NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND
When in Dublin, you might be tempted to do as many Dubliners - and tourists - do and go on a massive pub crawl (you have about 700 alehouses to choose from). But if you'd prefer gazing at great art instead of pints of Guinness, there's a string of alluring - and largely free-to-enter - options, led by the National Gallery, where works from global icons like Van Gogh, Caravaggio and Picasso hang alongside gems from Emerald Isle legends such as Jack Butler Yeats (brother of the poet WB Yeats). Hit room 14 to see Jack's Expressionist painting, "The Liffey Swim", which portrays spectators watching swimmers race on Dublin's famous river. It won him a silver at the 1924 Paris Olympics (back then, medals were awarded for both arts and sporting events).
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND - ARCHAEOLOGY
Some of Ireland's most esteemed, beautifully-crafted Celtic artefacts - the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice - grace the treasury of this arresting museum. Dating from the AD700s, the intricate brooch was discovered on a beach in County Meath, north of Dublin, in 1850, while the chalice - also from the 8th century, bedecked with gold, silver, copper, bronze, brass and lead - was found by two boys digging in a County Limerick potato field in 1868. The museum also has significant Bronze and Iron Age finds - including bodies preserved in peat bogs - plus relics from Dublin's Viking overlords.
CHESTER BEATTY LIBRARY
Established by a globe-trotting American mining magnate and philanthropist who became an adopted Dubliner, this attraction on the grounds of Dublin Castle boasts the extraordinary, and highly decorative collection that Arthur Chester Beatty sourced from across Europe, the Far East and Islamic worlds. Everything from rare Chinese jade books and illuminated Qur'ans to Japanese scrolls and Parisian fashion plates are there to browse. Head up to the calming roof garden for views over Dublin.
IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
A half-hour walk - or ten-minute cab ride - from the buzz of central Dublin takes you past the giant Guinness brewery and out to IMMA, which occupies a former 17th-century royal hospital and one-time soldiers' retirement home. It has a permanent collection of 3500 artworks from Irish and international artists - among them portraits and sculptures from Lucian Freud, Joan Miro and Kathy Prendergast. Check the listings for talks and screenings, enjoy a caffeine jolt at the pop-up cafe in the museum's courtyard and enjoy a stroll around the site's pretty gardens and meadows.
THE HUGH LANE GALLERY
Photograph of Francis Bacon Studio by Perry Ogden (1998). Photo: Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin/The Estate of Francis Bacon
Impressionist masterpieces, a chaotic reconstructed studio of the late Irish painter Francis Bacon and the abstract act of another (living) Dublin-born talent, Sean Scully, are drawcards of this gallery, named after the so-called "Father of Irish Modern Art". Born in County Cork, Hugh Lane grew up in England, became an art dealer and collector in London, before opening Dublin's first gallery dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Lane died, aged 39, on board RMS Lusitania, when it was sunk by a German u-boat off the coast of Cork in 1915, but his legacy endures at a gallery with a reputation for cutting-edge temporary exhibitions. On show until July 10, for example, are the boundary-breaking works of Irish artist Patrick Graham.
THE DOORWAY GALLERY
This hidden gem, in a Georgian townhouse close to Trinity College, is another contemporary art hotspot, with both established and emerging talents on display. It's a good place to snap up art, whether in person or online (a new Art Visualiser app lets you view pieces at home, with the exact measurements appearing on your wall). You may take a liking to Padraig McCaul's stirring prints of Irish land and seascapes, Eithne Roberts' soothing oil paintings or Chris McMorrow's depictions of classic Dublin pubs and streets.
Steve McKenna was a guest of Tourism Ireland (ireland.com)