A proper trip to Dublin isn’t complete without a trip to its waterfront suburb, Howth. Located on the Howth Head peninsula, this cool little village features a busy harbor, beautiful hiking paths, and fresh local food. Notable sights include the Howth Castle, Howth Lighthouse, and Ireland’s Eye. To get the full effect, however, a hike to the summit of Howth is a must. In any case, Howth is a charming little village, providing the beauty of nature at a grand scale as well as man-made wonders such as ice cream shops and fish & chip joints. Central Dublin is lively and great, but Howth is awesome in a very different way. So do yourself a favor and catch a train to one of the coolest part’s of Dublin that otherwise might not be getting the attention it deserves.
Temple Bar is your go-to neighborhood if you’re looking for a fun night out in Dublin. Pubs and clubs are more than plentiful, but be warned: the area is full of tourist traps in the form of overpriced and overcrowded bars, especially on the main strip (you’ll know when you’re there). That being said, there are some truly great spots that stand out, and these are the ones that make Temple Bar and its surroundings so wonderful. My personal favorite was The Porterhouse, with multiple floors, live music, more beers on tap than you can count to, and a friendly staff. During my short visit to Dublin, I already felt like a local there thanks to the great staff. The bartender (one of dozens) not only recognized me, but remembered my drink order! Awesome!
If there’s no live music, it ain’t Dublin. Almost any worthwhile bar in the area (and even out of the area) is going to have some live tunage for its patrons, whether it’s one man playing acoustic covers or a three-piece ensemble rocking out to authentic Irish folk music. Either way, it’s awesome, and it truly sets Dublin apart from any other place in terms of authentic, cheerful nightlife; there’s nothing else like it. There are few things more rewarding in life than watching two Finnish brothers join a rowdy Irish dance competition while the locals riverdance to live Irish tunes. And trust me, this only happens in Dublin.
And don’t think for a minute that the awesome music is exclusive to the bars. The madness continues on the streets of Temple Bar. Check it out:
Talk about a beautiful campus. It’s not too often that a university is one of a capital city’s top attractions, but in the case of Dublin’s Trinity College, it makes perfect sense. Located right in the center of Dublin, Ireland’s oldest university remains a prestigious academic institution to this day, and it’s got eye candy to boot. Remarkable works of architecture comprise the campus grounds as beautiful buildings (new and old) surround alluring courtyards, statues, trees, etc.
Notable Trinity alumni include the likes of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Jonathan Swift, to name a few. University staff members wander the campus wearing cloaks, the style of which depends on their position. It’s almost haunting. Regardless, the big attraction at Trinity College is the Book of Kells, located in the Old Library. If your not a student of the college, it’ll cost you to get in, but it’s worth checking out (you can’t actually “check it out” of the library, obviously) the Book of Kells as well as other impressive, ancient collections in the beautiful library. Fun Fact: the Old Library was digitally recreated inch-for-inch in Attack of the Clones (The university wouldn’t let George Lucas actually film inside).
I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting the Irish capital, so let’s just say I was blown away when I arrived in a city so full of life, lovely lads & lasses, and live music. To put it simply, Dublin is awesome. Awesome people, awesome culture, awesome bars, awesome music, awesome food– awesome city. The city’s distinct yet equally intriguing neighborhoods have been, and remain today, home to a variety of interesting characters. Many artists and authors, both natives and foreigners, have drawn inspiration from the city, including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and Bram Stoker. Surely the rowdy pubs were lovely places of inspiration for them as well. Irish porters, stouts, and whiskeys are all phenomenal, but there’s much more than the drinks that makes Dublin such a great place. The city (and the country as a whole) has had a long and bloody history, but today it stands proud as the capital of the Republic of Ireland. This is Ireland at its best, and its best is simply amazing.
Though some may argue that it doesn’t retain the same charm it used to, the Montmarte district of Paris remains to this day a very special place. The neighborhood is a showcase of all the things that make Paris such a charming, beautiful, and lively place. Quiet, narrow, winding, cobblestone streets lead the way up the Montmarte hill, lined with terrace cafés, restaurants, bars, cabarets, and former brothels (though the prostitution remains). Oh, and it’s absolutely beautiful. In other words, it’s an artist’s paradise, or so thought artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso, all of whom at some point lived and/or worked in the Montmarte. It’s easy to see why so many artists were drawn to the neighborhood; the sights, the sounds, and the overall bohemian culture and atmosphere are unlike anything else. Though that exact vibe is no longer present, you can still get a good feel for it, especially at night; when the sun goes down, so do the tourists traps. To top it off (literally), at the peak of the hill stands the Sacré-Cœur, another beautiful, iconic Paris landmark. From there, you will get the absolute best view of Paris, rivaled only by the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Another iconic landmark of Paris: The Arc de Triomphe l’Étoile. Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the massive Arc de Triomphe stands as a monument to those who fought in France’s many wars (both Revolutionary and Napoleonic), and also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s an epic monument that honors a time of epic importance in French and Parisian history. The Arc is also the location of Place de l’Étoile, a 12-lane roundabout where insurance doesn’t matter and an accident occurs every half-hour, according to my walking tour guide. Regardless, the Arc de Triomphe is a beauty, and its grand size and scale really must be seen in person to truly understand. For a small fee, visitors can access the top of the Arc (while going through a small museum on the way), and treat themselves to more amazing views of Paris.