On 10 May, the travel limit, which had been in place across Ireland since Christmas, was lifted. With intercounty travel now officially permitted and the summer nearing, it is time to go outside and get some fresh air after months of lockdown. In this article are some of the best walks and hikes in and around Dublin, as there is more to the city and its surroundings than Temple Bar and Phoenix Park. Intended for both Dubliners and visitors to the capital, this list has walks for all levels and tastes, from forests to gardens and cliff walks.
St. Anne’s Park and Bull Island
Located between Clontarf and Raheny, just a short ride away from the city centre, St. Anne’s Park and Bull Island are the perfect contenders for the start of this list. They can be accessed by bike, car, or bus very easily from Dublin city centre, making them a very convenient place for a walk to clear the mind. St. Anne’s Park used to be part of the Guinness Estate, but was bought by Dublin City Council in 1939. The park is now open to all and includes beautiful paths along ponds, a small river, and a rose garden just by the sea. One loop of the park would be around 6km long.
For those who want more, North Bull Island is accessible by crossing the wooden bridge a short distance away from the park. About 5km in length, the island was created over the centuries by sand deposits being swept by the currents to the northern side of Dublin bay. It is now a protected natural habitat for many species, ranging from birds and hares to seals. The island is most beautiful at high tide, when the sea truly separates it from Clontarf. The beach which strands its length is known as Dollymount strand – at its southernmost tip, there are a number of bathing shelters and stairs which go straight into the Irish Sea for those brave enough to take the plunge.
Credit: St. Anne’s Park.
- Great South Wall Walk
Visible from North Bull Island, the Great South Wall Walk is the walk which leads to the famous Poolbeg Lighthouse. The Great South Wall is accessible from Ringsend, and the walk from Sandymount Strand to the lighthouse and back is around 9km. It is in fact one of Europe’s longest sea-walls. Be advised, as the walk is situated in the middle of Dublin Bay, it is extremely windy. You should also be advised that there is a waste processing plant located at the very start of the walk, next to Sandymount Strand. There are some odours, but it is only a mild inconvenience as they rapidly go away once you start walking, and the view of Dublin Harbour on a nice sunny day is unparalleled.
- Howth Cliff Walk
Dublin’s most memorable walk is probably the cliff walk of Howth. Howth is the peninsula located north of Dublin City, and is easily accessible by car or via the DART from town. There are a number of routes which can be taken to go around the peninsula, which are between 5 and 12km long. One reason to go to Howth is naturally the view one gets from the cliff walk, but the entire peninsula has hidden gems with beautiful sights all around. Also make sure to visit the Howth Market and if you can, get a glimpse of the Castle.
Credit: Adventurous Travels
- Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Less famous but nonetheless gorgeous is the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones. A bit further out of town, the easiest way to access this hike from Dublin is to take the DART or the bus to Bray. About 7km long, this walk is a bit harder than the previous ones because of the rough terrain. It is however certainly worth it, as the path takes walkers along the coast for breathtaking views. Parts of the walk near to Greystones are currently closed to the public as a result of landslides earlier this year, but should reopen shortly as local authorities work to restore the path.
Credits: Visit Wicklow
- Victor’s Way
This walk near Roundwood, County Wicklow, is a standalone on this list but deserves an honourable mention. Located in a private park, not only is it much shorter and includes an entrance fee of 10€ for adults, it is also described as “a contemplation space for adults between the approx. ages of 28 and 65 who feel the need to take some quality time out for R&R&R (i.e. rest, recovery and spiritual reorientation)” and “not a fun park for families” – although children go in for free. A number of black granite sculptures are scattered all throughout the park, with most representing or inspired by Hindu gods and in fact sculpted in India. The owner of the park, Victor Langheld, has been taking care of and developing the park for over 25 years. The walk around the park is shorter than the other walks featured on this list, but due to the sculptures as well as the natural beauty of the park, one could stroll around for hours and get lost in contemplation (which is after all what Victor’s Way was intended for). It is however much harder to access, as there is no public transport by which to go to the park. Visitors’ discretion is advised, due to the graphic content of some of the sculptures: have a look on the Victor’s Way website if you want to find out more.
- Great Sugarloaf
If you live in Dublin, you have probably already seen the Great Sugarloaf from afar, though you may not have been aware of it. Its distinctive, conic shape distinguishes it from the rest of the Wicklow Mountains where it is located. Standing 501m above sea level, it is described as an easy walk of about 2.5km despite its steepness. It is accessible by car or bus from Dublin, and is a fun hike for beginners and experienced walkers.
Credits: Mountain Views Ireland
Even if you do not venture far outside of the city, it is possible to find great walks and hikes near Dublin. Did you know about these places or have you already been to them? What did you think of them? Are there any you want to see this summer? We’d love to hear about it!