The first thing we notice about Dublin is just how Irish it really is. Unlike neighbouring England’s major cities, which have become international pockets of cultures, the Irish capital is still undeniably Irish, almost like you’d expect to see in a movie.
From the moment we hit the streets, we are surrounded by Irish accents and friendly faces. And we’re not exaggerating – everyone is SO friendly. We’ve heard about the famous Irish charm, and we quickly realise that it’s really a thing.
The city itself is just as charming. With an overall population of slightly more than 500,000, central Dublin is small and most of its attractions are easily reachable on foot. Fortunately, there are friendly locals to give you directions if you get lost. Yep, thanks to that Irish charm, even the sternest-looking person on the street will go out of their way to assist you (unlike in nearby London, where you’re bound to get a much less helpful response to a request for directions. Soz, London!).
Surprisingly, for a small city there is lots to do and see. Whether you’re a history buff in search of museums, an art fanatic seeking galleries, a shopaholic wanting to splash cash, or a party person looking for a nightclub, Dublin has got you covered.
National Gallery of Ireland
Art fanatics will want to head over to the National Gallery of Ireland, which houses the national collection of Irish
and European art. Located in the centre of Dublin, it was founded back in 1854 and has an extensive, representative collection of Irish paintings. Be sure to set some time aside for this visit, because the collection has about 14,000 artworks, including approximately 2,500 oil paintings,
5,000 drawings, 5,000 prints, and some sculpture, furniture, and other works of art.
INFO: Admission to the permanent collection is free. For more info, visit nationalgallery.ie
EPIC Ireland Museum
You won’t find leprechauns or pots of gold here, but through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists, and even outlaws all over the world, you’ll discover that what it means to be Irish goes far beyond the country’s borders. Only 12 minutes’ walk from Trinity College and eight minutes’ walk from O’Connell Bridge, Epic is a modern museum situated in Dublin’s Docklands. It tells the story of the 10 million Irish people who left their homeland, and how they influenced and shaped the world. You’ll get to experience this story in 20 interactive galleries, complete with touchscreens and motion-sensor games, with audio and video to bring these tales to life.
INFO: Open daily, 10am-6.45pm (last entry 5pm), CHQ Custom House Quay, Dublin 1, epicchq.com
Catch a concert
For such a small and cosy city, Dublin attracts A LOT of big names in music. Before your visit, be sure to check dublinconcerts.ie for the latest line-up of concerts across the city’s many music venues. The centrally located 3Arena is your best bet, with loads of superstars lined up in coming months, including Nicki Minaj (March), Drake (March), Elton John (June), Mariah Carey (May), Backstreet Boys (June), and Ariana Grande (September). And if you’re keen to spice up your life, the Spice Girls will be kicking off their reunion tour at Dublin’s Croke Park on 24 May. During our visit, Kylie Minogue performed. Clearly the A-list love good ol’ Dublin as much as we do!
Even if you’re not a history buff, Dublin Castle is a must-see. Erected in the early 13th century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English – and later British – administration in Ireland. In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction, and the meeting place of politicians, global leaders, and royalty from around the world. You’ll be able to see custom-made thrones of kings, and walk down the corridors that Queen Elizabeth II has walked plenty of times in the past – with pictures to prove it.
INFO: Dame St, Dublin 2, dublincastle.ie
Brown Thomas personal shopping
If you think shopping in the UAE is a fancy affair, you haven’t experienced the Brown Thomas personal shopping service. You get to experience a luxurious, relaxing space that is exclusively yours, while a team of expert personal shoppers bring the store to you. Whatever your needs or your personal style, the dedicated personal shoppers have the fashion knowledge, style expertise and, in particular, the time, to find you the perfect solution. The service is completely complimentary and carries no obligation to purchase. However, if you do splash some cash, Brown Thomas will tailor everything to your personal and individual needs. Yas, please!
INFO: 88-95 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, brownthomas.com
The Temple Bar is one of the most famous pubs in Dublin. Its history goes back to 1599, when Sir William Temple, a renowned teacher and philosopher, built his house and gardens on the newly reclaimed land around the bar. Since then, it has become the city’s hottest hangout spot and hosts different live traditional music sessions every day of the week. In fact, the entire Temple Bar area is lined with boutiques, cafés, galleries, and pubs, and is always packed with culture-vultures and party-seekers. It’s the city’s playground, and always has a lot going on.
INFO: Open daily, 47/48 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, thetemplebarpub.com
Where to stay: The Westin Dublin
Here at Ahlan! we love a fancy hotel, and in Dublin it doesn’t get much more posh than the Westin Dublin. This five-star, luxury hotel is set in a series of historic Georgian-style buildings and offers an international level of service and high-end amenities.
Located in the most enviable location in Dublin, overlooking the city’s Trinity College, the Westin is in the centre of the main shopping and entertainment areas, and is within easy walking distance of the city’s top attractions, bars, and nightclubs.
The hotel’s dining options include the Atrium Lounge, located in a high-ceilinged inner courtyard; or the Mint Bar, which can be found underground, in the atmospheric old bank vaults. Both offer fine-dining meals, nourishing superfoods, and an array of delectable mixed drinks.
Luxurious rooms at the Westin all boast signature Westin Heavenly Beds, along with in-room movies and satellite channels on 32-inch LCD TVs – for those lazy days in bed, when you’ve overdone it on the sightseeing. Some rooms have a balcony, while others overlook the glass atrium below.
If you’re so inclined, you can make use of the Westin’s modern gym, open 24 hours a day and offering state-of-the-art equipment. Or treat yourself to a pampering and relaxing in-room spa treatment.
But the jewel in the Westin Dublin’s crown is undoubtedly the stunning Banking Hall. Built in the 19th century and adorned with Waterford Crystal chandeliers, this is one of the city’s leading venues for conferences and events. The hotel’s helpful staff will happily give you a mini tour if the venue isn’t booked.
INFO: College Green, Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2, thewestindublin.com