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Destination Guide: Dublin

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Dublin, Ireland is more than a thousand years old, but it's no antiquated destination. Lonely Planet named the Irish capital to its list of 10 cities to visit in 2016, citing its "youthful vibrancy, optimism, and creativity."1 With a favorable euro-dollar exchange rate, now's the time to go. Ready for a whirlwind tour of this enchanting city?

Fun Things to Do in Dublin

Before you even arrive in Dublin, do this: sign up for the free City of a Thousand Welcomes program offered by The Little Museum. A friendly local will take you out for a free cup of tea, coffee or a pint and tell you all about the fun things to do in Dublin.

Kilmainham Gaol is a must-see, especially in 2016 — the centennial of the rebellion that eventually led to Ireland's independence. The forbidding stone jail imprisoned and executed several of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. To go back in time a millennium or more, visit the National Museum of Ireland and see a Viking board game, St. Patrick's bell and the collection of ancient, mummified "bog bodies."

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On the list of fun things to do in Dublin, many visitors put "drinking" right at the top. While Temple Bar spots are popular with tourists, the best pubs in Dublin can be found elsewhere. The Long Hall is one of the city's oldest and coziest, while the Cobblestone Pub offers traditional music every night. Of course, you have to order a Guinness.

One last thing: No book lover should leave Dublin without stopping at Trinity College to look at the Old Library's Long Room. Shelves holding more than 200,000 books soar to the vaulted ceiling, while marble busts of famous philosophers and writers are arrayed below. The library's also home to the famous Book of Kells, a lavishly illustrated manuscript created by monks in the ninth century.

Top Restaurants in Dublin

Begin the day with a hearty Irish breakfast at Queen of Tarts, a beloved cafe and patisserie with two Dublin locations. Here, "hearty" means bacon, pork & leek sausage, an egg, a potato chive cake, a baked tomato, relish, toast and tea or coffee. That should be enough to fuel a morning's explorations.

For lunch, it won't be hard to find chip shop Leo Burdock — look for the line winding out the door at lunchtime. Open since 1913, Leo Burdock is justly famous for its lard-fried fish and chips, also called "the Dubliner's caviar." Or visit The Winding Stair, a bookstore and restaurant serving lovingly made, hyper-local dishes like whiskey-cured organic salmon and Irish potato boxty with Coolea cheese.

For fine dining, L'Ecrivain is consistently named as one of the top restaurants in Dublin. The restaurant is "elegant and romantic," Food & Wine says, and chef Derry Clarke is known for combining French techniques and Irish staples.2 The tasting menu recently featured sika deer, wild turbot, and Irish coffee with whiskey foam.

Where to Stay in Dublin

For five-star luxury, The Merrion Hotel is easily the best of all Dublin hotels. Occupying four historic houses in downtown Dublin, the hotel's known for its two-star Michelin restaurant, its cozy, firelit drawing rooms and the Cellar Bar in the original 18th-century wine vaults. The Merrion pampers children, too, offering them mocktails, mini-bathrobes and their own room-service menu, served on special plates.

If you're traveling with your family or a small group, consider staying at No. 25 Eustace Street, a beautifully furnished Georgian townhouse that's now owned by the Irish Landmark Trust. There's no TV, but there's plenty to do once you step out the door into the lively Temple Bar neighborhood. The house sleeps seven for a minimum three-night stay.

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Wondering where to stay in Dublin if you'd prefer to spend less on a hotel (and more on pints of Guinness)? The Harding Hotel in the Old City isn't fancy, but the rooms are big for the price and the location is perfect for exploring on foot. Plus, the hotel bar has live music and 70 varieties of Irish whiskey. The historic Cassidys Hotel is another of the best mid-range Dublin hotels, offering tidy rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a gym.

Ready to set off on a lively Dublin adventure? Don't forget to protect your trip with trusted travel insurance products from Allianz Global Assistance. Travel happy!

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Nov 01, 2016