Dublin is a famous destination for nightime revelry, and good food and drink are vital to this reputation. Dublin's dining scene is booming and has improved considerably over the past few years. Much like other international cuisine hot-spots, the city's best culinary experiences can be pricey. Foodies with deep pockets will find many impressive high-end restaurants. For those travelling on a budget, charming eateries and traditional pubs are tremendous options. All varieties of international cuisine are available in the city but visitors must sample the good old home-cooked Irish fare as well.
Irish cuisine consists of simple meat dishes, usually paired with boiled root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, parsnips and an Irish favourite, potatoes. Other popular dishes include mutton and beef stews, often cooked with Guinness, as well as tripe, meat and blood puddings, and sausages. A new trend in Celtic cuisine, known as 'modern Irish', has become increasingly popular and can be described as French cuisine infused with the natural flavours of the Irish countryside and coastal waters.
The cobblestone streets of the Temple Bar district, as well as the Trinity College area, offer a wonderful and eclectic selection of eateries where visitors can whet their appetites.
Dublin may be small, with its two main shopping districts located no more than a 20 minute walk away from each other, but it offers wonderful opportunities for shopping sprees. The largest of Dublin's shopping venues is the Jervis Shopping Centre. Located on the north side of the River Liffey, it offers two floors of shopping decadence, while the top floor is a food hall, where shoppers can stop to refuel. The Blanchardstown Centre spans two floors, four wings and a plethora of shops and boutiques that sell just about everything.
On the south side of the river is Grafton Street, where some of Dublin's most expensive shops can be found. The Blackrock Market is popular with tourists looking for locally produced arts, crafts and food. The Temple Bar district also has several markets for books and locally produced foodstuffs. The House of Ireland on Nassau Street is the place to go to buy some of the finest quality souvenirs Ireland has to offer, from crystal to knitwear and Irish linen, which is still regarded as some of the best in the world. Other popular Dublin souvenirs are the cheap tinwhistles found in many shops.
Most shops in Dublin are open from 9am to 6pm or 7pm from Monday to Saturday, while they're only open from 12pm to 6pm on Sundays. Value added tax (VAT) of 21 percent is levied on most goods and services but non-European visitors can apply for a tax refund on any goods bought that are being exported. Not all Dublin shops participate in the Tax-Free Shopping programme, so tourists are advised to look out for the logo displayed in shops windows.
One of the most vibrant and youthful cities in Europe, Dublin has a bustling nightlife that has survived the ages. Known for their love of all things that involve drinking, the Irish take their pubs and pints very seriously and it's little wonder traditional old pubs and bars dominate the nightlife scene.
The Temple Bar district is the hub of Dublin's nightlife scene and by far the most popular place to start. Visitors will find around 24 bars and 73 cafes and restaurants to choose from.
The Grafton Street side of things provides a much quieter and more relaxed alternative to the chaos of Temple Bar, attracting a different type of crowd. Wine bars are also becoming a popular addition to the entertainment scene, providing patrons with a wine list and reasonably priced meals. The gay scene in Dublin is taking off too and there are many gay clubs and bars springing up everywhere. Most pubs and bars close early, around 11pm, but some have official permission to stay open late.
On just about every night, visitors can enjoy rock, jazz, blues and traditional Irish folk concerts at theatres, sports stadiums, churches, clubs and castles.