Sheathed in acres of rolling green expanses, Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. This massive verdant swathe lies nestled in the west of the city, and is a mixture of wilderness and formal landscape gardens. Dotted with tree-cloaked boulevards, pristine tracts of grassland and open recreational spaces, the park is also home to some monumental, nationally significant edifices, too. The Ashtown Castle calls the park home, in addition to the towering Papal Cross which marks the visit of Pope John Paul II back in 1979, the stately Áras an Uachtaráin, the Wellington Monument which is a soaring tribute to the Duke of Wellington, and the teeming Dublin Zoo, are all nestled in its scenic, idyllic expanse. Among the many recreational activities offered here are Gaelic football, polo and cricket. Also enclosed within its viridescent fabric is a vibrant burst of plant life, while a bird sanctuary and a herd of fallow deer coexist in peaceful harmony. Playing host to an array of events, festivals as well as racing events, Phoenix Park is a massive window into the unbridled natural beauty and strategic finesse of Ireland.
A short bus ride from the city center, the splendid Botanic Gardens and its many floral wonders are a stunning treat to the senses. Accentuated all the more by the glimmering waters of River Tolka, these Irish gardens uphold an assemblage of hundreds of thousands of plants, and a smattering of botanical specimens. In all their floral glory, the gardens are a wonderland for naturalists and botany aficionados, its verdant course dotted by a string of splendid greenhouses, like the impressive, structural and glass-clad Curvilinear Range and the Palm House. The great glasshouses full of exotica were constructed in the mid 19th century and designed by Richard Turner, who was also the man behind the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. The gardens are divided into distinct areas of interest, featuring long herbaceous beds, a rose garden, alpine houses, a vegetable garden, orchid beds, an arboretum, a yew-clad walkway along the river, and a wonderful area exhibiting the various natural habitats of Ireland. Also sheltering willows plunging gracefully over gleaming waters, the National Botanic Gardens are a luxuriant canvas of natural glory and luminescence.
To many, Guinness is one of the most important features of Ireland. Completed at the cost of EUR30 million, the Guinness Storehouse is a fine addition to Dublin's ever-growing list of purpose-built attractions. Set inside a converted 18th-century fermentation building, it consists of six floors linked by a giant atrium in the shape of a pint glass. Although the actual brewery is not open to the public, the storehouse's new exhibition space outlines the 200-year history of the company and reveals many brewing secrets. The models and displays of the exhibition are followed by a short film and a glass of the famous brew! The storehouse is also home to the stylish Gravity Bar.
If whiskey is your poison, get ready to indulge to your heart's content. After the educational tour of the distillery, and your careful attention to the historical overview, retire to the in-house pub and make a little whiskey history of your own. There's also a restaurant with fixed price menus for lunch and dinner. Whether you want to learn more about the whiskey making process, indulge in hearty food or taste new spirits, a visit to Old Jameson Distillery won't let you down.
This former prison is one of Dublin's most historic buildings. Dating back to 1796, the Kilmainham Gaol is a massive building that housed men, women and even child prisoners. Most notably, the Gaol is known for incarcerating famous rebels and prisoners of war. Today the building serves as a museum with exhibits, artifacts and docent-led tours.
An architecturally and culturally iconic venue in the city, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (formerly Grand Canal Theatre) is the brainchild of Mike Adamson, CEO of LiveNation. The need for such a theater arose because numerous international theater groups were yearning to perform in the city, but save for the O2, there wasn't a venue prominent enough to host them, and the O2 couldn't accommodate all of the performances in its schedule. Thus, an initiative for another first-rate theater was taken, and with the approval of the Dublin Dockyards Development Authority, the construction of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre began in 2007. Opened in March 2010, this theater has hosted a passel of cultural events, including ballets, plays, operas, concerts and much more. With a capacity of 2111, this is one of the premier venues for major events in the city.
Although founded in the 9th Century by the Vikings, little remains of Dublin's early history but its cobblestoned streets which showcase layer upon layer of history with Medieval era cathedrals and castles alongside the elegant Georgian facades from its heyday in the 18th Century as the British Empire's second city. Today, the capital city of Ireland boasts a cosmopolitan vibe, with restaurants catering to the diverse tastes of its increasingly multicultural populace. Dublin's pubs remain, however, the highlight of its nightlife and social scene, with the amiable natives mingling with tourists over pints of the legendary, local Guinness. For those with a taste for more genteel epicurean delights, Dublin also harbors Michelin starred restaurants. The city's penchant for revelry is balanced by its repute as a UNESCO City of Literature, associated with literary luminaries like Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. From architectural monuments like the Saint Patrick's Cathedral and historic sites like the Kilmainham Gaol to several fine museums, art galleries and theaters, Dublin envelops a wealth of culture and history into its relatively modest embrace. Child-friendly attractions like Dublin Zoo are quite popular as well, as are the city's designer boutiques and lovely parks.
Completed in 1779, the City Hall designed by Thomas Cooley housed the Royal Exchange. It is an elegant reminder of the wealth and opulence of Dublin in the city's 18th-century heyday. Today, City Hall is managed by the Dublin Corporation, which has restored the building beautifully. The great central atrium, complete with gold-leafed dome and mosaic floor, is one of the most impressive public spaces around. The history of Dublin is told in a vivid, computer-aided series of exhibitions.
Located on the West End of Temple Bar, the old city area is an interesting mélange of cafes, leisure outlets, fashion stores and salons. Known for its fashion boutiques, the town displays outfits by the crème-de-la crème of the fashion industry. Contemporary designs on exhibit blend well with the locality. So if you're out shopping for upholstery or dressing yourself for an outing, visit the Old City Shopping District to find the best in clothing and shopping. Credit cards may vary from store to store.
Xavix Console is like a hidden gem in the wonderful city of Dublin. This fabulous venue simply possesses an enjoyable atmosphere, where you can enjoy live music. Many a local bands and international ones too drop by at this spot to do their bit, while the crowd is surrounded by the awesome mantle of rhythmic music. Not to mention the state-of-the-art light and sound fixtures adding to every performance. Do drop by at Xavix, especially if you're a fan of live music.
This fine 19th-century venue has a fading glory that perfectly suits its dual function as both a theater and a venue for live bands. Productions are generally of the more mainstream variety, while the venue's large capacity is popular with visiting rock acts from Britain and further afield. Check the local press for details of what's on. The Olympia's annual pantomime has also become somewhat of a national institution.
One of the few truly independent theaters in the city, this tiny venue in the heart of Temple Bar regularly hosts new plays by upcoming Irish writers. Still cutting its teeth, the theater appears to be going from strength to strength, and was acclaimed during 1999 for its stage adaptation of the infamous JP Donleavy novel The Gingerman. A more recent production of Chekhov's Cherry Orchard showed just what you can do with a limited budget and a lot of imagination.