Dublin travel guide: here's why to choose the Irish capital for your next city break

Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images

Dublin is a city break destination which promises a gorgeous trip all year round. From breweries, bars and cocktail making workshops to historical sites, Michelin star restaurants and nearby coastal walks. It's a social, friendly city filled with fun characters and plenty to pack in.

Where we stayed

Arriving at boutique hotel The Dylan, situated down a peaceful and leafy little street, we were met with a gorgeous, grand townhouse and kind, friendly staff to welcome us. Fun fact, the building used to be home to nurses of Royal City of Dublin Hospital before it was renovated into a luxury hotel. The rooms are super spacious and modern with a king size bed and swanky bathroom. So spacious in fact, we had two flatscreen TVs in the room - we didn’t end up watching either but hey, still loved knowing they were there.

Oh, and fans of a hotel bar (who isn’t?) will love their chic watering hole. Through the bar, which is built within a bay window of the original townhouse building, you can see the bright and beautiful dining room set in the newly refurbished extension, which has fancy conservatory vibes lined with large glass panelled doors on either side and filled with lush green plants. There’s also a relaxing outside terrace with comfy seats for when the sun is shining. Both bar and restaurant are a stylish spot to grab lunch and a drink – our first Guinness of the trip – before heading out for city exploring. Plus, waking up to breakfast here each morning - full Irish breakfast and yummy pancakes - felt like such a luxurious treat.

A 15-20 minute walk to the main attractions of the town centre and St Stephen’s Green, it’s an idyllic location to escape that busy city feeling but still super convenient.

What we did

If you like a city tour to stay nicely within half an hour, the Little Museum of Dublin is right up your street. Promising the history of the city in 29 mins, we kicked off the trip by moseying around the rooms of the Georgian townhouse, eyeing up the kitsch memorabilia – a proper hoarders dream and visual overload – whilst an eccentric guide revelled in concise but entertaining stories.

Next on the agenda was a distillery tour, which feels like a must on a trip in Dublin. The most famous, and likely most touristy is the Guinness Storehouse. An impressive seven floors worth of boozey activations and Guinness history, the rooftop bar offers stunning views of the city, but the STOUTie bar was a particular fave. You can order a pint with your face printed into the foam, which is a surprisingly satisfying thing to drink. Narcissists? Us?

Photo credit: Alex Sheridan/Roe & Co Distillery
Photo credit: Alex Sheridan/Roe & Co Distillery

If you've had your fill of Guinness, Whisky drinkers should check out Roe & Co Distillery. Joined by a small group of whisky fanatics from around the world, we did a quick tasting to get things going shortly followed by a cocktail making class. Guided by a mixologist we created our own signature cocktail based on the five "pillars of flavour" (salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, if you’re curious). After devouring our own concoction we sank a couple more whisky cocktails down in their Power House bar and mingled with our fellow cocktail students.

For vintage shopping and more bars, natch, head down to the cobbled streets of the riverside neighbourhood Temple Bar. A standout favourite was the eclectic Nine Crows Vintage, filled with secondhand gems including 90s mini dresses and sweatshirts, cami tops and lots of leather jackets.

Another must-visit and a proper Irish cultural treasure is the Book of Kells, located in the grounds of Dublin Trinity College. Especially if you're a fan of Harry Potter, the library is like something out of Hogwarts, long and grand it was certainly a magical place to roam around.

If you have time on your trip, a quick and easy train ride out to coastal village Howth is totally worth it. 45 minutes from Dublin town centre, we joined the Hidden Howth experience with Howth native and uber charismatic tour guide Mark, along with his adorable pup Missy. Joining another international group we walked along the coastal peninsula, taking in some breath-taking views of the Irish sea finishing up with a pint and lunch at a local Howth pub. A sweet, social experience, and excellent for solo travellers. If you want to head straight into the boozing and eating you can skip the walk and join Mark on his craft beer and seafood trail, too.

What we ate

Hidden behind a pink door and sat above a fruit and veg shop in an intimate, stylish dining room, with views through the large sash windows of Trinity College gardens, Michelin star The Pig’s Ear felt like a particularly special dining experience. A cool and laidback atmosphere – no music playing, just a buzzy vibe - we ate veal tartare and white asparagus with goats cheese to start followed by a sweetcorn and truffle risotto and pork belly. A delicious date night that was definitely one to remember.

If you’ve got a hankering for seafood, Matt the Thresher is a stunning restaurant, with a bright open dining room that’s set across different levels, a grand piano sat in the centre and a friendly, fun atmosphere from the staff and fellow diners. Serving gigantic fresh fish platters and oysters with all the trimmings we spent a whole evening drinking wine, shooting down oysters, and gazing at the glam gold and dark mahogany wood bar that runs down the side of the restaurant. Beautifully set amongst the Georgian houses in the south city, it’s well worth a visit.

Photo credit: Matt The Thresher
Photo credit: Matt The Thresher

In the city centre is Fade St. Social which has a woodfired menu that’ll go down a treat with a fresh cold pint. We ate spinach flatbread, rib-eye steak and a side of fries with rosemary and honey roasted garlic mayonnaise. Even after filling up to undoing-trouser-button stage it didn't stop us from ordering dessert, the chocolate choux bun is TDF and very much worth finding the extra belly space. Post dinner, we popped over to The Long Hall just around the corner. A really beautiful pub, the outside facade is covered in red bricks with candy stripe awnings above the entrance doors. Inside its retro interiors include deep red ceilings with an assortment of chandeliers hanging down and antique clocks on the walls, it's the ideal cosy pub to settle in for the evening and toast a fantastic trip.

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