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Frommer's Dublin day by day

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The city that was home to James Joyce, Maeve Binchy, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and scores of other brilliant men and women, is as rich, intellectually heady and welcoming a place to visit today as it ever was. The trick is how to make the most of your precious vacation time while in Dublin — not an easy task.

This book will help. It was created for independent travelers and boasts a practical, colourful format with useful, clear maps and expertly designed tours. The guide highlights the must-see places and offers knowledgeable opinion on where to stay, eat and shop.

- Includes special interest tours: Dublin's Heroes; Dublin with Kids; Georgian Dublin; Vikings & Medieval Dublin, Trinity College and the Book of Kells
- Details great neighbourhood walking tours
- Opinionated reviews of the best nightlife, shopping and dining the city has to offer.
- Helpful tips and all you need to know to make the most of your trip in the Savvy Traveler chapter.
- Exact pricing so there’s never any guessing
- Maps to accompany every tour as well as a fold-out regional map in plastic case.


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12 Chapters

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10 FAVORITE MOMENTS

ePub

Temple Bar.

10 Favorite Moments

For such an ancient town, Dublin does a pretty good job of not showing its age. This is a town where you’ll find history at every turn, whether it be down winding Georgian alleyways, in the crypts of ancient Medieval churches, or even in the timeworn snugs of its storied old pubs. Much about Dublin has changed enormously over the past couple of decades, and it now feels as much like a cosmopolitan European city as it does merely the capital of Ireland. Entire districts have been transformed almost out of recognition for anybody who might have visited here, say, 20 or 30 years ago. But some things don’t change. Many of these favorite moments will feel as permanent for lovers of this captivating old town as they ever were.

❶ People-watching from the balcony at Bewley’s. The human traffic of busy Grafton Street flows past the tiny balcony at this beloved café, immortalized in literature and a favored hangout of Dubliners for a century. Stopping here for coffee and cake is still a quintessential Dublin experience. See p 93.

 

1 THE BEST FULL-DAY, TWO AND THREE-DAY TOURS

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Trinity College.The Best in One DayThis full day kicks off with some of Dublin’s most famous landmarks. You might not have the chance to see everything, but the beauty of compact Dublin is that you’ll probably be retracing your steps on another day. It’s a city for walking, with scant need for public transport, so don your comfortable shoes—and waterproofs. Start: all cross-city buses to O’Connell St. LUAS: Abbey St.❶ ★ Dublin Castle. It’s fair to say that this is not among Ireland’s most impressive castles, but it’s a good place nonetheless to anchor yourself as you begin to explore the capital. The epicenter of British power in Ireland from the 1200s until the 1920s, Dublin Castle is now a government building. You can wander the peaceful courtyard grounds for free. Guided tours of the interior allow you to see the majestic State Apartments, Treasury, and the Gothic-style Chapel Royal.  1 hr. Dame St. www.heritageireland.ie. ☎ 01-645 8813. Free admission to grounds; tour €6.70 adults, €5.70 seniors, €3.20 students and children (11 & under). Guided tour €8.50 adults, €7.50 seniors, €4 students & children. Mon–Sat 9:45am–4:45pm; Sun & public holidays noon–4:45pm. Luas: Jervis. Bus: inc. 13, 37, 39.

 

2 THE BEST SPECIAL-INTEREST TOURS: Artists & Writers, Dublin with Kids, Trinity College, Vikings & Medieval Dubh Linn, Revolutionary Dublin

