Dublin is a city that wraps its arms around fun, regardless of the type of trip you want to have. If you’re after literature and history then antique books, libraries and the antics of James Joyce will keep you occupied. If you’re here with kids, the parks and playgrounds and child-centred exhibits will easily fill the hours. For fashionistas, the designer boutiques have coffee shops inside so that weary partners can rest their legs and if you’re just here to party, well, there’s a reason why both Guinness and Jameson have headquarters here.
The grey skies and soft winds that can rise and disappear from one hour to the next but if you’re prepared for all weather, you’re prepared to have a good time. (And despite the gloomy reputation, the sun does shine here more than locals let on.)
Most itineraries base themselves around the curving River Liffey (or the bars and restaurants around Temple Bar.
The stately columns and manicured lawns of Trinity College mark the home of the Book of Kells, a magnificent illustrated manuscript that’s over one thousand years old.
Alas, before long in Ireland it’s time to confront the “The Troubles” – the mild sounding name given to the bloody encounters of the 20th Century between Irish Republicans, Loyalists, and the British Army. The Little Museum of Dublin shows Bond Certificates used in America to gain funding for the IRA, while the General Post Office still bears marks from the bullets of the Easter Rising in 1916.
One of the few stories of sweetness to emerge from this period was that a ceasefire was declared daily to allow people to safely feed the ducks in the park. You can still feed the ducks, and stroll around the park, by visiting the leafy green ponds of St Stephen’s Green
If you’re feeling active, you can kayak or wakeboard on the Liffey or else hire a car and head out to hike or cycle through the magnificently rugged Wicklow Mountains National Park.
From there, glimpse rural monastic life from medieval times at wild yet tranquil Glendalough and then contrast that with the cultivated gardens and chandeliers of the Powerscourt House and Gardens.
And with so little suburban sprawl around Dublin, you can do all that and still be back in time for a pint of the black stuff (Guinness.)
Money Saving Tip
Save all your museum visits for #culturenight, when admission across the city is free. It takes place on each September and the silent sweep of darkness adds a little frisson to the experience.
Did you know?
- The word Dublin comes from the city’s old name in Gaelic: Dubh Linn. Dubh means black and linn translates to something between a lake, a mire and a pool. The Liffey’s come a long way since then…
- Many museum curators get riled at the thought of #culturenight. Museums are for all year round, they cry, and then you won’t have to queue!
My Personal Hightlight
Hiring a car and heading out of the city into the golden-brown marshlands, peat bogs and woodlands of the Wicklow Mountains National Park (well, I was lucky and blessed with sunshine!) It’s hard to describe just how beautiful this place is without resorting to the travel writing cliché “breathtaking.” But it really, truly made me gasp and watch in wonder.