Things to do | Posted 14 Oct 2020

Ireland’s capital city is a brilliant destination for a much-needed weekend away!
Whether you’re keen to spend a few days in this bustling city with friends or you’re treating the whole family to a fun-filled getaway on the Emerald Isle, there’s loads of activity options that’ll take you just beyond Dublin and out into the open air.

From free parks teeming with local wildlife, to awesome water sports centres that’ll keep the kids occupied for hours, here’s our round up of the best outdoor things to do in Dublin:

Phoenix Park

Suitable for: families and animal lovers
How to get there: Catch the 39a bus towards Ongar and get off at Baggot Road, or walk west along the riverfront until you reach the Chesterfield Avenue entrancen
Price: free (or €20 for adults and €14.50 for kids at Dublin Zoo)

This enormous park is Dublin’s major green lung and it’s located less than half an hour by foot from the Jurys Inn Christchurch in the City Centre.

As well as offering up nearly 2,000 acres of recreational parkland perfect for walking, running, cycling and sports, Phoenix Park is the home of the world-famous Dublin Zoo! It was opened way back in 1831 and is the ideal place to take animal fanatics. Boasting over 700 species from across the globe, visitors can look forward to spotting cheeky monkeys in the Orangutan Forest, discovering slithering snakes in the Reptile House and hanging around with penguins and sea lions in the Fringes of the Arctic enclosure.

If you’d rather not pay to see wildlife, Phoenix Park is also home to a herd of wild fallow deer who have grazed on its grassy fields for well over 300 years! There are also various historic landmarks scattered throughout, including the 15th century Ashtown Castle and the impressive Wellington Memorial obelisk.

Bull Island

Best for: birdwatchers and beach bums
How to get there: drive out of Dublin along the R803, join onto the R105 and then turn left at Raheny onto Watermill Road which’ll take you across the bridge to Bull Islandr
Price: free

With Dublin being so close to the Irish Sea, it would be a shame to not make the most of it during your visit! One of the best places to go along the coast is Bull Island; a spit of land in Dublin Harbour that’s covered in fantastic sand dunes and home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

At just 5km long and 1km wide, it’s perfectly possible to take a walk around the entirety of Bull Island in a day. Dollymount Beach is the isle’s main sandy stretch; however, you’ll also find grassland and marshes inland that are brimming with all sorts of wonderful wildlife. Birdwatchers will be in their element spotting egrets, terns and geese, while seals are often seen on the beach at low tide at the southern tip of the island.

Fancy breathing in fresh sea air? Bull Island is an easy 20 minute drive from Jurys Inn Parnell Street in Dublin.

Wicklow Mountains

Suitable for: wannabe photographers and intrepid walkers
How to get there: head south along the R114 for approximately 8km, then turn right onto Ballycullen Road before joining onto the R115 (Old Military Road)
Price: free

If rugged peaks and moody skies are your thing, a day out in the Wicklow Mountains just south of Dublin is a great shout. They were officially made a National Park in 1991, but have been inhabited for millennia, meaning there’s plenty of history to see in addition to the spectacular scenery!

One of the most popular spots to visit in the Wicklow Mountains is the Glendalough Valley. It’s home to two gorgeous lakes and a handful of fascinating cultural attractions, including the ancient monastic settlement of St Kevin. If you’d rather stay off the beaten track, there’s dozens of walking trails to explore across the magnificent mountain range, with options to suit all abilities. Hardcore hikers might want to tackle Lugnaquilla – the highest mountain in the region!

Closer to Dublin is where you’ll find Powerscourt Waterfall. The tallest waterfall in Ireland at 121m, it’s a real sight to behold and a great place to take some holiday snaps!

Glencullen Adventure Park

Suitable for: adrenaline junkies
How to get there: take the R116 south all the way to Glencullen by car or catch the tram from St. Stephen’s Green before swapping onto a bus at Dundrum
Price: Bike hire from €35

If you’re keen to spend more time outdoors on your city break, you’ll be in safe hands at the Glencullen Adventure Park. Approximately 30 minutes south of Dublin by road, it’s one of the best spots for a mountain biking adventure in Ireland.

The GAP (as it’s more popularly known) is a gravity bike park that’s crisscrossed with numerous exciting cycling trails. There are options for all abilities, although it’s best suited to those who already have a passion for mountain biking. You can rent bikes in various sizes on site and then take your pick of the routes. While some are fairly smooth with just a view twists and turns, others take you up steep inclines and around devilishly tricky obstacles!

Not much of a cyclist? The park also has walking trails which are free to use and boast awesome vistas of the nearby Wicklow Mountains.

Surfdock, Dublin Harbour

Suitable for: big groups and families
How to get there: if you’re staying at Jurys Inn Christchurch, catch the 77a bus from Lord Edward Street and hop off at Ringsend Road
Price: vary per activity

While this outdoor activity centre won’t take you too far away from Dublin (it’s located right in the harbour!), it’s still a brilliant place to make a beeline for on a good weather day.

You’ll find Surfdock at the Grand Canal Dock and it’s a one-stop-shop for all your water sports needs. In addition to hosting a brilliant surf shop for those who fancy investing in their own gear, Surfdock also hires out kayaks, stand up paddleboards and wetsuits if you feel like taking off into the harbour solo.

Alternatively, you can book onto one of the water sports centre’s windsurfing or paddle boarding classes which are run by qualified instructors and suitable for all abilities. Visiting Dublin in a group of ten or more people? Surfdock can accommodate group activity bookings where you can try your hand at multiple sports or enjoy a three-hour session in one specific activity.

Malahide Castle and Gardens

Suitable for: families
How to get there: drive north up the N1, join the M50 and then turn off at the R139 towards Malahide
Price: €7.50 for adults and €4 for kids (Fairy Trail is an additional charge)

Can’t get enough of exploring elegant castles and other sites of historic interest? While you’ll find plenty to pique your interest in Dublin itself, a short journey north of the city is the location of Malahide Castle and Gardens.

Built in the 12th century, the grand old building is your classic fairy-tale castle and has been caught up in numerous major historical events over the years. It sits within 250 acres of lush grounds encompassing a butterfly garden, a beautiful walled garden and an enchanting woodland Fairy Trail that’s ideal for little ones with big imaginations. There’s a small fee to enter the gardens, but you’ll need to organise a private tour to enter Malahide Castle itself.

Top tip: Malahide is just a short hop away from Portmarnock – one of the most beautiful sandy beaches near Dublin.

If you’re planning an escape to Dublin sometime soon, you’ll have your pick of two amazing Jurys Inn hotels! Stay opposite the Christ Church Cathedral and within easy walking distance of bustling Temple Bar at Jurys Inn Christchurch or bed down across the river at the Jurys Inn Parnell Street that’s ideally placed for shopping trips along lively Henry Street.

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