Home Uncategorized Top 35 Best Hikes and Walks in Dublin (new walks for 2021)

Top 35 Best Hikes and Walks in Dublin (new walks for 2021)

by Roberto
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With life very much slowing of late, to a walking pace in fact, it’s given time to reflect on the city that I live in. Some might say our home city has become a trap, however I look more on this time as an opportunity. My daily exercise has become my highlight. There is no end to the list of walks that one can take, with the only limitation being your imagination. That said, I personally find those included here to be the best 35 hikes and walks in Dublin. The city is very much a walking playground for those with the will and stamina to make it so. Get out and see Dublin city for what it is, a breath of fresh air.

Preface to the walks of Dublin

This post on the best places to walk in Dublin is a 30 minute read. To that extent, I’ve included an interactive table of contents to help you navigate easily to the best walks around Dublin that you are interested in. I’ve also split them geographically between those north and south of the Liffey, and a few more further south still. Personally I find the best of Dublin to be those parts outside the city center, and to that extent the walks outlines will most certainly reflect it. Best of all, the following nice walks in Dublin are all free, except for those with guided tours. We will discuss the walks in kilometres, so for those wondering, a mile is roughly 5/8 of a kilometre.

I have started adding links to Alltrails for the walks that I have recorded here. Alltrails is an excellent hiking app offering maps and step by step directions, and is an excellent download.

Dublin Walks and 20 km from my Home

The latest government regulations stipulate you should only exercise within your own county or 20 km from your home. To that extent I suggest using the handy site 2 km from my home at this link, which has a radius map, and can be extended to 20 km.

Use this handy table of contents to navigate to walks within your area by tapping on the links.

Tips for the best walks in Dublin
Public Transport in Dublin
North Side Coastal Walks in Dublin
Portrane Round Tower and Donabate beach walk
Skerries Beach
Ardgillan Castle
Portmarnock Beach to Malahide
Howth Head
-A Lap of North Bull island -New Walk for 2021
The Inland and Garden Walks of North Side Dublin
-St Anne’s Park -New walk for 2021
National Botanic Gardens
Glasnevin Cemetery
Phoenix Park
The National Famine Way
South Side Walks in Dublin
Liffey and Grand Canal Dock
Grand Canal and Bushy Park Walk
Irish National War Memorial Gardens
Dodder Walk
Street Art Tour
Georgian Dublin
-Historical Dublin- New Walk for 2021
Embassy Walk
South Side Dublin Coastal Walks
Sandymount Beach
Poolbeg Lighthouse
Dun Laoghaire
Killiney Hill
Best Parks for Walks In South Side Dublin
Saint Enda’s Park
Marlay Park
-Tymon Park – New Walk for 2021
Dublin Mountains Walks
Dublin Mountain Way
Carrickgollogan forest walk
Ticknock & Fairy Castle
-GAP to the Fairy Castle – New Walk for 2021
Tibradden Walk
Cruagh Wood
Hell Fire Club
Bohernabreena Reservoir Walk
The quintessential best walk in Dublin, that’s not in Dublin
Greystones Cliff Walk

Tips for enjoying the best walks in Dublin

As with any walk suitable footwear is recommended. Be sure to take snacks and water, and as a rule for the more difficult hikes, it is prudent to notify someone of your intentions. Wear clothing that matches the Irish weather; rain is not unheard of here. Conversely, the Irish sun can have a high UV index so sunscreen and a hat are advisable to provide protection, even on cloudy days.

Public Transport in Dublin

In fact many of the walks mentioned below are accessible by public transport in Dublin. Public transport options include Dublin Bus, Luas (tram) and the Dart (Dublin’s light rail system). Luas and Dart tickets must be bought at the from machines before boarding, while bus tickets need to be bought onboard from the drivers. Luas tickets range in price from €2.10 to €3.20 depending on the number of stages. Dart single tickets cover the range of €2.25 to €3.3. Return tickets are naturally cheaper, but ensure you are returning from the same station. Buses require that you carry the exact amount in cash, but are cheaper at €1.55 to €2.50. Downloading the Dublin Bus, Irish rail and Luas apps ensure you can check timetables, costs and routes quite easily on the fly.

The Best North Side Coastal Walks in Dublin

Portrane Round Tower and Donabate beach walk

Where better to start than with a stunning cliff walk. The walk can be done as a there and back walk, or as a circular route. The shorter there and back route suits if you are driving, as a car park is located next to the Martello Tower in Portrane. Hugging the coastal path from there to Donabate Beach, there are great views of the offshore Lambay Island. Its only 2 km to the beach so the length of the walk depends on how far you venture down the kilometres long beach. The walk suits all fitness levels but is not suited for wheelchairs.

You may also be distracted by Portrane Round Tower. This curiosity dates from only 1844. It was built as a memorial by Sophie Evans to her husband George Evans, a local MP. And so remains a symbol of loss and love. An Irish Taj Mahal if you will.

The longer circular route would be more suitable to those hoping to reach the area by Dart. The nearest stop is in Donabate, and the loop heads north through the town by road to the Rogerstown Estuary, where the road then travels east before reaching Portrane beach. The 12.5 km trail follows the same path as before, and at the Corballis Cottages road connects back to Donabate. Care should be taken on the narrow roads in the area.

Skerries Beach

For a more passive walk, take the 33x bus from the Customs House to Balbriggan. Alighting in the delightful town of Skerries, follow the path back Skerries Rugby pitch, where the trail starts by entering Skerries Bay Beach. The walk has facilities en route, and is suitable for everyone. Towards the end it circles around the headland, passing another Martello Tower* and the Springers bathing area. The 3 km route finishes at the Skerries Sea Memorial, affectionately known locally as the Totem Pole. It honours those lost at sea.

The perfect reward for your efforts comes in the form of an ice cream at Storm in a Teacup, one of Ireland’s finest purveyors of frozen delights. Best enjoyed while looking across the bows of boats in Skerries harbour. Skerries has no end of quality establishments serving lunch, and in Olive Deli, one of its best cafes in this humble writers opinion.

