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Dublin: 5 hidden gems in city center

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iveagh gardens dublin
Get your morning dose of art at Iveagh Gardens. Photo: Steve-h

By Jessica Colley—

There are many beloved sights in central Dublin: Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street, St Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, the National Gallery…

All of these are must-visit icons, but equally enticing are some of the lesser known spots right in their midst. They may be tucked away off side streets or missing a large sign to announce them, but they are well worth a visit—and some of my favorite places in town. A sunny day in Dublin would be well spent on the following walking tour, replete with sweet treats, shopping stops and, of course, a perfect pint (or several) of Guinness.

1. Cake Café
62 Pleasants Place, off Lower Camden Street

Start your tour just outside of the city center at the Cake Café, where you can sit outside with a morning cup of coffee. The tasty pastries are served on whimsically mismatched plates. It’s the perfect place to bust out a map and plot the rest of your day.

Your map to the treasures hidden in central Dublin.

2. Iveagh Gardens
Off Clonmel Street

Once outside the Cake Café, walk up Pleasants Place to make a right on Pleasants Street. Shortly after that turns into Lower Camden Street, turn left on Harcourt and then right onto the tiny dead-end Clonmel Street.

Here, you will find the small, barely marked entrance to Iveagh Gardens, one of the best kept secrets in Dublin. This small, serene park is a great spot for a morning constitutional among sculptures and fountains.

3. George’s Street Arcade
South Great Georges Street

After you’ve pondered aplenty, head back up Harcourt Street. When you reach the cormer of St. Stephen’s Green, turn left on Cuffe Street. After a couple blocks, turn right on Aungier Street, which becomes South Great Georges Street, a lovely promenade lined with everything from music shops to clothing stores to hostels.

Take in as many of the sights as you’d like, but don’t miss a stop at George’s Street Arcade (on the right-hand side of the street). The indoor market is full of vintage stores, interesting jewelry, Irish collectibles and much more.

4. Market Bar
16 Fade Street

After weaving your way through the George’s Street Arcade, head back down Georges Street to turn left onto Fade Street. This quiet strip is one of my favorite blocks in Dublin, home to many a great restaurant, pub and nightlife joint.

It’s the perfect time for a snack, so pass through the courtyard and into the warehouse that is Market Bar. Grab a seat at a bench and order up some small plates (and that Guinness I promised).

5. Secret Book and Record Store
15A Wicklow Street

After you’ve had your fill of Guiness (is there such a thing?), head out of Market Bar and make a left on Drury Street, then a right on Exchequer Street, which will turn into Wicklow Street, home to the lit- and music-lovers dream..

Hidden at the back of a long corridor that resembles the entrance to an apartment building the Secret Book and Record Store is aptly named. (I had lived in Dublin for years—and passed the store countless times—before it was pointed out to me.) For those who seek it out, it’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, with a great selection of books, CDs and vinyls—and plenty of bargains, to boot.

Try not to stock up too much, though. When you emerge from the store you’re right in the center of Dublin, ready for a night on the town (and yes, more Guinness).

About the author

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.

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