It’s been claimed that Ireland’s capital is the perfect size, being big enough to keep cul-ture-hungry visitors entertained yet small enough to wander around with ease. Here’s a guide to how to spend your first 24 hours in the city.
Take an early wander around the stirring-to-life cobbled streets of central Dublin before heading to the Metro Café (43 South William Street, 01 679 4515) for breakfast. It opens at 8am and offers a mix of traditional and healthy choices: opt for the Mighty Metro full-Irish blow-out or try the fruit-focused Breakfast Booster. The coffee’s great too.
Make your way to nearby Trinity College (College Green, 01 896 1000) to see one of Dublin’s quintessential sights. At this time of day you’ll evade the usual long queues to see the college’s Book of Kells: the medieval manuscript is extraordinary in its own right, but even better is the fact that a ticket grants you access to the magnificent Old Library.
Stroll south along Grafton Street to St Stephen’s Green, stopping off at Butlers Chocolates (51a Grafton Street, 01 616 7004) to buy handmade Irish chocs. You’ll find the Little Mu-seum of Dublin (15 St Stephen’s Green, 01 661 1000) in a Georgian townhouse on the north of the green. It takes a colourful look at the city’s modern history – tours start on the hour, and it’s best to reserve tickets.
You’d be similarly wise to pre-book at Dax (23 Pembroke Street Upper, 01 676 1494), a superb Irish-French restaurant close to Fitzwilliam Square. There’s a well-priced set lunch menu from Tuesdays to Fridays, and much of the produce is sourced from nearby regions. The wine list is pleasingly hefty.
Kilmainham Gaol (Inchicore Road, 01 453 5984) has long been one of the city’s key attractions, and recent redevelopment has made it even more of a draw. It’s over 90 years since it closed its doors as a prison, but over its lifetime it held some of Ireland’s most famous political prisoners. A humbling – and often harrowing – place to visit.
If you prefer a single malt to a pint of the black stuff, head to the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery (13-17 Newmarket, 01 531 0888), the first working distillery in the city since the late 1970s. The brothers in charge are descendants of a master distiller from the 18th century, and the end product is a quality one. Tours of the complex (the last one leaves at 5.30pm) are rounded off with a tasting.
Opening in 2015 to a blizzard of hype, Bastible (111 South Circular Road, 01 473 7409) is now one of the most talked-about restaurants in town. The seasonal menus are on-trend – expect anything from sika deer haunch to buckwheat gnocchi – and there are some inventive pre-dinner snacks too (who’s for smoked Gubbeen doughnuts?).
Dublin’s nightlife is rightly fabled. For an ornate old boozer with good Guinness, try The Long Hall (51 South Great George’s Street, 01 475 1590); for something more vinous visit the award-winning Ely Wine Bar (22 Ely Place, 01 676 8986); or for an upmarket nightcap, head to The Octagon Bar (6-8 Wellington Quay, 01 407 0800) in the U2-owned hotel The Clarence.