The charming capital of Dublin, Ireland is an ever-evolving city rooted so deeply with history and charisma that it’s one of Western Europe’s most visited. Alongside the traditional pubs and cobblestone streets there is now a boom of chic bars, clubs, artisan restaurants and designer boutiques. What has happened to the city in recent years is not a coup of modernism, but a mergence of old and new. For an ancient city that has just recently found the international spotlight it deserves; Dublin percolates with cultural offerings, an unparalleled live music scene and truly hospitable hosts.
Bisected by the River Liffey, Dublin is separated into several distinct neighborhoods that are scattered north and south throughout its 24 postal zones. The cobbled enclave of Old City is home to the remnants of the city’s original walls along with tourist staples including Dublin Castle, Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Temple Bar area is wedged between Old City and Trinity College, whose high-trafficked campus is located almost directly in the center of the city. Known as the party hub and cultural headquarters of Dublin for both locals and tourists, the medieval streets of Temple Bar are lined with pubs, restaurants and arts venues. Visit just about any pub in the district, and find live local music permeating the air and rounds of pints being passed around.
Home to the famous Guinness Storehouse, the Liberties district gets its name from the fact that it was once outside of Dublin’s city walls and exempt from its jurisdiction. The Liberties area of today is abuzz with arts and culture. A community radio station; Digital Hub FM, the National College of Art and Design and the Irish Museum of Modern Art are just a few of well-known institutions in the district. A principal shopping district and massive tourist draw in the city; Grafton Street runs north and south, merging the areas of Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green. Riddled with talented buskers (street performers including musicians, poets and mimes) and pedestrians, Grafton Street is home to many of Dublin’s premiere shops such as: Marks & Spenser, Brown Thomas and BT2, as well as restaurants, pubs and high-end hotels.
Dining in Dublin can range from casual boxty and a bowl of Irish stew at a corner pub to a Michelin star-rated restaurant, such as Thornton’s inside the Fitzwilliam Hotel. In recent years, Ireland’s gastronomy scene has gone through a major renaissance and now new restaurants are popping up and serving sustainable, high quality and creative cuisine. For a take on traditional Irish cuisine with a modern twist, Jacob’s Ladder uses seasonal ingredients to create such delicacies as shellfish coddle and roast loin of wild boar. For the oldest and best fish ‘n’ chips shop in town (with a line out the door to prove it), be sure to make a stop at Leo Burdock’s.
Dublin Airport is a single terminal airport (with a second opening in 2010) and is the busiest in the country. Ireland’s flagship carrier, Aer Lingus, flies to Dublin from the United States as well as a large number of European cities and is known for offering lower fares. Managing an average of 60,000 passengers a day, the airport is located seven miles north of the city center and can be accessed by car, bus or taxi. For navigating around the city, visitor options are car, bus, taxi, train and ferry. The Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) serves not only the city itself, but many suburban areas within County Dublin. The Luas is the tram that will transport commuters around the city center and tickets to both trains can be purchased in their respective stations. Renting a bicycle is also an inexpensive and convenient option to navigate through Dublin and take in the city sights.
Dublin has a maritime temperate climate due to southwesterly winds and proximity to the ocean. Mild most of the year-round, the city does not see many weather extremes and enjoys pleasant, warm summers, peaking at around 68° F (20° C) and winters averaging at about 46° F (8° C). Though the city endures less rainfall than the rest of the country (800mm annually), Dublin still has a rainy season lasting the majority of the year, with the wettest months being in July, August and December. The peak tourist season is in mid-summer, yet weather-wise the spring is also a prime time to visit the Emerald Isle.