Skerries Harbour

*Wondering what all the Martello Towers are all about. 21 of these towers still stand in Ireland and were built in the early nineteenth century. With the British fearing an attack by Napoleon, a string of the towers were built to form a defensive line along the east coast known as the pale. The attack never came but we are thankfully left with the stone reminders.

Martello Tower Dulin

Ardgillan Castle

The grounds of this 1738 castle in Balbriggan of North Dublin, are a perfect escape from the city. If you have a car that is. Set in gently sloping grounds, that curve past the castle and down to the sea, you can guarantee some of the best views around as well as a good amble.

The loop of the estate, following its internal circumference is 5 km, but perhaps more joy can be found in circling the castellated manor house at its heart. From here the walled, rose. ornamental and seasonal gardens will give colour to any route you take. To the west and the parks extremity is the wildflower meadow which changes naturally with the seasons. The large playground on the estate will be an attraction to keep younger ones in your group happy too.

Ardgillan castle Dublin

Portmarnock Beach to Malahide

The last of the beach walks I’ll recommend for the moment is the one from Portmarnock Beach which can be looped or go all the way to Malahide. Featuring one of the longest and best beaches in Dublin, there is no shortage of golden sand and blue seas to look at. From the Dart station in Portmarnock, follow Station Road, before turning left onto Strand Road. Golf Links Road then leads to Portmarnock Beach Parking, which coincidentally is your starting point if driving. You should be already well warmed up from this 2 km, and the beach is only a short walk from here.

Taking the shorter route (7 km) lets you take in the whole of Portmarnock Beach and the Velvet Strand, before doubling back on the coast road towards the town of Portmarnock and the train station that lies directly beyond. The more ambitious path (10 km) follows the amazing coastline all the way to the town of Malahide. One of Dublin’s most pleasant towns, its awash with good eateries, and features the most impressive castle in the county. If you have the legs to take you that far. Failing that the Dart is on hand to take you back to the city or your car in Portmarnock.

Portmarnock Beach

Howth Head

As one of Dublin’s best loved walks, the Howth Head cliff walk Dublin is one not to be missed. The coastal town of Howth is exceptional in itself. Some of Dublin’s finest fish restaurants are here with Beshoffs and Aqua at opposite ends of the scale. The DART is your friend again if you aren’t driving, with the town some 30 minutes from the city centre. From Howth station, you can pass by the harbour, or stroll out to see the seals that frequent the area.

There are many routes that can be taken along the Howth cliff walk with all rated moderate. The 7 km cliff path route (following the green arrows) is the more manageable doubling back down to the town, while the 12 km and 15 km routes perform more of a full loop of Howth Head. All start beyond the harbour from Balscadden road, which (you guessed it) is near the Martello Tower. From here the path climbs by the cliffs and has some of the best views of Dublin Bay. It’s also the location where Leopold Bloom proposes in the James Joyce novel Ulysses.

To the left below is Ireland’s Eye, home to colonies of Gannets, Cormorants and Puffins. To your right the views extend all the way from the Chimney stacks at Sandymount to the Wicklow mountains. The trail often borders the cliff, but is at no times considerably dangerous. After 2 km it reaches Howth Summit, from where the trail-head leads back into the streets of the town.

Howth Bog of Frogs Loop

The Bog of Frogs Walk

For those in this for the long haul, the cliff path extends to the Baily Lighthouse, before cutting through Howth and Deer Park Golf Courses in the area known as the Bog of Frogs. Nearby you will find Aideen’s Grave, a 4500 year old passage tomb, and the Rhododendron gardens of Howth Castle. They are the largest in Europe. It then descends to the town and your well deserved fish lunch. A well timed arrival will treat you to a delectable Dublin sunrise too, but you’ll need to be up early to catch that in the summer.

Howth Head Dublin

A lap of North Bull island -New Walk for 2021

North Bull Island is an island connected to the mainland by bridges off the coast of Clontarf and Raheny. It is a designated UNESCO biosphere, and bird sanctuary. The island is about 5 km long and 800 metres wide, and Dollymount Strand beach runs the entire length of it. Which makes it perfect for a walk, don’t you think? Interestingly the island is only a few centuries old, and formed after the bull wall was built to prevent silting up of Dublin Bay. That such a natural habitat was formed is a surprise, it now hosts birds such as curlews, oystercatchers and redshanks, mammals such as pygmy shrews, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits and a small number of common lizards.

Our walk circumnavigates the island and in doing so racks up 10 km. This one will clear the cobwebs, especially with that sea air. There is parking after the wooden bridge from Clontarf, or alternatively if using public transport, take bus number 130, which conveniently runs straight to Dollymount Strand from Abbey Street. Then up we go along Dollymount Strand, one of Dublin’s longest and most beloved beaches. The walk is quite straightforward, at the end we turn into the island and return over the dunes that lie off the beach, while avoiding the two golf courses. With a it of luck, you’ll make some good wildlife sightings.

North Bull Island

The Inland and Garden Walks of North Side Dublin

St Anne’s Park -New walk for 2021

St Anne’s park is undoubtedly one of Dublin’s most historical parks. Located between Raheny and Clontarf this was once the opulent home of the family which had the biggest impact on Dublin city. The Guinness family built St Anne’s House here in 1837, a mansion in the Italianate-style. The 240 acre park that still exists is their personal gardens turned into a city park. Sadly the house was gutted in a fire and we can’t still marvel at it. What we can see though is a some of the wonderful folly’s that are scattered all over the park. Through the heart of the park runs a majestic oak lined avenue, which is a huge focus of our walk. If you haven’t been you’ll see why. Perhaps its best feature though is the rose gardens that are in its heart.

St Anne’s Park is easily reached by taking the DART to Killester and walking to its main gates from there. An alternative are buses 31 or 32, or driving. There is an excellent route on Alltrails, that begins in this part of the park. It is roughly 6 km in length, not including your connections to the park. It suggests to follow the full length of the main avenue, but take a diversion and enter the rose gardens before rejoining. Afterwards it enters the wilder east side of the park.

