Be flexible with your Dublin itinerary, as you're at the mercy of our crazy weather patterns, four seasons in one day, and the rest (you'll notice it's a tireless topic of conversation with locals...feel free to join in, it's a right of passage). If the sun shines, make hay, embrace the outdoors while it lasts -- St. Stephen's Green, Iveagh Gardens, the Zoo, bike tours, coastal villages of Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Malahide, weekend markets, Merrion Square Art -- because the rain is only ever a few hours away! When it does return, at least you'll have the other beautiful cultural attractions, largely indoors, to look forward to, and you won't feel hard done by.
A brilliant new initiative by the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, Dublin Culture Trail, will help you decide what to do. The site hosts videos and photographs of 16 of Dublin's top cultural attractions. Log on here http://dublinculturetrail.ie/ to take a virtual tour of Dublin's museums, galleries, historic buildings and cultural centres, and enjoy interviews with the artists and people involved, and you can also download an iphone application so you can easily find each cultural centre when in Dublin. Another brilliant iniatives by the Cultural Trust, along with Le Cool Dublin, are two hour walking tours for 15euros visit http://dublin.lecool.com/dublin/en/today for more.
- First-time visitors would do well to purchase a Dublin Pass that offers free entry and deals to top attractions, as well as retail and restaurant offers, plus a free airport transfer. Buy online to grab a 20% discount. ( Tourism Centre, Suffolk St, Dublin 2, Ireland, www.dublinpass.ie/dublinpass.)
- The National Galleries and Museums are free of charge, and an inspiring way to spend your time, but not on Mondays when most are closed.
- Dublin is blessed with pretty green spaces, sprinkled all over the city where you can make the most of glorious summer days with a rug and a picnic - The Phoenix Park, St. Stephen's Green as well as smaller nuggets, such as my favourite, The Iveagh Gardens (2 Clonmel St Dublin 2, Co. Dublin - 01 4757816).
- If you're a culture vulture, a wordsmith or a history buff, you'll fall in love with Dublin's medieval belongings and its legendary status as the birthplace of literary geniuses. Check ahead for many cultural and historical events throughout the year -- find more in my When to Go section - to enhance your trip.
- Sporting fans? Don't miss an international rugby match at Aviva Stadium when locals bond over a shared sense of national pride, at least for the day.
- Again, sporting heroes, for something different, buy a ticket at Croke Park (Jones road, Dublin, +353 1 456 9569, www.crokepark.ie)for a game of hurling -- the world's fastest game on grass and our national sport.
- If it's peace and quiet you want, don't visit on a sporting weekend, or for a festival, as Dublin is small, so it's difficult to escape the crowds -- this is one of Dublin's best features too, as it's easy to navigate on foot, and on busy weekends, the atmosphere is electric.
- Guided bike tours are, in my opinion, the best way to meander Dublin's Victorian and Georgian strips at a leisurely pace. There are few hills, and the distances are short, so less active bodies need not be intimidated. Walking tours (mentioned above) are an even more relaxed way way to soak up Dublin streets.
- Finally, it's impossible to get lost so don't torture yourself with strict plans. You can't beat an aimless wander to exploit Dublin's distinctively chilled out vibe.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
All the main sights are there, and a must for first-time visitors -- Trinity College, The Guinness Storehouse and The National Gallery -- plus less obvious sights, such as Howth and Dun Laoghaire, as Dublin is on the coast, and we have beaches, a point that is often overlooked.
Families are spoilt for choice, with Dublin Zoo and the Hop On Hop Off, and it's a safe city to bring kids, as it's easy to navigate. Many sights are free - museums, galleries etc and the parks are plenty and pretty. Stroll the cobbled streets of the city centre to uncover hidden treats, but follow my recommendations to get started!