The Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Dublin has a real buzz about it. This city has the intimacy of a village and is as friendly as an Irish pub. Framed by mountains and centred on the River Liffey, the city's streets and alleys are filled with vibrant art and historic buildings, hip cafés and many traditional Irish pubs. Walk the streets and you'll feel the energy of over 1,000 years of history, as echoes of the Vikings mix with modern boutiques, cobbled streets echo with the sounds of buskers and 18th Century parks are home to festivals and food markets.

Dublin Castle has a complicated history. It was built in 1204 on the site of a former Viking settlement and the Viking era defences still stand in the underground chamber today. The Castle ultimately became the seat of the British Government in Ireland and was central to the Irish struggle for independence.

Trinity College, founded in 1592, is Ireland’s oldest surviving University and its Old Library houses several important historical relics, including the Book of Kells, an illustrated manuscript of the four gospels believed to have been created by 9th Century Monks. In the Long Room, where 200,000 books are kept, visitors can pore over one of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and view the Brian Boru harp, Ireland’s oldest version of the musical instrument that became the country’s official emblem.

When in Dublin a visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a must. Learn how to pull a pint and see how the variables, such as the temperature it is stored at and how long it is allowed to settle. While here, stop by the seventh floor Gravity Bar, where the view stretches as far as the Wicklow Mountains.

Drury Street has become one of Dublin’s best areas to shop, eat, drink and generally while away the hours. George’s Street Arcade has an indoor market dating back to 1881. If you arrive in the afternoon, have coffee at Kaph or a sandwich at Simon’s Place and browse the shops. If you’re into art, pay a visit to Hen’s Teeth on nearby Fade Street as it stocks prints by contemporary Irish artists.

Dublin has an amazing food culture from seafood chowder to Irish stew where the smells surround the 18th Century market. Farmers' Markets are a great way to experience Irish food close up. Here, you will see stalls laden with artisan cheese, local charcuterie, beech smoked Irish salmon, soda breads, grass fed beef and mountain lamb. Temple Bar Food Market is a great place to sample of the flavours.

The Phoenix Park is a stone’s throw from Dublin’s city centre, originally the Royal Hunting Park in the 17th Century, when it became home to a large herd of fallow deer. In fact, those you see roaming freely across the land today are its descendants.

Just a 25 minutes train ride from Dublin city centre, the fishing village of Howth is the starting point for a six kilometre looped trail around Howth Head that is one of the most scenic walks in all of Dublin. Not suitable for anyone who has a fear of heights, this well-worn, narrow track traces the very edges of the peninsula’s sheer cliffs, giving incredible views over the islands of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay, and eventually all the way across Dublin Bay towards Dún Laoghaire.

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