Dublin helps Ireland earn its nickname the Emerald Island with plenty of parks, gardens and golf greens to satisfy most outdoor enthusiasts.
Don’t let Ireland’s reputation for rain turn you off the idea of exploring Dublin parks and greater outdoor attractions. The capital actually enjoys some of Ireland’s best weather, with enough dry days to balance the wet. If you’re traveling in the summer, you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy Ireland’s famously long summer days, when it stays bright until bedtime, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy Dublin’s numerous parks, gardens and outdoor venues.
If you do find yourself in Dublin on a rainy day, don’t let that deter you from seeking an outdoor adventure. Instead, try adopting the Irish attitude toward rain: Put on a good jacket and head outside, happy in the knowledge that a warm fire and a glass of whiskey will warm you upon your return.
Phoenix Park should be any outdoor lover’s first stop in Dublin. Europe’s largest enclosed park is just north of the city center and houses many Irish treasures, including the residence of the Irish president (called Áras an Uachtaráin) and the Papal Cross, which was erected for a visit by Pope John Paul II. The park is also home to Dublin Zoo and a herd of wild deer that roam freely throughout the park.
Closer to the heart of Dublin is St. Stephen’s Green, the most famous piece of grass in the city. The rectangular park has some fascinating features, including a garden with heavily scented flowers for the blind. Within the park you’ll find a memorial to the Famine as well as statues celebrating famous Irish heroes and writers. Don’t forget some bread for the well-looked-after ducks: Even during the 1916 Rising, fighting within the park ceased temporarily to allow the groundskeeper to feed them.
For a hidden treasure in the middle of the city, head south from St. Stephen’s Green to the romantic Iveagh Gardens. A walk around these Dublin gardens will leave you wistful for a forgotten era; with whimsical statues poking out from overgrown foliage, you’re likely to forget the modern world. Tucked away behind Georgian houses, the Iveagh Gardens are overshadowed by the neighboring Green, but are well worth a visit for those looking for a bit of peace in the city.
The National Botanical Gardens are a short bus ride from the city center, but a world away from busy city life. With 20,000 different species of plants, the gardens are a haven for the botanically inclined. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you’re sure to enjoy a wander around the beautifully kept grounds. Check out the Curvilnear Range of Glasshouses, a stunning structure that houses plants from around the world.
If you prefer the beach to a garden, Dublin has plenty of coastline. Lovers of Irish literature will recognize Sandymount Strand as the beach where Stephen Dedalus, James Joyce’s alter ego in Ulysses, walks off into eternity. The Strand, just east of the city center, is the perfect place to pull your head out of that book and take a long, leisurely stroll along the seemingly endless stretch of beach.
For more wide-open spaces, hop on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) and head south. DART hugs the coastline, making for a scenic journey through Dublin’s affluent southern suburbs. Stop in Dún Laoghaire for a stroll around the lively pier before heading to Sandycove. Once there, the brave can don their swimsuits for a frigid dip at Forty Foot, a famous gentleman’s bathing spot, now also open to women and children. For those disinclined to swim in the Irish Sea, a hike up Killiney Hill will be sure to invigorate, with breathtaking views of Dublin and the coast.
Bull Island is another destination for nature fans, especially those interested in bird watching. Connected to Dublin by bridge, Bull Island is easily accessible by car or bus. The small, sandy island is a nature reserve, with bird life protected by law. The island is also popular for swimming and has two golf courses where you can participate in one of Ireland’s most popular sports.
If you’ve whet your appetite for golfing, two of Ireland’s premier golf resorts, K Club and Druid’s Glen are within striking distance of Dublin. In fact, many of Ireland’s finest scenic spots are just outside its most cosmopolitan city.
Themes: Outdoor Adventures
This is very timely as we leave for Dublin in a few days