It would be folly to turn back

This part is much wilder than the others and its here that the series of folly’s are found. Even their names are epic. You’ll see the Herculanean Temple, the Pompeian Water Temple of Isis at the duck pond, the Annie Lee Tower and Bridge, the Hermitage Bridge, the Yew Circle and Fountain Pool. There’s also the Roman viewing tower, which sadly has been tarnished by graffiti. It’s the closest you’ll get to Italy in these times. If you exit the walk briefly at the intersection of Watermill Road and the Clontarf Road, there’s a stunning piece of art in the form of a 10 metre high sculpted Peace Tree by artist Tommy Craggs. Its worth the diversion before you continue your circular route back through the park to the end of your walk.

Much of the park is family and wheelchair friendly, though some of the follys are found deep within the woods. There are bathroom and dining facilities at the Red Stables Market. If you are walking Saturday morning, you’ll stumble upon a farmers market here too.

National Botanic Gardens

While not necessarily a fixed walking route, there’s no denying the power of a walk in the National Botanic Gardens. The 19 hectares site contains over 20,000 plants in what is the finest garden in Dublin. With remarkable Victorian glasshouses, sculptures and sundials situated all over, its perfect if you want to stretch those legs. The gardens were founded in 1795, with some trees dating back to then. I’m not going to suggest a route, just wander at your leisure. Its not the kind of place to watch the fit bit or the clock. The gardens are reached via bus 83 from College Green, or if driving there is ample parking surrounding. Admission is without an entry free and the paths are suitable for all.

Botanic Gardens Dublin

Glasnevin Cemetery

A gateway connects the botanical gardens to the adjacent Glasnevin Cemetery. I know walking cemeteries might not be perceived as everyone’s idea of a good time, but hear me out. As the first cemetery serving both Catholics and Protestants in the city, Glasnevin cemetery has quite a story to tell. It can be visited by tour or by your own volition. As the burial place of many Republican leaders, such as De Valera, Collins, and O’Connell, its brimful with history. Collins’ grave and the round tower tomb of Daniel O’Connell particularly stand out.

But as an area to walk around its fascinating. The high castellated stone walls were built to keep out body-snatchers. The sprawling area containing 1.5 million burial sites (more than the present population of the city), is a mix between Victorian monuments, stone Irish high crosses and the more modern marble ones of recent times. Its the first two that will give you your walk, with a combination of unique designs of the area and the inscribed history of a city folk long forgotten. Of course if you want to prolong your walk you could hunt for the graves of the famous folk laid to rest here. The area is fully wheel chair accessible.

Phoenix Park

As Europe’s largest enclosed city park, it’s hard to define what a walk of the Phoenix Park should entail. One that encompasses all the major sights would be great but we are talking about walks here, not a road trip. So we will propose a 7 km looped walk, one that begins with a Luas ride on the red line to Heuston Station and a walk up Parkgate Street to the entrance. If driving, it is advised to park in the visitor car parks at the Papal Cross or the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, and you can do the walk in reverse. From the Parkgate Street entrance, Chesterfield Avenue stretches for 4 km straight through the park to the Castleknock Entrance on the other side.

Begin your walk by entering the People’s Garden and continuing through the floral pleasantries here, before you cross the road and Dublin Zoo beckons in front. It’s straight from here till the centre of the park. This is marked by a roundabout, at the centre of which lies a monument with the mythical phoenix atop. But on your way pause to take a look at Aras an Uachtarain, the Irish presidents crib. If its a Saturday you can tour for free, but be sure to get the tickets at the visitor centre in the morning.

The way back

Leaving the phoenix burning in your tracks, Acres Road to your left gives you a sighting of the American Ambassadors Residence, built in 1776. Just beyond, the cross that overlooks the large field is the Papal Cross, where in 1979 Pope John Paul attracted a crowd of 1.25 million people. Nowadays you are more likely to see herds of the 600 fallow Deer that call the park home roaming here. Its best to stay away from the deer, especially during rutting season in October, when they can be aggressive. The deer have called the park home for 350 years.

Use Acres Road to access the pedestrian paths that cut through the verdant park to the south wall and the Magazine Fort. This star shaped fort was built as a gunpowder store in 1735. While not visit-able without the very infrequent guided tours, its stone walls and moat are worth seeing. Finally our walk takes Wellington Road, to the Wellington Monument. This 62 metres tall obelisk is the tallest in Europe, and commemorates the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo. He also was born in Ireland. It’s a short stroll from here back to the exit.

Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park

The National Famine Way to Maynooth

This is one for those with a spare day (or seven). Beginning on the Customs House Quay at the Famine Statues which are a mark of the poverty and loss that crippled the country during the 1840’s. The walk also starts in the shadows of Epic, the Irish Emigrant Museum and the Jeanie Johnston Famine Boat. While you may be inclined to visit those more, that’s not where our walk goes. Instead its a 154 km along the banks of the Royal Canal all the way to Strokestown in County Roscommon and the National Famine Museum.

Graded as easy despite the distance, it is the reverse route that a group of 1490 emigrants took in 1847, in the hope catching a ship to Canada and a life without famine. Many of course did not make it, and this walk now commemorates them. Bronze shoes line the route they took, and pilgrims now take today. If interested in this walk, a full itinerary of the walk and good resources are available at https://nationalfamineway.ie/.

You might consider this as a break free walk when we finally leave our restrictions behind. I’m not proposing the whole thing but the first stage which runs to Maynooth. It hugs the canal all the way to the Kildare town for 30 km, past a whole host of information stations on the pilgrims. You can then jump on the train back to the city. After all the walking you’ve been doing the last few months you are probably well able for this. It’s one I’m setting my sights on personally. Of course you can leave the canal (or join it) anywhere along the way, and tailor it to suit your fitness and location.

