City guide: Dublin

Tradition thrives amid modern commerce in Ireland’s capital.

In Ireland’s capital city, history seeps from cobbled squares and the famed sites of Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College. Dublin is the cultural hub of the country; theaters, galleries and museums are plentiful, as are elegant restaurants and upscale coffee shops. And then there are the local pubs—over 1,000 of them—where Dubliners meet neighbors and friends and offer friendly greetings to visitors. Stop in for a foamy pint and raise a toast to the Irish for their charm, warmth and quick wit.

Greater Dublin accounts for nearly half of Ireland’s gross domestic product. It’s the financial heart of the country and home to the headquarters of many large national and multinational companies, including Bank of Ireland and Ryan Air. The import and export trade centers around Dublin Port. Tourism, retail and education sectors are major drivers of the economy.

Getting to and from the airport

Dublin Airport is 10 kilometers north of the city center. Taxi trips to the downtown core cost between €20 (US$21.54 using the exchange rate US$1= €0.93) and €35 (US$37.68). Taxis line up at a first-come, first-served taxi stand outside the arrivals terminal. The Airlink Express bus brings you to the center of Dublin with stops at the Heuston and Connolly rail stations. You can buy tickets at the bus and rail information desk in the Terminal 1 arrivals hall. Buses run daily from 6 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. with departures every 15 to 20 minutes. A one-way fare is €6 (US$6.46).

Getting around Dublin

Dublin’s compact city center makes it easy to navigate on foot. Plus, the crowded and confusing streets provide further reason not to drive. If you’re traveling too far to walk, the city’s public transportation system will get you where you want to go. Bus service is available from 6 a.m. (10 a.m. on Sundays) to 11:30 p.m. Schedules are posted on bus stop noticeboards and available on the Dublin Bus website. Fares are based on distance—journeys within the designated City Centre Zone cost €0.75 (US$0.81). Exact change is required. It’s difficult to hail a taxi; instead look for taxi stands or “ranks” outside hotels, bus and train stations.

Where to stay

For luxury and upscale hotel options, try Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin (8 Golden Lane; Ph: +353 1 898 2900), The Fitzwilliam Hotel LVX (127/128 St. Stephens Green; Ph: +353 1 478 7000), Herbert Park Hotel (4 DO4 R2T2 Ballsbridge; Ph: +353 1 667 2200).

Midscale options include Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre (28-32 O’Connell St., Dublin; Ph: +353 1 878 8099) and North Star Hotel & Premier Club Suites (1 Amiens St.; Ph: +353 1 836 3136).

Things to see and do

Get acquainted with the city by strolling through Phoenix Park. Paths lined with oak, beech and pine trees guide you through one of the largest urban parks in Europe. Expansive lawns are perfect for sunbathing in warm weather. If you’re feeling active, go for a bike ride—rentals are available at the Parkgate Street entrance. Or visit the Dublin Zoo, located within the confines of the park.

Continue your tour of Dublin with a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland. Its towering vaulted ceilings and ornate details date back to the 14th century. The cathedral is open to the public every day—hours vary depending on the season. Admission is €6 (US$6.46).

Don’t miss a chance to explore the Trinity College campus. It’s a sanctuary of peace and beauty in the heart of the bustling city. Masterpieces of architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries frame landscaped squares and gardens. Walking tours depart from the Regent House and cost €10 (US$10.77).

A few minutes’ walk from Trinity College, you’ll find Grafton Street—Dublin’s main shopping area. It’s home to a wide range of Irish and international fashion stores. The street is always buzzing with musicians, poets, mimes and magicians performing for tips.

Don’t leave Dublin without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. The site has been home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease. The current seven-story building was erected in 1904 as a fermentation plant and now houses an interactive exhibit dedicated to the history of the famous beverage. End your visit with a fresh pint in the Gravity Bar, which offers an impressive view of the city and surrounding Wicklow Mountains. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is €14 and includes a complimentary pint of Guinness for anyone over 18.

Where to eat

You’ll find great seafood at The Anglers Rest. Originally built as a hotel in 1865, it’s now an excellent fine-dining restaurant that sits along the peaceful banks of the Liffey River. Best of all, traditional Irish bands play every evening. It’s at Anglers Rest, Strawberry Beds, Chapelizod, Ph: +353 1 820 4351.

For a taste of ancient Irish history, enjoy a meal at The Brazen Head. It claims fame as Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198. The specialty here is traditional Irish food; you can’t go wrong with the beef and Guinness stew. Make sure to check out the historic pictures lining the walls. Find it at 20 Lower Bridge St., Merchants Quay, Ph:+353 1 677 9549.

At Johnnie Fox’s you’ll get dinner and a show. The “Hooley Show” offers a four-course meal, live music and a performance by the pub’s famous dancers; the cost is €52.50 per person. It’s at Glencullen, Ph: +353 1 295 5647.

For vegans, vegetarians and anyone looking for a healthy meal, try Cornucopia in Dublin’s city center. Menu items are sourced locally from organic farmers and change daily based on available ingredients. Find it at 19-20 Wicklow St., Ph: +353 1 677 7583.

Boojum is a hidden gem. The casual Mexican burrito bar serves award-winning food at wallet-friendly prices. When your travel schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time, it’s the perfect place to grab a quick lunch or dinner. It’s at Millennium Walkway, North City, Ph: +353 1 872 9499.

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