Dublin is one of my favourite cities in Europe, a short flight from London and perfect for a weekend. Compact yet stylish, I try to go back every 18 months. As we are getting close to that expiry date, I asked one of my favourite Dublin connoisseurs, Fiona Hilliard, who is also one of my favourite tweeps. Enjoy! Mrs. O
Stylish yet moderately priced restaurants within the centre of town include Pichet (Modern Bistro), St Andrew’s Lane, Yamamori (Sushi) on Georges Street and The Green Hen (French Bistro) on Exchequer Street.
Meanwhile, a new wave of hipster-influenced restaurants are currently making a splash in the Dublin dining scene including 777 (Mexican), as well as the Twitter driven pop-up restaurant ventures of ‘so-hot-right-now’ restauranteaur Joe Macken. Look out for Crackbird (Chicken) Skinflint (Pizza) and Bear (Grill) cropping up at a soon to be cool spot near you.
‘Ceoil agus craic’ is what makes Dublin tick. For the non-Gaelic speakers amongst us, that means ‘music and good fun’.
Truthfully, I can appreciate just about any type of music, which is just as well, because like many Dubliners, my work commute takes me through Grafton Street every day (street performer central), but no matter what type you like, you can be assured that Dublin has got it covered.
Those looking for jigs, reels and Guinness will fall head over heels for The Cobblestone, The Brazen Head or O’ Donoghues on Merrion Row. Indie and alternative rock fans will feel at ease in bars and music venues such as Whelan’s and The Village in Wexford Street/Camden Street, but if you’re dressed to impress and ready to sip Mojitos, check out in the upmarket bars and lounges of South William Street including Dakota and the Lost Society. Due to the growing number of independent design stores, bars and cafés, the area encompassing South William Street and South Great George’s Street has been christened Dublin’s ‘Creative Quarter’ – there are lots of interesting bars to try in this area but it must be said, the sophisticated apartment vibe of The Bar with No Name (and sadly no website) at 3 Fade Street is hard to beat for cosy drinks or lively chats on the terrace. Oh, and they do a mean vodka, soda water and lime
Uh oh. Missed breakfast? Don’t worry, there’s no need to starve! Just follow your nose to the weekly Saturday Temple Bar Food Market and before you know it, you’ll be seduced by the scent of oven fresh Irish soda bread and organic sausages sizzling on griddle pans, the sight of shiny apples and the chilled out sounds of outdoor jazz.
The market can be found under the stylish new canopy of Meeting House Square between 10am and 4.30pm.
The Food Market is just one of three markets that take place in Temple Bar every Saturday. Got time to spare? Have a flick through the titles in The Temple Bar Book Market and a browse around the Designer Mart at Cow’s Lane where young designers showcase their latest fashion designs. You never know what originals you might find!
If the market stalls of Temple Bar have whetted your appetite for Irish produce and design, I recommend a visit to one of the most elegant shopping malls you’ll encounter in Dublin. The Powerscourt Centre on South William Street is housed in a beautiful Georgian building and promotes the best of Irish design, from clothing to furniture, art and jewellery.
Up in the attic, The Loft Market takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, featuring clothing, jewellery and accessories from Dublin’s newest creative talents.
Chandeliers, winding staircases, exposed brickwork – at times the quirky decadence of Powerscourt almost makes you feel like you’re wandering around a fabulous dollhouse. So you can only imagine how appropriate it is that Dublin’s Doll’s Hospital and Museum of Teddy Bears has recently moved into the old ballroom – lucky dolls!
Originally known as 59 South William Street, Powerscourt House was once home to Richard Wingfield, the 3rd Viscount Powerscourt (1730-1788) and his wife Lady Amelia, who purchased the Townhouse as a party pad where they could throw soirees during Parliament season. The building still very much lives up to that reputation today, by regularly hosting invitation only events and fashion shows. After dark, electro beats from the resident Pygmalion bar echo around the rafters until the early hours.
From Powerscourt Townhouse, it is an easy stroll to Brown Thomas, Dublin’s premier department store on Grafton Street. This is designer label heaven so get your credit card ready for some serious damage. But look out – across the street, the irresistible charms of Brown Thomas’ trendy sister store BT2 will further bruise your bank balance. You have been warned!
Worked up an appetite again? Mix food and fashionable interiors with a visit to Avoca, located not far from the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street.
Avoca is an Irish-owned family run company famous for its woven throws and blankets, glassware, ceramics and perfumes. But that’s not all – their café is adored by critics and diners for its fresh and organic whole foods and healthy dishes.
Trip down to the cellar of Fallon and Byrne on Exchequer Street and sample a drop from the collection of 600 wines available in The Wine Bar. Alternatively, hotfoot it across the street to Oleysa’s Wine Bar and drink in the laid back atmosphere or take a taxi to Dax Café on Pembroke Street and savour a glass or two with some light and tasty tapas.
Prefer beer to wine? Make a dent in the hefty menu of craft beers in trendy Against the Grain on Wexford Street.
Later, catch a music gig in nearby Whelans or a live band and/or glam vintage movie screening in The Sugar Club on Leeson Street.
Weather permitting, enjoy a lazy breakfast or brunch al fresco at a sunny spot such as Metro Café on Chatham Row.
Next, breathe in the fresh air of Dublin’s green lungs at St Stephen’s Green Park or the equally pretty Iveagh Gardens.
Take advantage of the free entry to Dublin’s museums and galleries and immerse yourself in history, art and culture in The National Museum of Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland and The Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Finally, there’s nothing like a journey along the dramatic Dublin coastline to make you fully appreciate the beauty of the Irish capital. Choose between Howth and Malahide on the northside and Dalkey and Killiney on the southside of the city.
These coastal villages are regarded as the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Dublin. Famous Dalkey residents include U2’s Bono, as well as Enya and Van Morrison.
Who is Fiona Hilliard?
Fiona Hilliard is a travel writer and native Dubliner. When not telling anyone who’ll listen how great her city is, she loves visiting new destinations across Europe and beyond and sharing travel advice on her Travel Edits website as well as the Glove Box blog, the official blog of car rental site ArgusCarHire.com.
A big thank you to Fiona Hilliard, who you can follow on twitter @FionaHilliard