Pack flat shoes for your flight to Dublin; this is one of the best capital cities in Europe for exploring on foot. Even the most important Dublin attractions—including Trinity College and the Oscar Wilde statue—come second to just walking around and seeing where your steps take you. Stroll down nearly any street and you’ll be shown another side of the city’s history, from ancient churches and Viking ruins to stunning Georgian architecture. The small, pedestrian-friendly center is chock full of cool restaurants and shops, too.
Once the sun goes down, it’s time to join the locals in search of the good craic (fun). It’s easy to find; Dublin has a reputation as a fun city. Head for the old city area and check out Temple Bar, a lively dining and nightlife hub that’ll put even the most dedicated night owls through their paces. There are some cool, low-key spots, too, where local musicians play live to a slightly more relaxed audience.
Accommodation in Dublin is worth splurging on, but if you're looking for something more budget friendly, there are cheaper options, too. Because the city is so small, places that are a bit outside the city center can offer quite good value for the money. The best hotels in Dublin are concentrated in the center, though, including both the historic landmark hotels and the newest and most stylish places.
While Dublin’s history is rich, and its community traditions are strong, it’s still a very modern city. You can tell simply from the contemporary architecture, like the Daniel Libeskind–designed Grand Canal Square.
Dublin’s dining scene is also increasingly cutting edge, with the arrival of new restaurants that redefine the local cuisine—the city has traveled so far from its roots that it’s actually come full circle. In the Celtic Tiger boom years, the city’s culinary scene expanded frantically, with expensive restaurants creating fusion menus that offered almost everything except Irish food. Now that the economy has deflated and prices have dropped somewhat, the best restaurants in Dublin are the ones doing traditional Irish food right: great fish, well-cooked vegetables, and locally sourced meat and cheese.
Whenever you decide to visit, there’s always a lot going on in Dublin. If you visit over the summer, try to schedule a trip around Bloomsday, when the city celebrates James Joyce. Time your visit right, and you could also go to one of Dublin’s world-class music festivals, perhaps Longitude or Electric Picnic. Or come in March and join the St. Patrick’s Day party. Finally, if you can brave the winter weather, ring in the New Year at the New Year Festival Dublin.