It's easy to fall for charming, crazy, colorful Dublin. The laid-back Irish capital is a somehow harmonious blend of Victorian pubs, rows of elegant Georgian town houses in silvery stone, and glittering modern buildings. With a permanent population of nearly 1.7 million; more than a third of the Irish people either live in or near this city, which explains the great restaurants, bars, and shopping opportunities. Get ready to have a good time.
Things to do and see:
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.
Nightlife & Entertainment
From the storied Abbey Theatre to the shining new Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin's theatre 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.
Restaurants & Dining
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.