In 3 words: Enjoy the beer.
For your visit one day should be more than enough.
Distances are walkable in all instances.
Left for another visit: Trinity College; National Museum; Dublin Castle; St Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedrals.
Last visit: February 2008.
    
Destination appeal
 
Our verdict

Dublin


Dublin is a pleasant enough city, but there is not much remarkable about it. Lovers of Irish beer will find a good measure of delight in bar-hopping on Temple Bar (which is both the name of an establishment and the street on which it is situated). For the rest of us, there are neither major sights nor magnificent public spaces to sustain interest for any protracted duration of time.

Things to See

Dublin city center is quite small, and seemingly concentrated on the Grafton Street pedestrian shopping area, which is continuously bustling, while a few blocks in almost any direction would take you to considerably sleepier areas. Temple Bar, where the most popular pubs are concentrated, is located nearby and gets crazily crowded at nights.

The architecture is dominated by the four-story, flat-façade brownstones, which are fairly gloomy in their uniformity. Pedestrian central streets inject some variety into that, but with nothing exceptional. There are a few attractive churches (which reputedly are rather unembellished on the interior), but also a fair share of plain modern boxes.

St Stephen’s Green ♥ is a beautiful central park, with a pond, lots of greenery and a dozen or so memorials to famous Irishmen. Merrion Square Park looks far less manicured and far more conducive to reflections in solitude. Its fences serve as display cases for dozens of painters who offer their creations for sale on weekends.

Nearby Attractions

Glendalough ♥♥, about 30 miles south of Dublin, is a part of Wicklow Mountains National Park centered on a ruined monastic village. The monastery and its round tower is a popular attraction in itself, but there are also miles of walking trails of varying difficulty around the hills and lakes.

The marina-fronted suburb of Howth, 10 miles north of Dublin center, is a charming community, hosting a number of good seafood eateries (based on some local recommendations, none of which we endeavored to check out).

Places to Eat

Our several culinary experiences in Dublin and environs were all quite positive.

All places last visited in Spring 2008.

Thai restaurant Diep Le Shaker ♥♥ is located several blocks away from the city center on a small side alley. Very fashionable and hip place, with understated interior, nice rock music in the background and a youngish clientele. We were reminded a couple of times that the next booking for our table was fast approaching, but otherwise the service was very friendly and attentive. Great authentic food and a pretty good wine selection. Our damage: €200 for three appetizers and five entrées, plus two bottles of wine (tips extra).

Hugo’s ♥♥, on Merrion Row not far from the corner of St Stephen’s Green, offers what can only be called an international menu, with plates representative of Spanish, Irish, French, South American and other cuisines. Excellent Assiette de Charcouterie and a fantastic duck confit for starters. The wine selection is expertly comprehensive. The interior is a bit on the old-fashioned posh-club side, but not unpleasant. The service is quite good. Our damage: €200 for appetizers and entrées from the lunch menu for a party of five, plus two bottles of wine (tips extra).

Up the road from Glendalough visitor center, Wicklow Heather ♥♥ serves contemporary and traditional Irish food in a sophisticated restaurant environment, masquerading as a country inn from the exterior. The vegetable soup was an unequivocal hit with everyone in our party, and dishes such as stuffed mushrooms with garlic cream-cheese, chicken liver paté, and traditional Irish beef stew were quite well-received as well. Good and quick service and an adequate wine choice, although we were offered a different wine from the one that we selected, with a puzzled explanation that that was what came up on the computer when our selection was entered. We decided not to experiment with the electronic inventory any further, as the wine was quite good. Our damage: €125 for a mix of appetizers and entrées, including a bottle of wine, for a party of five (tips extra).