Surrounded by the soft green landscapes of the Emerald Isle, Dublin can undoubtedly be considered one of the most enchanting cities in the world.
Even after the economic boom that earned Ireland the nickname of Celtic Tiger, its capital hasn’t lost its authentic charm of history and culture, good food and friendliness.
Overlooking the Irish Sea, on the mouth of the River Liffey, Dublin is one of those places that should not be simply visited with a tourist guide and a camera in hand, as it is part of those realities that must be experienced moment by moment, walking along its streets lined with stone and red bricks buildings, stopping occasionally in one of its bookshops or even having a drink in one of its innumerable pubs.
The pubs, in fact, are one of the most fascinating aspects of Dublin so that there is almost no street where you can’t find at least one where to sip on a beer or a whiskey. They are anything but monothematic, since there are many where to quietly drink something in a calm and peaceful atmosphere but also many where you are immersed in music, modern or typical. One thing, however, is certain: the friendliness of both bartenders and other patrons; in fact, even in just two days, it’s impossible to leave Dublin without having pleasantly chatted with some of its inhabitants in front of a Guinness.
48 hours in Dublin: what you should not miss.
One of the sides of Dublin that makes it perfect for spending a weekend is definitely the high concentration of sites of interest, all located in a human-scale city centre. Without having to use public transport to move, despite the efficiency of public transport, you can reach the main monuments simply on foot, enjoying the local atmosphere.
Arriving in the city, the ideal point to start your visit is The Spire, a 120m tall metal spire inaugurated in 2002 and erected as a symbol of the struggle for Irish independence from the British yoke. Since it’s not far from several hotels and hostels – and, above all, it’s located on O’Connell Street, a city artery on which the couriers transit to and from Dublin International Airport – it is a monument that is almost impossible not to see.
Leaving The Spire behind and crossing the Liffey, it takes just ten minutes to walk to one of Dublin’s oldest institutions: the Trinity College. Just crossing the entrance is enough to be catapulted into an environment where culture is king, between classrooms populated by thousands of Irish students and non, historical libraries, and the recent but not less important sphere, a sculptural work by the famous Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Going East, then, you will not need to walk for long before you reach Merrion Square. From here, after having jumped to the monument dedicated to Oscar Wilde, an author who doesn’t need presentations and just a native of Dublin, you can access the National Gallery of Ireland. On the three floors of the building, which is totally free to access, you can admire masterpieces of world art, Irish and European, from the Middle Ages to the current days.
During the visit you’ll pass by one of the views of Argenteuil by Monet, the capture of Christ by Caravaggio and many other works by Picasso, Goya and Titian; without forgetting the multitude of paintings by Jack Butler Yeats, a great painter from Dublin whose production ranges from Impressionism and Romanticism to Expressionism.
Saint Patrick Cathedral
Returning now on your own steps, it’s time to rediscover the Christian roots of Dublin. And how to do it, if not by visiting two of the main cathedrals of the country? Still on the Southern bank of the Liffey, crossing the Temple Bar district – absolutely a must-visit in the evening, with its typical restaurants and pubs – you reach the Cathedral of St. Patrick, patron of Ireland. Precisely in this place. St. Patrick began to baptise the first Christians of the island using the water of the well.
After having visited this stone church in Gothic style with simple but harmonious lines, you can head to the Cathedral of Christ, with similar architectural features but with a completely different personality.
After the spiritual, we come back to the temporal by heading towards Dublin Castle. Once a symbol of the English rule over Ireland, it’s now home for state ceremonies such as the settlement of the President of the Republic in the Hall of St. Patrick. Despite the castle’s origins date back to the 13th century, a classic medieval structure should not be expected, as only the Record Tower remains of it, while the rest of the building shows the evident signs of subsequent renovations.
Visiting Dublin without going to the Factory of one of its symbols, the Guinness beer, would be almost a crime. So, it’s appropriate to head to St James’s Gate and visit the temple of one of the world’s most famous dark beers. With the spirit of Charlie visiting Willy Wonka’s factory, you will discover something more aboutGuinness’ ingredients and production; and you’ll also have the opportunity to taste the product just where it’s produced. After the visit, you can also access the Gravity Bar, where you can sip a drink while enjoying a breathtaking view of the city.
If Dublin has so much to offer its visitors, this is also true for its surroundings. An example? Just take a train from the central Pearce Station and, in just over twenty minutes, you can reach Howth, a charming fishing port overlooking the Irish Sea. Not far from the station, you will immediately come across the pier, where you can embark for a ride off and maybe even for a walk on the uninhabited island of Ireland’s Eye, the kingdom of seagulls and other seabirds. Returned from the boat trip, if you are lucky, you may come across groups of seals that accompany the fishing boats to the harbour.
A bit of shopping in Dublin
Visiting a city doesn’t only mean running here and there to take pictures of monuments. Being an integral part of the urban fabric, also shopping centres, markets and shops are part of the journey, and therefore it’s a must to mention them.
Dublin, as a state capital and cultural center, is able to satisfy the tastes of everyone, starting from book lovers. The homeland of Wilde, Joyce and Yeats (poet brother of the above mentioned painter) hosts several bookshops, among which Ulysses stands out, with its first editions and rare texts.
For classic boutique shopping, instead, a recommended stop is Grafton Street, not far from the Trinity College, and on which you can find the Brown Thomas Department Stores with the most famous luxury brands. Opting for a place more accessible to everyone’s finances, just go to the eclectic architecture of Stephen’s Green shopping center, not far from the namesake park and a just few steps from St. Patrick’s.
Where to eat in Dublin
Going around a city must certainly make you hungry. Even from this point of view, Dublin can please travellers, from the most rustic to the most gluttonous and exigent.
Located in the heart of the Temple Bar district, this rustic-style restaurant offers its guests traditional Irish cuisine at affordable prices. One dishes above all: the stewed beef with beer and potatoes. The location also makes it perfect for a dinner followed soon after by a ride to the pub.
24 Essex Street East, Dublin
+353 1 679 0043
Almost overlooking St. Stephen’s Green Park, The Greenhouse boasts a Michelin star, demonstrating the excellence of the cuisine led by Finnish chef Mikael Viljanen, and of the hall service. The staff’s proposals are impeccably treated in every detail, so that it’s practically impossible to get up from the table dissatisfied.
21 Dawson Street, Dublin
+353 1 676 7015
The Brass Monkey
For fish and seafood lovers, there could be no better place to eat than this. Located on the Howth Pier, The Brass Monkey offers a wide selection of freshly caught fish. The must-try here are the oysters, accompanied not with the classic Champagne, but with Guinness; a combination that may seem unusual, and yet, after having tasted it, it’s irresistible.
12 W Howth Pier, Howth
+353 1 806 3746
Where to sleep in Dublin
As a major capital, Dublin offers overnight accommodations suitable for all budgets. For the traveler who wants to fully experience the city, a good choice are the hostels, which abound mainly in the streets perpendicular and parallel to O’Connell Street.
If you’re looking for a more exclusive accommodation, your choice must be one of the city’s boutique hotels, gems of affordable luxury. One example? The Iveagh Garden Hotel, a true urban oasis built on the eco-sustainable philosophy, ranging from the luscious gardens to the bio ingredients of the internal Elle’s bar & bistro.
72/74 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin
+353 1 568 5500
How to reach Dublin
The best way, as well as the fastest, to reach Dublin from Italy is by plane. Flight of about three hours run by Ryanair or Airlingus depart from Milan, Venice, Rome, Turin or Naples.
Dublin Airport is located on the North of the city, just a twenty minute bus ride from O’Connell Street.
Cover Photo: National Geographic