The capital and largest city in Ireland, Dublin is the main jumping-off point for most trips in the Emerald Isle. If you're dreaming of a honeymoon set among Ireland's rolling green hills, dramatic coastal cliffs, and cozy, music-filled pubs, you're likely going to spend at least a day or two in Dublin at the beginning or end of your trip. While Dublin has a different feel than the rest of the country (with its own distinct accent as well) in many ways it's also representative of the country as a whole, with beautiful Georgian buildings, welcoming hospitality, a rich history and culture and delicious eats. Here's how to spend a few days of your Ireland honeymoon in Dublin.
STAY: In the heart of it all at the Merrion
Set on the edge of Merrion Square in the heart of Dublin, the Merrion is just a short walk to attractions like Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green, Grafton Street and the Temple Bar nightlife area. Rooms are separated into two buildings. Contemporary rooms are found in the Garden wing, while the Georgian wing features more traditional rooms with delicate Rococo plasterwork, vaulted ceilings and decorative marble fireplaces. Though each room is different, each is decorated with plush fabrics and muted pastel colors and furnished with a King Koil Executive Club 6 bed (translation: it's large and incredibly comfortable), luxurious 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens and an ensuite bathroom finished in Carrera marble. Additional amenities include an on-site spa with an indoor swimming pool, The Cellar Bar and Restaurant and Bar N. 23, an intimate lounge area exclusively for hotel guests.
EAT: At Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
The two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is adjacent to the Merrion and renowned for its refined take on contemporary Irish cuisine. Irish ingredients feature prominently along with European wines and there's a focus on theatrical presentation. Guests are welcomed with a cocktail or champagne in the lounge and then seated in a dramatic high-ceilinged dining room for a choice of two, three, or four-course meals or an eight-course degustation menu. Among the classic dishes: croquettes of suckling pig with fried quail egg and foie gras (pictured above) and a Wicklow lamb glazed in coriander mojo. Dinner here is a long — and pricey — affair, but one that's refined, romantic and definitely worthy of a special celebration.
DRINK: Creative cocktails only found in Dublin
A pint of Guinness may be synonymous with Ireland, but Dublin's drinking scene offers a lot more diversity. From cozy pubs (try McDonaghs or the iconic Temple Bar) to hidden speakeasies (Vintage Cocktail Club — pictured above), there's something for everyone. For cutting edge cocktails, head to Peruke & Perwig, a delightfully diminutive candlelit space where the cocktail menu is arranged by musical style and the drinks names are boozy puns on popular songs. Try the "Friends in Sloe Places," "Pisco Inferno," or the so-weird-it's-good "The Beet Goes On," a concoction of gin, Aperol, beetroot, balsamic, lemon, egg whites and strawberry.
DO: A whirlwind tour of Dublin's history
Founded in 1592, Trinity College remains Ireland's leading university and a major tourist attraction. It's home to the stunning Trinity Library (pictured above) — a multi-story shrine to books that will make any bibliophile's head spin — where the treasured ninth century Book of Kells, the world's most famous medieval manuscript, is on display. Other notable sights in the city center include Dublin Castle, the seat of the United Kingdom's administration in Ireland until 1922 and now an Irish government building; St. Stephen's Green, a large park; and St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is the tallest and largest church in Ireland and dates back to 1191.
MUST SEE: The Guinness Storehouse
Of course, a Dublin stopover wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-story homage to all things Guinness. The working brewery is the headquarters of Guinness as well as the most popular tourist attraction in Europe. It's easy to spend a half-day or more at the Storehouse: There's a self-guided tour of the history and production of Guinness, including displays on the company's unique advertising, how Guinness is transported around the world, the process of building Guinness barrels, and even on the man himself, Arthur Guinness. Every tour ends with a visit to the top-floor Gravity Bar for a pint and beautiful views over the city, but for true lovers of "the black stuff" there are several other activities worth exploring, including a lesson in pouring the perfect pint; a private Connoisseur Experience that includes tasting some of the more obscure Guinness varieties; and a meal at one of three restaurants on-site where Guinness is often used as an ingredient.