Overwhelmed by the city guide? Streamline your sightseeing with the help of this week’s mini travel series. We’ve put together three micro guides to three of Europe’s best-known urban destinations, starting with a fresh look at Ireland’s good-time capital.
Pan out on the city of Dublin and you could easily mark a literary map. The city is scribbled with the history of its writers, with its cobbled streets immortalised in the pages of James Joyce novels and Yeats poems, and the River Liffey flowing beneath bridges named after Sean O’Casey and Samuel Beckett. Trinity College stands as a living landmark to the scholars that have walked its passageways and taught in its lecture halls. Here you can take a peek at the ancient Book of Kells, which dates back to 800 AD. Any Joyce geek can visit No 7 Eccles Street, the fictional address of Leopold and Molly Bloom (Ulysses), and you can do a pub crawl of the classic dives that have welcomed centuries of literati, stopping off to pay homage at the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.
Steer clear of the stags and tuck yourself away in the corner of a clandestine watering hole. The Blind Pig is a boutique pop-up cocktail bar channelling a candlelit speakeasy. Craftily, it appears once a month, each time in a new secret location that’s only revealed on Facebook and Twitter just hours beforehand. Nurse a pint of the black stuff at the Stag’s Head, a traditional pub near Trinity College where the wooden panelled walls and musty antique décor creates an old world, no-nonsense vibe (it’s rumoured that Tarantino was once refused a drink after hours here when he tried to pull rank). If you favour a classy and intimate location for your night-time revelry, The Cellar Bar at the Merrion Hotel is built within an 18th Century underground wine vault and tucks drinkers away in low-lit alcoves where the service is slick and a glass of champagne feels right.
The Dublin that’s news to you
No visit to Dublin would be complete without the squiggle of a four-leaf clover on the head of a monochrome pint, but there is, of course, more to the place. Dance a jig – then plan a more alternative itinerary, pencilling in time for an upstairs-downstairs tour of Number Twenty Nine on Lower Fitzsimmons Street: an immaculately preserved Georgian address. Unique to the city is St Stephen’s Green, an expansive park with a sensory garden for the blind, featuring Braille and aromatic herbs. It would be hard to overlook Dublin’s individualist street style too; something you can buy into at the hip NYC-inspired fashion sale known as Loft Market, on William Street South.
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