Over the past decade, Ireland’s capital has turned itself into one of Europe’s premier urban playscapes. Between the vintage clothing shops of Temple Bar and the live music venues of the North Side, you’ll find new locally-sourced restaurants, record stores, independent cinemas, and of course– More pubs than St. Patrick ever could have dreamed. As Ryanair’s hub, Dublin might be the most continentally-connected town in all of offshore Europe. It’s not a bad idea to start your trip to the Emerald Isle in one of the EU’s most thriving cities. A center of cultural and intellectual exchange for centuries, Dublin is looking sunnier than ever.
Album: U2 – Boy
Book: Dubliners – James Joyce
Movie: Frank (2014)
College Green, Dublin 2
Over 200,000 of this 16th-century school’s oldest books and manuscripts are housed in this 18th-century wing of Trinity College’s ‘Old Library.’ If the numbers and dates don’t impress you, the scent of the Long Room will. What’s better, is that you can’t venture into this end of the library without passing by The Book of Kells– an illuminated manuscript thought to date back to 800AD. A stroll around the rest of the ancient campus is well-worth the effort, too.
The Winding Stair
40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1
Very small, very cozy. It’s the pot of gold that lies at the north end of the Ha’penny Bridge. Both secondhand and new titles are sold at fair prices, and the shop’s restaurant is only a staircase away. The Winding Stair makes a great starting point for your venture into the North Side of Dublin. If you find yourself there before the restaurant opens at dinnertime, you can curl up with your new book and a cup of freshly brewed coffee inside The Woolen Mills around the corner (can’t miss the sign as you cross The Liffey).
6 Eustace St, Temple Bar
Centrally-located in Temple Bar, the IFI hasn’t screened a mainstream film since opening its doors in 1943. A recent redevelopment project has turned 6 Eustace Street into a wonderland cinema complex, complete with three screens, an archival and research center, a quality cafe, and a thoughtfully-stocked film/book shop. Memberships are offered, but screenings are open to the public, as the IFI’s self-stated objectives continue to be to “Preserve, Exhibit and Educate.”
7 Wellington Quay
Hidden underground on the banks of The River Liffey, this cocktail lounge and each of its zany rooms have the feel of an eclectic post-modern speakeasy. Open well into the early morning, it’s the perfect place to start (or end) a night with close friends. The cocktails aren’t cheap, but neither is the atmosphere, and if you’re going to splurge, this might be the place to do it. Rumour is that Bono owns the property (along with half the Quays and Temple Bar), but this remains unproven (yet somehow worth mentioning?).
Merrion Square W, Dublin 2
The National Gallery of Ireland is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon in the city. Anchored by local artists, the gallery’s collection is deceptively large, and it can be easy to miss entire rooms or displays. Even though there’s no admission fee, it’s unusual to find the gallery exceptionally crowded. If state museums are your thing, you might consider walking around the corner to the National Museum of Archaeology to check out the legendary Bog Bodies and the National Library and its W.B. Yeats exhibit next door.
11 Fownes Street, Temple Bar
The only thing more refreshing than the warm and welcoming attitudes of the couple who run this subterranean vintage clothing store is the hand-selected styles that line its colorful walls. As opposed to the dozens of other Dublin vintage shops, it’s quality, not quantity, that seems to rule the day here. Expect a great playlist to accompany your visit, and definitely check back before you leave town, as the racks and shelves are updated constantly.
A long bike path connects Grand Canal Dock to the inner city, and while it may not be the longest bike trip you can take in Dublin, it may be the most pleasant. You’ll pass the famous Beckett, Joyce, O’Connell and Ha’penny bridges as well as the Customs House and brilliantly-illuminated Convention Center. Once you reach Temple Bar, consider cutting through the city for a quick ride around St. Stephen’s Green or Merrion Square.
2 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2
Dubliners will be the first to tell you that a pint of Guinness is only as good as its pour– So, why risk it? This inner-city, truly old-fashioned pub has enough seating to host the Irish Coast Guard, yet somehow the late nights here always feels intimate. A full carvery menu makes it a fair place to spend an entire evening, and with two levels of nooks and secluded booths, you’ll find your comfort zone. If you’re around at Christmastime, it’s worth stopping in just to check out the miles of holly and pine that adorn the old oak railings and shelves.