Dublin is a great destination any time of year. The Gulf Stream helps to ward off extreme temperatures, so summers never get too warm with averages of 15-20 * C and winters usually hover above freezing (4-8 * C). The best time to visit Dublin is when the weather is best and the light is long: April through September. In the height of summer, days stretch well into the evening with darkness falling around 10pm. If you are looking to avoid crowds, try October – December. January and February are only for the bravest (that’s when there is the most rain and wind and the days are extremely short). March visitors can enjoy the extensive offerings of the annual St Patrick’s festival. No matter when you go, always bring layers to Ireland: in summer be sure to pack light sweaters/jackets and in winter bring your woolly coat—even without regular snowfall Dublin can be a chilly place. And, of course, always be prepared for rain.
Although Dublin boasts a large array of historical and cultural sites, the craic (loosely translated from Irish: ‘fun’) is what visitors remember most. You’ll find the craic throughout the city – but especially in the Temple Bar area, filled to the brim with pubs, music venues, shops, restaurants, theaters, a film center, and weekly farmers’ market. Head to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour of the black stuff with a complimentary pint. If whiskey is more to your liking, you’ll like the Jameson Distillery. Shop down Grafton Street and explore the beautiful St Stephens Green. Bookworms might like the Literary Pub Crawl. Head across the O’Connell Street Bridge where history buffs can check out the General Post Office, or GPO, where Irish rebels staged the Easter Rising in 1916. Also on O’Connell St is the Spire public sculpture erected for the Millennium. Catch a show at the national Abbey Theatre. If you want to visit the oldest theatre in Dublin, go to Smock Alley; if you want to visit the newest theatre in Dublin, try the Grand Canal Theatre. Concert fanatics should check the listings at the O2 Arena or Croke Park. But the best events at Croke Park are sporting events: don’t miss a game of Hurling or Gaelic Football if you can help it (go for Premiere Seating where you can enjoy food and drink in comfort). Dublin also has a healthy dose of soccer and rugby depending on the season. The newest stadium in the city is the rebuilt Aviva Stadium.
Travel with Kids
If you are traveling with children, head to Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest enclosed urban park, where you can visit the Dublin Zoo. Be sure to check listings for The Ark, a cultural center just for kids. If you are around in March, don’t miss the St Patrick’s Festival, which hosts a kid-friendly fair at Merrion Square. Parents will find Dublin restaurants not always kid-friendly so be prepared. The good news is that many public places have family restroom facilities.
The bus is the best way get around in Dublin. Dublin Bus service is frequent and covers this relatively small city with ease. In addition, there are several tour companies running city tours . For a decent fee you can hop-on, hop-off on a 24-hour ticket. It’s the best way to see the whole city in a day and is especially convenient considering that some attractions (Guinness Storehouse, IMMA, and Kilmainham Gaol) are out of the way but on the tour route.
Night-owls will love staying at the funky Morgan Hotel because of its smack-in-the-middle of Temple Bar location. Chill in the Courtyard and listen to a bongo session or make the Morgan your base for people watching in Temple Bar. If you make enough friends, be sure to book the Penthouse, where you can host a party for 40 people with panoramic views of city center. If you need to conduct business before you start partying, the Morgan even has several meeting rooms for hire.
Across the River Liffey you will find the Morrison Hotel , a 138-room boutique hotel on the quays. Renowned designers John Rocha and Douglas Wallace have created a calm atmosphere at this hip sanctuary filled with original art, stone floors, high ceilings and hand crafted Irish carpets. With a perfect central location, the Morrison is a hip venue with easy access to the rest of the city. There are meeting and event facilities and a two-bedrooms penthouse overlooking the River Liffey and City Center. At the Halo Restaurant (also designed by John Rocha) enjoy elegant but informal dining featuring an eclectic theme with antique tables and colorful upholstered dining chairs. With artisan Irish produce chef Richie Wilson has created a “fusion of modern European cuisine” to suit every taste.
