Live music is huge in this bustling city. Traditional music in pubs, rock music in big venues, classical in concert halls – it’s all here, as is the joy of a tune or two from a litany of buskers, playing for applause along Grafton Street’s cobbled stones.
Literature, too: plays, poetry and novels have poured out of writers here, including Wilde, Joyce, Yeats, Kavanagh, Behan, Beckett – the city has produced four Nobel Prize winners for literature, earning it a UNESCO City of Literature title.
Of course, this comes as no surprise to those who know that Ireland has been a beacon of learning since the monks first established monasteries on this island around the 6th century. Visit the spectacular Book of Kells, on show at Trinity College Dublin.
Dublin also has a heavyweight artistic heritage and is proud to display some of the world’s greats. Visit Francis Bacon’s Studio at the Hugh Lane Gallery; see works by Dorothy Cross, Louise Bourgeois and filmmaker Neil Jordan at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; and learn about Eileen Gray – one of the world’s most influential designers – at the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History.
Astounding Viking finds uncovered in Dublin changed our view of these marauders from 1,000 years ago; they weren’t vicious pirates, but farmers made desperate by climate change. People who left home to survive and fell in love with this kind land. Their stories and more are all exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland, with its stunning medieval antiquities, a Bronze Age gold collar and Iron Age bog bodies.
Dublin also offers a fascinating look at how a modern, confident, city is born. Tour Dublin Castle, once the seat of power, and Kilmainham Gaol, where political prisoners were held. Find out about the lives of ordinary people in the Little Museum of Dublin and immerse yourself in the some of the most iconic stories of Dublin at the Vaults Live, where 'Molly Malone' herself will tell you her tale.
Food and drink
All that exploring won’t go unnoticed by rumbling stomachs. Choose from gastro-pubs, high-end Michelin-starred restaurants – lunch deals are incredibly good value – family-owned fish and chip shops and cool cafés. There’s a satisfying quality to traditional dishes, like coddle or Irish stew, and the creative prowess provided by chefs returning home to craft their menus to perfection. Browse the food markets for modern Irish produce at Temple Bar market, or head for the lively traditional Dublin street markets in Moore Street and the Liberties.
Make time for a pint in the city’s busy pubs – take aim for the snug, a prime spot for people watching and a bit of gossip, or experience the resurgence of Dublin's distilling history in one of the many distilleries in The Liberties.