Highlights of Dublin’s outdoorsFeatures Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Dublin has a wealth of parks, gardens, and other outdoor areas. Here’s some of our picks — if you think we’ve overlooked any places that we should have included then comment below and tell us where you’re favourite outdoor areas in Dublin are.
Highly recommended is a visit to Glasnevin for the National Botanic Gardens. The 19 and 83 buses leave you directly outside, while there’s a short walk from stops served by the 4/4a and 19a – ask the driver where to get off.
Not a park or garden, nearby is Glasnevin Cemetery which includes the graves of former Irish leaders such as Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins. Outside the remit of being free, the graveyard’s trust now offers guided tours daily lead by a historian for a fiver a pop. The main buses which head up the Finglas Road will leave you outside the graveyard’s gates – the 40A, and 40D.
The Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed urban public park in Europe. Heuston station and its Luas stop are a short walk away, the no. 10 bus stops nearest to the zoo, or most buses heading towards Chapelizod including the 25A, 26, and 66/66A all pass the south end of the park. Expect deer, rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife, although sometimes you need to travel half the park to find them.
The park holds the residences of the President and the US ambassador. To make use of the park’s vast amount of off-road cycle tracks and quiet road, bicycle rental is available just inside the main entrance at Parkgate Street – the nearest Dublin Bikes station is currently at Smithfield, so the park’s own bike rental may be better if you’re planning on spending a while there.
If you find the Phoenix Park too small or get bored looking for the deer, there’s always even more parkland to the south of it. The National War Memorial Park and the adjacent linear park with a path and cycle track along the river gives quite a refreshing view of the River Liffey.
In the city centre, most may know of St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square, but the Iveagh Gardens off Harcourt Street is a lesser known alternative for a break from the city noise (nearest Luas stop is Harcourt Street but also walking distance from the St Stephen’s Green).
On the Northside, one of our favourite part-hidden places is just off Dorset Street, where an old Royal Canal basin makes up the strange sight of the Blessington Street Basin where water is isolated after the canal branch was filled in. Many northbound bus routes split in the area, but there’s a Dublin Bikes station at the other end of the street.
If you want even fresher air then Dublin Bay has a lot to offer. Bull Island Beach offers the feel of a country beach, right beside the city (if you ignore the large ships in the distance). You can take the 130 bus or the infrequent orbital 104 to Clontarf where you walk out onto Bull Island. If travelling by Dart, the 130 bus will take you from Clontarf Road Dart station to Clontarf itself.
Dun Laghaire Harbour might be known to be great for walks (Dun Laghaire Dart Station), but a slightly secret option closer to the city is the Great South Wall on the Poolbeg peninsula – while you’ll usually find a decent amount of people walking the seawall out into the bay, many city residents seem unaware of it. As you go out to it, the industrial setting of the south port hides the impressive setting of the walkway. On the tip of the peninsula, it stretches a further 2km into the middle of the bay, on a clear day giving a view from Howth to Dalkey.
Back on the Northside, a path and off-road cycle track (with just a small missing stretch, this being Ireland) cover most of the bay from just outside the city centre to Howth Head.
The Dublin Mountains
Last, but not least, are the Dublin Mountains which give stunning views of the country and the city. The Dublin Mountaineer shuttle bus runs from July to October, leaving three times daily from the Sandyford Luas stop and also from Sean Walsh Park which is behind Tallaght Stadium. For details of the mountains and the shuttle bus see the website of Dublin Mountains Partnership at dublinmountains.ie.
Are our recommendations too general or too city centric? What free places in Dublin do you suggest people visit? And we’re likely missing loads of suggestions in the city too? Comment below.
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