When you go to book flights for an overseas holiday, you generally think of travelling to a land far, far away. For UK residents, being able to bask in the sun and relax on the sand is usually high on the agenda. But, if you look slightly to the left of where you are on a map, you’ll notice a small country across the sea that you may not have considered as a holiday spot before– Ireland. Granted, Ireland is only a few miles from the mainland. Heck, it’s still in the UK. But, that’s the best part of this scenario.
The country’s capital, Dublin, is only a short and cheap flight from Scotland and England. In fact, flights to Dublin take just over an hour from Glasgow International Airport. Flybe is an airline operating from the UK that has made it easier than ever to make the jump across the divide. And on landing, you’ll find yourself in a country completely unlike home and with plenty to offer its very welcome visitors.
Unlike most capitals, Dublin is anopenhearted and delightful city that has managed to avoid becoming a stolid business hub and has instead focused on flaunting its eccentricity. The city is full of decadence and is beautiful in a way completely unlike other European capitals. “But what’s to see there?” I hear you ask. Well, plenty.
The Dublin Castle
While in the city, you have to see this colourful, slightly unusual castle. Far from traditional, Dublin Castle doesn’t have a moat, a drawbridge or imposing turrets. Instead, it’s a bright collection of grand 18th-century buildings which caters for important diplomats, swanky functions and flashy concerts. A small admission fee will get you inside the castle, or you can wander around the buildings and the Dubh Linn Gardens hidden behind for free. This is where the original dark pool, by which Dublin got its name, is located, but this sight is often missed by tourists.
The Guinness Storehouse
The iconic Irish symbol and most famous international export, Guinness, is brewed and bottled in Dublin’s St James’ Brewery. A notoriously popular stop on the tourist map, if you’re in town, you have to visit. The Storehouse is the only part of the giant brewery that’s open to the public and welcomes all lovers of the black gold to come in and explore the seven storeys of beer heaven. Fittingly shaped like a Guinness pint, the building is topped by the Gravity Bar where you can enjoy a beer and stunning views of Dublin.
Christ Church Cathedral
Perched on top of a hill, this is the most stunning of Dublin’s three cathedrals. An eye-catching and recognisable symbol of Dublin, the Christ Church Cathedral was founded in 1030, while the city was a Viking Settlement. Once the Norman’s came along, the original wooden structure was knocked down and built again in stone in 1172. However, the original Viking crypt survived the transformation and still remains intact. Today, the cathedral stands tall on the Dublin skyline and you can wander around the imposing building and through its beautiful aisles.
An important part of any holiday is the food. Luckily, Dublin is brimming with fabulous eateries, although many are hidden down cobbled streets or tiny courtyards that unless you know where to look, you’re likely to miss. The Cake Café is the perfect example and is honestly a hidden gem. Homemade cakes, pies, sandwiches and some unusual hot meals, this quaint café is full of charm and friendly staff. For the freshest seafood with the best view, head to Aqua on a Sunday for lunch and a jazz performance. The Porterhouse also can’t be missed. As Dublin’s oldest microbrewery pub, its reputation is longstanding, its atmosphere excessively rustic and its beer of the highest quality. For a fine dining experience at an affordable price, Chapter One is the best place to go, and also a local favourite.
Dublin photos: philhaber, Trevor Jow,