Anyone who’s lucky enough to have visited Dublin will tell you its distinct character is what brings them back time and time again. While Paris is remarkably romantic, Bruges is chocolate-box charming and Berlin enviably cool, Ireland’s beloved capital is something else entirely.
However, it’s difficult to distill Dublin’s atmosphere down to a single word. What makes this city so addictive is the unique charisma of the people. You’ll never be short of interesting conversation surrounded by Dubliners. They are famously frank, witty, lively and expressive, with many stories to tell.
To experience this fine city in its truest form, it’s worth exploring the corners that natives take for granted.
A Grand Place to Drink Guinness
Did you know an incredible 10 million pints of Guinness are produced in Dublin every day? While you could take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and enjoy a free pint with the purchase of your ticket, why not try a drop of ‘the black stuff’ somewhere off the beaten path instead? Venture to the foothills of Dublin’s Wicklow mountains to a gem of a pub called The Blue Light, where the craic is always mighty, the Guinness always cold and instruments are always welcome. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better watering hole to drink with locals. Just make sure to follow Irish pub etiquette and buy in your round!
The Blue Light is situated in an area called Barnacullia (which means top of the woods in Irish) and sits over 200 metres above sea level. It’s named after an old ships lantern, and the garden boasts spectacular views over the beautiful Dublin Bay. It’s been a resident favourite since the late 1970s when U2 used to gig there (rumour has it Bono once offered the owner a pretty penny to take it off his hands). Why not make this legendary Dublin pub the centre of one of your stories too?
Discover Authentic Art and Irish Folklore
Dublin is home to three art colleges, so there is a high concentration of artists and creative types for such a modestly sized city. While The Irish Museum of Modern Art gets all the publicity, the smaller and lesser-known galleries are equally inspiring. Try the carefully curated Douglas Hyde Gallery, which is free to enter and tucked away inside Trinity College. It boasts some spellbinding contemporary paintings, and often exhibits the work of Dublin artists in solo presentations if you’re looking to absorb authentic Irish art.
The National Museum of Ireland and Dublin Castle are of course permanent fixtures in lists of top attractions for tourists. If you’re keen to absorb the incredible history of the Emerald Isle but want to dodge the backpacker brigade, why not visit The National Leprechaun Museum instead? It’s the first and only archive dedicated to Irish folklore. Enjoy a fascinating introduction to Dublin’s long tradition of mythology in an intimate guided tour, where you’ll be regaled with vivid stories and ancient legends. Discover the curiosities that shape Celtic cultural identity: pots of gold, four-leaf clovers, shapeshifters, bogy men and banshees.
Tuck into Something Traditional
No visit to Dublin would be complete without sampling some proper Irish fare, so we’ll let you in on a little secret. Of all the thousands of pubs in Dublin, 15 around the docks area are part of a clandestine club. They’re known as ‘early houses’ because in the 1900s, they were granted special license to open their doors in the morning to make life easier for sailors, dock-workers and milkmen. Slattery’s on Capel Street is the only one that offers food and is the place to go if you want a Full Irish breakfast and a pint at 7am. And why wouldn’t you? You are in Dublin after all.
For supper, head to Pádraic Óg Gallagher’s Boxty House at Temple Bar, where ‘the humble spud is made beautiful’. Only carefully selected local produce goes into the hearty menu. Choose from a myriad of traditional mains such as Famous Gaelic Boxty, Dublin Coddle or classic Irish Stew. For dessert, treat yourself to old fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding or Bailey’s Cheesecake.
If this has inspired you, take a look at our Rediscover Travel page, which forgoes the typical tourism draws to bring you a different adventure entirely.
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