Let me start with a personal confession: this trip to Dublin made me want to live you the (rather short) rest of my youth to the max! Despite the unusually cold temperature (at least for an Italian: it was only 6 degrees there, and back in Milan we were still sporting leather jackets!) the Irish capital really surprised me with its positive vibes you can feel everywhere. You could sense the good vibes already just by having a little walk in the old town, whose streets are lined by small, independent artisanal stores. We spent 4 days in Dublin with Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus and The Leading Hotels of The World, who showed us many secret places and a lot of nice spots to keep in mind.
If our 5 good reasons to go to Dublin for your next holidays won’t convince you…. We don’t know what will!
1. Dublino: young, lively and fun!
When Valentina, our Italian guide who has been living in Dublin for the past 10 years, told us that the average age of Dublin’s population is well under 30, we all went WOOOW! In Europe, it’s pretty unusual to find yourself in a city where young people are a majority. This might partially be due to Dublin being a university town, and to the excellent beer, too, LOL 😉 either way, this city works like a magnet for under-18s! And all these young people know how to have a good time, trust us. How do we know? Because we joined the party that is Dublin’s nightlife! There are no clubs in town, really: pubs are the place where younger people gather to drink some Guinness, and to hang out with their friends. The good thing is there is never an entrance fee, which makes it really easy to just check whether you like what’s going on or not. Traditional Irish music, disco classics or 1980s hits: this is what you will find in these pubs, and here are some of our favorite ones. No Name (3 Fade St) is a secret place, without a sign at the door, as you may have guessed. Everything is hidden in a house, with a small cocktail bar and music pumping. The ambience is really nice, it looks just like a house party from an American movie! Hogans (35-37 South Great Georges Street) is another interesting spot, very informal and totally free of any queues to get your drink! Last, but definitely not least, Cafe en Seine (40 Dawson Street): it might look a little too posh at first sight, but once you walk in, the Parisian-style decor and the music will just win your heart — the music was truly awesome in the last room! Pubs close rather early, around 2:30 or 3am, so you will have all the time you need to have your beer with no rush, and wake up the next day with tons of energy!
2. Art, art and more art. Everywhere.
If you want to avoid culture in Dublin, you won’t manage, because it’s everywhere. Jokes aside, constantly being surrounded by art just by walking around town just makes Dublin even better for us. Imagine, art even ends up following you during a small, sweet break: we had our tea break at The Merrion Hotel, a wonderful Georgian-style hotel, and we had their “Art Afternoon Tea” — sip your tea while surrounded by art of inestimable value! If you stop by, the Irish chef will truly pamper you. The menu changes every week, and the cool thing is that all desserts are inspired by one of the works you can see in the hotel! Of course there are also plenty of other museums.
Don’t miss the Little Museum, one of Ireland’s smallest museums, with exhibitions about Dublin’s and Ireland’s history. And on the top floor, you’ll find a treat for music lovers: a surprise related to U2, one of Ireland’s most venerated bands!
EPIC is another must-see: this museum tells the story of Irish immigration over the years. This cultural space is well designed and interactive. When you get in, you will receive a passport, and you’ll get a stamp for every room you visit. It’s a thought-provoking space that will make you think about immigration in your own country, too.
Go to Trinity College next and admire their amazing library, one of the British Isles’s richest: it was founded by Elizabeth II! Go to Lower Liffey Street, South Great George Street and Liberty Lane for contemporary and street art. You’ll be amazed!
3. Food? Great surprise!
Dear negative friends, I inform you that eating well in Dublin is possible, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to do it. Irish culinary tradition may not be as renowned as Mediterranean food, but it’s still pretty good and you’ll find both meat and fish. Still don’t believe me? Then make a few notes and go to these places. WILDE is The Westbury Hotel‘s restaurant. Here, we had amazing starters which included crab tempura, smoked salmon and beef carpaccio. When you choose your main, trust us and go for meat! The Guinness Storehouse is another lovely spot, super cute and traditional, this place, part of the Irish beer empire, offers one of the best burgers in the area, with a great view! If you need Asian food, go to Yamamori Tengu, which turns into a club after dinner time. Finally, The Brasserie, inside amazing hotel The Marker, will truly surprise you, with a menu with dishes from the land and from the sea, and top-notch starters! A final message to dessert lovers: you must try butter scones!
4. Quality, fair-priced shopping!
The best area for vintage stuff is the older part of the Temple Bar area, whose lanes host numerous cute little indie stores. Our two tips are non-touristy tiny little stores that we discovered from insider information from a girl in the area: and we’re so nice we are going to share the information with you! The first one is called Om Diva (27 Drury St), it’s completely pink, and it’s got everything, from jewellery to irresistible cute little dresses. Go to the first floor to have a look at the work of emerging Irish designers. Indingo&Clothes (9 Essex St E) is another interesting place that focuses on men’s fashion, with a selection of design pieces that really make it worth the visit. If you can’t explore the little lanes in the city center because of bad weather, go to the Powerscourt Centre, a very nice, well-organized shopping mall, that houses all kinds of stores.
5. The sea… It’s only half an hour away!
Are you missing the sea? Does cloudy weather make you nervous? Are you visiting Dublin in summer? Then, go on: catch a bus — it’s not worth driving, you’ll just get stuck in traffic — and in about 30 minutes from the city center you will find yourself in Howth, a lovely little town in the north of the island. Wear comfy clothes and go hike the path to the lighthouse: you’ll breathe amazing fresh air, and take crazy photos. We recommend going in the morning, so you can also stay for lunch — drop by at Aqua, where you will be able to enjoy a great view and uncharacteristically non-oily fish and chips. After lunch, explore the fisherman village, with its colorful houses and the boats that are awaiting the waves. If it’s sunny and you are feeling brave, you can even try to swim on the beaches not far from Howth.
You’re convinced now, aren’t you?