a guide for locals and newbies alike.

by aoife byrne

After eight months straight of New York living, a visit to my hometown of Dublin, Ireland was more than overdue. It's not that I haven't enjoyed my time in the city, but there's always that elusive, nostalgic feeling you get for your home country--a feeling that finds me pining for little things like Irish humor, Heinz Baked Beans, and the European spelling of color.

Although it wasn't that long to spend away, I was curious to see what Dublin had to offer me as a visitor--that is, which new joints were best and which old ones were good enough to have me returning again during my short visit. I decided to find out--here's how I'd do Dublin, whether as a first-timer or a regular.


10am: Arrive into Dublin Airport, grab luggage, and take a cab out to South Dublin's small but perfectly formed village of Monkstown. It's cafes and boutiques galore here, so after a browse I stop off for a much called for breakfast in the Irish food hall-cum-cafe Avoca (The Crescent, Monkstown). It's foodie heaven here; think exotic fruits, gourmet sandwiches, and freshly-baked homestyle cakes served on white grain tables beneath rustic chandeliers. I demolished a creamy soy cappuccino and a flavorsome cheese and sundried tomato scone, spread with lashings of tomato relish and cream cheese. Stomach satisfied, I then perused the goodies in their infamous food-hall (Ireland's answer to Dean & Deluca, I would propose) which is a delight. And yes, it has its very own cheese room--amazing, but oh so cold.

2pm: Take the DART (aka the train) into Dublin City center, a mere 20-minute journey with stunning views of the coast line.

2:30pm: Head north and check out the Hugh Lane Gallery (Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1), home to infamous Irish Artist Francis Bacon's actual paint studio. How? The Hugh Lane team removed and transported his studio and its entire contents from London to Dublin, including the artist's slashed canvases, photographs, and physical walls of his studio. It provides an amazing and intriguing insight to Bacon's work, containing a comprehensive collection of both Irish and International modern and contemporary art, but the best part is you can feast your eyes for absolutely free.

8pm: Dine and drink in the Clarendon Bar (32 Clarendon St., Dublin 2), where you can dig in to a spread of delicious Irish fare from cozy alcoves overlooking the surrounding streets. This is hands down the best people-watching spot in Dublin.

11pm: Having refueled, you're in the mood for some good music and maybe even a little dancing. Head over to Pygmalion (Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, South William St, Dublin 2) which plays host to both local bands and international DJs alike on a regular basis. Mingle with friendly, well-dressed Dubliners over a cocktail (or, ahem, several), then proceed to their vintage photobooth to commemorate the meeting of you and your new BFFs.


11am: Get your morning perk-up at vegetarian utopia Cornucopia (19-20 Wicklow St, Dublin 2)--I recommend the hot veggie breakfast, which includes meat-free sausages, roasted chili mushrooms, Cornucopia breakfast beans, and roasted red onion with fresh herbs. Sound good? Thought so. The salads are nothing to sneeze at, either--think chickpea, roasted eggplant, feta, and rocket with sundried tomato--and if you head in later in the day don't miss their organic wine options or the sinless desserts.

4pm: Take a walk through Ireland's most famed college, Trinity College Dublin (College Green, Dublin 2). Maneuver your way through its cobbled pathways, soaking up the grandeur before collapsing onto the green with a can from the campus bar while watching a game of cricket. Preppy bliss.

7pm: Bus it back to Dublin Airport and ready yourself for your flight. You've done Dublin in 48 hours!

Grabbing breakfast at Avoca.

Never mind the music--even the space at Pygmalion is cool.

The Avoca food market.

Avoca's restaurant is a far cry from a food court.

The Trinity College grounds are perfect for strolling on a spring day.

The scene at Pygmalion.