Parks and nature in Dublin

Although probably more well-known as a city of culture, food, and drink, the natural scenery in Dublin is sometimes overlooked. The city has a number of natural green spaces that are as equally enticing as the other elements of the Irish capital.

In this guide, we’ll outline the best Dublin parks and nature on offer. Colloquially known as the Emerald Isle, there sure is a lot of greenery around the country, and in relation to that – Dublin is no different. 


St Stephen's Green

St Stephen’s Green is one of the great Dublin sights and possibly the most famous park in the country. Found right in the middle of the city, it’s loved by locals and visitors alike. A quiet respite from the huge choice of Dublin activities, it’s affectionately known as “Dublin’s lungs”. 

Boasting twenty-two acres of greenery designed in traditional Victorian style with lots of formal areas and shrubberies sat alongside statues and monuments of great Irish heroes, poets and statesmen – one of which being, Arthur Guinness. As you may have guessed, he does have a lot to do with the nation’s favourite drink, but he is also well-known for gifting this park to the city. What a guy!

Best for: statue hunters
How to get there: You can catch a bus directly from Dublin Airport Coach Park if you’re flying in, but there are bus routes all over the city that will drop you off within a 5 minute walk. The Luas Green Line also has a stop.

Phoenix Park

A rather unknown fact, Phoenix Park is actually the biggest urban park in all of Europe. High on the list for people wondering what to do in Dublin, it’s larger than all of London’s city parks combined. Phoenix Park is filled with monuments, the remnants of great houses, and Zoological Gardens - one of the oldest zoos in the world. But it doesn’t stop there, you’ll also find roaming herds of deer, the residency of the Irish president, and the Wellington Monument - which is a huge bronze obelisk with four bronze plaques forged from cannons used at Waterloo. 

You could spend an entire weekend rattling around Phoenix Park ticking off the sights, but if you want to get under its skin - a tour of the place will ensure you go away with a great history lesson alongside some exercise and gallons of fresh air.  

Best for: urban exploration
How to get there: If you take the Luas Red Line, you can get off at either Heuston Station or Museum. There is a bus every 10 minutes from the city centre that leaves from Connolly Station.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

For something a little wilder, take a trip out of Dublin to the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Less than an hour away, it’s recommended as one of the great activities in Dublin. Boasting 50,000 acres of protected land, it’s one of only six national parks in the country and has numerous walking trails, lakes, bogs and mountains. Horticulture and ornithology students will also enjoy the park as it’s also home to some rare species of orchids and falcons. 

A real testament to why the country of Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle – this mountain park offers so many stunning vistas that you might need to make some room on your phone for all the wonderful pictures you’ll take. 

Best for: escaping the city
How to get there: There are limited public transport options, but private bus tours are available. You can catch a train from Dublin to nearby Wicklow, but you’ll still be at least 37km away. Easier is via car, using the N11/M11 or the N81.

Iveagh Gardens and Merrion Square

Nearer to the city centre are a collection of perfect little Georgian gardens which were created for the residents of Dublin’s famous squares. Fast forward in time and they are now open to one and all. Iveagh Gardens have a touch of French formality about them, while and those of Merrion Square have a statue of the late Oscar Wilde. 

How to get there: A brisk walk takes less than 20 minutes from Temple Bar, but you can catch a bus via Redmond’s Hill that will get you there in 10. Taxis are the most expensive but fastest option.

Howth

Just 30 minutes away from the city is Howth - one of the prettiest coastal villages in the whole country, with the best beaches in Dublin. Go in summer and enjoy a swim or visit out of season and take in its castle and gardens. For something a little wilder, take the coastal walk. It’s a little steep in some sections but the views are magnificent and more than worth it. And anyway, if you run out of steam at any time, there’s always a watering hole, café or pub close at hand.

Best for: seaside exploring
How to get there: Use the Northbound DART and you’ll reach Howth in around 30 minutes. Make sure that Howth is marked as a stop as not all trains go there. Alternatively, catch a 31 or 31B bus from Eden Quay, just off O’Connell Street.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, then one of the best activities in Dublin is to take the fifteen-minute boat ride from Howth to Ireland’s Eye. This rocky outcrop was once home to a monastery and you can still see the ruins of the church. Now, it’s a nature and bird sanctuary – so remember to bring the binoculars.  

What’s great about a city like Dublin is that although it’s constantly evolving, they still keep their character and warmth, and nothing underlines that character as much as the green spaces they have clung onto. For more information on the city, be sure to read our guides of the city’s food scene, an outline of the best things to do, and a rundown of the best nightlife. 


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