COVID-19 Restrictions: Chapters Bookstore is phone orders to collect only, Bun Cha and Hugh Lane Gallery are closed.

As restrictions ease and Dublin reopens, it’s a great time to make a day of it with a trip to the city. Have a mate date, take your Ma out, or grab your other half, and make the most of our top picks. Just don’t forget your face mask and hand sanitiser!

Hugh Lane Gallery

With a focus on modern and contemporary art, the Hugh Lane, located on the north side of Parnell Square in Charlemont House, is an absolute treasure. Current exhibitions include The Lane Legacy, which looks back to an era of great cultural innovation in Ireland. Started by Sir Hugh Lane in 1904, the gallery also features the colourful chaos of Francis Bacon’s studio, deconstructed and moved piece by piece in a meticulous fashion across the Irish Sea.

It’s a must-see! It’s also home to a great gift shop and Hatch & Sons café, who do a delicious breakfast blaa, along with tasty tea and cakes. If you’re looking for somewhere to linger and recharge before you continue your day out, this is a great shout.

Admission to the gallery is free, but note that it’s closed on Mondays. It’s open from 9.45 am–6 pm Tuesday to Thursday, 9.45 am–5 pm on Fridays, from 10 am–5 pm on Saturday, and 11 am–5 pm on Sunday. There’s a one-way system in operation, and plenty of hand sanitisation stations can be found around the gallery too.

Bun Cha

You might know Moore Street for its famous fruit and veg vendors, but nestled in the midst of it you’ll find Bun Cha, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, which gives Dubliners a real taste of Hanoi City. Head Chef Dan was born there and grew up eating street food and learning old family recipes. Along with co-owner Chen (who also owns the Asian supermarket next door), he realised his dream of opening a restaurant in Dublin in 2018. It’s an affordable place to have lunch or dinner.

If you eat here, you’ve got to try the fresh sugar cane juice, which is pressed in-house, along with the colourful summer rolls, a Banh Mi if you’re in the mood for a sandwich at lunchtime, or Bun Cha, the grilled pork and rice noodle dish that gives the restaurant its name. We sampled their homemade peach iced tea, which is a refreshing treat for the summer months!

During our visit, we were so impressed by the lengths staff went to to make our dining experience as safe as possible. They take bookings for dining in, but also provide takeaway via Deliveroo and JustEat. Fewer tables maintain social distancing, staff wear masks, contact details are collected, and there are 15 minutes between each booking for sanitising. All staff have their temperature checked daily, and they’re also currently working in small teams for safety.

Chapters Bookstore

Chapters are Ireland’s largest independent bookstore. It’s been a favourite spot with Dubliners since 1983, particularly for its selection of secondhand books. The entire first floor of their massive Parnell Street shop is full of pre-loved books of all genres, and any discerning bookworm would struggle not to lose a couple of hours browsing its shelves! On the ground floor, you’ll find an extensive collection of new books, stationery, and even souvenirs such as literary-themed tote bags, bookmarks, mugs, and more. It’s a perfect place to pick up a book (or five) for yourself or a gift for a loved one. Don’t forget to check their Bargain of the Week shelves for savings on bestsellers too. Summer is for reading!

Want more?

Well, after taking in the art at the Hugh Lane, you could make a pit stop into the Garden of Remembrance, which is home to Oisin Kelly’s iconic Children of Lír sculpture. If you want to continue your cultural experience in the area, you could head to the Dublin Writers’ Museum a couple of doors up from Hugh Lane on Parnell Square. It’s open every day from 10 am-5 pm, and ticket prices are €7.50 for an adult, €6.50 for senior citizens, or €15 for a family. It’s a lovely little oasis of calm in the middle of the busy city centre.

If you’re on O’Connell Street, why not pop into GPO Witness History to immerse yourself in Irish history and learn more about the role the building had to play in the 1916 Easter Rising? 14 Henrietta Street, one of the city’s newest museums, provide a fascinating insight into life in Dublin’s townhouses through splendour and squalour. Feeling energetic? Try The Big Escape, a city-wide escape game played on smartphones. Teams start from Wolfe Tone Square.

Nearby Capel Street is home to lots of unique businesses. How about some fresh threads at Louis Copeland, a tasty middle eastern-inspired brunch in Brother Hubbard, and Little Dumpling for a mouthwatering lunch! With Henry Street being one of the top shopping districts in the city, you’d be hard pushed not to find what you’re looking for there.

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