatre comedy and film. It usually takes place over the first weekend in April, although check dates before you travel.
A fabulous, over-the-top visual and aural explosion held annually on St Patrick’s weekend.
The newest, flashiest bar to hit Dublin’s gay scene.
Parade with outdoor concerts and events in June.
Exclusively gay and lesbian guesthouse located in the centre of Dublin.
A stylish, elegant, airy bar with plush sofas and a straight-friendly vibe.
A plethora of screenings are held annually at this very popular festival held at the Irish Film Institute.
Mixed gay, lesbian and straight bar with hip décor and a laid-back vibe.
Cool, plush surrounds and good tunes. This gay club night is on every Bank Holiday Sunday night.
Trendy bar with gay night every Saturday.
Friday nights are women only.
One of Dublin’s longest running gay bars, The George is now an institution with a bar and nightclub over two levels. Dubliners still head there for Bingo with a twist on Sunday nights.
New women’s bar next door to Yello.
Bright, fashionable bar with good atmosphere.
Find out why Dublin is one of Europe’s top shopping destinations
If you’re after modern Irish design, then try Whichcraft in Old City, Temple Bar, for a mix of Irish art and jewellery. Kilkenny shop is also a fantastic spot for Irish homeware and design, with pottery and glassware alongside jewellery and clothing. Blarney Woollen Mills and Dublin Woollen Mills are good for traditional sweaters, scarves, cardis and gloves. Avoca Handweavers is a good spot for designer and children’s clothing with a quirk, and you can also pick up renowned cookbooks from the much-loved Avoca café.
Part of Dublin’s charm lies is its excellent selection of hip, elegant boutiques with eclectic designer names giving each a highly individual feel. Try Tulle in the George’s Street Arcade; Costume on Castle Market; Ave Maria on Clarendon Street; Rococo in the Westbury Mall; and Smock in Old City, Temple Bar.
Part of Dublin’s charm lies is its excellent selection of hip boutiques with eclectic designer names giving each a highly individual feel. Delve into the Design Centre in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, which previously stocked exclusively Irish names but now carries a mix of emerging and established Irish and international talent. Escada on Grafton Street is an elegant temple devoted to the designer label. BT2 is the sports and casualwear version of Brown Thomas with labels DKNY, Diesel and Ted Baker. Alias Tom, meanwhile, is the place to go for style-conscious men. If you’re after some particularly Irish designs, try Oakes – popular among the media and entertainment fraternity; Jen Kelly for haute couture Irish-style; and the internationally renowned Louise Kennedy for tailored elegance.
Dublin has enough department stores to keep even the most die-hard shopper happy. Brown Thomas on Grafton Street is a salubrious spot with an enormous shoe hall and top designer labels. Arnotts on Henry Street has re-invented itself in the last decade and is now a gleaming behemoth, with more emphasis on high-street labels than designer. Branches of British department stores House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols in Dundrum Shopping Centre, Debenhams in Dublin are all worth exploring. Roches Stores, meanwhile, is a large, well-stocked department store with a large branch of Spanish chain store Zara.
Enjoy over 1,000 years of mind-blowing history in magnificent Dublin city
This exceptional cathedral dates back to around 1030. The crypt, which dates back to 1171-2, is one of the largest medieval crypts in Ireland and the UK, and is a haunting and atmospheric spot.
No view of Dublin's skyline is complete without a tableau of the old Georgian Custom House, which is considered to be architecturally the most important of Dublin’s buildings.
Dublin Castle is more of a palace than a castle and is currently used to entertain heads of state. Guided tours of the State Apartments, the Chapel Royal and the Undercroft, where the ancient city walls join the castle, are available.
The imposing offices of the Government Departments (including an Taoiseach’s office) are open to the public at certain times. Guided tours are available on Saturdays and admission is free.
The air around the Guinness Storehouse is heavy with the smell of hops, and this hi-tech home of the Black Stuff offers a fascinating insight into 250 years of brewing history. The tour finishes up with a complimentary pint in the spectacular 360degree Gravity Bar.
Accepted as the symbol of Dublin, the charming Ha'penny Bridge (officially Wellington Bridge) arcs across the Liffey and was opened in 1816. The bridge was the only pedestrian bridge until 2000, when the modern Millennium Bridge opened up.
Set on 250 acres of parkland, Malahide Castle was both a fortress and a private home for nearly 800 years and is an interesting mix of architectural styles.
This delightful 18th-century manor is set on 350 acres of parkland, 12 miles north of Dublin city centre, and boasts one of the finest Georgian interiors in Ireland.
Nestling in the heart of old Dublin lies the old Jameson Distillery, with origins dating back to 1780. Tours are available.
Get interactive and uncover Dublin’s fascinating history with this exhibition, which covers Viking times to the present day.
The River Liffey is one of the main features of the city and has undergone considerable regeneration in recent years. It rises in the Sally Gap near Kippure in County Wicklow, travels 125km through the centre of Dublin, into Dublin Bay and finally the Irish Sea.
Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin sits on a beautiful campus with lots of delightfully historic buildings set amongst the greenery and cobblestones. You can ramble around for a few hours or else seek out heritage attractions including the Book of Kells and The Dublin Experience.