23 stunning Dublin walks and cycles
From north to south, Dublin is full of scenic spots to explore. Soak up the views at the summit of Killiney Hill, take on the Howth Cliff Walk or spend an afternoon cycling around Phoenix Park.
It’s time to get into the great outdoors with Dublin’s coastal walks, city cycles, and mountain hikes.
Take a leisurely wander in St Stephen's Green, a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of Dublin City. Window shop or stop for lunch at one of the cafés on nearby Grafton Street. Try a single origin coffee as you admire the stained glass windows in Bewley's, or grab a takeaway to enjoy in the park.
After your picnic, follow the tree lined paths to see the 15 historical sculptures that line the park. As a family friendly spot, the park and nature trails will keep kids entertained.
Just 450 metres from St Stephen's Green, you'll find the majestic Iveagh Gardens. Get lost in the yew maze, a miniature copy of the one at London's Hampton Court. These cultivated parklands are home to pruned rose gardens and a waterfall feature flowing over rocks from all 32 counties of Ireland. A serene retreat in the city, the park is open during daylight hours and dogs are welcome on a lead.
The Phoenix Park is thought to be the largest enclosed urban park in Europe. Head to the Visitor Centre and Ashtown Castle, a medieval tower house with beginnings in the 15th century. At the nearby Phoenix Café you can pick up a curated picnic in the park to sustain you while you explore. Nature lovers will want to keep an eye out for the fallow deer who also live here.
There's loads of walking trails to try too. Take the 6.4km route from the Magazine Fort off Military Road, and make your way to the Hole in the Wall pub on the park's outskirts. Another 6km stroll starts from the Castleknock Road entrance, taking you along Chesterfield Avenue as you pass Dublin Zoo on the way.
National Botanic Gardens & Glasnevin Cemetery Museum
Discover an impressive 15,000 species of plants at The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Take time to touch and feel in the Sensory Garden, explore the tropical atmosphere of the Victorian Great Palm House and walk for hours through floral borders and forest scenes. Take a break in the cosy tearoom, which serves up refreshments with a view.
A pedestrian gateway in the gardens leads through a wall shared with Glasnevin Cemetery, the resting place of Michael Collins and many other notable Irish figures. On Sundays, enjoy a free guided tour with a history expert. With one and a half million tales buried in Glasnevin, there are many stories to tell.
St Anne's Park in North Dublin offers 112 hectares of pitches, tennis courts, walking trails, a dog friendly area and a playground. To enjoy a scenic 5.8km loop, enter from the Clontarf side and walk around the park passing through St Anne's Woods.
Order a coffee and home-baked treat at Olive's Room café, which does vegan options like the mushroom and cannellini ‘sausage’ roll. Or visit on a Saturday and check out the Red Stables Market for artisan cheese, organic meat and baked treats. You can even get your bike fixed by Cyclopedia's mobile repair service while you browse.
Venture outside the city and visit Marlay Park in Rathfarnham. Roam 121 hectares of green space past natural ponds and through woodland walkways. With many routes to follow depending on your fitness level, more ambitious walkers can try the Wicklow Way trail. Bring your pup to play in the enclosed dog park and visit at the weekend to check out the Marlay Park Farmers Market. Saturday is a great day to bring the kids as there's a miniature train ride.
Also in Rathfarnham, find St Enda's Park. This is the perfect place for a leisurely ramble. Nearby, you can discover the Pearse Museum, which tells the story of Patrick and William Pearse’s Irish-speaking school, Scoil Éanna. The attached tearooms offer a mixture of traditional Irish fare and sweet treats including vegan sticky toffee pudding. Dogs are allowed in the park if kept on a lead, but avoid the courtyard or the walled garden if bringing your furry friend.
Plan a day out at Ardgillan Demesne near the pretty coastal village of Skerries. The 81 hectare area has plenty of woodland to walk and sheltered picnic spots to enjoy. At the 18th century Ardgillan Castle you can relax in the Tea Rooms over a coffee while the kids play. Later, take on a 4.8km loop of the park to enjoy panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains and Dublin coastline.
Adjacent to the village suburb of Sandymount, take a walk along the stunning strand. The 1km stretch provides outstanding views of the Poolbeg Chimneys and Dún Laoghaire. Enjoy an ice cream or banoffee waffle from Scoop on the Strand Road and take your treat to a seat on one of the benches looking out to the sea.
Breathe in the fresh air as you stretch your legs in the coastal village of Dún Laoghaire. For a perfect stroll, begin at Dún Laoghaire DART Station and continue 1km along the seafront. Stop off at Teddy's to enjoy a classic 99 ice cream on the seafront.
Walk a little further to the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove. Here, you can take in views of Dublin Bay. Turn back and return to your starting point or continue to Dalkey for more amazing scenery.
