Liz’s guide to a Dublin holiday

With its flowing waterways and Georgian architecture, Dublin makes an especially serene and scenic summer city break. Dublin attracts a cosmopolitan crowd and is especially renowned for its music, culture and delicious mix of local foods including colcannon (kale and buttered mash), Irish soda bread made with buttermilk and barmbrack – a flavoursome fruited tea cake.

Read on for Liz’s little black book of favourite spots from the centre of the Emerald Isle.

Where to stay in Dublin

My favourite hotel is the Merrion Hotel, a place of graceful five-star elegance filled with fabulous flowers and crackling log fires. Maybe because my mother-in-law used to live just around the corner in Merrion Sqare, but I’m always drawn back to this graciousGeorgian part of the city whenever I visit. Not only a very special place to stay, the friendly warmth of every member of staff is legendary. I’ve hosted many events here over the years and always look forward to returning.

Where to run in Dublin

Phoenix Park is the largest walled park in any European city and a real runners’ paradise. You’ll find all lengths of track here, from a half-marathon to much shorter fun runs. It’s a great green resource in the heart of the city. The nearby stately home and country estate Farmleigh is also worth a visit and has a good café.

Dublin tours and where to explore

I love a nice boat ride, and a tour of the city from the River Liffey is a good way to see the city’s sights from the relaxed calm of a riverboat. Starting from the O’Connell Bridge in the heart of the city, the tour takes in Ha’penny Bridge before heading down the Liffey towards the sea. I love taking in the iconic modern architecture mix alongside the old warehouses and memorials to Ireland’s past. Lasting 45 minutes, this tour is something the whole family can enjoy.
Family-friendly Viking Splash tours

My children love the Viking Splash Tours, a fun ride through the city, with optional Viking helmets and entertaining commentary by the guide. Step aboard a yellow-painted remodelled amphibian WW2 army vehicle and drive through the streets accompanied by a hearty narrative (with compulsory Viking roars!) of the city’s history. Then feel an adrenaline surge as the vehicle plunges into the water by the docklands, past U2’s famous recording studios, to float gracefully along the Grand Canal Dock.

Where to eat in Dublin

For snacking, pop into Foodie for its famous egg and avocado with a dash of tahini on toasted walnut bread. You’ll also find a delicious array of protein shakes, juices and all-round freshly prepared, inexpensive goodness in this handy central location on Mayor Square.

On arrival, look out for Dublin’s Jump Juice Bars, with branches around the city, where you’ll find fabulous fresh juices ready to refresh and revive. My favourite combo is Up Beet, made with freshly squeezed beetroot, ginger, apple, cucumber and spirulina Just the thing to revive a weary traveller. There are good dairy-free smoothies available, too.

Where to shop in Dublin

One of my favourite places to browse and shop is Avoca, a stylish chain of fashion and home lifestyle stores founded on the work of Irish hand-weavers from the 1700s. It’s now an Irish family-run business grown out of one of the world’s oldest surviving textile mills, brought up to date with super-stylish clothing and homewares.

I never fail to leave without at least one hand-woven throw or picnic blanket, and the clothing range is also excellent. If the shopping makes you peckish, each store also has a terrific café. Kilmacanogue, just outside the city, is home to the country’s largest Avoca store, with a huge café and the beautiful Malahide Castle and Gardens to wander around.

Which gardens to visit in Dublin

The National Botanic Gardens, with its magnificent glasshouses, was founded in 1790 to advance botanical knowledge around plants that provide food and medicine. Today, its role is as much about conservation and education, as well as being an interesting space for recreation Check out the website for seasonal exhibits and events on during your visit.