Easily accessible with relatively inexpensive (and quick) flights from NYC, Dublin offers the perfect fall weekend mix of history, sophistication and charm.
After a quick, overnight United flight from Newark, we landed at 7 am, sleepy but determined to make the most of our two full days in Ireland. Over the weekend, we managed to squeeze in plenty of sightseeing, a round of golf, and some fun nights out.
We enjoyed our stay at The Shelbourne, the centrally located grande dame of Dublin luxury hotels (room tip: book a suite or room in the renovated Heritage Wing). Other options: The Merrion (gorgeously updated 18th-century Georgian townhouses with a great location and world-class service); The Westbury (updated, elegant option with pretty city views, but lacks the historic charm of other hotels); The Marker (modern design hotel in the up-and-coming Docklands area); The Dean (cool boutique option; great 360-views from its rooftop bar); K Club (one of Ireland’s leading luxury golf resorts with two Arnold Palmer designed championship golf courses as well as the Smirfit links course; only 30 minutes from Dublin); and Ballyfin (stunning Neo-classical country estate 90 minutes from Dublin; all-inclusive rate includes a variety of country pursuits such as shooting, falconry, biking, and golf, as well as delicious farm-to-table food).
Dublin has an exciting and eclectic restaurant scene, some to try: The Pig’s Ear (modern take on Irish cuisine in a lovely Georgian townhouse near Trinity College); Peploe’s (local favorite recommended by our cool twenty-something cousin; great fish and meat options; extensive wine list); Chapter One (one of Dublin’s most notable restaurants; Michelin-starred restaurant takes farm-to-table to the next level by proudly listing its local suppliers on its menu); Coppinger Row (Mediterranean classics in the buzzy St. Stephen’s Green neighborhood; good enough for Beyonce and Jay Z); and Etto (casual option for delicious Italian food). Don’t miss: The Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne regardless of where you stay – it is known as “Dublin’s number one meeting place” for good reason. And check out the famous Temple Bar and its pub-filled neighborhood, but be warned that the later you go, the louder and touristy it will get.
Must-see: Trinity College (don’t miss seeing the Old Library and Book of Kells, an ornately decorated depiction of the Gospels from the 9th century), Dublin Castle (eleven acre complex in central Dublin; still used in Presidential inaugurations and other state ceremonies; guided tours available and recommended); St. Patrick’s Cathedral (beautiful Gothic church founded in 1190; burial place of Jonathan Swift, previously a Dean of the cathedral); Kilmainham Gaol (a former jail, now an interesting Irish history museum; a bit further out but worth the trip); St. Stephen’s Green (22-acre park in the center of Dublin) and Grafton Street (happening shopping area)
Golf: We hired a driver to take us to Portmarnock Golf Club (picturesque golf club with views of the Irish Sea about 4o minutes from central Dublin; formerly the home of the Jameson family of Irish whisky fame). Even if you are not a golfer (or a ten-year beginner like me), I highly recommend taking a trip outside of Dublin – the countryside and shoreline are stunning and give you a completely different perspective on the incredible beauty of Ireland.
Guinness: Beer drinker or not, you can’t leave Dublin without going to Guinness Storehouse for a tour and a few pints – it’s touristy but worth it. And make sure to drink your free pint at Guinness’ Gravity Bar for the best 360 views of Dublin.