- Local Time
The medieval castles reveal Dublin’s age, but you’ll feel a new exuberance in the city, too. Credit the atypically youthful population (one–third of Ireland is under 25). The historic streets are abuzz with lively nightclubs, contemporary restaurants and bars, where you’ll find inventive craft cocktails on offer, alongside the requisite stout.
Where to stay
- Glamorous bar at The Shelbourne hotel in Dublin, IrelandThe ShelbourneFor the historic glamour
- Sleek minimalist lobby of the The Marker Hotel in Dublin, IrelandThe MarkerFor the rooftop views
- Sleek lounge at the Number 31guesthouse in Dublin, IrelandNumber 31For the cozy atmosphere
Eat & Drink
Côte de boeuf at Etto Tables are tightly packed at this compact eatery, which only adds to the intimate, chatter–y vibe. The menu changes regularly, though first–rate Italian staples (think butter–soft burrata, spicy nduja and sweet datterini tomatoes) are often on offer. If you can convince your dinner companion to partake, the show–stopping côte de boeuf for two is a must–order.
Craft cocktails at Peruke and Periwig With velvet upholstery, oil paintings and old–timey bric–a–brac, this candlelit bar and restaurant – set in a Georgian wigmaker’s – feels like a period film set. Sip craft cocktails, such as In the Navy, an award–winning twist on a sweet–meets–sour tiki classic that swaps a rum base for Irish whisky.
Organic baked goods at Bread 41 This bakery grinds Irish–grown grain in–house using its own stone mill, avoiding the nutrition–obliterating methods of industrial milling processes. Although pastries are sold, the long–fermented sourdough breads are the star of the show, and feature heavily on the breakfast and sandwich menus.
Sunday lunch at Bastible A frontrunner in Dublin’s recent restaurant renaissance, Bastible is mega–hyped and perma–packed – book in advance. The fanfare is, however, well justified, with former Harwood Arms chef Barry Fitzgerald and his team firing out sensational hyper–seasonal plates. Go on Sundays for family–style feasts built around mains of fish or meat (like black Angus rump cap with bone marrow and horseradish).
The freshest catch at Fish Shop Benburb Street Dublin is a coastal city, but it hasn’t always acted like one, with much of the daily catch shipped away to foreign shores. But now, a new wave of restaurateurs is championing local seafood, among them the husband–and–wife duo Peter and Jumoke Hogan. Their pared–back, pocket–size neighbourhood haunt serves superb sustainable seafood, offering a set menu built around whatever is freshest.
Ricotta hotcakes and coffee at Two Boys Brew Dublin may not be the most obvious place to go for Australian coffee culture, but that was the inspiration behind this slick, industrial–style café, opened in 2016. Brunch plates, from avocado mash to ricotta hotcakes, are available all week, and you’d be hard–pressed to find a better cortado anywhere else in the city.
What to do
Theatre at Smock Alley Reopened in 2012 following a 225–year hiatus, this lovely old theatre is part of Dublin’s historic fabric – it was an 18th–century theatre and then a 19th–century church. In its newest incarnation, it encompasses three performance spaces, and hosts both classic and new productions at wallet–friendly prices.
Edge–of–the–world views at Bray Head For a dose of salt air and sea vistas, ride the DART train to Bray, where this scenic 7–km walk begins. The path snakes along the edge of the cliff–lined coast all the way to the seaside town of Greystones. Once there, refuel at the vegetarian Happy Pear café, before hopping on the DART back to town.
A lesson in Dublin’s social history at 14 Henrietta Street Tour the time–capsule interior of the city’s newest museum, 14 Henrietta Street, a grand Georgian mansion originally built for the elite but later occupied by Dublin’s destitute. Crumbling balusters, scraps of faded wallpaper, and recordings from former residents recall the rich and near–forgotten history of the notorious inner–city slums.
Outdoor fun at the Forty Foot This saltwater bathing spot at Dublin Bay was famously name–checked by James Joyce in Ulysses. Every day, swimmers fling themselves into the freezing water, shout out a few expletives and emerge shivering. Why, you may wonder? For the sheer fun of it. You can watch from the sidelines, but if you plan on joining, bring a flask of something hot – you’ll be grateful for the post–splash pick–me–up.
Unique womenswear at Om Diva An alternative to lookalike high–street fashions, Om Diva sells colourful, mood–brightening women’s clothes and accessories across three floors. Rails downstairs are packed with vintage pieces sourced from far–flung locales, while the upper floors house contemporary designers and pieces from independent Irish talent, such as Jennifer Byrne and Capulet & Montague.
Jam Art Factory Browse fun, talking–point prints from emerging and established Irish artists. With most of the artwork priced between €15 and €60, almost everyone can afford to leave with something to brighten their wall, be it a colourful, graffiti–inspired piece or a whimsical illustration.
Handmade souvenirs at Irish Design Shop The jewellery–making duo behind this boutique, Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey, have an eye for lovely things, as evidenced in the shop’s highly curated selection. Everything sold here is handmade in Ireland, from the knit hot–water bottle covers to the wood–turned bowls and geometric jewellery.
Hard–to–find menswear at Indigo & Cloth The four–storey premises of Indigo & Cloth include a café, shop and studio – but menswear is where it all began. Browse cult Scandi and other European brands, such as Our Legacy and Portuguese Flannel, as well as homegrown Irish designers, like the Tweed Project.
Rare spirits at Celtic Whiskey Shop At Dublin’s finest spirits supplier, Irish whiskies take pride of place. The stock ranges from rare collectibles, such as a 1900s Bushmills antique (€1,250), to newer releases, like the Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey (€54). If you need help choosing from the vast number of bottles, the staff know their stuff.