Dublin: What to Do, Eat, Buy (and Drink!)
For years, Dublin’s Irish charm kept tempting back Italian freelance food journalist Veruska Anconitano. First she stayed for a few days, then a week, a month. Finally, in 2007 she and her husband left Rome permanently to live in Ireland’s vibrant capital city. To hear her story, and her top recommendations on what to do in Dublin, as well as where to shop, eat, and go out at night, subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast (Apple Podcasts | Spotify).
Highlights of our conversation are captured in this article. Enjoy.
What to do in Dublin
- Hang out in The Liberties, Dublin’s most eclectic neighborhood. "It’s basically the old Dublin,” Veruska says. "It’s very close to the Guinness Storehouse, and it’s a very old brick-style neighbourhood, with these red houses. And there are traditional shops and pretty much no tourists around, because it [looks] kind of dodgy, but it's safe.” The Dublin Liberties Distillery describes this district as ‘an area notorious for mayhem and riotous behavior for hundreds of years,’ and they cheekily add that they 'craft according to tradition with a devilish flair.'
- Visit the Guinness Storehouse. Even if you don’t like beer, you’ll likely enjoy this interactive tour. You'll learn how to pour and drink the ‘Black Stuff’ the proper way, see their iconic advertising throughout the ages — Guinness is good for you! — and receive a free pint in their rooftop bar. Tickets are cheaper when booked ahead online, and you can jump the queue this way. "Guinness Storehouse is the most visited place in Ireland, so it’s a big business,” Veruska says. "But then there are many other breweries, artisanal and also other brands, like Smithwick's, which is a red-ale from close to Dublin in Kilkenny. There’s also this big trend with artisanal breweries, and microbreweries — Guinness itself launched a small artisanal brewery, and they experiment with beers.” If whisky is more your thing, you can tour and taste at Jameson’s Distillery.
- Laze about in Saint Stephen’s Green. “Its a big park in the middle of the city centre, and people go there to relax. Sometimes you can find a band playing music, people doing yoga, events, festivals, or just laying down, looking at the lake.” There’s even an audio guide.
- Wander the library at Trinity College. Who doesn’t love surrounding themselves with stacks of gorgeous books? Especially in a city with a literary tradition as rich as Dublin's. In the university’s Old Library, you’ll find a tome that’s extra special — the Book of Kells. “This is one of the oldest sacred books we have in Europe.” Dating back to the 800s, this ornately illustrated Bible handwritten by monks is considered Ireland's greatest cultural treasure, and every day the library displays a different page. Ticket prices vary. (If you like to mix drinking with your books, you might enjoy the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl)
- Walk to Poolbeg Lighthouse. "It’s this very old — I think it was built in the 18th century — red lighthouse that’s really, really huge, and you can see it from everywhere in Dublin. When there is a good weather, it’s the perfect place. It’s just outstanding.” An entrepreneurial gent opened a coffee kiosk here to warm the souls gazing past the windy cliffs—don’t forget your cappuccino money!
Where to shop in Dublin
- Carousel. "I love, love, love this shop, and if you are a woman, you will love it for sure. This Irish designer decided to invest when there was the big crisis here, and she opened this shop and made homemade, tailored dresses using, let’s say, everything Irish. So, she uses cotton or silk, everything from Ireland, every piece is unique, and it’s right in the middle of the city centre.”
- Carrolls. “If you’re a pure tourist then you have to buy something in Carrolls, where you can find Guinness mugs, the keyring with a shamrock, everything a classic tourist would buy when visiting. If you are more sophisticated, go for food. Buy salmon. Buy Guinness-based, or beer-based biscuits. Butter, butter, butter. Irish butter is just another level. It’s absolutely amazing. So, if you come home with a piece of Irish bread, soda bread, some Irish salmon and some butter, you’ll make your friends and family very, very happy.”
- George’s Street Arcade. “There’s an ongoing market, designer market, called George’s Arcade. You can find jewellery, clothes, everything Irish, and traditional, and it’s actually in the design neighbourhood. So there are also prints, pictures, everything."
Where to eat in Dublin
- Herbstreet. “They serve local dishes with local produce. Every single product they use or they serve is traceable, so you know who the farmer is, where it comes from, when it’s been…Considering the prices in Dublin are quite high, it’s also affordable. It’s family-friendly, so kid-friendly, dogs and animal-friendly. It’s like heaven.”
- The Winding Stair. "One of the institutions in Dublin. Modern Irish cuisine, a fine selection of wines and spirits and a view of the River Liffey.” Located above the Winding Stair Bookshop, one of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in Dublin.
- The Vintage Kitchen. "A small little place close to the center, a perfect stop for a lunch or a dinner. A fantastic BYOW policy where you can bring your wine from home."
- Fade Street Social. "Owned by Dylan McGrath, the same of famous Rustic Stone, Fade Street is both a restaurant and a cocktail bar."
- Drury Buildings. “Run by chef Warren Massey, the Drury Buildings offers pretty authentic Italian cuisine in a location that is a mix between New York, London, Los Angeles and Rome.”
Check out Veruska’s blog for more dining suggestions.
Where to go out at night in Dublin
- Live music at the Whelan’s. “Everything revolves around music in Dublin. Even if it’s not traditional, they play music on the street, pubs, events, everywhere. If you have ever seen the movie P.S. I love you, the Whelan’s is the main place that was featured. They have a normal pub, and then on the back there is this live music, and they feature very new bands, but also famous bands. For example, I think Ed Sheeran made one of his first appearances there. U2...so many famous people passed by there."
- ‘Urgent’ plays at Abby Theatre. “They do all these — how do you say, weird? —replicas of famous shows, like James Joyce, or traditional classical pieces, revisited in a modern way. So, for example, with a feminism touch, or with an LGBT touch."
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