The Republic's capital city is always worth visiting. Go now and the whole family can enjoy some summer-time events too, says Aoife O'Riordain

The Irish capital is en fête for the summer, with most of the action concentrated in Temple Bar, the hub of the Diversions 2005 festival of free street events: a series of family events begins tomorrow and continues through July and August. For more details, visit the Temple Bar Information Centre (00 353 1 677 2255) at 12 East Essex Street (1). If you're in town between 3 and 7 August make sure you visit the perennially popular annual Dublin Horseshow (www.dublinhorseshow.com) which takes place at the RDS Showgrounds in Ballsbridge. For more information contact Tourism Ireland (0800 039 7000; www.tourismireland.com).

TOUCH DOWN

You can fly to Dublin from airports all over the UK, on Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com), Aer Lingus (0845 084 4444; www.aerlingus.com), BMI (0870 607 0555; www.flybmi.co.uk), FlyBE (0871 700 0535; www.flybe.com), British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) and Air France (0845 0845 111; www.airfrance.co.uk). A taxi from the airport to the centre of the city will cost around €25(£18) for the 25-minute journey.

The best-value way to the city is on Airbus 747 (serving O'Connell Street) or 748 (O'Connell Street, Temple Bar and Heuston Station). The one-way ride, which takes about an hour costs €5 (£3.50), but if you buy a one-day Dublin Rambler for €5 (£3.60) you get unlimited travel on the bus network all day. Buses are supposed to depart every 10 or 15 minutes, but services can be highly erratic. The journey takes anything from 25 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. A more regular and comfortable alternative is the blue Aircoach (00 353 1 844 7118; www.aircoach.ie), which departs from outside departures and drops off at several city centre locations. Single tickets cost €7 (£5) and return €12(£8.60).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Dublin sprawls around Dublin Bay from the suburbs of Dalkey in the south to Howth in the north. Through the centre snakes the River Liffey, cutting the city in two and creating two tribes of Dubliners; Southsiders and Northsiders. The main bridge (2) between the two is at the foot of O'Connell Street now dominated by the 394ft high stainless steel Millennium spire, which local wags refer to as "the spike". Most of the city's main attractions are located in a single square mile: the raucous pub-filled Temple Bar district; elegant Trinity College (3); car-free Grafton Street; and St Stephen's Green (4) and the Georgian splendour of Merrion Square (5). The tourist office (6) is in a former Gothic church on Suffolk Street, (www.visitdublin.com). It opens 10.30am-5.30pm from Monday-Saturday (to 7pm in July and August; 10.30am-3pm on Sundays and bank holidays).

CHECK IN

For a flavour of elegant Georgian Dublin it can only be the Merrion Hotel (7), Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2 (00 353 1 603 0600; www.merrionhotel.com), the city's finest hotel occupying four restored Georgian townhouses opposite the Irish Parliament buildings. Make sure you pay attention to the walls, which display one of the finest private collections of 19th- and 20th-century Irish art. Double rooms start at €290 (£207) with breakfast but its worth paying extra for one of the Georgian rooms complete with lavish cornicing and towering ceilings €390 (£278) with breakfast. Dublin's newest mid-price option is the centrally-located Grafton House (8), 26-27 Great Georges Street, (00 353 1 679 2041; www.graftonguesthouse.com). It offers double rooms with breakfast from €100 (£71). A budget option a short walk up the road is Avalon House (9) at 55 Aungier Street (00 353 1 478 2300; www.avalon-house.ie) - beds start at €27 (£19) a night. If you're looking for budget beds, try Two Fat Monkeys, in the same building (00 353 1 605 7702; www.twofatmonkeys.com).

TAKE A RIDE

Dublin's newest transport network is the LUAS (www.luas.ie) - two modern tramlines servicing sections of the south city. Hop on at Stephen's Green (10) and ride the Green line to its terminus at Sandyford, a journey which offers good views of the mountains beyond. Single tickets cost €2 (£1.40) one-way.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Dublin's swankiest department store is Brown Thomas (11) located at 88-95 Grafton Street (00 353 1 605 6666), although it will soon be facing competition with the opening of Harvey Nichols in the Dundrum shopping centre. Grafton Street has become as generic as any UK high street so for a more eclectic mixture try Castle Market (12) and the surrounding streets. Or for Irish-made handwoven blankets pay a visit to Avoca (13), 11-13 Suffolk Street (00 353 1 677 4215; www.avoca.ie), where you will also find homewares, food, fashion, children's toys and a café.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Pop into Lemon (14), 66 South William Street (00 353 1 672 9044) a local favourite, which serves pancakes both sweet and savoury for around €5 (£3.50).

