As a native of Ireland – Dublin, to be precise – I’m constantly asked by visitors to recommend ‘special’ or favourite destinations in my city and around Ireland. I love doing this and I seem to be constantly posting snippets here and there on Facebook groups so I’ve decided to get organised – kind of – and put it together in one post. So, here goes.

Dublin:

Obviously, you will probably do Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells but you wouldn’t believe the amount of tourists who just ramble around the campus grounds and don’t bother paying to see the library. Listen to me: if it’s good enough for Barack Obama and the Queen of England, it’s good enough for you! This is no ordinary library and the Book of Kells is a spectacular manuscript and artefact so don’t miss it. If you visit in summer and if it’s not raining, try and catch a game of cricket at Trinity as well. It’s free so just stroll over and sit down on a bench. I don’t understand the game or care about sport but there’s something pleasant about it. The Pav bar overlooks the pitches so you can have a drink there as well.

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Powerscourt Townhouse

Guinness Brewery – you will love it or hate it. If you’ve no interest in beer (Guinness isn’t beer BTW) and you’re cynical about marketing and brand promotion then maybe it’s not for you. However, if you’ve an interest in brewing and you want to know more about the black stuff you may just love the Guinness tour. It’s up to you. Some people prefer the Jameson whiskey tour.

St Patrick’s Cathedral – I really like this cathedral as it’s like nothing else in Ireland. (If you’re from the UK, skip it. It won’t be new or special to you.)

My favourite history tours: Kilmainham Gaol, Glasnevin Cemetery Tour and Croke Park Museum. These are all excellent. I also love No. 29 Merrion Square, a Georgian house with a guided tour. If you like Downton Abbey or Jane Austen or costume dramas you’ll love it. Trust me.  http://www.numbertwentynine.ie/visitor_info/default.html

Cool Brunch: Blas, Nth King St or Brother Hubbard, Capel St, or Sister Sadie, Harrington St.

Lunch or coffee and cake: Queen of Tarts, Cows Lane or Cork Hill, Dame St. (You’ll pass it on your way from Guinness back to the city centre.)

Fumbally Cafe, Fumbally Place. Kinda hipster but great food.

Cake Cafe, Camden St (enter through my favourite shop, Daintree Paper). Quirky with lots of character, beautifully home-baked cakes, healthy lunches and a visually fascinating garden/courtyard with walls adorned by mosaics made from upcycled records, cutlery, broken stuff and lots more.

Dinner:    

Japanese at Musashi, Capel St. Or Izikaya on Sth Georges St. Both really good.

Little bit extravagant: Bastible, Leonard’s Corner; Whitefriar Grill, Whitefriar Street.

Casual, great for chicken wings and burgers: Elephant and Castle, Temple Bar

Budget, self-serve, big feed from bain maries: KC Peaches, Dame St and other locations around the city.

High end, fine dining: Peploe’s, Pearl Brasserie, Patrick Guilbaud.

Traditional, ‘old man’ pubs, full of character:

Mulligans of Poolbeg St, The Stag’s Head, Kavanagh’s (The Gravediggers), The Long Hall, The Palace, Grogans (last one is a bit different; more Bohemian, artsy). Merchants’ Inn, Merchants’ Quay (Irish dancing every night).10358883_679686385457112_3581362855235034235_n

Cool, contemporary bars: 

The Dean Hotel and Sophie’s restaurant, Harcourt ST: panoramic views of Dublin which are great both day and night.

The Marker Hotel rooftop bar, Grand Canal Square

The Dylan Hotel, Eastmoreland Place, Dublin 4

The No Name Bar, Fade St

There are many more trendy bars to choose from but these are not my strong point.

Day trips from Dublin:

My favourite: get the DART to Dalkey village. Charming little cottages then millionaires’ homes. Lovely pubs and delicatessens. Walk along coast to Killiney Beach and take in super views of Dublin Bay. Or hike up to Dalkey Quarry and into Killiney park.13256145_1104087546350325_860958391888102703_n

Howth

Get the DART to Howth – harbour, fishing village, promenade, hill walks, spectacular views of Dublin Bay.

Glendalough, Wicklow – drive or get a tour bus. Try to take in Powerscourt Gardens as well. Mount Usher would also be lovely.

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Devil’s Glen, Wicklow (near Roundwood)

RURAL IRELAND

There’s an incredible amount of choice here and I can barely skim the surface but I’ll do my best.

Kerry – outstanding natural beauty, lush greens and incredible beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way. My highlights are Dingle, Connor Pass and Brandon Point. I’ve never seen anything like them. Wild, heart-stopping beauty.

Sneem. Kenmare. Inch Beach. Moll’s Gap near Killarney is also remarkable. The Killarney National Park is great and is probably best seen by bike – one day at least. A guided tour of Muckross House is highly recommended.

Connemara, Spiddal, Clifden, Carraroe, Aran Islands. These are all beautiful. I’m not a fan of Galway city (rowdy tourist trap IMO) but Connemara is special.

Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, the Burren, surfing – massive attractions. Haven’t been in years but, from what I can see, they never disappoint.

West Cork – Kinsale, Baltimore, Skibbereen, Cobh, Beara Peninsula, Dzogchen Beara (Buddhist monastery), Castletown Bere; culinary capital of Ireland.

Donegal – I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been; will rectify this soon. Have it on good authority that it’s absolutely outstanding. Amazing beaches, Gweedore Peninsula, Glen Columbille, Bundoran for surfing etc.

There is so much more to Ireland and I know I haven’t done it justice but anything I’ve mentioned above is either impressive or spectacular. And the people aren’t so bad either 🙂

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