From its early Viking origins to modern cityscape, Dublin, Ireland, is a town filled with history. And with over 700 pubs in its city limits, according to the website Publin, it’s also a town filled with jovial conversations, dancing and more live music than can be consumed in a week. Explore both sides of this charming city with a dual itinerary to match: the first, covering the daily fun, and second, for more nightly pursuits.
Dublin by day
The first instinct of some people visiting Dublin is to hit up a bar and raise a pint of Guinness. While that is a perfectly good option for the evening (and let’s face it, the afternoon too), there are many extracurriculars in the city worth checking out.
The first stop is to visit one of Dublin’s lush parks scattered throughout the city. St. Stephen’s Green is a relaxing retreat in the center of Dublin, just south of the Oscar Wilde House and the Little Museum of Dublin. Opened in 1880, the park retains much of its traditional Victorian style, with fountains, a large lake and gardens. Further from the action is Phoenix Park, also known as “Dublin’s playground.” Its more than 1,700 acres hosts the Dublin Zoo, a herd of wild fallow deer and the Irish President’s official residence and principal workplace, Áras an Uachtaráin. Visitors can rent bikes near the main gate on Parkgate Street and explore the park’s rolling hills and famous wildlife.
Just a few minutes away from Phoenix Park is the Clarion Hotel Dublin Liffey Valley, a four star hotel with many room options to suit any size group—standard, family rooms, suites and apartments, the latter which includes a washer and dryer, living room and open kitchen. All guests can enjoy the SanoVitae Health and Fitness Club, including a 20-meter indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. For parents in need of a little alone time, the hotel’s Kids Club operates during school holidays and winter breaks.
To truly escape city life, hop on the Dublin Area Rapid Transit railway to Howth, a quintessential fishing town with a picturesque sea-side pier, just 16 kilometres from Dublin. Explore the Howth Lighthouse, Howth Castle and the ruins of St. Mary’s Abby, and visit the Howth Market to pick up traditional Irish gifts. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at one of the pubs and restaurants in the town, many of which specialize in freshly-caught seafood. For a famous to-go option, visit Beshoffs for a fish and chips take-out.
It would be a shame to visit Dublin without enjoying a traditional afternoon tea, a relaxing respite between the many tourist activities. There are many spots that offer afternoon tea, typically served with delicate finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. One of the more luxurious locals for the meal is the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel, a five star hotel on four acres of property just outside of Dublin’s city center. Part of a historic estate built in 1750, guests can enjoy tea in the Orangerie Bar that overlooks the hotel’s baroque gardens. If staying at the hotel, which boasts design details like a Carrera marble staircase and original Italian marble fireplaces, guests are treated to luxurious amenities like Egyptian cotton sheets, plush bathrobes and slippers, and a 24-hour fitness suite.
Dublin by night
While there is plenty to visit in Dublin during the day, many will argue that half of the city is at night, when bars and music venues offer live music and libations to locals and visitors alike.
Temple Bar, an area in Downtown Dublin filled with bars and live music, is the typical drinking spot for tourists. While some may gravitate towards the location for its long history and to visit one of the museums and studios in its area, at night the streets and bars are typically crowded with rowdy drinkers. Take a quick jaunt through the Merchant’s Arch to pick up a pint at the Palace Bar and marvel at the old architecture and timeless ambiance of buildings dating back to the turn of the century (and earlier). The Old Storehouse on Crown Alley, also located in Temple Bar, is a little more relaxed than its neighbours and serves up traditional Irish fare, along with your pint of ale.
Many bars around Dublin offer live music seven days a week, and if you’re in the mood for catching a show at a historical venue or treating yourself to a night of stand-up comedy, Dublin has a variety of spots for those entertainments. Vicar Street has hosted many famous names since it opened in 1998, including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Lana Del Rey. Accommodating a cozy 1,000 people, Vicar Street also features standup comedy and drama performances. The Grand Social, located north of Temple Bar, is also a fun venue for live music. In addition to nightly shows, the location has a rooftop bar and circus-themed room perfectly suited for dancing.
If you’re looking for a more quiet night in Dublin, there are a number of sophisticated options for cocktails and drafts. The Bath Pub, located close to Aviva Stadium, is a beautiful, flower-laden location for pizza and cocktails served out of mason jars. If you’re looking to branch out from Guinness and try some local craft brews, the bar 57 The Headline has 13 Irish beers on tap along with 11 on rotation, as well as a selection of Irish gin and whiskey. For a true speakeasy experience, Vintage Cocktail Club in Temple Bar offers carefully crafted cocktails and a candle-lit ambiance.
With all this frivolity, you’ll want a hotel in close proximity to all the hub-bub—preferably with a comfy bed. The Westbury in Temple Bar offers both of these, and more. A luxury hotel in the heart of Dublin, The Westbury treats guests to modern and sleek accommodations with Irish wool carpets, silk curtains and mohair chairs. Services include a modern fitness studio, valet parking, jogging station and business centre. Suites are furnished with unique touches including claw foot bathtubs and fireplaces. Be sure to stop by the hotel’s Gallery, which boasts an impressive art collection.
With bike rides, seaside strolls and teatime noshes, Dublin by day has plenty of food and activities to entertain the curious traveler. These festivities continue at night, with music, drink and traditional Irish pub fare. With morning, day and night accounted for, the only thing that will need scheduling is when you’re going to sleep.
So sláinte to good health and a jovial time in Dublin!