- Georgian splendour
- City life
- Live and let live
A small riverside city with a big gushing heart, this historic Irish hub is beloved for its pubs, its U2 and Dracula connections (author Bram Stoker was born here), and its general joie de vivre.
Dublin’s young and energetic population ensures there’s always a buzz in the air, and the city has no shortage of new bars, restaurants and boutiques to keep Liffey-side life full of surprises. Enjoy the 'craic' and a singsong over a pint of Guinness, wander the streets and take in the gorgeous Georgian architecture, or visit some of the many-splendoured museums and art galleries. Just outside town, seasidey Howth provides succour for those who prefer to stray far from the madding crowd; but you’ll find the magnetic draw of Dublin’s upbeat urban spirit – and the desire to stay for another convivial evening draped over a glass or two – impossible to resist…
The Spire of Dublin, the world’s tallest sculpture, is worth risking a neck injury to view. The pin-like monument unveiled in 2003 rises 120 metres high over the city centre, and is loved and loathed in equal measure; poetic Dubliners (them again…) have dubbed it ‘the Stiletto in the Ghetto’ and ‘the Pin in the Bin’, a reference to the O’Connell Street area’s down-at-heel reputation.
- There are as many taxis as pubs in Dublin (look out for the yellow taxi roof sign and the licence number) and fares are metered. Find one at one of the many ranks, or hail one in the street. Hackney cabs are just like taxis (ie: they’re licenced), but you need to ring for one.
- Tipping culture
- Your taxi driver will be happy with ten per cent, and restaurants expect between ten and to 15 per cent, though many now include a service charge on the bill. Check before forking out.
- Packing tips
- You’ll need a brolly for the unpredictable weather – Dublin’s wettest months coincide nicely with the summer… For nights spent in the pubs of Temple Bar, bring your best singing voice and plenty of hangover cures.
- Recommended reads
- Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks, The Secret World of the Irish Male by Joseph O'Connor, anything by Oscar Wilde, or something by one of the four Irish Nobel Prize for Literature winners, WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney – although anything by the lesser-garlanded James Joyce will cut it, too; his mammoth Ulysses is considered the best novel ever written, but Dubliners is easier-going. The Swing of Things by Sean O’Reilly is a contemporary thriller set in Dublin’s shadowy netherworld.
- Try Irish stew – a filling dish made with cubes of lamb or mutton, potato and onion – as well as fantastic seafood such as Dublin Bay prawns and oysters. In pubs, you won’t escape the black stuff: locally brewed stout Guinness (so beloved and so calorie-laden, it’s classed as a food) is ubiquitous. If you’re not so keen on the taste, order a Black or Red Velvet – the former is mixed with champagne, the latter with cider and blackcurrant. A full Irish breakfast will set you up for the day.
- Euro (€).
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Ireland: +353. Dublin: 01.
- Do go/don't go
- Dublin is a year-round destination, but winter and early spring can be very, very cold and very, very wet.
Don't go home without...
… pitching up for a pub ‘session’ on a Sunday morning: these are terrific drinking and singing marathons, with wall-to-wall Guinness, musicians, drums, spoons and enough heart-rending ballads about leaving the old country to bring a ton of tears to an American-Irishman’s eye. An excellent cure for a hangover – though a sure way to another one. Some ‘proper’ pubs include Auld Dubliner on Anglesea Street (+353 (0)1 677 0527); the Brazen Head on Bridge Street Lower (+353 (0)1 677 9549); and Davy Byrnes on Duke Street (+353 (0)1 677 5217), which appears in Ulysses.