Famine Statues Dublin

South Side Walks in Dublin

Liffey and Grand Canal Dock

This one begins on the north side and travels to the south side but passes some interesting landmarks of Dublin. I’m assuming not too many have left for Strokestown, so lets begin again at the Customs House. This 19th century building was engineered by James Gandon, who went on to design many of Dublin’s finest neoclassical buildings. Passing by the famine monument we cross the Sean O’Casey bridge over the River Liffey and down St John Rogerson’s Quay. There’s no shortage of art here, from commemorative sculptures to vibrant street art. The harp-shaped Samuel Beckett bridge is soon on our right and across the river is Dublin’s unique Convention Center, designed by the late Kevin Roche.

Grand Canal Dock

Our walk turns up Macken Street and onto Misery Hill. The impressive modern structures of the Bord Gais Energy Theater and the Marker Hotel will flank you to Grand Canal Dock. On Hanover Quay, is the studio where U2 practiced in their early days, and a future visitor centre dedicated to the band is planned for here. At the end we pass over 3 locks connecting the canal and the sea, before following a street art flanked path to Ringsend. Completing our loop we pass by Boland’s Mills, historical for being seized during the 1916 rising. After years of dereliction it is now being developed.

The figure 8 walk then returns via Macken Street to the docks, over the Samuel Beckett Bridge and back towards our start point. The bridge is one of the best places to watch a Dublin sunset, so if you time your walk right it will be the perfect end to it. The 5 km looped walk is easy and scenic, however the locks do make it not wheelchair friendly. It can also be easily linked with the Grand Canal Walk which follows.

Dublin sunset

Grand Canal walk

The Grand Canal extends from Grand Canal Dock for 132 km to the River Shannon, Ireland’s longest river. The whole canal took 47 years to complete, and before long was superseded by the railway as the preferred way to carry freight in the country. It is now used only for leisure. Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting another long hike (though you can from Lucan if you wish), the Grand Canal Walk is a nice leisurely stroll from Grand Canal Dock, passing under bridges and by plenty of Dublin landmarks. It’s 3 km to Emmet Bridge at Harold’s Cross, but you may be tempted off along the way. Remember whatever bridge you leave the canal from, all buses lead back to the city centre.

First you’ll come across the Schoolhouse Hotel, a Victorian school that was also occupied during the 1916 rising. The affectionately named Pepper Canister Church, will distract, as will the sculptures that surround it. You may be tempted by the lights of Baggot Street, a hub for restaurants and pubs. Or a cruise on one of the barges, that will happily wine and dine you. If you need to rest take a seat by poet Patrick Kavanagh. The bench remembers him and his poem Lines written on a Seat on the Grand Canal Dublin.

O commemorate me with no hero-courageous Tomb- just a canal-bank seat for a passer-by.

Further along The Barge Pub and Portobello Bridge are two of the liveliest spots in the city on a warm summers eve. The latter is always home to a bevy of swans. The canal is one of those places that you don’t who you will meet, or what you will see, but you will always leave happier.

Grand canal Dublin

Dodder Walk to Bushy Park

Swapping one narrow body of water for another, takes us to The Dodder walk. This one is more natural, to the peaceful River Dodder that flows from the Wicklow mountains to the Liffey. Within the city a walkway follows the path of the river, mostly unobstructed by roads. We will start our walk after alighting bus number 11 in suburb Clonskeagh, and from here its a 5 km walk to the end of at Bushy Park. But before we board the 15 bus on the Terenure Road, there is so much to be seen. There is parking along much of the route too, particularly in Milltown.

One thing you can guarantee on this walk is wildlife sightings, from the common ducks, herons, swans, and squirrels, to the more elusive foxes and otters. At times its easy to forget that around the river the city still beats, and that you aren’t lost in the countryside. There are reminders of Dublin’s past, the Shangarry Chimney from the Old Dublin Laundry still stands proud next to Miltown’s nine-arch viaduct. From here it continues through woodland and pleasing parks, till the Ely Arch from 1771 comes into sight. This Roman triumphal arch was in fact the entrance gate to the nearby Rathfarnham Castle.

Fox on the Dodder Walk

Bushy Park

Finally our walk runs alongside Bushy Park, where you may be tempted to visit, instead of staying by the river. You can access Bushy Park by taking the stepping stones across the river. Inside you’ll find an some unusual features, from the bandstand, and the beautiful Eas waterfall; to the shell house and the algae covered waters of the upper pond in Shaw’s Wood. Following the paths of the park west after visiting those will take you to the Terenure Road and your route homewards.

Bushy Park Dublin

Irish National War Memorial Gardens

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Inchicore are a fitting tribute to those Irish who gave their life during World War I. Within a short ride of the city centre on bus 25a or 25b, the gardens provide a gentle 3 km looped walk, that’s suited for all. Upon entering the gardens, the paths to the left, lead you to the formal rose gardens, which are mirrored. The area is particularly efflorescent come summer, when the roses, alliums and calla lilies are in bloom.

The walk continues to the northerly part of the park, where it runs alongside the river Liffey and back towards the city. This section of the Liffey is home to Dublin’s rowing clubs. For those looking to extend, the path continues west towards the village of Chapelizod for another 2 km where the 66 or 67 bus will take you back to familiar surroundings.

Irish National War Memorial Gardens

Stephen’s Green & Georgian Dublin

If Dublin is famous for one thing, then its Guinness. Ok, so if Dublin is famous for another thing then its doors. Nowhere in the city are they better than in the heart of Georgian Dublin, around Merrion Square. We begin at the bottom Grafton St, in full view of Stephens Green, its shopping centre and the Fusiliers Arch. The latter is Dublin’s answer to the Arc de Triomph. We continue now along the outskirts of Stephens Green. If you are considering which walk to choose for a Dublin autumn walks, this is it. Look up, the Kildare St and University Club wins the annual competition for the best dressed. Not far beyond is the Shelbourne, an 1824 institution among Dublin hotels.

Georgian Perfection

From Baggot St, take Merrion St Upper, where some of Dublin’s finest buildings are located. A string of government buildings and museums and galleries line the street, with the Taoiseach’s building being the pick. I can’t attest to some of the inhabitants being as fine though. Take the entrance into Merrion Square and in its North East corner you’ll find the famed Oscar Wilde statue. Surrounded by some of his most memorable quotes, you’ll also see his house directly across the street.

