The small capital with a big personality, Dublin has succeeded in compressing everything you could want in a fantastic city break; from the decadent to the dramatic, all into one inviting, modern city. To cater for Dublin’s huge popularity you’ll find an extensive selection of hotels available, each brimming with its own unique character and style, not to mention the occasional legendary rock star owner. A hectic schedule of international events and riotous street parties keep tourists and local on their toes, while a blossoming variety of unique and interesting restaurants and bars are the perfect way recharge from the excitement.
Just like its people, Dublin’s hotels burst with personality. You’ll find everything from boutique hotels owned by rock stars to grand old guesthouses, converted mansions and quirky B&Bs. Celebrity bolthole The Clarence (6-8 Wellington Quay) is famously owned by members of U2, while north bank competitor The Morrison (Ormond Quay) is equally stylish. Alternatively, the four-star Schoolhouse Hotel (2-8 Northumberland Road) is a unique spot in an old Victorian school. A good mid-range option located in the middle of town is the Georgian-built Grafton Capital Hotel (Stephen Street). Meanwhile, cheap-as-chips Isaacs Hostel (Frenchmans Lane) occupies atmospheric old wine cellars near the bus station.
A fun, fashionable shopping scene awaits in Dublin, where curio shops mingle with flash department stores, designer boutiques and Victorian arcades. The city’s retail heartland runs from O’Connell Street to Grafton Street, home to the famous Brown Thomas department store (88-95 Grafton Street) and Powerscourt Town House shopping centre (59 South William Street). Trendy Temple Bar has some unique little shops, such as contemporary crafts seller Whichcraft (Cow's Lane). It also hosts the Designer Mart (Cow's Lane) every Saturday, which is a great place for the latest fashions. Nassau Street is good for traditional Irish crafts; Francis Street is the place for antiques; while the Celtic Whiskey Shop (27-28 Dawson Street) has the widest choice of liquid souvenirs.
These days, boozy pub lunches and hearty Irish fare are only the tip of Dublin’s culinary iceberg. The city has blossomed into a foodie mecca, with sophisticated gourmet eateries, creative chefs and international flavours. Top dog is fancy Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (21 Upper Merrion Street), which boasts two Michelin stars. Traditional Irish dishes can be guzzled with a Guinness in Temple Bar’s many pubs, such as Porterhouse Microbrewery (16-18 Parliament Street). For smoked salmon, oysters, live music and killer views, drive into the Wicklow Mountains to Johnnie Fox's (Ballybetagh Road) in Glencullen. Fresh picnic fodder and lunchtime bites can be picked up at the Moore Street Market (Moore Street and Henry Street).
Temple Bar echoes to the sounds of traditional Irish tunes in this fun, five-day musical shindig. The performances here range from intimate pub sessions to big concerts, musical workshops, spontaneous jams and more.
St Patrick’s Festival
The world and his uncle celebrate St Paddy’s Day, but nowhere as riotously as here in the Irish capital. Days of merrymaking build up to the big day, including the country’s biggest street party, ceilidhs, parades, fireworks, concerts, bottomless pint glasses and limitless craic.
Dublin Writers Festival
The city’s long love affair with literature continues to this day, with this enthusiastic gathering of wordsmiths, wannabe writers, scholars and bookworms. The programme covers readings, debates, workshops and talks by bestselling authors.
Dublin Fringe Festival
Ireland’s best-loved arts festival fills more than two weeks with cutting-edge dance, theatre, music, comedy and family fun in all manner of venues, from pubs and parks to theatres and the cathedral.
Dublin Theatre Festival
Following hot on the heels of the Dublin Fringe Festival is its fully grown and more highbrow big brother that has showcased new and classic drama annually since the 1950s. It lasts for 16 days and draws talent from all around the world.