Is a place of creativity and conviviality. As the home of Joyce,
Shaw, Wilde, Yeats and Beckett, it has a claim to being called the
literary capital of the world. It also has a lighter reputation
- as one of the most sociable and lively cities in Europe. And recently
it has developed an exciting new cultural and commercial district.
At the heart of old Dublin is Trinity College, a huge walled complex
containing beautiful buildings and tranquil lawns. The Old Library
has among its treasures the Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated
manuscript of the Gospels.
Dublin is so full of interesting sights that it hardly matters
which direction you wander. But be sure to see the famous Georgian
squares, with their magnificent townhouses, gardens and sculptures.
You will pass through some of the city’s best architecture
if you head for the National Gallery with its new Millennium Wing.
There are plenty of smaller art galleries to explore.
The nightlife is sensational - every type of restaurant and bar
is here. Dublin has become amazingly cosmopolitan in recent years.
Those of more traditional tastes need not worry - it still offers
countless mellow pubs with Guinness and live music.
If you fancy a break from the city, the Wicklow Mountains are just
short drive away, with their huge gorges and waterfalls and views
of the sea.
Belfast's location is stunning. Set between the sea on one side
and high hills on the other, it has a fresh and open feel. It's
a city full of magnificent Victorian buildings, lush green parks,
charming pubs, markets and shops.
The Ulster Museum is a great introduction to the history of the
city. It includes gold jewelry from a ship of the Spanish Armada,
wrecked off the Giant's Causeway. The museum is set in the grounds
of the Botanic Gardens, whose palm House has recently been restored.
The City Hall, in Donegall Square, is an imposing building from
the turn of the twentieth century. See its lavish interior and its
art collection on a free guided tour.
Queen's University is a fine example of Victorian architecture,
surrounded by beautiful landscaped grounds. It was built by Charles
Lanyon in 1849 and remains the intellectual heart of Ulster.
For good-value restaurants and pubs, head for the southern part of the city. And there's plenty of further entertainment on offer - catch a show at the Grand Opera House
or one of Belfast's many theatres. Or maybe a musical pub or a comedy club is more your thing.