With a fistful of cash in my pocket and a desire to temporarily flee my home city of Dublin, I often jump on a plane at short notice to savour what another European city has to offer.
I've visited some amazing cities dotted throughout this continent. However, Dublin also has a huge amount to offer a visitor, with bars, restaurants, museums and public spaces, which Dubliners can be hugely proud of.
So, what would a perfect weekend in Dublin be like? Here are some suggestions for those visiting the city - and a few tips for the locals, too.
Getting in to Dublin on a Friday, the first thing you'll want to do is get to your hotel - like in any major city, pre-booking is a no-brainer.
For me, the city centre is the best area to stay as Dublin is compact. Where you lay your head and eat your breakfast is really down to your preference for old-world style or modern minimalism. The following come highly regarded:
The Ashling Hotel on Parkgate Street represents excellent value, has a beautiful interior, a cosy bar and a great location across from The Guinness Brewery at St James' Gate.
Another option is The Clarence, owned by U2. It's located on the outskirts of Temple Bar, meaning it's close to the heart of all the action, but also not too loud.
Thirdly, opposite The Clarence on the northside of the Liffey is The Morrison, which is uber-modern with a slicker-than-slick interior designed by fashion legend John Rocha.
The Morrison isn't cheap, but it won't break the bank entirely. Even if you don't lay your head here, it's definitely worth popping in for a coffee or a bite to eat in order to check out the interior.
After you've checked in you'll be hungry and want some Dublin grub for dinner. The city's culinary scene has exploded in the last few years and the choices are superb. It's hard to pick just one eatery so I'll give you a few.
If you want a quick snack of Spanish tapas then The Port House on South William Street is the spot for you.
Alternatively, Fade Street Social's mixed cuisine tapas restaurant has a really cool interior and a well-selected and reasonable wine list.
The Pig's Ear is a little more upmarket and serves a superb Irish-European menu. The best part is that the restaurant is located on Nassau Street and overlooks the cricket and rugby pitches in Trinity College. It's a lovely view to enjoy while treating yourself in one of Dublin's very best restaurants.
Another really good option is Chez Max beside Dublin Castle. It's been there for donkey's years and serves up really good French food.
If you want something a bit more traditional then visit Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar. Irish classics served up with a twist are always a good option and this place knows how to make the most of Irish cuisine.
After that you'll need to check out some of Dublin's pubs.
True to its reputation, the city has an almost countless number of watering holes, but five stand out for me as the best central places to sink a pint.
They are, in no particular order: The Stag's Head, The Long Hall, Grogan's, The Oak and Keogh's.
All five of the above serve superb Guinness and varying forms of pub grub.
The ham and cheese sandwiches in Grogan's are the stuff of legend.
The Stag's Head also does traditional Irish music downstairs.
If you want to prolong your Friday night then The Exchequer and Ukiyo are the best spots for late-night scoops (that's drinks for you non-Irish readers). The Exchequer is a cool bar with good tunes and an interesting clientele.
Ukiyo is a Japanese bar and restaurant that pushes back the tables on Friday night and gets raucous. The cocktails there are excellent.
After all that Friday night revelry, Saturday needs to be spent outdoors. When you've roused yourself and eaten some breakfast at your hotel then make your way to the nearest DART station and take a train to Howth.
The trip will afford you a superb view of the city as the green carriage of your train winds its way along the coast of Dublin towards your destination.
Howth is located to the north of the city and has a headland that juts out into the Irish Sea. It's a short walk to that headland from the train station and a walk up and around the head gives you stunning views of the sea and back across to Dublin.
When you get to the top you can have a drink at The Summit Inn, and chill out for a bit in the sun on the terrace, or inside by the fire if the weather is being hostile.
After that, make your way down to Howth village again and grab some lunch.
The village has some excellent eateries, with Octopussy's and The Oarhouse my recommendations.
They're both located on the West Pier and serve some of the best seafood in Dublin.
The staff are friendly and they're perfect places to have a couple of glasses of wine before planning an attack on the city centre for the evening.
