Southern, Georgian Dublin is the Dublin travellers dream about. Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square Park and St. Stephen’s Green are lush and lively, and the surrounding cobblestone streets brim with brick townhouses that ooze 18th-century charm. Adorned with ornate arches, colourful doors and grand knockers, every entryway begs to be photographed. History enthusiasts should make a beeline to the region’s revolutionary landmarks, as art seekers bounce between the National Library, National Gallery and National Concert Hall, and animal lovers explore the weird and wonderful taxidermy displays at the Natural History Museum. Though technically not the centre of the city, it can certainly feel like it.
Coffee and a croissant at the charming Petit Café is the best way to start your day. When it comes to dinner, Etto has you covered. Don’t let the size or pared-back interior fool you. The small plates at this Italian-inspired, Irish-infused, Michelin-lauded wine bar carry big flavours. The ingredients are locally sourced, the vibe unpretentious and the prices accessible. Alternatively, both Brookwood and Matt the Thresher serve some of the city’s best seafood. And you have to try fresh oysters while you’re in town.
The historic, homey O’Donoghues on Merrion Row books traditional live music every evening. The Dubliners and other big names have even been known to pop in. Between the free folk tunes, welcoming atmosphere and affordable pints, craic is essentially guaranteed.
The Little Museum of Dublin may look like any other elegant abode on St. Stephen’s Green, but its three storeys are stuffed with thousands of crowdsourced curiosities. The donations depict different aspects of Dublin life throughout the 20th century and the guides are as entertaining as the artefacts.
The Merrion is a five-star hotel which flawlessly melds period charm with modern convenience. Home to the largest private collection of 19th and 20th century art in all of Ireland, it feels more like a gallery than a guesthouse. Enjoy afternoon tea in the Drawing Rooms, cocktails at the Cellar Bar and dinner at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
If you only do one thing…
Take a self-guided Oscar Wilde tour. The writer, poet and playwright is one of Dublin’s most famous former residents – start at his childhood home on the northwest corner of Merrion Square park before walking across the street to see Danny Osborne’s sculpture of him reclining on a rock in typically flamboyant fashion. Lastly, head through the wrought iron gates at Trinity College where he (and Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker) studied. It’s a good-looking campus with several must-sees, including the enchanting Long Room Library.