Top 10 parks in Dublin
For those of you travelling to Dublin as a tourist or as an English student, you should visit Dublin’s hidden gems, its parks.
Dublin’s parks provide locals, English students and tourists with a great opportunity to socialise, to exercise, and when the weather allows, to enjoy the sunshine.
One main differentiation between parks in Dublin and its continental counterparts is that you don’t see the “Don’t walk on the grass” signs that you see in Paris – “Pelouse Interdite” – or in Madrid – “Prohibido pisar el césped”. Our weather allows for an abundance of grass!
The below is arranged in order of my preference, and please bear in mind I am a long distance runner who likes the larger and somewhat more wilder parks. You could certainly argue with the ordering as each park holds a special place in one’s heart, but hopefully you will make some new discoveries thanks to the list below. After a visit to one of the parks, please feel free to provide feedback about your visit.
Ardgillan Castle, Skerries, North Co. Dublin
I must admit that I have quite an emotional attachment to Ardgillan Castle having spent my youth running up and down its hills. With its breathtaking views of the Irish sea, the Cooley & Mourne mountains, the beautiful Castle and sheer size of the park, it is worth a visit. It is quite far from Dublin city centre and difficult to get to with public transport so use private transport if possible. You can get there directly with the No. 33 bus. Why not make a day of it, and get the train from Pearse Street station and arrive in Skerries. It is quite a walk to and from Skerries on the coast road which is very nice. If time allows, drop into a bar/ restaurant called Stoop Your Head in Skerries, their seafood chowder is delicious. There is a rose garden, vegetable & herbs garden, playground, tea rooms, dog friendly coffee shop and playground. If you enjoy running, there is a parkrun held there every Saturday morning.
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2
The Iveagh Gardens, an oasis in a desert, allows for peace and tranquility among the hustle and bustle of Dublin’s city centre. If you are in the city centre, the park offers you a place to reflect, to leave Dublin’s busy streets and walk around the beautiful park grounds. During the summer time there are usually events and festivals organised such as Taste of Dublin and Dublin’s comedy festival. My only gripe with the park is that it closes at 6pm during the summer time.
Phoenix park, just outside Dublin city centre
Europe’s largest enclosed park, a trip to the Phoenix park is a must, and if you are going to Dublin’s zoo (situated within the park), allocate some time to visit the park. If living in Dublin and interested in sports, I am confident you will find your sport of choice in the Phoenix park – running, cycling, soccer, gaelic football, cricket, horse polo to name but a few. There are often cultural events and exhibitions in Farmleigh house and are worth visiting. Two events I thoroughly enjoyed in 2016 were the Experience Japan day and Africa Day. The wild deer walking around the park is an eye catcher.
Malahide Castle, Malahide, North Co. Dublin
A short distance from Dublin city, it takes 20 mins to travel to Malahide by dart. Malahide Castle park is very well kept with beautiful walks through the park grounds and shaded forest areas. The visitor centre is run by Avoca where you can have something nice to eat, I recommend the scones + jam, you can also have a take-away coffee for your walk. If interested in more than a visit/ walk, there is a pitch and putt course, tennis courts, and a parkrun is held here every Saturday morning. There is a playground for children too. Malahide, a coastal town, is very nice, known for its restaurants and cafés. If you have the time, I recommend the walk along the coast road to Portmarnock, from there you can get a dart back into Dublin city centre.
Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, South Dublin
Marlay Park is one of Dublin’s most popular parks. It is situated on the southside of Dublin city and is the starting point for the Wicklow Way, a walk which takes you through the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. You can get a dublin bus (routes 14, 14a, 48a and 75) to arrive to the park and it should take no longer than 30 mins if there is no traffic from Dublin city centre. The park offers ample green space, nice path and forest walks, and there is the opportunity to play many sports there with football pitches, tennis courts and paddle courts available to use. There is also a café on the grounds where you can have something nice to eat and have a coffee. The annual summer music festival at Marlay park is one festival to watch out with top artists usually playing there.
Stephen’s Green, Dublin city centre/ Dublin 2
Probably Dublin’s most well know and historical park. Situated in the heart of Dublin city centre, the park is a must for all who visit the city. Usually full of people, especially on a sunny day, there is always a great atmosphere where one can watch the world go by. There is a lake in the park, flower beds in the centre, a playground for children, and lots of room to relax and enjoy the sunshine if the weather allows.
Saint Anne’s Park, Clontarf, Dublin 5
Another Dublin park gem, Saint Anne’s Park is easily accessible by both bus (route 29a, 31) and dart (get off at Raheny dart station). It is a 30 minute journey to arrive there. One of Dublin’s biggest parks, you could spend the afternoon there just relaxing, walking around the park or watching and playing the many sports practiced there. There is a mini park for dogs, and a café where you can enjoy a bite or a drink. If you would like to make a day of it, the coastal walk back into Dublin city from Clontarf is very nice.
Herbert Park, Ballsbridge/ Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Herbert Park is situated just outside Dublin’s city centre on the southside, and is easily accessible on foot or by public transport, by bus (routes 4, 46a, 39, 7 and many more), by dart (Ballsbridge stop). Herbert park is quite large, however, has a road which traverses it. As well as the beautiful walks around the park there are tennis courts, a playground, a bowling green and an astro pitch where you can play football. Ballsbridge is a nice area with good restaurants and cafés, and you are also a short distance from Sandymount beach and Irishtown National Reserve which are certainly worth a visit, especially if the weather is good.
Merrion Square, Dublin city centre/ Dublin 2
Recently redesigned, the park is more open and expansive now. A short walk from Dublin’s city centre, it is ideal if you are close-by and looking for a place to relax and enjoy some fresh air before resuming your busy day of sightseeing, working or studying. The park hosts the statue of Oscar Wilde which is a must see for anyone visiting Dublin city, and there is a playground for children to enjoy. During the summer time, many events take place in Merrion square which I recommend to attend if an event is held there when you are visiting Dublin.
Newbridge park, Donabate, North Co. Dublin
Newbridge park is another large park in North County Dublin with relaxing walks along the park grounds and along the forest trails. To arrive to Newbridge park by public transport you can get the Drogheda bound train from Pearse Street station, Tara Street station or Connolly Station to Donabate. It is a short walk from Donabate to the park. The park has a lot to offer, you can visit the Georgian house, there is also a farm and an enclosed area with wild deer and other animals.