Travel might still be looking a little tricky for the rest of this year, but a short weekend break in Ireland could be on the cards if you’re looking for a culturally-rich short-haul destination that requires minimal travel. And, with a plethora of luxury hotels and fine dining eateries and a breath-taking history to delve into, Dublin is an iconic city that should be at the very top of your list.
From the romantic riverside strolls of Paris to the vibrant pub scene of London, you’ll find a taste of Europe scattered through its charming streets, and with plenty to see and do to suit all tastes, it’s a city everyone should visit at least once.
Here, we take a look at some of the very best ways to spend a luxury weekend break in Dublin – from splurging on designer spreads to exploring its rich history, and everything in between.
Dine at a Michelin-starred eatery
If you’re looking for a memorable fine dining option while in Dublin, then you won’t be disappointed, as the city is home to numerous eateries worth splashing the cash at. Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, which holds two Michelin stars, is located just beside the five-star Merrion hotel and offers contemporary Irish cuisine with French classical roots, and is acclaimed both nationally and further afield.
And L’Ecrivain, which stands on the site of two old Georgian coach houses, is lauded for its simplicity, with an emphasis on unique flavours and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Chapter one – which holds a single star – is another must-try, and dishes up flawless haute cuisine in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Explore the city’s history
Dublin Castle, dating all the way back to the 13th century when it was initially populated by Vikings, is a breath-taking medieval relic that stands as a reminder of the British rule over Ireland and offers a trip back in time and a deep dive into Dublin’s rich history. Guided tours are available, but be aware that it’s wise to book in advance, because it can get particularly busy at weekends.
There are several other historical landmarks to visit while in Dublin, too, so if you’re a history buff then be sure to check out Kilmainham Gaol, Malahide Castle and the Dublin Writers’ Museum.
Visit the markets
Dublin is a vibrant and bustling city that is punctuated by its many markets, with Moore Street being one of the best. An open-air flower and produce market that offers a nostalgic journey into times gone by, stalls line the cobblestone streets making for a quaint and charming feel that is hard not to fall in love with as you make your way through.
Temple Bar Book Market, meanwhile, takes place on a Saturday and Sunday and is a treasure trove of iconic novels, art books, rare biographies and a range of other one-off finds, so if you’re a literary enthusiast then be sure to add it to your itinerary.
Go on a shopping spree
Dublin is home to a plethora of luxurious department stores and designer boutiques, making it the perfect place to splash out on some new-season threads and accessories. One of Dublin’s two main pedestrian shopping areas, Grafton Street is the place to be, and is home to the sophisticated Brown Thomas – the best department store in Ireland, and a major stockist of favourite designer brands including Gucci, Prada and Chanel.
Parallel to Grafton Street, on Drury Street, you’ll find plenty of unique independent shops to peruse, including Om Diva, which is a must for contemporary Irish design and vintage fashion. Jenny Vander, which carries yet more glamorous vintage clothing, is another essential stop. And over on Suffolk Street, you can shop for luxury homeware at Avoca, which is packed to the rafters with high-end crockery and accessories that cater expertly to expensive tastes.
Visit the casinos
If there’s one country that loves to gamble, it’s Ireland – so it would be almost rude to visit Dublin without soaking up a little of the atmosphere at the city’s most lavish casinos. We asked the experts at Irish Casinos to share their pick of the best casinos in Dublin – which it just so happens are also some of the best established and new casinos in Ireland as a whole – and these are the venues they recommend.
The D1 Club offers a taste of Dublin’s contemporary gambling scene and, as it’s an exclusive private members’ club, offers an exclusive feel. With this in mind, you’ll need to become a member in order to take advantage of its plethora of games and slots and enjoy the sophisticated environment in which they are served up, but if you’re planning on being in the city regularly then it’s worth it.
The Sporting Emporium, on St. Anne’s Street, is another venue worth visiting, and is the only casino in the capital where you can play free bet Blackjack and Money Wheel. With an emphasis on sport, it also has an impressive sportsbook – and with a luxurious interior and impeccable service guaranteed, it’s a gambling experience you won’t want to miss out on.
As a final port of call, be sure to make time to experience The Fitzwilliam Card and Casino Club – one of the oldest casinos in Dublin, but still one of the best. Operating for more than 30 years to date, this prestigious club attracts a high-rolling crowd and is one of the best for those looking to be in with a chance of winning big.