Monday 21 October 2019

Dublin in the sun! Top 10 things to do, from urban beaches to beer gardens, parks and ice-cream

Seize the day, and all that... there's nothing like Dublin under a few rays of sunshine.

A rainbow over the quays in Dublin. Photo: Getty/David Soanes
A rainbow over the quays in Dublin. Photo: Getty/David Soanes
Dublin's skyline. Photo:
Could summer be on the way at last?
Airfield Estate in summer
Dublin's Iveagh Gardens. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
View of South Co. Dublin from Dublin Bay Cruises
Group Kayaking at Dalkey Island, Dublin
The rooftop of the Marker Hotel
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

The sun is shining! Make the most of this rare Irish phenomenon with our guide to Dublin City's finest al fresco treats...

1. Rock a roof garden

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The rooftop of the Marker Hotel

Dublin ain't New York - let's manage expectations from the get-go. It does have a handful of rooftop oases for your Vitamin D-vibing pleasure, however. Think of the swanky rooftop bars at the Marker Hotel or Sophie's (make sure to check opening hours on or BEFORE you rock up), or swap booze for culture at the Chester Beatty Library (; below).

Couple enjoying the roof garden at Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Perched atop of the Library's staggering collection of books, manuscripts and objects d'art is a lovely, off-radar rooftop garden boasting views over Dublin Castle and the Dubh Linn Gardens. It's free to visit, too. Afterwards, grab a Middle Eastern treat at the Silk Road Café. Bite of baklava, anyone?

If you like that, try: Anyone for sunny pints? Dublin’s top five beer gardens

2. Grab an ice-cream

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Could summer be on the way at last?

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Just get a frickin' ice-cream.

Teddy's ( is everyone's top tip when it comes to cones, with the 'Holy Hatch' on Dun Laoghaire's Windsor Terrace having mushroomed into several vans and even shops in Bray and  at the lighthouse-end of the pier at this stage. The original remains the best, particularly before or after a stroll around the People's Park nearby.

While it nabs the '99 nod, Teddy's is far from the only ice-cream in town. Try the Dingle Gin-flavoured deliciousness at Murphy's (Wicklow St;, or a homemade gelato from Scoop on Ranelagh's Sandyford Road ( Nom.

If you like that, try: 15 of the best ice creams in Ireland

3. Hit the beach, baby!

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Killiney Bay, Dublin

Plodding along with faces stuck in smartphones, it's easy to forget that Dublin is a coastal capital. Don't! Get your day's work done and hit the DART south for a dip at White Rock, the 40 Foot or Killiney, or north for a swim at Clontarf or Portmarnock. Beach real estate gets increasingly crammed (and litter-strewn) at weekends, so now's the time to use up that stubborn day of annual leave...

If you like that, try: 8 brilliant beaches within an hour of Dublin...

4. Hike to the Hell Fire Club

There's a haunted house in the Dublin Mountains... and you can reach it on a family-friendly walk. The Hell Fire Club is found along a looped trail - the main forest entrance is about 6.5km south of Rathfarnham on the R115, and the whole walk won't take more than 1.5 hours. First built as a hunting lodge in 1725, the foreboding stone building later became notorious due to the behaviour of a wild young group of aristocrats who met there. Despite the haunted history, it's a perfect picnic site.

If you like that, try: Ireland's Top 20 walks... under 10,000 steps

5. Bring on a beer garden

Toner's Pub on Baggot Street

After long hours of winter darkness, mulchy weather and low-lying grey skies, many Dubliners have a predictable reaction to sunny days. They got out and get drunk and sunburned as soon as humanly possible.

The results quickly get messy, but with ninja-like timing, it's possible to get the best out of the city's beer gardens. Our faves include the Bernard Shaw and its Big Blue Bus pizzas in Portobello, Toner's on Baggot St. (pictured above), the Living Room on Cathal Brugha Street and House on Leeson Street.

If you're feeling fancy, the Garden Terrace at the Merrion Hotel opens on sunny days for lunch and drinks - plus, don't forget the Pav near Trinity College's Lincoln Gate entrance. A pint on the cricket pitch the bee's knees, dahling.

If you like that, try: 12 of the best best city and beachside beer gardens from Dublin to Dungarvan

6. Picnics and Park Life

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Dublin's Iveagh Gardens. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

St Stephen’s Green is the obvious choice on a sunny day... but how many bored ducks, topless men and cans of cider can you take?

A short walk away, seek out the Iveagh Gardens, where you'll find a gorgeous spread of sunken lawns, woodland walks, rockeries, a 150-year-old rosarium and a souvenir-sized maze... all within a stone's throw of Grafton Street.

For a treat, nab a killer doughnut from Aungier Danger (; try the chocolate-tastic Dublin Deathtrap) or a stonking great sambo from the Green Bench Cafe (18 Montague St) - it topped the heap in our poll of the 10 best sandwiches in Dublin. Skip the queues by avoiding lunchtime.

If you like that, try: 12 of the best burgers in Ireland

7. Walk the Great South Wall

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Two walkers enjoy a stroll along the Great South Wall, which extends some 2km into Dublin Bay. In the near distance are the towers of the Pigeon House power station, a Dublin icon.

Get past Ringsend's scrapyards and sewage ponds, and you emerge at a granite walkway stretching from the Pigeon House towers to Poolbeg Lighthouse. Dublin Bay’s Great South Wall (dating from 1716, when it was designed to combat silting) is off-radar, but the industrial access route pays off with breathtaking views from Terminal 2 to the Sugarloaf. If you like that, gear up for the coastal path on Howth, or walk Killiney Hill (it has the added bonus of a tearoom).

If you like that, try: The Dublin Bucket List: 30 things to do in the city before you die

8. Cruise control

View of South Co. Dublin from Dublin Bay Cruises

Dublin Bay is full of pretty coastal villages, from Malahide, Skerries and Howth on the northside, to Dalkey and Blackrock on the south. But did you know you can also take a cruise on Dublin Bay? The Garrihy family's Dublin Bay Cruises (; from €28/€20 return) offers 75-minute trips between Howth and Dun Laoghaire. Cruises run seven days a week between April and October.

Like that? Take a trip from Howth to Lambay Island and the Rockabill Lighthouse with Skerries Sea Tours (; from €45pp), or step up your aquatic game with a social sailing from Dun Laoghaire with

If you like that, try: 10 most unusual adventures in Ireland - from bog challenges to axe-throwing

9. Fresh air at Airfield

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Airfield Estate in summer

There’s more to Dundrum than a giant shopping centre, you know. Specifically, a 38-acre farm, gardens and heritage centre at Airfield Estate (; €10/€5). Revamped in 2014, it’s one of the best family days out in the city - from vintage cars to heritage tours, children's play areas, a farmyard, woodlands and of course, lots of summery treats at the Overends Cafe.

Done that? Similar days out include the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin and of course, Dublin Zoo in the phoenix Park... though expect crowds at the latter.

If you like that, try: Secret Ireland: South Dublin

10. Get woke at Grand Canal Dock

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Conor Keane Kennedy competing at the National Championships. Photo:

Did you know Ireland's first cable wake park is bang in the middle of Grand Canal Dock? Yes, there's more to Dublin's Water Quarter than Google, Facebook and a fancy theatre. At Wakedock (, an hour's wakeboarding costs from €30 with wetsuit and board included, though you can book instruction, too. There's a kids' jam session on Sunday mornings, and you can also do 'Ringo Rides' - i.e. being towed about on an inflatable ring - from €40 for 15 minutes for up to four people (wetsuits included).

If you like that, try: Kite-surfing on Dollymount Strand (

Read more:

The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die 

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