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Old Library Long Room at Trinity College.City of Artists & Writers What is it about this country that has produced so many great authors, poets, and artists? And what is it about Dublin that draws them to move here and use the city for their inspiration to write books about the Irish experience that move us all? Here is your chance to ponder these mysteries as you pound the pavement in the footsteps of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, and Brendan Behan, among others. This walk takes you to some of their homes, their favorite pubs, their churches, and their libraries. See if it inspires you. START: Bus 11, 13 & 16 to Eccles St.❶ ★★ The Hugh Lane Gallery. One of the best art galleries in Dublin, the fairly small permanent collection includes some real big hitters from the Impressionist canon—including works by Degas and Rodin. There are also plenty of works from contemporary Irish artists. An unusual highlight of the collection is the studio of the Irish painter Francis Bacon (1909–1992). Bacon, who was one of the true giants of 20th-century figurative art, spent most of his life in London—from where his studio was removed (clutter and all) and painstakingly pieced back together at the gallery, where it’s been on display since 2001.  1 hr. Parnell Sq. North. See p 13, ❷.

 

3 THE BEST NEIGHBORHOOD WALKS: North of Royal Canal, Renewed Docklands, Liffey Boardwalk, Temple Bar, Grand Canal to Portobello, Kilmainham to Phoenix Park

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Walking through the Liffey River neighborhood.North of Royal CanalOff the beaten track, this walk takes in some of my Dublin favorites, including gardens, heroic history, and sporting prowess. Try to save it for a nice day, weather-wise, since it covers a large distance with few sheltering spots. Although the Northside is gaining in popularity these days, it’s still fairly unfashionable; however, you’ll come across one of the city’s first prestigious Georgian squares. START: Bus 13, 13A & 19 to Botanic Gardens.❶ ★★★ National Botanic Gardens. Going strong for more than 200 years, these 20-hectare (50-acre) gardens house more than 20,000 species of rare and cultivated plants from around the world. Depending on the season, you might see rhododendrons, roses, vast conifers, or Chinese plants. The curvilinear wall is a real highlight: an immense glass house whose walls comprise more than 8,400 panes of glass. Guided tours (€5) take place Monday to Saturday at 11:30am and 3pm; and free tours are offered on Sunday at noon and 2:30pm. There are also regular exhibitions and talks in the Visitor Centre; check the website for upcoming events.  11⁄2 hr. Botanic Rd., Glasnevin. www.botanicgardens.ie. ☎ 01/804-0300. Free admission. Mar–Oct Mon–Fri 9am–5pm; Sat, Sun & public holidays 10am–6pm. Nov–Feb Mon–Fri 9am–4:30pm; Sat, Sun & public holidays 10am–4:30pm. Free tours Sun noon & 2:30pm. Bus: 83. 83A.

 

4 THE BEST SHOPPING

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Om Diva shop.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Bargain-Hunting for Fashionistas

★★★ Om Diva, 27 Drury St. (p 83)

Best Streetwear for Well-heeled Teens

★ BT2, 28–29 Grafton St. (p 82)

Best for Street Food

★★ Temple Bar Food Market, Meeting House Square (p 88)

Best for Exclusive Accessories

★★★ Louise Kennedy, 56 Merrion Square (p 83)

Best for Handmade Engagement Rings

★★★ DESIGNyard, 48–49 Nassau St. (p 86)

Best for Full-On Foodies

★★★ Fallon & Byrne, 11–17 Exchequer St. (p 84)

Best for Knitted Homewares

★★ Avoca, 11–13 Suffolk St. (p 85)

Best for Serious Bibliophiles

★★★ Ulysses Rare Books, 10 Duke St. (p 80)

Best for Traditional Irish Penny Whistles

★★ Waltons, 69 South Great George’s St. (p 88)

Most Classy Department Store

★★★ Brown Thomas, 88–95 Grafton St. (p 81)

Best for Contemporary Irish Art

★★★ The Doorway Gallery, 24 S. Frederick St. (p 80)

 

5 THE BEST OF THE OUTDOORS

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Fusilers’ Arch.

St. Stephen’s Green & Iveagh Gardens

St. Stephen’s Green is adored by locals, who flock to its verdant lawns at the first sight of the sun. You can relax here for hours, explore the grounds dotted with sculptures, and enjoy the music and performances. Just a minute’s walk away are the tranquil Iveagh Gardens, exquisite in their near desolation. Nearby, yet a world away. START: Northwest corner of St. Stephen’s Green.  2 hr.

