Home to the Book of Kells, biting humour, great craic and moments of disarming charm, Dublin is a small capital with a huge heart

Looking out from Dun Laoghaire pier

This place needs no introduction. Dublin is, after all, home to the "Black Stuff" (Guinness) and the Book of Kells, to the statue of Molly Malone whose bust beams out from a billion postcards. It’s home to some of the island's finest Georgian architecture and boasts a mind-boggling array of must-dos.

The DART train travels past Killiney in South Dublin

The only trouble with the Republic's capital is deciding what to leave out. Dublin boasts a cracking zoo, the 11th-century Christ Church Cathedral, and a plethora of literary pubs befitting its status as one of just five Unesco Cities of Literature on the planet.

You can raise a pint to writers like James Joyce and Bram Stoker, or explore the life and works of poet WB Yeats at the National Library. You can even have a pint with a local for free.

Our advice? Mix things up. There’s much more to Dublin city than Trinity College and Temple Bar.

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As well as the National Museum, what about a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin, or the Dublin Writers Museum? Did you know you can buy a bar of lemon soap at Sweny’s Chemist – just as Leopold Bloom did in the pages of Ulysses a century ago?

Capital coastline 

While it’s easy to get caught up in the city centre, it’s also worth remembering that Dublin is a capital between the mountains and the sea. A ride on the suburban Dart train whisks you north to cliff walks around Howth, or south to the coastal villages of Blackrock, Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, Glasthule, Dalkey and Killiney. It’s in these seaside gems that you’ll find some of the city’s best seafood, waterfront festivals and sandy beaches.

Recently, Dublin Bay has even tempted two water-loving visitors to postpone their stay indefinitely – two resident dolphins. Watch out for them playing in the wake of yachts or paddle-surfers as they glide from Dun Laoghaire’s Victorian pier to the historic Dalkey Island.

A city in flux

You can’t step in the same river twice, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said.

It’s ditto for Dublin –– the city is constantly changing, closing one door to open several more. Visit today, and you’ll find funky boutiques, old-school bars and design collectives making a scene out of Smock Alley or South William Street.

Come back in a year’s time, and there will be a whole new energy somewhere else – fuelled by the fashionistas and baristas of the future.

“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age,” as James Joyce, Dublin’s most famous literary son, wrote.

It seems this decadent city is taking him at his word.

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