The Westbury Hotel modern luxury hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Having been recently renovated in the past couple of years, The Westbury Hotel is one of the prestigious Leading Hotels of The World. Located in the heart of Dublin, just off Grafton Street, it is situated perfectly to take advantage of Dublin’s rich shopping, dining, nightlife and tourist attractions.
Although it’s located just outside city centre, the Hampton Hotel is a hip option in nearby Donnybrook. It has its own nightclub and has easy bus/taxi access to city sights. Walking enthusiasts will find it close enough for a 15-30 minute walk depending on where in city center you are headed. The Hampton is also close enough to a few sporting and entertainment venues on the outskirts of the city that it might be the best option for some. Formerly Sachs Hotel, the Hampton blends the best of Georgian architecture (the hotel was originally six Georgian townhouses) and contemporary flair. High ceilings and large windows meet stylish furnishings to give this boutique hotel unique character.
Other hotels in Dublin and Ireland for style-lovers include the Merrion just off Merrion Square; the Clarence (also on the quays and in need of a facelift, but it’s co-owned by U2 so we forgive them); Four Seasons Dublin (just outside the RDS if you’re in town for a convention); the G Hotel in Galway (www.theghotel.ie); the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt in Wicklow (featuring a Gordon Ramsay restaurant); the Park Kenmare in County Kerry (www.parkkenmare.com) with a notable destination spa; and the eponymous Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo town (www.theglasshouse.ie).
For a funky Thai experience with sleek décor and plenty of red rice, go to Saba on Clarendon Street; to dine with the chef, check out Chapter One’s new Chef’s Table on Parnell Square where “guests can enjoy engaging with the kitchen at full service or retreating into their own private dining experience.” For some decent tapas and a bathroom not to be missed, stop off at Bar Pintxo on Eustace Street in Temple Bar. To hang with Dublin’s elite for a quiet drink, don’t miss Café en Seine on Dawson Street. Ely CHQ on Custom House Quay boasts a wine list and fabulous vaults to drink in. For one of Ireland’s best try Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud on Upper Merrion Street.
You will find the best shopping in Dublin on and off Grafton Street. Toward the bottom of this pedestrian-only street you will find Dublin’s best department store, Brown Thomas, which recently opened a Luxury Hall supplying goodies from Jo Malone to Cartier. Where Grafton Street meets the famous Molly Malone statue, turn left on Suffolk Street to check out Avoca handweavers . No one does shabby chic better than the oldest retailer in Ireland, which has been producing classic and stylish woolens since 1723. At Fallon & Byrne you will find gourmet and export items and some of the nicest produce, meats, and wines in the city centre. Take a break from the best department store in Dublin, Brown Thomas, and hit Léon café on Wicklow Street for an americano and some of the best croissants and pastries in Dublin. If Brown Thomas doesn’t stock enough Vuitton to make you happy, you might want to brave the LUAS (Dublin’s lightrail service) to Dundrum where you can explore the latest designs at Harvey Nichols.
Hugh Lane Gallery; Book of Kells/Trinity College; National Gallery; Writers’ Museum; Kilmainham Gaol; Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA); Chester Beatty Library.
With one of the youngest populations in Europe, Dublin is a party capital city. The Temple Bar area boasts pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and general city debauchery every night and weekends are even busier with British and other European weekenders coming over for all kinds of occasions from stag and hen nights to 40th birthday parties and any other reason friends find to celebrate. In Dublin you can find burlesque at The Sugar Club (Lower Leeson St), live music at Vicar Street (on Thomas St, actually), and everything in between. If you can’t stay up that late, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) in Temple Bar has a nice selection of world and Irish cinema for early birds.
St Patrick’s Festival; Dublin Theatre Festival; Dublin Fringe Festival; Dublin Dance Festival; Dublin Gay Theatre Festival; Dublin Marathon; All-Ireland and other GAA matches; Rugby, soccer, and other internationals.