Best Outdoor Activities in Dublin

10 Best Ways To Seize The Day When It's Nice Out In Dublin

Outdoor activities are unfortunately difficult to guarantee when you visit a city with as changeable weather as Dublin. That said, when a mild day comes around or you get a great summer's afternoon there are heaps of ways to get out and see and city in a whole new light. Whether it's doing a Segway tour, hopping on a bike, taking a leisurely stroll around some of Dublin's historical streets or getting out of the city altogether there's plenty to get excited about.

Take the DART out to Howth and go for a walk around Howth Head, head out to the Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo to catch the deer and more exotic animals basking in the sun. Take your time perusing the shops on Grafton Street or sit down with an ice cream in Stephen's Green. You can be sure that every single Dubliner around you will be making the most of the good weather and the mood on a sunny day is infectious in its excitement. 

For those deciding to take a chance and head out regardless of the conditions: be sure to come prepared for the elements, it will make all the difference to your experience. Many of these tours are specifically designed to brave all conditions and rightly so or they'd be out of business.


Outside the city

The Powerscourt Estate is one of the grandest homages to opulence of the 19th century. Restored in 1731, this original 13th century castle has enjoyed visits from many high-profile monarchs and aristocrats over the centuries. Today the house and gardens are open to the public and on a bright day it's a really beautiful way to spend and afternoon outside of the city. Peruse the Japanese and Italian gardens, gawk at the pet cemetery and 'Pepperpot' turret while breathing in clean country air. The house itself contains an Avoca restaurant and home ware store that you might find difficult to leave without buying most of the stock.

Local Expert tip: This is the perfect place to head as keen golfers due to the adjacent course.

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Every Sunday some of the best produce in the city is on offer in the People's Park in D�n Laoghaire at the weekly farmer's market. If the weather is good make the pilgrimage to this seaside town and enjoy the some of the exceptional produce on offer while taking in the sights around you. From gluten free baking to artisan cheeses, falafel to high quality pork and delicious, freshly squeezed lemonade there will be something to pique your interest. Afterwards you can take a stroll on the pier or walk into Sandycove for a bite to eat. Dubliners head straight to Dún Laoghaire on a good day so you'll mix with the locals.

Local Expert tip: Get there early in order to get the best the market has to offer - things often sell out.

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Make it early for this nightly tour because space is limited. This tour is popular with folks who want to learn about the history of Irish music in an alternative setting. Starting at lively Oliver St. John Gogarty's in the beating heart of the Temple Bar area, the crawl is led by two professional musicians who take you to the places where historic musical events took place while treating you to some live music along the way. As you wind through the vibrant streets they explain the history of Irish Trad and stop to perform intimate sessions in authentic Irish pubs along the way.

Local Expert tip: This is only partly outdoors but represents one of the best value for money experiences.

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History buffs won't want to miss this popular tour that meets in front of Trinity College and takes a two-hour trip through Dublin's most historic sites. History graduates of Trinity College provide background as you explore the college, Temple Bar, Christ Church Cathedral, Four Courts and more. Learn about Irish history while you walk, including the 1916 Rising, the War for Independence, and much more. For those with specific interests there are also tours that concentrate on areas like the birth of the nation, Irish food and drink and women in Ireland.

Local Expert tip: I would personally opt for a specific tour with a graduate whose special interest coincides with the topic - it ensures a more engaged guide.

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If you fancy a more active take on exploring the city then a bike tour might be the way forward. Dublin City Bike Tours meet outside Isaac's Hostel in the North Georgian Quarter, making them the perfect backpackers resource for a fun day out with minimal effort. You'll visit all the main historical sites that Dublin has to offer and the tour is designed for people of all levels of fitness so you won't find yourself lagging behind, puffing and panting. It's an eco-friendly way to see the city and they'll even provide you with rain jackets when the heavens open!

Local Expert tip: If you want an all-day excursion or a corporate tour then get in touch with the office as they can arrange something for you.

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Viking Splash Tours

Tired of spending your touristy afternoons stuck on a stuffy bus listening to a disinterested tour guide going through the motions? Well you can be guaranteed a different experience entirely on the Dublin Viking Splash Tour. The tour features authentic Viking tour guides complete with horned hats and encouraging roars. The tour itself takes place on both land and sea in original WWII amphibious vehicles and spans from Stephen's Green down through medieval and Georgian Dublin before plunging into the Grand Canal Basin. You'll get a comprehensive overview of the city's history and a breath of fresh air with plenty of unusual fun thrown in.

Local Expert tip: Be prepared to revert to viking sensibilities while roaring at passersby.

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Northside coastal areas
Photo courtesy of finbarzapek/SeanC

One of the beauties of Dublin is that a quick train journey from the city centre using the city's commuter rail service will take you to a seaside suburb that feels totally removed from the urban sprawl. Take the DART north to Howth, a seaside-fishing village with great seafood restaurants and lovely scenery. Take a walk up Howth Head -a popular walkers spot- and get an incredible view of Dublin Bay and the city. If you're driving then venture up to the top of the peninsula before returning to the city along the coastline, but don't worry if you've opted for mass transit, as the view is just as nice.

Local Expert tip: Wright's of Howth contains plenty of delicious treats and snacks.

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Dublin Zoo

If the deer roaming around Phoenix Park aren't enough for you then simply head into Dublin Zoo in the same grounds to get your full quota of exotic animals and birds. Dublin Zoo is the country's most popular visitor attraction, receiving almost one million visitors last year and with such a diverse and exciting animal population it's easy to see why. Over 600 animals are housed within its walls and there are daily events, feeds and talks to enjoy. If you're hungry then head to the Meerkat Restaurant where your meal with be overseen by the inquisitive meerkat population.

Local Expert tip: If your dog is on holiday with you there is a point in Dublin Zoo where it can be held and looked after during your visit.

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Phoenix Park and quays

The Phoenix Park is not only the home to our President, zoo, Victorian flower gardens, Papal cross and a herd of wild deer it is also one of Europe's largest urban parks and has acres of beautiful parkland and leafy trails to enjoy a long, meandering walk. Phoenix Park also doubles as a venue and space for many different events such as organized family picnics, motor and cross-country races. This is the perfect sightseeing place to take your kids in order to pack in some history and scenery with more fun activities. All the nearby amenities will allow for a full day of fun.

Local Expert tip: If you're a keen cyclist there are plenty of cycle tracks around Phoenix Park to enjoy.

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Meet Emily Carson

Emily grew up in Dublin, and studied French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. During her university years, she lived in both Scotland and France, but traveled around Europe...  More About Emily