❶ ★ Fusiliers’ Arch. The huge Ballyknockan granite arch, nearly 10m (33 ft) high, marks the northwest entrance to St. Stephen’s Green. Built in 1907, and a replica of the Arch of Titus in Rome, it’s a memorial to young Irish soldiers who died in the Boer War between 1899 and 1900. Stand underneath to read the engraved names of more than 230 who fell in battle. Republicans unofficially renamed it as Traitors’ Gate, as this war was seen as a fight between Imperialist and Republican ideals and far from the Irish struggle. Sharp eyes might spy the bullet marks on the northeast face around the words “Laings Nek,” thought to be from the 1916 Uprising.  5 min. Northwest corner of St. Stephen’s Green.

 

6 THE BEST DINING

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Seafood on ice at Super Miss Sue.

Dublin Dining

Dining Best Bets

Best Traditional Reinvention

★★★ Gallagher’s Boxty House $$ 20–21 Temple Bar (p 106)

Most Handsome Dining Room

★★ Bank on College Green $$ 20 College Green (p 104)

Best Pre-Theater Meal

★★★ Chapter One $$$$ 18–19 Parnell Sq. (p 104)

Best Burger

★★ Gourmet Burger Kitchen $ Temple Bar Sq. (p 106)

Best In-Store Replenish

★★ Avoca $ 11–13 Suffolk St. (p 103)

Best for Fast Food

★★ Epicurian Food Hall $ Liffey St. Lower. (p 105)

Most Wow Factor Breakfast

★★ San Lorenzo’s $$ South Great George’s St. (p 110)

Best Food Adventure

★★★ Sabor Brazil $$$ 50 Pleasants St. (p 109)

Best Wine List

★★ Winding Stair $$$ 40 Lower Ormond Quay $$$ (p 112)

Most Creative Main Courses

★ The Pig’s Ear $$$ Nassau St. (p 108)

Best Literary Pedigree

★★ Bewley’s Cafe $ 78–79 Grafton St. (p 104)

Best Fish & Chips

 

7 THE BEST NIGHTLIFE

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The streets of Temple Bar.

Dublin Nightlife

Nightlife Best Bets

Most Jazz Age Throwback

★★★ Café en Seine, 39 Dawson St. (p 117)

Most Snazzy Cocktails

★★★ The Liquor Rooms, 5 Wellington Quay (p 121)

Best Literary Credentials

★★ Davy Byrnes, 21 Duke St. (p 118)

Best Old World Comfort

★★★ Brazen Head, 20 Lower Bridge St. (p 117)

Best for Celeb Spotting

★ Lillie’s Bordello, 2 Adam Ct., Grafton St. (p 121)

Best Traditional Music Sessions

★★★ The Cobblestones, 77 N. King St. (p 118)

Best Artwork

Grogan’s Castle Lounge, 15 S. William St. (p 119)

Best Camp Sunday Night

★★ Panti Bar, 7–8 Capel St. (p 122)

Best Non-Guinness Stout

★★ Porterhouse, 16–18 Parliament St. (p 121)

Best Snug

★★ Kehoe’s, 9 S. St. Anne St. (p 119)

Best Chance of Political Intrigue

★★★ Doheny & Nesbitt, 5 Baggot St. Lower (p 118)

Most Satisfyingly Irish of Irish Pubs

 

8 THE BEST ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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The Olympia Theatre.

Arts & Entertainment Best Bets

The audience at a concert in the National Concert Hall.

