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Things to do in Dublin

Go kite-surfing around Bull Island

The area around Bull Island, 6km (4 miles) to the north of the city, has a developing reputation as an outstanding kite-surfing destination. If you prefer to watch, walk the Great South Wall to Poolbeg Lighthouse for fantastic views. To take part, head to Pure Magic (tel: +353 (0) 1 805 4912; www.puremagic.ie/dublin) for lessons, kit hire and all things wet and wild.

Have a go at hurling

Get an education on the most Irish of sports, starting with the highly competitive sport of Gaelic football before moving on to the more challenging and aggressive world of hurling. They go easy on the full contact at Experience Gaelic Games (tel: +353 (0) 1 25 44 292; www.experiencegaelicgames.com), so you should get home without a visit to the A&E ward.

Hike the Dublin Mountains

Head for the hills of the Dublin Mountains, which are sprinkled with looped trails, gentle walks and adventures to suit hikers of all levels of fitness. Start at Marlay Park and walk or drive to Kilmashogue Forest Park which offers 10km (6 miles) of forest and mountain walks with views of Dublin city. Alternatively, head to the cute village of Howth, 15km (9 miles) from the city centre, where clifftop walks and fresh fish suppers await.

Mountain bike through the Wicklow Mountains

Escape the bustle of the city by exploring the beautiful Wicklow and Dublin Mountains, set within easy reach of the city. Capture panoramic views from your saddle, including the famous 'Guinness Lake' (Lough Tay), the Vartry Reservoir, coastal vistas of the Irish Sea, Powerscourt Waterfall and Gardens and Enniskerry Village. Terrains are available to suit all fitness levels. Biking.ie (tel: +353 83 414 7627; www.biking.ie) have wheels to hire in Ticknock.

Pay your respects at the Garden of Remembrance

If you want some time out from the to and fro of the city, take an hour to visit the Garden of Remembrance. It's centrepiece is a water-filled non-denominational cross scattered with cracked shields and broken swords, there to commemorate all victims of Ireland's various uprisings, from the 1798 rebellion to the Troubles of the 20th century.

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The Dylan

Located in the western canal belt, this small boutique hotel is the epitome of style and sophistication. It's housed in a former 17th-century theatre, which in its heyday staged concerts conducted by Antonio Vivaldi. Today, the minimalist east-meets-west designer décor of the 40 individually designed guest rooms, combined with an intimate courtyard garden, spectacular canal views, efficient staff and an excellent restaurant, ensures a luxurious stay.

Morrison Hotel

Enjoying a great location on the north bank of the River Liffey, the recently expanded Morrison Hotel is not only an oasis of tranquillity but also a showcase for the talent of Ireland's internationally renowned designer John Rocha. The interior is unashamedly chic, with a minimalist theme of East meets West. All 138 bedrooms are equipped with high-tech gadgets and the various bars, restaurants and the nightclub are popular with the local style brigade.

Central Hotel

This cheap, city centre hotel harks back almost 200 years. It is very old school Dublin and as such boasts some impressive period features in its façade and public areas. The rooms have been recently refurbished, with free Wi-Fi available in most of them, though snuggle up in the Library Bar and the years still drift away.

Number 31

Overlooking elegant Fitzwilliam Place, Number 31 is the former home of Ireland's leading architect, Sam Stephenson. It has since been converted into a highly sophisticated, award-winning guesthouse with an emphasis on detail, luxury and simplicity. This stylish property offers a variety of en-suite accommodation, as well as secure car parking, but it's the intimate beauty that wins guests over.

The Shelbourne

A veritable Dublin institution immortalised in James Joyce's epic Ulysses, and now something of a hub for the Ireland rugby team, the 5-star Shelbourne Hotel has been home to the rich and famous (and even royalty) since its opening in the 18th century. Centrally located beside St Stephen's Green, with 265 opulent rooms, celebrated bars and restaurants, and a smart health club, it remains one of Dublin's most distinguished hotels.

The Merrion Hotel

Dublin's most sumptuous 142-room hotel looks like a standard Georgian block of houses, but behind its modest façade, it has been sensitively restored to combine period elegance with 5-star modern facilities. There's a classy restaurant, sizeable pool, gym and spa, but also magnificent formal, landscaped gardens, forming a serene haven far removed from the frenetic city centre.