From here its now time to take in the fine brickwork and doors of the area. Fitzwilliam Street on the west side of the park has its share, but as soon you circle Fitzwilliam Square to the south you will be in your element. Undoubtedly Dublin’s best is adorning the Embassy of Peru. Its in good company on this street too. Leeson Street is on hand to lead us back to Stephens Green and even more fascinating structures. While its a confused blend from very differing times here, there is no doubt its interesting. And there’s even more doors.

Historical Dublin- New Walk for 2021

From Georgian Dublin we jump to historical Dublin and some of its oldest parts. This one starts on Dame Street and charts a path by some of Dublin’s best known historical monuments. It’s an 8 km walk and fully accessible to all from its city centre beginnings. Our loop passes some of Dublin’s biggest tourist attractions on its way to the IMMA before crossing the Liffey and returning. During lockdown it’s an opportunity to see a part of Dublin that’s usually thronged with tourists, in an eerily quiet state. When the good times come roaring back, it’s the perfect tourist walk.

We begin at Trinity College, Dublin’s oldest and premier university and then follow Dame Street to its end. Dame Street is perhaps Dublin’s finest street of architecture, with City Hall and Dublin Castle among the buildings. The street ends with the city’s oldest cathedral and church, in Christ Church Cathedral and St Audoen’s Chapel.

Passing next by Thomas Street and James Street is one of the oldest parts of the modern city. It’s also the home of the Guinness Factory and Storehouse, and a diversion may be called for. Seeing those streets devoid of people now is so unusual. Bow Lane West leads to the entrance to the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art). Closed at the moment, it was once the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and its grounds are a delight, from the art installations to the superb formal gardens. It also has very helpful bathroom facilities. We leave onto the South Circular Road passing the very historical Kilmainham Gaol.

Historical North Side Dublin

Before we follow our loop back to the city, there is the option to join the Irish National War Memorial Gardens walk mentioned above. However if you stay on track, the Chapelizod bypass will take you past Heuston Station. In Spring it’s decorative fascade is further embellished by blossoms. Divert through Croppies Acre, which is a memorial to the many lives lost during the 1798 rebellion. It’s where the ill fated Anna Livia statue now resides too. To its rear is Collins Barracks, now the National Museum of Ireland for Decorative Arts.

If you still have the legs, continue along the keys to Arran Street, an access point let us do a full lap of the popular Smithfield Square. It’s also the location of the Jameson Distillery. To complete your loop back to Dame Street, rejoin the quays before crossing the Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin’s famed footbridge, and stumble over the cobblestones of Temple Bar.

Guinness Factory on the Dublin Historical Walk

Street art tour

Dublin has exploded as a street art city in recent years, as both local and international artists have adapted the city as their canvas. The art is found throughout the city, but one particular tour captures the essence of what the art means to the city. The Angiery Camden Tour begins on Dame Street in the city centre, before traversing the back streets of Georges St en route to Liberty Lane and Bernard Shaw, Dublin’s answers to Brick Lane. Working your way south Drury Street, Camden street and Richmond Street all showcase. While only a 4 km route, its distractions will consume your time. To follow the route artwork by artwork, I suggest you follow this link to the Angiery Camden Core.

There are several street art tours that can be taken throughout Dublin, that should not be missed for anyone with an interest in this modern art form. Follow this link to the street art of Dublin for a detailed exploration of this side of the city.

Dublin street art

Embassy walk Dublin 4

This walk is perfect for those who couldn’t get enough of Georgian Dublin. The 39a or 44 bus travels to Donnybrook, the heart of the exclusive Dublin 4, and our walk will bring us by the two most expensive streets in Ireland in particular. Alight at the Hampton Hotel, an impressive 1830’s Georgian and Regency building. Continue straight to the village of Donnybrook, which was the site of the Donnybrook Fair, a very rowdy by reputation market for many centuries. How things have indeed changed!

The Church of the Sacred Heart just over the Dodder, is our marker to move on to Ailesbury Road. This mile long road is marked by the sheer number of embassies that line it, shacking up in fantastic period houses. Even so, these are bettered again by those on Shrewsbury Road. Keep an eye out for Walford, the house sold for a whopping €58 million in 2006. This really is millionaires row.

Reaching the intersection with Mount Merrion, our jaunt confines to Ballsbridge. You will pass several attractive buildings en route; conference centre the RDS from 1879, and the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge (which is housed in the Masonic School from 1792) stand out. Following Ballsbridge, cut into Herbert Park, a 1911 addition to the city. Besides the duck pond and bandstand, it is especially attractive in spring time when cherry blossoms line the pathways. Herbert Park Road takes us back to our start point, and the end of this 4 km walk.

Donnybrook Dublin

South Side Dublin Coastal Walks

Sandymount Beach to Blackrock

Staying in Dublin 4, we can’t overlook Sandymount, the start of two of our walks. Bus number 1 from O’Connell Street should be alighted in Gilford Road, which then leads to Sandymount Strand. Several car parks are available here too, with particularly low parking costs of €0.60 an hour. Be sure to cover the time needed for the walk. Credit cards are accepted in the machines here.

This walk begins with a peaceful stroll along a beachfront. The beach is unusual though, with low tide meaning the water can be a long distance from shore. It makes for some stirring images, especially with the iconic chimneys in the background. Fans of literature will take delight in the beach as being a location of Ulysses. Care should be taken not to get caught behind the water in high tide and one should stay within 100 metres of the promenade.

Into the wild

We leave the beach at Sandymount and follow the road south through Booterstown. On the left is the Booterstown Nature Reserve, a wild bird reserve in the city. It is home to several species including Little Egrets, Kingfishers, curlews and snipe. The reserve has a wall for bird watching. We leave the road behind on our walk and link up with another city park in the form of Blackrock Park. There’s great facilities here for cyclists too, for those who prefer their exercise with wheels. The peaceful park follows the coastline and features a central pond and sculptures.