Best Theater for Kids

★★ Lambert Puppet Theatre, Clifton Lane, Monkstown (p 128)

Best for Cutting-Edge Opera

★★ Opera Theatre Company, various venues, citywide (p 128)

Best Sporting Crowds

★★★ Croke Park, Jones’s Rd. (p 131), and ★★ Aviva Stadium, 62 Lansdowne Rd. (p 131)

Best for Cinephiles

★★ Irish Film Institute, 6 Eustace St. (p 129)

Best for Belly Laughs

★★ The Comedy Cellar, 21 Wicklow St. (p 128)

Best for Beckett Plays

★★ Gate Theatre, 1 Cavendish Row (p 134)

Best Concert Acoustics

★★ National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace (p 128)

Most Dramatic Architecture

★★ Grand Canal Theatre, Grand Canal Sq. (p 176)

Best for Blockbuster Gigs

★ 3Arena, N. Wall Quay (p 130)

Best Daytime Drama

★★ Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, 78–79 Grafton St. (p 134)

Best Spun Yarn

 

9 THE BEST LODGING

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The Shelbourne Hotel.

Lodging Best Bets

Most Historic Bedroom

★★★ The Shelbourne $$$$ 27 St. Stephen’s Green (p 146)

Best Aparthotel

★★ The Merchant House $$$ 8 Eustace St. (p 145)

Best Temple Bar Hideaway

★★ The Clarence $$$ 6–8 Wellington Quay (p 142)

Best City Center Bargain

★★ Harding Hotel $$$ Copper Alley, Fishamble St. (p 144)

Most Friendly Hotel Cat

★ Aberdeen Lodge $$$ 53–55 Park Ave., Ballsbridge (p 140)

Best Suburban Charmer

★★★ Ariel House $$$ 50–54 Lansdowne Rd., Ballsbridge (p 140)

Best High-End Bargain

★★ The Gresham $$$ 23 O’Connell St. (p 144)

Best for Fashionistas

★★ The Morrison $$$ 8 Lower Ormond Quay (p 146)

Best for Shopaholics

★★★ The Westbury $$$$$ Grafton St. (p 147)

Most Imaginative Restoration

★★ Westin $$$$ Westmoreland St. (p 148)

Best Out-of-Town Retreat

★★★ The White Cottages $$ Balbriggan Rd., Skerries (p 148)

North Dublin Lodging

 

10 THE BEST DAY TRIPS & EXCURSIONS

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Powerscourt Estate & Gardens

In the shadow of Big Sugar Loaf Mountain in Wicklow, the Powerscourt Estate has statue-studded lawns & secluded pathways. Originally a 14th-century castle, the house has been altered greatly over time; it was rebuilt by Richard Wingfield and his ancestors from 1603 and gutted by fire in 1974. The newly restored house is imposing, but the formal gardens are the real jewels. START: See box, “Practical Matters.”

❶ ★★ Beech Avenue (Eagle Valley). This is a case where “getting there” really is half the fun. This tranquil walk from Enniskerry takes you along the mile-long avenue lined by more than 2,000 beech trees. It’s lovely in summer, but stunning in fall, when the leaves turn a vivid shade of red. There’s barely a car in sight, and few signs to reassure you that yes, you are on the right road. Enjoy your first glimpse of the Wicklow Mountains on your left as you approach the house.

Italian Gardens and Triton Lake, Powerscort Estate.

 

THE SAVVY TRAVELER

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Dublin Bus.

Before You Go

The Best Times to Go

May to September is the busiest time to visit, with myriad festivals throughout the summer, although it’s also the time when you’re least likely to snag an inexpensive hotel room. The months of May and September are often good choices, since your visit doesn’t clash with the school summer vacation period. Hotels are invariably cheaper from November to February. There’s no particular month to avoid, although be prepared for huge crowds in March for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, a public holiday. The Christmas season sees shopping areas packed in the build-up, with special holiday markets opening. It’s also a popular destination for New Year’s Eve, especially to hear the midnight bells peal from Christ Church Cathedral, and see the New Year’s Day parade. As Ireland’s capital and a base to explore the country, Dublin enjoys year-round tourism plus major sporting events, so mid- to high-range hotels should be booked well in advance.

 

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