Ireland's Brighton -- The fashionable seaside resort of Bray filled with bars and culinary treats

Bray
Less than 13 miles from the centre of Dublin is Ireland's original seaside resort.  Bray is a fine town straddling the Dublin Wicklow border. In 1854 the railway was built out as far as, what had been up to this, a sleepy market town and thus sparked a building boom.

The town was transformed into a fashionable seaside resort and it became known as the "Brighton of Ireland".  Today there are still magnificent terraces of houses along the sea front and a lovely promenade with views up to Bray Head.  On a sunny day there is no where better to blow the cobwebs away.

Bray has really become a destination in it's own right with lots to do and see and has some fantastic bars and restaurants.  The Lonely Planet recently listed The Harbour Bar the best bar in the world.  It's cosy, quirky and full of character.  It is also a great live music venue.

There is almost a little Italy developing with restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and even a risto-market selling Italian cheese, charcuterie and coffee as well as pizza, panini, Italian breads and baked goods to eat in or take away.

Pastries and biscuits in the risto-market
Pastries and biscuits in the
risto-market

We had a lovely lunch here, the-day-after-the-night-before, a panino and a glass of  "hair of the dog" whilst watching a chef prepare ravioli for the newly relocated restaurant across the road.  Campo di fiori was originally located where the risto-market is now.  It is owned and run by an Italian couple, Marco and Laura from Rome.

There is a Farmers' market in the town every Saturday which is small, but there is an excellent vegetable and fruit stall selling all organic produce from a farm run by the Dominicans in Wicklow town.  They also sell some of their own free range organic pork, lamb and beef.

We bought really fresh fish from a selection of sea bream, hake, langoustines and sole amongst many more while bantering with the Chinese owner.  He supplies a lot of the restaurants in the town and loves to talk.

Bray has lots of little gift and coffee shops perfect for a Saturday morning browse. There are some real gems down the side streets and also some great boutiques. 

When I was a child Bray had degenerated into somewhere slightly seedy and run down. It's former grandeur reduced to has-been status.  My memory of it were dodgems and one armed bandits.  Today it has been transformed into a sophisticated, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan town and I really love spending the weekend here and return feeling as if I have really been away.

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