City Guide to Dublin

Dublin – Emerald Isle’s Effervescent Capital

7. Apr 2022
by Sugato Mukherjee

Historic and hedonistic, the buzzy Irish capital is a delight for all – from the sightseer to the heritage seeker, and from the literary traveller to the pub crawler.

Kick off your Dublin explorations on a very unusual note – by visiting the superbly restored Kilmainham Gaol. The former prison has witnessed some of the most heroic and tragic events that has shaped Ireland’s emergence as a modern republic. The forbidding bastion had held, and often executed, prominent leaders of Irish Rebellion from 1798 to 1916. It also played a critical role during the Great Irish Famine of 1845-49. The 1-hour guided tour of the prison includes an audio-visual presentation that gives a realistic insight into a glimpse of tumultuous history of the nation through the lens of a gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol - tourist attraction and occasional film set - The Italian Job (1969) and Paddington 2 (2017)


Delve deeper into the Irish past with a visit to the historic Dublin Castle. The sprawling castle complex dates back to the early 13th century when the fortress was the residence of the British Crown’s representative in Ireland. It has been the centerpiece of Irish history for the last eight centuries, rebuilt over the years and now hosts Irish Presidential inaugurations and foreign dignitaries. A guided tour of the well-preserved State Apartments, Medieval Undercroft and the Chapel Royal can be an immersive experience.

Dublin Castle


Originally founded in the early 11th century under the Viking rule, the Christ Church Cathedral is the mainstay of the urban horizon. The Anglican cathedral is an architectural masterpiece with its vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses and medieval tiled floor. This spiritual heart of Dublin houses a rare copy of the Magna Carta, a mummified cat, a 12th-century crypt and the embalmed heart of St. Laurence O’Toole. Make a point to climb over to the belfry to see the world-famous bells.

Christ Church Cathedral


Built in mid-13th century, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the tallest and largest cathedral in the country, and arguably, the most beautiful. The world-renowned choir has witnessed performances in its ornate interiors since 1432 and a restoration of the Lady Chapel has elevated it to its former glory. Jonathan Swift, best known for his Gulliver’s Travels, was the Dean of this cathedral in the 1700s, and remains buried here.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral


Established in 1592, the prestigious Trinity College houses the fabled Book of Kells - illuminated medieval manuscript containing four gospels of the New Testament. Founded by Queen Elizabeth I, the collegiate university that has literary stalwarts like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift as its notable alumni, is hallowed ground for the bibliophiles.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin


And what is Dublin without its beer? Explore the storied history of Ireland’s most iconic beer at the Guinness Storehouse sprawled across seven floors surrounding a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. Each floor traces the historic journey of the beloved beverage through displays and interactive exhibits, before you reach the Gravity bar at the top, where you can enjoy a pint of Guinness while enjoying the commanding 360 degree views of the city scape all the way to the sea.

The Guinness Storehouse


Located on the south bank of the River Liffey, the Temple Bar district is Dublin’s cultural quarter and the epicenter of the city’s nightlife. A buzzy, bohemian vibe oozes from this lively neighbourhood, chock full of arthouses cafes, entertainment enclaves, creative destinations, pulsating nightspots and of course, beer! And this is quite the best place to hear some of the best live Irish folk music. 

The Temple Bar ... in Temple Bar


Feeling a little overwhelmed after an overdose of history, heritage, fun and frolic? Head over to Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed public parks in any capital city in Europe. This former royal hunting park is home to a large herd of fallow deer, flower gardens and a zoo. Wander through the leafy walkways and cycle trails inside the 709-hectare park, where Dubliners go to breathe.

Phoenix Park


Shopping

An essential port of call for the well-heeled shopper, Brown Thomas is located on Grafton Street. Sprawled across four floors, it is a luxurious blend of haute couture and hipster labels, and houses the world’s most premium brands. With an impeccably designed personalized customer service, Brown Thomas curates the ultimate shopping experience for the uber-elite clientele looking for exclusive products in fashion, accessories, beauty and homeware. After a shopping binge, head over to the ‘The Restaurant’ - a Brown Thomas exclusive – for specialty house cocktails and a sliver of elegant Irish cuisine.

Brown Thomas


Dublin’s preeminent shopping promenade, Grafton Street is an eclectic mix of high-street shopping enclaves and upscale labels. This is the home of stylish boutiques, elegant shopping arcades, curated design shops and premier department stores. Take your pick while navigating your way through the brick-paved, pedestrianised stretch, flanked with historic architecture and decked with flower stalls. Park yourself in a cool café and listen to the buskers revving up the evening with live music performances on this atmospheric street.

