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Lute player in Temple Bar

In the wake of a remarkable economic boom, Dublin's landscape has changed immeasurably over the past decade. The Irish Republic's capital and its heart, Dublin now ranks among the top tourist destinations in Europe, and for the first time people are flocking to rather than away from it.

The city's burst of prosperity gave it a new confident sheen, but what remains special is the spirit of the people, who ensure that despite whirlwind changes, Dublin remains one of Europe's most down-to-earth, friendly and accessible cities.

Dubliners are intensely proud of their history and their town. At first glance, it may not seem much to brag about - mottled with dirt, dogged by social problems and bearing the inevitable scars of rapid gentrification - but a little exploration reveals pockets of Georgian grace, a series of priceless pubs, a proud cultural life and a plethora of open-armed, open-hearted people who will put serious dents in your cynicism.

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