From struggling provincial backwater to the city that never sleeps, Dublin has been riding one hell of a roller coaster for the last decade. Through the traumatic changes of recent years, Ireland’s capital has regained a European presence that it last experienced towards the end of the 18th century. Every day, while Dubliners nonchalantly go about their own business, planeloads of visitors arrive in this city to party. Temple Bar ladles on the blarney as thick as the head on a glass of Guinness, while wood-panelled Edwardian pubs and trad musicians in Aran sweaters jostle for position with beech and steel café-bars, hip nightclubs, chic shops and high-tech arts centres. Yet, amid the sophisticated gloss, the fiddly- diddly music and the political wheeler-dealing is a city whose secrets are still waiting to be explored. Dublin is skirted to the south by the brown-green slopes of the Wicklow Mountains and the great curve of Dublin Bay, and through the heart of it all snakes the Liffey: dark, unfathomable and just a little bit muddier than we’d like to admit.
Ten of the best
1 Guinness Storehouse Enjoy a panoramic view over the city and a perfect pint of Guinness in this stunningly converted brewery building.
2 National Museum of Archaeology and History Viking hoards and memories of the 1916 uprising make this the most impressive museum in Dublin.
3 A night at the Cobblestone Enjoy excellent Irish music and a convivial atmosphere at this Smithfield pub.
4 Christchurch Cathedral Dublin’s oldest building has medieval floor tiles, ancient tombstones and a host of treasures in the crypt.
5 National Gallery of Ireland This gallery provides a visitor-friendly introduction to Irish art as well as displaying an array of international masterpieces.
6 National Museum of Decorative Arts and History Engrossing exhibitions at the former Collins Barracks bring to life the cultural history of Ireland.
7 Temple Bar Make the most of this area’s lively atmosphere, great shopping, groovy galleries, varied restaurants and buzzing nightlife.
8 Kilmainham Gaol This hugely atmospheric site is where some of Ireland’s brightest and best were confined during the 19th and 20th centuries.
9 1916 Rebellion Tour This hysterical historical tour of the city is an excellent way to get to grips with one of Dublin’s most important events.
10 Cliff walk at Bray Escape the city and enjoy a breath of fresh air on this glorious coastal walk. The views of Dublin Bay are truly memorable.