With St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we’ve put together your itinerary for a rousing weekend of culture, cuisine and craic in Dublin.
All great cities have a distinctive vibe but none more so, perhaps, than Dublin. With a tourist trade based on its famous pub-dominated nightlife, Ireland’s capital has always had a reputation for being a fun, friendly city. But in the last few years Dublin’s star has risen even further. It was recently ranked at 19 by the World’s Best Cities committee – above all British cities bar London – who described it as ‘safe, gregarious and increasingly wealthy’. And of course celebrating St Patrick’s Day at the source is a bucket-list experience – although in Dublin, the festivities last for five days, not just one.
For the week around Friday 17th March, Dublin will be even busier, merrier and more entertaining than usual. As is tradition, the St Patrick’s Day parade will kick off in the city centre on the 17th itself and after a two-year break due to the pandemic, this year’s is shaping up to be the biggest ever. New for 2023, the National Museum of Ireland is hosting a ‘day-to-night urban festival’ in the grounds of the Museum of Decorative Arts and History from the 16th to the 20th, with comedy, dance, music and ‘spectacle’. And throughout the city, venues will be entertaining the crowds with a curated programme of events.
What to do
Of course Dublin is not just for St Patrick’s Day. With mountains to the south, a bay in front and the River Liffey running through it, the picturesque city is surrounded by stunning countryside and offers the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor pursuits.
Choose from a selection of walking trails in the Dublin Mountains like the one connecting Shanklin to Tallaght, which takes in The Scalp – a 12,000 year old glacial valley. Or for views of coastal Dublin, try the Great South Wall Walk around Dublin Bay. If city-walking is more your thing, the Dark Dublin Guided Walking Tour explores the city’s sometimes gruesome history.
And of course, a visit to Dublin could hardly be considered complete without a trip to the iconic Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Whiskey distillery, both of which tell the history of the city through its most famous liquid exports.
Where to eat
From Jameson’s distillery to his house: no. 18 Parnell Square. In the basement of this fine Georgian mansion, which once belonged to the whiskey magnate, you’ll fine Chapter One; a fine-dining restaurant widely thought of as Ireland’s best. So-called because the Dublin Writers’ Museum used to reside on the floors above, Chapter One is the place to go for modern, innovative Irish cooking (with two Michelin stars to prove it).
South of the Liffey, Bastible offers another Michelin-approved dining experience. Clever, innovative dishes using the best Irish produce are the order of the day here, all prepared in a small open kitchen for guests in the dining room to see.
Where to stay
Visitors to Dublin are spoilt for choice when it comes to luxurious boltholes. Try the five-star Merrion hotel, situated just five minutes’ walk from the National Gallery, which offers guests stunning views of the city or the hotel’s 18th century gardens. As well as a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, luxury spa and infinity pool, The Merrion is home to a private collection of noteworthy 19th and 20th century art, so you can eat well, relax and stimulate your mind without even leaving the building.
For something a little more contemporary there’s Wren Urban Nest, tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of Dublin’s creative quarter. Here the focus is on sustainability: Wren Urban Nest is in fact Ireland’s first carbon net hotel, and it marries beautiful décor and traditional Irish craft with eco-friendly facilities and smart, sustainable technology.
Quieter still is Pembroke Hall, a mid-terrace townhouse situated in the leafy suburb of Ballsbridge. The listed Georgian building has been meticulously restored and decorated in a palette of soothing tones, with beautifully understated furnishings to complement the period features. Located in an area that was once home to several of Dublin’s literary greats including James Joyce, it makes a great base for exploring nearby Grafton Street and Herbert Park.