Many hikers and other nature lovers who visit Dublin choose to leave and venture up the Wicklow Mountains and across to the Wild Atlantic Way, but you don’t have to exit the city for a good dose of awe-inspiring scenery. Whether you’re a seaside person or parks and plants are your thing, Dublin has plenty to blow your mind. From Howth in the north to Dalkey down south, Dublin is heaven for seaside fans, thanks to the River Liffey splitting the city in two and providing a wealth of stunning beaches. And the hilliest parts of the picturesque south side coastal villages will keep hikers happy too.
When you visit Dublin, you’ll find that Howth is at least half a day in itself. If you’re able to drive out, or better still, cycle, take the scenic route. As the lush greenery of Howth Head crashes into the Irish Sea on the east side, the smell of seaweed hits you and the screeching squawks of seagulls are turned up a notch. As you reach the village, the view across the harbour is picture-perfect. Before you leave, you visit Beshoff’s. You’ve heard they sell the best fish and chips in Dublin and you want to check it out. You dig into the thick Irish chips, which are crispy on the outside and thick and mushy on the inside. Next you try the fish, and you’re not disappointed. It’s so fresh, it flakes on the plate in front of you and the batter is so light and fluffy you could eat it on its own.
Get the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train heading south all the way through town, passing endlessly popular, but, oh so busy, beaches like Dollymount and Sandymount, and stay on all the way down to Killiney. Here you find untouched sandy beaches, but you fancy a spot of house spotting before you settle down. So you follow the winding roads, past some of the most expensive villas in Dublin. You stop for a moment, suitably impressed with the unparalleled views across Dublin Bay, Bray Head, and the Great Sugar Loaf.
The Magpie Inn in the nearby village of Dalkey becomes your dinner destination, offering smart elegance with big leather sofas, white stone walls, and a veined marble bar top. You have a soft spot for rustic pub grub so you choose the Toulouse sausages and mash. When your meal arrives, you can’t believe how creamy the potatoes are. When you’ve finished eating, you wash the food down with a pint from the bar and ask the barman about the sweet, distinctive taste. He tells you it is a Kölsch style beer, and you approve!
Once done with beaches and seafood, nature lovers who visit Dublin often head for Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest walled city parks and home to Dublin Zoo. This spot, host of the 1979 Papal visit, is indeed worth the trip, but as far as parks are concerned, many locals much prefer the National Botanic Gardens and Glasnevin Cemetery. The 20,000 living plants are certainly impressive, but it’s the huge greenhouses that hold your attention. You get the sense you are revisiting a time gone by, and can almost hear the echo of stories told long ago. A guided tour of the cemetery, with its passionate, charismatic staff will complete your north Dublin adventure. Wrap up your trip with a drink in John Kavanagh “The Gravediggers,” an old Victorian pub from 1833 with wood-panelled walls covered in old stories. Often voted one of Dublin’s top 10 pubs, it’s far from posh, but it is certainly the real deal and does serve up one of the best pints of Guinness in town. You savour the malty smell, then attack the creamy head.