We then follow an out and back direction to return to Sandymount. The total distance of this walk is 8 km.The good news is there are paid bathroom facilities in Sandymount at the Martello Tower (one of two on the trail), and in Blackrock where both shopping malls have open bathrooms. This flat trail suits everyone.

Sandymount Dublin

Poolbeg Lighthouse

One of the very best walks near Dublin is the great south wall. This is in fact one of the longest sea walls in Europe. Our Poolbeg Lighthouse trail extends from the same starting point in Sandymount, over 4 km of sandy headland and the aforementioned sea wall. It passes by the Sandymount towers, and various beaches, all the while enjoying splendid views of the Dublin coastline south as far as Dun Laoghaire, and north to Howth.

During spring and summer wild Valerian flowers take over the grassy headlands and sandbanks of the Irishtown Nature Park and paint a beautiful picture of pink against blue. From here it circles the coastline as far as the south wall. The paved wall, and red lighthouse that marks its end, actually date from 1768. It’s often blustery out here but it’s without a doubt an iconic Dublin experience that can’t be missed.

If you don’t fancy the 11 km there and back route, then there is a car park in Pigeon House Road that will half the distance of your walk. The south wall walk is a bit bumpy owing to its cobbled surface so bear in mind it may not be a comfy ride for wheelchairs or buggies.

Poolbeg South Wall
Poolbeg lighthouse

Dun Laoghaire

After that view from the Poolbeg Lighthouse, there is no doubt that Dun Laoghaire would be high on anyone’s list. The town itself gives plenty of indicators to its historic past, from its origin in 1816 as another port town for Dublin. Originally called Georgetown, its name was subsequently changed in 1920.

The walk starts from the Dart station on the southbound line, and is altogether a 3 km trail to the end of the east pier. Immediately on the right is Dun Laoghaire County Hall, built in the Lombard Romanesque style in 1879. It looks distinctly Italian, and the town is better for it. Still operating as a ferry terminus, Dun Laoghaire is bustling to this day. We pass by some yacht clubs, before its the long walk along the pier. At the end a lighthouse warns passing ships, but we are also greeted by a Teddy’s ice cream van. An institution in Ireland, you haven’t lived until you’ve had one.

We return via the same route, and there’s the option of taking the west pier (which is back past the train station) to the end for those challenging their daily 10,000 steps. If you’ve worked up a hunger Dun Laoghaire has a sterling reputation for restaurants, and has plenty of excellent options such as Toscano, Hartleys, and Oliveto.

Dun Laoghaire

Killiney Hill and Dalkey

Four stops beyond Dun Laoghaire on the Dart and we arrive in Killiney. While Dublin 4 is millionaires row, this area is where we find some of Dublin’s most famous inhabitants. Bono, Enya and The Edge, all call it home, as did Matt Damon during lock-down. With some of Dublin’s best scenery who can blame them.

The walk begins at the station and its 1 km to the top of Killiney Hill, easily distinguished by the Obelisk that tops it. Its recommended to do a full loop of Killiney Hill, and visit Dalkey Quarry, where wildlife is abundant. With the years it has become so overgrown, that its hard to believe its man-made. Proof of this is in the Peregrine falcons, extremely rare in Ireland, who have started to call the crags home. For those driving, Killiney Hill has a free car park which can be used as a starting point for the walk.

The route down to the Vico road by Scalpwilliam, has rousing sights of Bray and Wicklow beyond. Taking this road north we arrive on Coliemore Road, perhaps the most attractive address in the country, as castle-like-houses overlook the sea. Then its on to historic Dalkey, more of which can be read about in my blog on Dalkey Castle and Village. Dalkey train station is on hand to bring you back to the city after this 5 km route, or alternatively you can return to the car park via Dalkey Avenue.

Dalkey

Best Parks for Walks In South Side Dublin

Saint Enda’s Park Dublin

This little spoke of park in the suburb of Rathfarnham deserves some recognition. Ample free parking is provided on both sides of the park, and bus 16 from O’Connell Street drops you outside. The park provides historical and natural attractions and has one of Dublin’s prettiest walks away from the coast. The house at its heart was built in 1780, but now serves as the Pearse Museum. Padraig Pearse one of the leaders of the 1916 rising once ran a school here, and both he and many of his pupils faced execution after the rising. The house can be toured (it is currently closed) as can the formal gardens close by. At the centre of the gardens are the words of “The Wayfarer” emblazoned in stone, the poem written in 1916 by Pearse, as he came to terms with his impending death.

The circular route that encompasses the parks main sights is only 2 km with the distraction of the house above adding to that. But the gardens are distraction enough. The Whitechurch stream flows through wonderful woodland of horse chestnut, willow and cypress, crossed by small fairy-tale bridges. The original owner of the house Edward Hudson, added more enchantment by building follies throughout. These stone structures include castellated towers and the mysterious Odin’s cave. Hudson took influence from various places he had seen in Ireland. It makes for a unique walking experience and the grounds are a great place to leave the city behind in.

Pearse Museum

Marlay Park

The biggest park on the south side of Dublin is Marlay Park. The park finds fame from the concerts that are held here annually, but for recreational purposes it has no match. Covering an area of 86 hectares, Marlay Park has no end of paths to walk. However one route in particular begins here and it would be bad form to not walk the first small stage of it. The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest long distance route, a 127 km route established in 1980. It is now also part of the E8 European long distance trail, which ends in Turkey.

Marlay Park takes its name from Marlay House built in 1794. At that time the estate was twice the size. The house can be visited by guided tour, and the stables house a craft market. The nearby gardeners house is now a coffee shop, while the adjacent Regency formal gardens date from the 19th century. The formal gardens and house are currently closed.

The walking route

Beginning at the car park our own 4 km walking way is less strenuous. The number 16 bus also passes here as to St Enda’s Park. Following the yellow way-marker of the Wicklow Way we duck into the canopy of trees in the centre of the park. Soon we join a stream, which is crossed several times by delightful bridges. A duck pond and wild flower meadow also add to the aesthetics. At the rear end of the park, we leave the yellow men behind and loop back into the park from the rear entrance.