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

The National Gallery (15), Merrion Square West, has a fine collection of European works and gives a good idea of the history of Irish art. Its most recent addition, the Millennium Wing, regularly stages temporary exhibitions, the latest of which is the work of Sir William Orpen. If, when you hear the word "culture", you reach for another pint, visit the Guinness Storehouse (16), St James' Gate (00 353 1408 4800; www.guinness-storehouse.com), on the west side of the city centre. You get detailed knowledge of the history of the black stuff, then you exchange a token for a pint in the Gravity Bar.

AN APERITIF

In the plush Octagon Bar at the Clarence Hotel (17), 6-8 Wellington Quay (00 353 1 670 9000; www.theclarence.ie), many are hoping to glimpse the hotel's owners, Bono and the Edge from U2. There's an extensive cocktail list, priced from €10.50 (£7.50).

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

Since it opened at the end of last year, Town Bar and Grill (18), 21 Kildare Street (00 353 1 662 4800; www.townbarandgrill.com) has become the city's current hottest table. Tucked in the vaulted cellars underneath a wine merchant, it services an array of classics with a modern twist like spaghetti with clams, Aberdeen Angus Rib-eye steaks and grilled sardines. There is also an impressive wine-list much of which is available by the glass. Dinner costs around €60 (£43). Another welcome addition is the tiny, L'Gueuleton (19), 1 Fade Street (00 353 1 675 3708), serving gutsy renditions of French favourites like Toulouse sausages and Cassoulet, €40 (£28). Dunne and Crescenzi (20) at 14 South Frederick Street (00 353 1675 9892) is a small, intimate Italian restaurant, which serves excellent pasta. Set dinner starts at €25 (£18); house wine is €10 (£7).

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

St Patrick's Cathedral (21) on Patrick Street (00 353 1475 4817; www.stpatrickscathedral.ie) is a magnificent Gothic building. It was used by Dublin's large refugee Huguenot population in the 17th century, and has given Protestant services ever since, with the church's famous choir singing six days a week. There are daily services at 8.30am, 11.15am and 3.15pm. Entry is €4.20 (£3) at other times.

OUT TO BRUNCH

There was national outrage when the Grafton Street landmark Bewley's Café (22), Grafton Street (00 353 1 672 7720; www.beweleyscafe.com), was forced to close due to dwindling profits last year. Thankfully, it was rescued from the brink and re-opened at the end of May. Its airy ground floor restaurant opens for breakfast on Sundays from 9am to 11am.

A WALK IN THE PARK

A 27-acre Georgian square, surrounded on four sides by terraced houses, St Stephen's Green (4) is the largest of its kind in Europe and is a haven of lawns, flowers and waterfalls in the centre of the city. Or take a bus from the quays to the Phoenix Park (23). At 1,752 acres it is the largest enclosed public park in Europe and is home to Dublin Zoo, the President of Ireland's residence and the American Embassy. Here you will find both gardens and wilderness roamed by herds of deer.

WRITE A POSTCARD

Patrick Kavanagh, one of Ireland's favourite poets, asked to be commemorated "with no hero-courageous tomb, just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by". The city council obliged: now a bronze statue of the artist sits on Wilton Terrace (24) looking over a stretch of the Grand Canal.

TAKE A HIKE

Hop on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) at Pearse Street Station (25) and alight at the pretty suburb of Dalkey village. Here you can admire the ruins of St. Begnet's Church offshore and follow the coast road down to Killiney strand. Killney is Dublin's answer to Beverly Hills, thanks to its impressive collection of stellar residents. Continue up to the summit of Killiney Hill and see if you agree with some claims that when the sun is shining the bay rivals anything Napleshas to offer.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

...is Dublin's pub scene. For a music session, try O'Donague's (26) at 15 Lower Baggot Street. On Saturday night, check out the Stag's Head (27), 1 Dame Court. Mulligan's (28), Poolbeg Street, is famed for serving the best pint of Guinness, and Keogh's (29), South Anne Street, has recently opened up its upstairs living rooms. But don't smoke unless you're well outside the door.

Additional research by Alex Leith

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