Dublin is an ancient city with a young soul. Its grey stone walls and towers follow the curves of the old River Liffey, as they always have. And yet, the Irish capital is one of Europe’s most youthful cities, with a large population of university students and young workers. It feels alive—it’s vibrant and energetic, and constantly looking for the latest food, cocktail, dance, or music craze. This is by far the island’s most cosmopolitan city, and its most diverse. Busy nightclubs and posh restaurants buzz alongside traditional pubs that have stood their ground for centuries. Chic boutiques fill medieval streets beneath historic castle walls. It’s yours to discover—and even if you think you know what to expect, you’re almost certain to be surprised by what you find.
Things to Do
From the National Museum and its ancient caches of polished gold, stroll along Georgian terraces around Merrion Square, past the homes of literary luminaries like Yeats, Wilde, and Beckett. Nearby is Dublin Castle, which houses the Chester Beatty Library. You'll find plenty of Dubliners welcoming sunny days on the flower-strewn St. Stephen's Green. Take a walk north over the River Liffey and up statue-lined O'Connell Street to the Dublin City Gallery for Francis Bacon's chaotic studio.
On weekends in Temple Bar, you can find markets filling its cobbled squares, where stalls are piled high with farmhouse cheeses. Splash out on your favorite Kevin Sharkey abstract painting or Georgian furniture along Francis Street's arts and antique stores. Inside the Powerscourt Centre, local young designers sell reworked vintage clothes and delicate silver jewelry. Edge past the buskers on pedestrianized Grafton Street, where a top-hatted doorman welcomes you into the elegant, 160-year-old Brown Thomas department store.
From the storied Abbey Theatre to the Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin's theater scene is thriving. Settle down in a wood-paneled booth at a pub for a traditional music session with fiddles and pipes, or perch up at the bar where it won't take long for the locals to start a conversation. For sports lovers, you can't beat cheering on the "Dubs" at the mammoth Croke Park stadium at a high-octane hurling match.
Dublin's horizons are widening, from Goan fish curries to top sushi. Stylish seafood restaurants dot the neighborhoods near the Grand Canal. Locals favor fresh Dublin Bay oysters or a hearty lamb-and-Guinness pie at a pub in the city center. On the Liffey's north bank, tucked-away trattorias offer homemade pasta with crusty bread.