Enter the backyard of U2 frontman Bono by taking the DART out to Killiney. Walk along Killiney Beach to experience unrivalled views of Bray Head and Dalkey Island, and imagine how the other half lives in their houses on Killiney Hill. Furry friends are allowed when on a lead and the beach is also a great place for a swim. Bring your gear and brave the waters of the Irish Sea.
For an invigorating walk and incredible scenery, head to Bull Island in North Dublin. Park up at Causeway Road and walk along the sand dunes at Dollymount Strand. Depending on what time you visit, you might see ferries in the distance crossing the sea. The 5km stretch is suitable for all fitness levels and is popular with dog walkers. Go for an evening stroll and capture some sunset photos as the sky lights up and reflects in Dublin Bay.
Plan a day at one of Dublin's best beaches, Velvet Strand in Portmarnock. The golden beach stretches for 8km. If you're feeling energetic, continue along the 11km pathway parallel to the beach, which brings you to Malahide village. Here, you can refuel with coffee in the Gourmet Food Parlour, who do a takeaway brunch you can eat by the sea.
Head north to Howth village, a popular spot for families and dog walkers. Keep an ear out and you might even experience a performance from one of the local buskers. On a weekend, take a trip to Howth Market for delicious food and handmade crafts by longtime trader Unique Oak. Continue your day out in Howth with a visit to one of the restaurants as you enjoy seafood tapas at Octopussy or drop by Beshoff Bros for fish and chips to eat sitting by the pier.
Beginning at Donabate Beach, set out on the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk. Trek past hidden caves to find the coastal path connecting Donabate Beach and Portrane. The entire walk is 4km in total, taking you there and back. A new walkway was recently built, making it the perfect destination for an easy evening stroll.
Clear away the cobwebs and check out North Dublin's coastal views with a brisk walk in Skerries. You can either travel along the 2.5km of Skerries South Strand or stroll the promenade footpath that runs alongside it. Time your walk with low tide so you can go as far out as possible. Depending on the weather, treat the family to an ice cream or caramel hot chocolate from Storm in a Tea Cup.
Hikes in the Dublin Mountains
Get out of town and get some exercise on a visit to the Dublin Mountains. The mountains are a mere eight miles from the city centre and encompass 43km of mountain trails, country paths and rural roads. It's a natural playground on Dublin's doorstep, with walks to suit every ability level.
Discover the Howth Cliff Walk. Begin at Howth DART station and walk along the harbour before heading upwards towards the cliffs. Breathtaking views of Ireland's Eye and The Baily Lighthouse await. On a clear day, you might even see seals and dolphins. Continue to The Summit, where you can catch your breath and grab a bite to eat. Follow the path back to Howth village, completing the 6km loop.
More energetic types can take on the 12km Bog of Frogs Trail challenge. And if you'd like more of a guided hike, try Shane's Howth Adventures where plenty of local knowledge is part of the package. You can choose from a variety of touring options taking you through this diverse habitat.
Take the DART or spin out to Killiney and park in Killiney Hill Park. Climb to the summit of Killiney Hill and admire the spectacular views of the Irish Sea, Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains. Nearby is the Killiney Hill Obelisk commemorating Ireland's ‘forgotten famine’ and the nearby Pyramid of Dublin. On your way down, stop and refuel with a refreshing iced coffee at Killiney Hill Tearooms, a popular spot for dog owners as pups are welcome in the outdoor seating area.
A cycle up the Dublin Mountains won’t disappoint. Hire a bike at the foot of the Three Rock Mountain and take on the Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail. The 13km trail is a network of single-track trails and forest roads designated for mountain biking. Pass through beautiful woodlands as the Wicklow Mountains appear in the distance.
The perfect spot for a day's cycling, The Phoenix Park has lots of routes and trails for you to enjoy. Start by hiring a bike from Phoenix Park Bikes at the Parkgate Street entrance. They even have tandem bikes and kids' carriages available, alongside guided tours. The park's main road, Chesterfield Avenue, has a cycle path, and more off-road tracks can be found throughout the park.
Set on 250 acres of parkland, discover Malahide Castle. Rent a bike from the Irish Centre for Cycling, found at the lodge in the park, or book a cycle tour. Enjoy a leisurely cycle around the gorgeous grounds, bring the kids to the playground, and stop by Avoca café for tea and treats. The Avoca store also has an extensive food market and deli inside as well as woven textiles made in their Wicklow mill and other housewares.
Make the most of the coast as you cycle along the 11.5km Clontarf to Howth Cycleway. Cycle the whole way out to Howth and back again, or choose a smaller section of the paved route. Grab a coffee in one of Clontarf's seafront cafes or stop by a welcoming coffee truck. You’re also in the perfect spot to take a snap of the famous Poolbeg Chimneys.