With the weather finally turning the corner into the warm spring and summer quickly approaching, I’ve been inspired—along with my fellow Dubliners—to get out and enjoy the sunshine while it’s here. Visitors are spoiled for inexpensive entertainment choices when the sun is shining in Ireland.
Dublin’s Urban Park Scramble
My favorite of City Centre walks, the Urban Park Scramble explores the highlights of Dublin’s trio of perfect parks. Each has its own character and color, and all are worth a visit, especially in the nice weather.
If you have time, feel free to poke around beyond the route in the book, each park has more to offer than the highlights laid out in the walking guide.
St. Stephen’s Green
Between the Fusiliers’ Arch and the Famine Memorial, walk along the banks of the lake to the old boathouse. This shady corner of the park is popular with locals enjoying a lunchtime stroll or a quick picnic. Some great views of the footbridge and the northern corner of the park can be had from the railing in the boathouse, and you’ll no doubt be asked to take photos for other visitors eager for a shot with this beautiful backdrop.
Also, take a closer look at the many statues, busts, and memorials on the trails and in the various corners of the park. A lot about Irish history can be picked up just by reading about some of Ireland’s literary and revolutionary heroes. See if you can find the dedication to Countess Markiewicz—a prominent leader and politician during the Republic of Ireland’s turbulent birth, and the first woman to be elected to the British House of Commons.
My favorite for its secluded charm, although it does draw a healthy crowd at lunchtime on a sunny day. In addition to the cascading waterfall, twin angel fountains, and sundial maze, look among the holly leaves and creeping vines that line the path for the many ruined statues slowly being overgrown with moss and vegetation.
The guided walk visits just one half of this pleasing, symmetrical park. Push farther to the east from the central eye-shaped garden to see the hillier side of the park, and join the many neighborhood workers and residents on the sunny or shady side of these small hills—depending on the time of day and temperature.
Explore Dublin’s historic and accessible riverside for a great look at the city in historical cross-section. Walk from the oldest parts of Dublin near Dublin Castle and Wood Quay to the various important modern landmarks along O’Connell Street to the once-booming Docklands and the neighborhoods of Dublin’s newest development. Again, The Frugal Guide has you covered with a map and guide in the book and a downloadable audio guide.
Dublin’s northern suburbs are home to some of the best free outdoor attractions in the city. In Glasnevin, visit the National Botanic Gardens and Glasnevin Cemetery, final resting place of many of Ireland’s founding revolutionaries, politicians, and celebrities. Take the “secret” entrance into Glasnevin from the Botanic Gardens and explore the Cemetery without taking a long walk to the main entrance.
After the gardens and the cemetery, stop by Porterhouse North for a great craft pint and continue your walk on the Royal Canal to Croke Park, home of Ireland’s national sports.
Take a Hike
Get away from the crowds in City Centre with one of the Dublin-area’s fine hikes. Take the DART (not quite free, but very reasonable) northbound to Howth for a great choice of walks on Howth Head, all with great views of the Irish Sea and the city. For a different and slightly easier coastal walk, head south to Bray and the cliffside walk to Greystones. Get a seat facing the sea on the train ride back from Greystones for an up-close look at the rocky coast at the base of the cliffs you just walked. Directions to both of these walks are in The Frugal Guide eBook.
A whole day can be spent in Phoenix Park on Dublin’s west side. The Zoo isn’t free, but a poke around the exhibits in the visitor center, a walk though Furry Glen, and a look at a Neolithic tomb entrance are all no charge. As a bonus, check out the fabulous Farmleigh estate from the western edge of the park.
Hit the Beach
If you really have the luxury of time on a sunny day in Dublin, enjoy the sand and surf of one of the city’s beaches. Sandymount Strand in the southern suburbs stretches around the Poolbeg Peninsula, where windsurfers catch the breeze in the relatively sheltered bay. On the north side of the city, families and pets gather at Dollymount Strand on North Bull Island, an long, uninterrupted stretch of beach on this silty island.