Dublin’s aquatic adventures from cruises to kayaks
Built on canals, rivers and bays Dublin is a city with nautical history in its veins.
What better way to unlock this heritage than by sightseeing afloat or trying your hand at water sports? Active types can explore the local waterways by boat, raft, kayak or kiteboard. If you're looking to kick back and unwind, take it all in on a cruise tour. Dublin's waterways are calling, it's time to dive right in and see a different side of the city.
Start off at a relaxed pace and join a Dublin Discovered Boat Tour. The iconic ‘big red boat’ departs from Bachelor’s Walk on the River Liffey. Take in scenes of Ireland’s past as you float under O’Connell Bridge, pass Liberty Hall, and cruise by the Custom House before heading into the Docklands. This tour has storytelling at its heart, while the boat’s open plan and glass roof ensure you’ll see all the sights in a new way.
Big Style Paddle Boarding
Balance is the key to Big Style’s stand-up paddle boarding school. Based out of the picturesque Dún Laoghaire Marina they provide equipment hire and lessons, ranging from guided instruction for beginners to intermediate sessions. You can practice in the sheltered harbour under their watchful eye, or set out on your own if you're more experienced. Whether you’re a newbie or an old hand, this is one of the most leisurely ways to see the coastline of the city.
Even first timers will find City Kayaking a breeze. Journey down the River Liffey on a 4km trip, as you depart from Custom House Quay beside the Jeanie Johnston famine ship. This kayak tour is the only way to actually paddle under the famous O’Connell and Ha’penny bridges. If the idea of live music on the water floats your boat, their music tours showcase songs and spoken word. Experience something truly unique with performances entertaining kayakers beneath the River Liffey's most iconic spans.
Cruise along the Dublin Bay coastline to see some of the city’s charming villages dotted on the Coastal Trail, including Howth, Dún Laoghaire, Malahide and Dalkey. Dublin Bay Cruises takes in Irish cultural and natural landmarks including the Martello Tower of the James Joyce Museum, the unspoilt beauty of Ireland’s Eye and impressive Howth Head. For keen wildlife fans, keep an eye out for seals and otters.
Rafting.ie began life as the brainchild of a small group of rafting experts and enthusiasts. It’s since blossomed into a thriving community of thrill seekers using the Liffey as their playground. Join an exhilarating tour downriver through the picturesque Strawberry Beds area between the villages of Chapelizod and Lucan. Look out for native wildlife like herons and egrets as pheasants call from nearby fields. Upstream, enjoy a more urban landscape as the buildings and bridges of Dublin come into view.
Voyage into the past and get a glimpse of Dublin’s nautical heritage. First chartered in 1665, the ferry was once a familiar sight from the riverbanks, taking passengers back and forth to work and school. Over three centuries later, the original Old Liffey Ferry was decommissioned in 1984 when the East Link Bridge opened. But you can still experience a slice of history with a trip aboard the refurbished Ferry No. 11. The service runs between the MV Cill Airne Pontoon (sitting on the Northside of the Liffey, not far from the Samuel Beckett Bridge) and the North Wall Quay Pontoon (directly outside the 3Arena) year round.
With their brisk coastal breezes, Dublin’s beaches are the perfect place to try kitesurfing. Suitable for various wind directions and good in all seasons, conditions are ideal for fans of the sport. Experts like Pure Magic on Dollymount Strand in Clontarf have all the kit and safety knowledge you’ll need to take flight on a kite. See Dublin from an unbeatable vantage point, as you use the power of the wind to fly across the surface of the sea.
Explore Dublin City
Now you've read our guide to all the amazing aquatic experiences in Dublin, it’s time to make it happen. Discover more Things to Do in Dublin.