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Destinations

5 reasons to love Dublin

Experience the luck of the Irish in person, but leave your heels at home!

By Sarah-Kate Lynch
If you like walking, talking, drinking, eating and laughing, you can’t choose a better holiday destination than Dublin.
1. Walking is king
Dublin has to be one of the most walkable cities in Europe and is therefore one of the cheapest to get around. The blue Aircoach will take you from the airport to the city centre for $12 and there stops your transport spend. If you’re staying relatively centrally, you can explore the bars, restaurants, museums, parks and the River Liffey all on foot. I would, however, suggest you bring a raincoat and an extra layer – even in the summer. You come here for the craic (fun), not the tan, although on a sunny day, there’s nothing nicer than soaking up a few rays on the grass in Stephen’s Green.
2. Easy living
The Brooks Hotel on Drury Street looks fairly ordinary from the outside, but it has seriously lovely rooms, a good breakfast, free Wi-Fi and a gym (so I believe), not to mention a gorgeous basement lounge, ideal for putting your feet up on a squashy couch between walks. It’s five minutes away from the Trinity College Aircoach stop, so it’s easily manageable, even with 20 kilograms of luggage. Drury Street itself is now a thriving food and drink precinct, so you can’t beat the location. My Dublin friend Yetti came and stayed with me here during my visit and we both loved it.
Performers entertain the crowds at the bustling shopping mecca of Grafton Street.
3. The Irish Whiskey Museum
It was a harder sell getting Yetti to this little pearler across the road from Trinity College. She was convinced it would be lame as all get out, but in fact, it was brilliant. Inside the small, new, modern museum, tours start on the half hour and include the (until recently) somewhat woeful history of Irish whiskey, as well as clever interactive displays and, hurrah, a tasting. In the ’80s, Ireland was down to just two whiskey distillers, but now it’s once again giving scotch a run for its money. Intent on doing our research thoroughly, we finished our visit with an iced Irish coffee in the bar – a perfect breakfast drink as it turns out.
Breakfast is served at the Irish Whiskey Museum – and it’s sure to warm up your next walk.
4. Trinkets and trends
So you’ve watched the buskers on Grafton Street, had a jar at an old city pub, walked over the Liffey on the Ha’penny Bridge (pictured above) and dropped into Dublinea to check out the city’s Viking history (they came to Ireland for the weather, silly sods – no wonder they only lasted a few hundred years). But moving on, it’s time to hit the Irish shops on Nassau Street. Kilkenny Shop has a selection of local designs, jewellery and Waterford crystal, and not too far away, you’ll find the House of Names, where you can find your family coat of arms to take home to granny. Dunnes Stores is also worth a peek, should you be passing. This Irish chain has recently been revamped and the clothes are great value.
5. Set dancing
If you turn up at O’Shea’s pub, down on the Liffey, at 10pm each Monday, you can get yourself a free lesson in set dancing. As fiddlers play rousing Irish music, locals and tourists meet on the small but lively dance floor for a jig or two. Alternatively, you can nip across the road to the Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub, for a night of storytelling and ballads. There’s nothing like having an insider on the ground and, thanks to Yetti, I made many discoveries. Wait ’til I tell you about my boozy favourites!

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