Keep an eye open for the excellent sculptures in the park, as well as the Dublin society of model engineers, with its railway track and beautiful tower. We rejoin the forest at the Laurelmare Victorian Cottage, before returning to the front of the estate and the house. With a background of the gentle Dublin Mountains behind, the gardens are particularly scenic.

Marlay park
Marlay Park

Tymon Park – New Walk for 2021

While a lot of the walks here have been designed to create a circular walk, none do it as naturally as the Tymon Park walk. The route perfectly wanders the park that is split by the M50 motorway. To get there, take bus 54A or 15A from the city centre (when that’s allowed), or alternatively drive to one of its many car parks in Templeogue or Tallaght. Personally I use the car park off Wellington Lane. The park covers an area of 300 acres, is intersected by the river Poddle, has two lakes and a number of woods containing beech, poplar, ash, chestnut, willow, maples, sycamore and birch. The park was once the site of a castle, whose ruins were sadly demolished in 1960. The main attractions of the park now are the park now are several playgrounds, and of course the walks.

The walking route

Our waking route is around 6 km in length and starts at the Wellington Lane Car Park (or any car park you prefer). It passes by the intriguing PACT sculpture before climbing past woodland to the O2 Millennium sculpture. We aim for the overpass of the M50 that keeps us within Tymon Park. Before you cross turn and survey the stunning view of the Dublin Mountains behind. Once on the other side keep on Tymon Lane. This was once a road when the park was farmland prior its opening in 1986. The lane is now perfect for bird-watching with plenty of indigenous species.

In the middle of this section is a visitor centre, now closed, but it does have bathroom facilities which are open during lockdown. A big consideration for some. Leaving the lane, we meet the first of two lakes, crisscrossed by cute bridges. There is plenty of wildfowl in both. Near the end of this section the walk once again gently climbs to once more cross the M50. It’s then another gentle walk past the second of our lakes and a series of playing pitches, before returning to the car park, or bus stop. While there are a few steep small hills, there are no steps throughout, so the walk should be suited for wheelchairs. It’s also ideal for kids, especially with all those playgrounds. Though you may never get them out of them.

A Robin in Tymon Park

Dublin Mountains- Best Hikes in Dublin

Most Dubliners look east to the sea or south to the Dublin mountains when the sun shines brightest in the city. There are a spate of walks in the mountains in Dublin. Even though the Dublin Mountains have a high point of 536 metres at the Fairy Castle, they do provide an excellent recreational area. Many natural forests grow here and Coillte has committed to ensuring more indigenous trees prosper here. Wildlife in the form of foxes, badgers and Sika Deer can be spotted by a keen eye. None of the walking trails listed below are wheelchair friendly unless stated. DublinMountains.ie is an excellent resource to download maps and find more information on the best hikes near Dublin. The Dublin mountains extend into Wicklow, and there are connected hikes in Dublin and Wicklow

Dublin Mountain Way

Spanning most of the Dublin Mountains is the Dublin Mountains Way, a 42 km hike from Shankill in the west to Tallaght in the west. The walk is rated as moderate to strenuous with an elevation change of 1140 metres across its route. It can be split into several stages though which extend the route to nearly 80 km when done as loops.

From Shankill it climbs to Barnaslingan and Carrickgollogan woods, before a route that takes it by Glencullen and Johnnie Foxes Pub, the highest in Ireland. Do try the fish. It nest climbs through forests to the Fairy Castle, followed by Tibradden and Cruagh, before the westwards direction continues past the Massey estate. The final stretch is through Bohernabreena, before the descent to Tallaght in Dublin’s west. This walk shouldn’t be attempted without a good level of hiking experience and fitness. But the good news is, it can be completed in short stages on day trips. Which takes us to the best recommendations for hill walking in Dublin.

Johnnie Foxes Pub Dublin

Carrickgollogan and Barnaslingan Forest Walk

With the 44 bus from O’Connell street to Enniskerry making this walk accessible, its ideal for anyone. There are car parks too at the entrance to both forests. If there’s one thing this 5 km figure 8 loop walk guarantees, its views. Starting on Murphy’s Lane the first loop climbs to the now defunct Ballycorus lead mines, where only the chimney still stands. From here the views down to Dublin Bay are excellent. Hitting the forest trail we come back to our start point via Carrickgollogan woods, before crossing Barnaslingan Forest to the Scalp. This is a narrow glacial valley some 200 metres deep strewn with rocks, and features some feral goats. The view to the south from here take in the Wicklow mountains, and in particular the pointed peak of the great Sugar Loaf.

Best walks in Dublin

Fairy Castle & Ticknock Walk

Ticknock Forest and the hike to the Fairy Castle are the most popular in the Dublin Mountains. It is also a huge location for mountain biking. While its easiest reached by car, the determined can take bus 44b there, and alight at Woodside Road, though the 3 km walk in is a real deterrent. There is ample parking in the area for a large amount of hikers. There are trails a plenty heading up into the hills, but the best route to follow is the circular hike that takes in both Two Rock (Fairy Castle) and Three Rock Mountains. It’s a 6 km route, that is quite busy.

The focus is the Fairy Castle, and your reward at the top for completing what is an easy trek, is a bronze age cairn, dating to around 2500 BC. It has collapsed over the millennia, but is still a reminder of the burial customs of our ancient ancestors. The return route passes by the TV masts of Two Rock, and a rather special view down over the city. The trail can also be extended to take in the Ballyedmonduff gallery tomb, and the Newt Pond.

GAP to the Fairy Castle – new walk for 2021

The Fairy Castle in Dublin is such a popular walk that it’s worth including two routes up to its summit. This one begins from the GAP, the Glencullen Adventure Park. It’s more of a mountain biking destination, with a huge number of trails. But there is one hiking trail. The walk is located not far from Johnny Foxes and the lovely village of Glencullen. So keep that in mind for after. You can reach here by bus 44A, though it only runs from Dundrum Luas Station. There is lots of parking onsite, and a fee of €2 is charged to use the facilities. These number a cafe, bathrooms and bike equipment rental.

