For a relatively small capital city, Dublin has plenty to see and do, and it can’t all be crammed into one weekend – at least not comfortably. Here, we lay out a manageable 48-hour itinerary, taking in some of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
7pm until late
Begin as you mean to go on, with an impeccable dinner at Delahunt on Camden Street. Housed in a Victorian building that was once a grocery store of the same name – the original sign from 1906 is inside – this historic spot also has literary significance, cropping up in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Its contemporary Irish menu includes audacious twists on classic national dishes, such as boxty – a potato pancake – with market fish and seaweed, while the decor is flawlessly understated. If you prefer something with a more exotic flair, try the nearby Jerusalem for top-notch Middle Eastern cuisine. And if you’re hoping to save cash for the rest of your weekend, you can get a delicious organic Irish beef burger at Green 19 for just €10.
You’ll be spoilt for choice for an after-dinner drink in the Camden Street area. For a sleek New York vibe, try Sophie’s rooftop bar at the superbly cool Dean Hotel – one of the hottest hangouts in town.
9am – 11.30am
Beat the crowds to an early morning walk around Trinity College – Ireland’s oldest university and the alma mater of Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde – making sure to see the Book of Kells exhibition. Then fuel up for more sightseeing with the so-called breakfast of champions at San Lorenzo’s on South Great George’s Street.
11.30am – 12.30pm
Afterwards, head to Kildare Street and take a look at Leinster House. A former ducal palace, its design was the inspiration for the US White House, and it is now the home of Ireland’s parliament. Cross to Dawson Street for coffee at the Art Nouveau Café en Seine if you need a pick-me-up, or go straight next door to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, one of the best places in the country to see Celtic artefacts.
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Continue on to St Stephen’s Green – a former Georgian square turned public park – for a ramble, or visit The Little Museum of Dublin, situated in a grand townhouse overlooking the square. A popular museum dedicated to the history of the city, you’d be wise to book a ticket for this in advance.
1.30pm – 2.30pm
2.30pm – 4pm
Moving on to Temple Bar, take a stroll through the Saturday food market in Meeting House Square and check out cutting-edge concept store Indigo & Cloth, and then walk towards Christ Church Cathedral and the historic Liberties area. Having admired the cathedral, sample a locally roasted coffee in the popular new Riddler Café and Restaurant.
4pm – 6pm
If you’re so inclined, you can continue down Thomas Street to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and a panoramic view of the city. Alternatively, jump on the number 13 bus to Kilmainham and visit the famous gaol (jail) or Ireland’s Museum of Modern Art. (Advance booking is recommended for the jail.)
8pm until late
Spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere around the Creative Quarter, having tapas at Fade Street Social’s gastro bar or dinner at either Brasserie Sixty6 or Drury Buildings – the latter billed as “a mish-mash of Berlin exterior, New York interior…classic cocktails and some really cracking food”. If you’re more in the mood for elegant dining, try Fallon & Byrne’s slow food-inspired brasserie. Finish the night with drinks at Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop or NoLIita, hip Italian bar and restaurant.
9.30am – 12pm
Having gained an insight into life on Dublin’s Southside, spend Sunday investigating the north. Get your morning coffee at Brother Hubbard North, one of the city’s best-loved cafes, then walk up O’Connell Street past the GPO – the famous post office that sheltered Irish rebels during the 1916 Rising. Visit the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square, seeing Francis Bacon’s reconstructed studio and works by Irish and international artists. Opposite the gallery, you’ll find the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to fighters who died in the Irish War of Independence.
12pm – 7pm
Drive (you can also take the bus or Dart train) to the seaside village of Howth and walk along the pier or hike the cliffs to the Baily Lighthouse, before enjoying lunch at one of its many renowned seafood restaurants. Once sated, make your way further up the coast to the beautiful town of Malahide, visiting its castle and gardens.
Have dinner at Old Street, where two of Malahide’s oldest buildings have been converted into a newly opened neighbourhood bistro and cocktail bar. Alternatively, try Kajjal for highly recommended Pakistani and Eastern cuisine, or Cape Greko for Greek food. Finally, watch from Malahide Marina as the sun sets on your weekend in Dublin.