The increasingly cosmopolitan streets of Dublin have had a tumultuous time recently. As both the greatest benefactor of EU membership and – aside from Iceland’s bankruptcy – and one of the worst suffering nations in the recent recession (as the locals tell it – What’s the difference between Ireland and Iceland? Six months…), Dublin nevertheless remains stoutly characterful, and rightly draws countless tourists.
The Temple Bar district is at the heart of it. The Irish are a vivaciously sociable bunch, and the cobbled streets of Temple Bar host parties night after night, locals energised on Dublin Bay seafood and slurping pint after pint of the ‘The Black Stuff’ (Guinness) whilst listening to the twanging sounds of traditional Irish music, and joining together in the search for a late night ‘lock in’ to keep the revelry moving until dawn.
In fact, head to Smithfield and you can get an early start, with the Jameson Distillery offering whiskey samples and a factory tour (be ready to volunteer fast and you can grab free extras), and St. James’ Gate – the home of Guinness for the coming 9,000 years – just across the river and filling the air with the heady smell of hops for miles around.
Dublin city center has a number of architectural gems, with cathedrals, castles, universtities, churches and some fascinating examples of modern style also. They’re all highly picturesque, great examples of the towering architecture that still props up the city centre; head for Halfpenny Bridge to hunt down the historical heartland, or sample some of the excellent museums (the National Gallery is particularly noteworthy) for a taste of a fascinating past.
Just outside Dublin you’ll find country pubs and cliff top walks, as well as a spot the locals use as a icy hangover cure, the rocky ‘swimming pool’ that is the 40 foot. Nearby you can explore Ireland’s literary heritage with a trip to James Joyce's former home (a turret overlooking the sea), or grab some fish and chips in a newspaper and sit on the grass with the locals. Dublin is steeped in revolutionary history, but remains an essential – if somewhat expensive – party town. Make the most of both.
Howth is a very charming village known for its fishing community. It's a great trip from Dublin (just take the DART train) and is full of trekking opportunities along the coast. For those loo…