Grafton Street


Steeped in history and tucking secrets around its corners, Creative Quarter, just a block away from Grafton Street, is filled with independent, homegrown boutiques, antique shops and cosy cafes. Head over to the Irish Design Shop that prides itself on promoting the work of some of Ireland’s most exciting designers and craftspeople, and emphasizes on originality and creativity. The in-house jewellery collection showcased in the upstairs studio space is very much worth a visit.

Creative Quarter


Restaurants & Bars

Leading the fine dining scene of Dublin for four decades, two-Michelin-star awardee Patrick Guilbaud celebrates contemporary Irish cuisine, delightfully synchronized with French culinary roots. The impeccably crafted 8-course tasting menu, loaded with bold yet subtly refined flavours are always matched with the seasonal variations. Celebrity chef Patrick Gilbaud creates culinary masterpieces in his eponymous enclave nestled in a Georgian townhouse setting that oozes sophisticated luxury. The wine cellar is simply gorgeous. 

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud


Contemporary Irish cuisine with some French twiddles, Chapter One has been consistent in its culinary philosophy for over two decades. Helmed by Finnish chef Mickael Viljanen, this Michelin-star awardee outfit boasts of peerless hospitality. The luxury is understated with sash windows and exposed brick walls with a pleasant, breezy vibe. Sophisticated, artfully presented dishes rustled up with freshest of ingredients retain natural flavours. Sign off your memorable fine dining experience with the delectable Irish coffee. 

Chapter One


Located in the historic The Shelbourne Dublin at St Stephen's Green, The Saddle Room impresses at first sight. Ultra-stylish dining rooms with gold booths, velvet curtains plush, cushy chairs set the tone for the epicurean journey, where the highlights are steak and seafood. The culinary zeitgeist includes classic Irish favourites such as pan-seared dover sole and Hereford beef chateaubriand. The timelessly elegant place also features a lavish oyster bar with freshest produce from the Dublin Bay.

The Saddle Room


An intense passion for a thriving community culture has shaped the ethos of Liath, a Michelin 2-star awardee at Blackrock market in south Dublin. A fine dining venue with an inspirational bonhomie that oozes an intimate, magical feel especially with the man at the helm Damien Grey, around at the small and cosy enclave. The tasting menu constantly evolves and reinvents itself with surprise elements, and the wine pairing is always par excellence. 

The Liath


An assortment of classy pubs, ritzy nightclubs and charming bars ensure ticking off all the boxes of the booze world in Dublin. So head out for the night!

Copper Face Jacks is much more than a nightspot, it is an Irish phenomenon. Located on Harcourt Street below the Jackson Court Hotel, the fabled institution features multiple dance floors and bars, two beer gardens and a VIP enclave. Since its opening in 1995, it has grown to be the most popular nightclub with Irish revelers with its late license and pulsating music.

The Copper Face Jacks


For something a little more sedate, where you can sip stellar concoctions rustled up by expert mixologists, look no further than the cool and classy Farrier and Draper located on South William Street. A favourite spott with well-heeled Dubliners, this upscale cocktail den oozes a country manor vibe with high ceilings, a crackling fireplace and leather armchairs. Well stocked with beers on tap, craft gin and Irish whiskeys, this establishment is still known for its craft cocktails, especially those whipped up with poitin, a virile, once-illegal Irish spirit. The food and nibbles on offer are excellent too.

The Farrier and Draper


Museums & the Arts

A breezy, funny spin on the urban and folk tales of Ireland, leprechauns and mythical creatures, National Leprechaun Museum is the portal to your childhood. Located on Jervis Street, this is a time-capsule, draped with myths and legends, this is where you step into the Otherworld and embark on a fun-filled trip filled with Ireland’s rich oral storytelling tradition. Follow a guided tour through several rooms; each serving as sets for the stories revolving around folklore, and fantastical beings such as leprechauns, fairies, banshee and puca. Exhilaration guaranteed for the little ones, and for you to feel like a kid again.

National Leprechaun Museum


If you are a whiskey connoisseur or a culture vulture keen to know the emerald isle’s long relationship with the beverage, head straight over to Irish Whiskey Museum housed in a historic building on Grafton Street. With curated personalized tours through the four rooms designed to represent different periods of Irish whiskey. End on a high note with interactive tasting sessions and for a more immersive experience, go for a hands-on Whiskey Blending session and bring back a miniature bottle with sample of your own craft blend.