After some grub you can jump on the DART back to town and you should have enough time to get into your glad rags for the evening, if that's the way you roll.
Once you've done that, I'd recommend taking in a play at The Gate Theatre on your Saturday evening.
The beautiful and intimate venue dates from 1928 and has seen some of the greats of world theatre tread its boards - Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon all started their careers there.
Just around the corner on Parnell Square is Chapter One Restaurant, where you can get a very reasonable pre-theatre menu.
The Michelin-star Chapter One is world class and is only a few steps away from The Gate. You won't be disappointed by this eatery or its ambiance.
If you don't fancy heading to the theatre, then another option would be to go to the Dublin Writers Museum beside Chapter One and push your dinner back to enjoy the à la carte menu instead.
The Writers Museum has wide-ranging and lovingly curated exhibits on some of Ireland's best wordsmiths.
It's a museum that's a little off-the-beaten-track and gives you a very varied insight into the history of just how many great writers Ireland has produced.
After dinner and a bit of culture, if you fancy some more drinks and a bit of a dance, head to The Bernard Shaw, a bar, café and creative space in the southern part of the city centre.
There's a varied selection of urban music on offer here in a really unique building that was an old school bar, but which has now been given a funky makeover.
They serve pizza too, as well as doing great deals on drinks. It's a good place to relax and meet some Dublin hipsters, if you fancy that.
If you don't like the sound of that, and want something more low-key, then The Library Bar at the Central Hotel is the place go.
The main entrance is just off South Great George's Street and inside lies a really quiet mellow hotel with a superbly chilled bar upstairs. It's all comfortable couches and armchairs, alongside books, and with a soundtrack of quiet conversations. You'll feel chilled as soon as you enter and it's a lovely place to while away the last few hours of a Saturday night.
If you have to catch a Sunday flight, bus or train home, then make sure to get your last day started early and pack in the culture from the morning time onwards.
There are plenty of museums to check out and what exactly you want to hit is very much down to personal taste. However, the following are some of the best on offer:
The Guinness Storehouse is a must. Located in the brewery at St James' Gate, it tells the story of that famous old stout and all that goes along with it. You can also sink a pint of the black stuff in the Gravity Bar, which looks out over the city with a spectacular view.
The Jameson Distillery is another option. This museum - obviously - tells the story of the famous Irish whiskey and is a superbly put-together exhibition.
In terms of art, The National Gallery offers the best collection of fine art in the city, while the Irish Museum of Modern Art houses a changing collection of works. Located in the former Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, the building itself is also something to admire.
For those who want to get an insight into the story of Ireland's fight for freedom Kilmainham Gaol is the place to go. Many of Ireland's rebel leaders were imprisoned here and the prison tour is a poignant experience.
If you have some more time after checking out one of those museums the Cobblestone is a great place to hang out and have a few drinks while listening to some trad music.
Located in Smithfield, it's one of the best bars in Dublin and attracts a very inclusive crowd.
Around the corner on Manor Street in Stoneybatter is L Mulligan Grocer, it's a trendy gastropub now but is also one of the city's oldest public houses. The food and drink on offer is a perfect choice for a Sunday afternoon.
As mentioned, it's located in Stoneybatter, which is one of the oldest areas of Dublin and was originally a Viking settlement.
A walk around the old red-brick terraced houses and the nearby Smithfield Square - located in front of the Cobblestone Pub - is a great way to round off a weekend in the city.
Stoneybatter is an eclectic mix of new Dublin and old Dublin, while Smithfield Square has been totally redesigned with coffee shops and some bars.
That mix of old and new sums Dublin up very aptly. It's a city steeped in both ancient and modern history, and its blend of both gives the city a very distinct feeling that usually has people yearning to come back for more.
Dublin is a city with diverse choice and the options of what to do when in the metropolis are many.
What do you think of the city? What are the best things to do on a visit? Where are the best places to eat, drink and hang out?
We want to hear your thoughts: please tell us what you think of and about Dublin in the comments section below.