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House of Travel
Author: Niall McCarthy
Discover Dublin like a pro and heed advice from a local. Our Dublin-born blogger, Niall McCarthy, spills the city’s secrets.
"Dublin city, where the streets are narrow but the opportunities are broad, the craic (Irish for fun) is in abundance and the people have a heart of gold. Whether you’re following your Celtic roots or looking for that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, here are the hidden gems found around the capital. From an Irish perspective of course.”
Touch down in Dublin. What’s the first thing any visitor should do?
Once rested up, pop out to Dublin’s iconic Grafton Street. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a hub of shops and cafés. Wander aimlessly and meander through the labyrinth of cobbled streets, taking in the sweet sights and sounds.
What are the little known treasures only locals know about?
Georges Street Arcade is located on the ground floor of one of Dublin’s most historic buildings. Take a walk through the boutiques and afterwards, pop across to the Powerscourt Centre for more curious shops and handmade jewellers.
Take a 40 minute walk along the River Liffey. This stroll will take you from one end of the city to the other. And the route will not disappoint. Along the boardwalk you’ll take in such sights as the Ha’penny Bridge, The Spire, Dublin’s IFSC, The High Courts, Custom House, Samuel Beckett Bridge, The Tall Ships and Docklands.
What’s the best way to get out and about?
If you fancy a cycle, rent a bike from one of the city’s many bike stations. Pedal to the famous Phoenix Park where you might even see wild deer. Here you will also find the spectacular home of the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins at Àras an Uachtaráin, as well as the Papal Cross which was erected in 1979 for Pope John Paul II.
Dublin is very bike friendly and a great way to cover a lot of ground. For a picturesque view, cycle to the Grand Canal Dock. Here you can rest that bum up and take in the sights while enjoy¬ing a quick bite to eat.
Where’s best to go on a warm sunny day?
Step outside of the city and head to Howth Head. Located along Dublin’s magnificent coastline, Howth is a picture-perfect location. Catch the train from Dublin’s Tara Street station, then rent a car and drive along the coastline. Here you can hike up the Howth cliff and then savour one of Dublin’s most famous fish and chips at Beshoffs The Market. After perusing the food stalls, lock lips with golden fried fish. Tastes just like NZ, except here it’s mostly Atlantic Cod and Irish Haddock. Afterwards, you can get some amazing pictures of the lighthouse.
What about getting up, out and active?
If you’re full of energy and love to keep active while on holiday, here are a few calorie burning activities to dig your heels into:
• HIKE AROUND GLENDALOUGH. Located 20 minutes outside of Dublin in beautiful Co. Wicklow, this spectacular 6th century monastic settlement is flanked by a lake and looks great on the social media feed.
• THE NATIONAL AQUATIC CENTRE. Located about 15 minutes from Dublin city centre in Blanchardstown, the Aquatic Centre is one for the kids (and where the adults can also channel their inner child).
• CITY KAYAKING. See the city from a different perspective - by water. City kayaking will bring you down Dublin’s most famous river, the Liffey, and no doubt you’ll earn a good feed after.
• ZIPIT FOREST ADVENTURES. Becoming more and more popu¬lar, this adventure centre promises to be a great day out for all.
What is there to do on a sleepy Sunday morning?
Shattered on a Sunday morning? Why not wind down with a trip to the National Leprechaun Museum. This unique experience is the only one you’ll find in Dublin.
If it’s a dry Sunday morning, Powerscourt Estate is a must. These beautiful grounds were voted number three garden in the world by National Geographic. Located just 20 minutes outside of Dublin, the residence will take your breath away, with waterfalls, perfectly groomed lawns, bespoke shopping and mouth-watering food served at the renowned Avoca café.
Where are the best budget restaurants?
• THE EXCHEQUER. Traditional wholesome Irish grub.
• THE GRAND CENTRAL. Diverse menu with central city views.
• TRIBECA RESTAURANT & WINE BAR. Voted Dublin’s best chicken wings.
And if we’re after a blow-out dining venue?
• THE FIRE RESTAURANT. Simple, signature dishes. Vaulted ceilings and stained glass.
• THE SADDLE ROOM - THE SHELBOURNE HOTEL. Distinguished steak and seafood, with a lavish oyster bar.
•RESTAURANT PATRICK GUILBAUD. Ireland's two star Michelin restaurant.
What should visitors drink and where should they drink it?
Ireland is world renowned for its stiff spirits and the almighty pint of Guinness, so when in Rome, or in this case Dublin, sample the finest pour the capital has to offer. Visit Bruxelles on 7 Harry Street. This pub omits a mixed vibe of cosmopolitan meets tradi¬tional rustic pub. Bruxelles encompasses what a true Irish bar has to offer: music, amazing pub grub and friendly people all under its Victorian style architecture. A fan of Thin Lizzy? Why not snap a selfie with Phil Lynott’s famous sculpture just outside.
What are the unmissable tourist spots every visitor should see?
It goes without saying, when in Dublin, you’ve got to see the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, the GPO on O’Connell Street and the famous Temple Bar. If you’re a fan of poetry, be sure to check out The Oscar Wilde House at 1 Merrion Square.
Any departing last tips?
Walk everywhere and surrender yourself to everything this friendly city has to offer. Afraid of getting lost? Don’t be. Irish folk love nothing more than helping bewildered tourists find their bearings.
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