Irish Whiskey Museum


And if you are someone born with literary inclinations, head over to the Newman House on St Stephen’s Green. Located in this historic house is Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), where you can ensconce yourself in the rich literary heritage of the country from past to present through a wide range of audio and immersive displays. A collaborative effort between National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin, the museum holds a permanent collection of materials and memorabilia associated with James Joyce, including “Copy No. 1” of his magnum opus Ulysses, and rotating exhibitions of other literary stalwarts of Ireland.

Museum of Literature Ireland


Exclusive Experience

Sail a traditional tall ship through the historic Dublin Port, or along the gorgeous Dalkey coastline. Live the life of a sailor for a few hours and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Dublin Bay, which is now a recognised UNESCO Biosphere. Head over to the “Bowsprit” (spar running out from a ship's bow, to which the forestays are fastened) and learn about the history of the storied Irish coastline, of battles fought between kings and Vikings centuries ago that shaped the identity of the emerald isle.

Dublin Bay


Side Trip

The towering Cliffs of Moher that seem to rise abruptly from the crashing Atlantic waters at a sheer precipitous angle is one of the most iconic sights of Ireland. Embark on a day trip to explore the rugged and surreal beauty of the 8-km stretch of dramatic coastline and take a walk along the clifftop for scintillating views of the Aran Islands. If you are curious to learn about the geology and environment of the cliffs, take a pit stop at the Visitor Centre with its informative displays.

Cliffs of Moher


Hidden Gem

Located between Clonmel Street and Upper Hatch Street, behind the National Concert Hall is Iveagh Gardens, also known as Dublin’s Secret Garden. The serene oasis of tranquility, just a stone’s throw from the well-known St Stephen's Green Park, had been designed in 1865 has remained the city’s best-kept secret, and its beautifully landscaped features include a yew maze, a rosarium, rustic grottos and rockeries. The piece de resistance is a tall, sculpted fountain with 32 stones, one from of the counties in Ireland.

Iveagh Gardens


Sports

Sports is a way of life in Ireland and Dubliners are fond of their native Gaelic games. However, football remains especially popular in Dublin’s urban areas structured into different amateur divisions to suit players of all skill and calibre. Head over to the AVIVA Stadium, which is a UEFA Category 4 Stadium if you want to catch the local favourites – Bohemians or St. Patrick’s Athletic Club – in action.

If you are a rugby enthusiast, you can also watch a game at this state-of-the-art AVIVA stadium that seats almost 60,000 spectators.

AVIVA Stadium - wow!


Headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Croke Park is a Gaelic games stadium and holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Irish people. Feel the passion pulsating around every corner if you are there during a match of hurling Gaelic football, Handball, Rounders, Camogie. It is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Irish sporting culture.

Croke Park


Must Buy Souvenir

The labour-intensive nature of the production of Irish linen makes it a specialty luxury good that is truly natural and wholly biodegradable. The sustainable product yields zero waste during its processing. The finest linen would carry the Irish Linen Guild logo define it as the yarn woven in Ireland from 100% flax fibres. Make room in your suitcase for some exquisite table linens and linen bed sets to carry back home for special guests and celebratory occasions. Kilkenny Store on Nassau Street and Arnotts on Henry Street are two excellent stores.

Irish linen - a must buy


Hotels

Warmth and charm are the buzzwords of this endearing Irish capital and the hotel scene resonates with the vibe, often with a nod to the city’s past. Stunning Georgian townhouses with refreshing restorations, classy boutiques with sleek décor and exemplary service, and luxury enclaves with hipster aesthetics- you will be greeted with a warm welcome and lots of advice wherever you put up for your Dublin holiday.

The BusinessClass.com guide to the best luxury hotels in Dublin:

The Westin Dublin


Getting Around

The 10-kilometre distance from Dublin Airport to the city centre can be conveniently covered in about 20 minutes in a taxi. Aircoach, the airport shuttle service operates 24x7 and includes the major hotels and key locations across the city. For travelling around Dublin, the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is a superfast and scenic system, trailing along the beautiful sea coast for a major part of its network.

Dublin Area Rapid Transit


Getting there

A host of airlines fly in & out of Dublin - predominantly, the country's flag carrier - Aer Lingus. 

BusinessClass.com review of Business Class on Aer Lingus

BusinessClass.com searches hundreds of travel sites at once to help you find the best premium travel offers for both flights and accommodation in Dublin. 

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