The GAP to Fairy Castle hike begins in forest, that is zigzagged by bike trails, so caution is needed. In Autumn, the moist conditions under the natural canopy are the perfect breeding ground for all manner of mushroom species, adding an extra dimension to the walk. About halfway through we leave the forest behind, and face an ascent up the mountain. There is a rough trail, but it can be challenging, especially in wet weather, when the trail becomes a small stream. Watch your footing especially on the way down. There are some great rock formations at the summit and the views south to Wicklow are near perfect. Take a break there or at the summit cairn, before following the same trail back. The walk is 6.5 km in length and I’ve included a map below.

GAP to Fairy Castle hike Dublin

Tibradden Walk

This out and back trail is a 5 km out and back walk along some of the best made trail in the mountains. Only reached by car, it begins in Tibradden car park, next to Zipit (an ideal place for those looking to conquer fear of heights). From there the trail climbs to the 467 metres summit. It’s a pleasant route for any hiker, through woodland before reaching the open mountain.There is another cairn to be found here, and this one appears to have a natural entrance, and a rock featuring stone circular carvings to those at Newgrange. However it is believed this was a reconstruction in the 19th century and is not true to the original cairn that once was here.

Best walks in Dublin

Cruagh Wood to Glendoo Mountain

While the Cruagh wood walk is only 4 km by following the way marked Sli na Slainte (healthy way), it can be made more challenging by taking the trail to the mountain top at the halfway point. The Cruagh wood walk cuts through forest paths with intermittent views down the Dublin Bay and Howth. It begins from the car park, as the only possible access point. The view from the road side overlooking Dublin is one of the best around.

While following the forest trail, keep an eye out for steps that climb upwards. These turn your forest walk into a hike. They reach open mountain and trails then give options left, right, and centre. Centre will take you to the top of Cruagh Mountain, but the more challenging left one is Glendoo Mountain. It’s a respectable 586 metres, and may be in Wicklow, but lets not bring that up. If climbing in times other than a heatwave, you can expect a very Irish challenge of mud and wet bog before getting to the top. The return route is the same as the ascent, before continuing around Cruagh.

On the route back from Cruagh and Tibradden, The Merry Ploughboy pub is a lively place, with traditional music, and some very fiery chicken wings. Worth a look when it reopens from August 2020. The sunsets from the car park are often as fiery too.

Walks in Dublin

Hell Fire Club

If you list mountains, sunsets, castles, country mansions, hunting lodges and tales of the occult as your requirements for a walk, then the Hell Fire Club is exactly what you need. 30 minutes drive from Dublin will lead you to the car park, that allows you to access the 8.5 km double loop. The walk first traverses the higher Hell Fire Club, before crossing the road and exploring the Massey estate, once the site of a huge country mansion.

Taking in the periphery of Montpelier Hill, and an overlook of Carthy’s Castle, we finally get to the main event which is the Hell Fire club. The shooting lodge here was built in 1725 and can be still fully explored. Legend (or fact) has it that it was used for secret meetings by a mysterious group of men. Unconfirmed are reports of the raising of the devil. What’s undoubted is that it is one of the most haunted buildings in Ireland. Its a beautiful summit to your walk, and if timed well the sunset is a real treat over the Wicklow Mountains beyond. Keep an eye on the closing of the car park though, if this is your intention.

The Massey Estate is quite a different walk, which takes you within the grounds of the old mansion Killakee House. Sadly the house was knocked after it fell into ruins. Left are paths running through the remnants of the gardens and buildings. Again the route is circular and takes into much of the estates best parts. When you make it back to the road, there’s an impeccably cute cafe nearby called the Timbertrove Cafe, which will satisfy your inevitable hunger.

Hell fire club

Bohernabreena Reservoir Walk

Running through the Glenasmole Valley, this easy 8.5 km hike takes in a duo of lakes that supply water to the Dublin suburbs of Rathgar and Rathmines. From the car park at the Bohernabreena Waterworks, one walks along the banks of the Dodder River (yes that Dodder), before following the west bank of the two lakes. The reservoirs were completed in 1908. The walk loops around the upper lake, and you can access St Anns graveyard, whose church dates from the 1600’s. As one of the easier walks in Dublin, it is buggy and wheelchair friendly. The views of the lakes are excellent, and deer are easy to spot in the surroundings. After completing the upper lake loop, the path retraces its steps to the parking lot.

The Quintessential Best Walk in Dublin, that’s not in Dublin

Greystones Cliff Walk

You may ask why one of the best walks in Wicklow, would appear on a post about Dublin. This walk has been a favourite of Dublin folk for quite some time. It is also easily reached by the Dart, as Bray and Greystones are the last stops on its route, which makes it accessible for locals and tourists alike, and is the best way to attempt the walk. Stretching between the stations of both towns, the 8 kilometres hug the cliff with some absolutely awesome views.

Above the walk is Bray Head, a 240 metre above sea headland, that is topped by a cross. The walk can be extended to include this. The Greystones cliff walk itself is deemed as easy, but is unsuitable for wheelchairs and buggies. The views of the Irish Sea present the perfect opportunity for whale and dolphin watching, and the skies are alive with gulls, gannets, kittiwakes, and many other species. Peregrine falcons can also be spotted. Ireland only reptile species, the common lizard is often seen basking on sunny days.

After completing one of Ireland’s best walks, you’ll end up in Greystones, a town with a well earned gastro reputation. At its heart is Happy Pear, the vegan success story of the island. You’ll recognise it by the crowds (when they return), bright colours, and the food that will satisfy the most stubborn of carnivores. For a full guide to the walk visit my blog on Bray to Greystones.

Bray Head

Summary on the Best Walks in Dublin

It’s important to remember that at present these walks are only open to those living within a 5 km radius of them. Respect of social distancing limits will bring us closer to our goal of leaving coronavirus behind us on the trail of life. To that extent some car park access to the above locations are closed and it is best to always check ahead.

You can of course do a guided walking tour of Dublin. There are several Dublin historical walking tours available, with Get Your Guide being a good resource.

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