I’ve been settling in back in Dublin slowly and am taking the time to see all of the things that make me love this city so much more. Its always the little things and moments which I’m beginning to appreciate. These things are also part of the reason I loved working as a tour guide, getting that chance to show and tell others about the best parts of Dublin. One thing I always find myself looking forward to is the view of Dublin when you’re flying in. It depends if you’re lucky enough to avoid a complete cover of clouds, but if you’re sitting on the left side of the aeroplane you can get uninterrupted views of the coastline stretching all the way from Howth head, along Bull Island, the Liffey winding its way through the city, across to Dun Laoghaire and the mountains stretched across the horizon. At night time the city lights form a distinctive pattern which to me is instantly recognizable as home.


So I’ve compiled a small list of my favourite places to get a snapshot of Dublin. In no particular order –

#1 The river Liffey runs right through the centre of the city and has played an important role in Dublins history. It runs from the Wicklow mountains, but the last stretch through the city is pretty amazing, especially at sunrise and sunset which frame either side of the river in the morning and in the evening. This was part of the reason I loved my commute to Trinity College as I walked or cycled down the quays to a new sun rising up overhead every morning and headed home into the setting sun. The areas become much nicer in recent years and walking down from the Phoenix park means you pass the iconic James Gate, Kilmainham jail, the four courts, the outskirts of Temple Bar, the beautiful Ha’penny bridge (because that was what you had to pay to be rown across),the central O’Connell Street bridge (wider than it is long, and look for the small plaque commemorating a guy who died when his carriage drove off the bridge – which is in actual fact false), past Customs house, the old ship, the modern docklands, the gorgeous Samuel Beckett bridge and the old docklands with the Aviva crowning the cityscape. Down the coastal end there are various statues scattered around, the most important one remembering the famine right outside Liberty Hall. The boardwalk lining the Northern bank is the perfect place to sit and grab some lunch in the sunshine (if you’re lucky), there are canoeing and boat trips and it doesn’t need to be dyed green every year to celebrate St Patricks day, because it’s green anyway (well on a good day, it can also range to a manky brown occasionally, although at night it can look like liquid black oil). If you fancy a dip there are charity swims on during the year, along with watching the TCD kayakers launch themselves off O’Connell Street bridge and enjoying the rivalry between TCD and UCD when the University rowing races race down the river each spring.




#2 As one of the largest city parks in Europe and my absolute favourite place to go running, the Phoenix park is well known to locals and tourists alike. The best thing to do is to veer off from the main road once you’ve taken a glance at the Presidents house and continue past the Popes cross. Every time I run in the park I inevitably get stopped by tourists asking where to find the deer. Well thats where they usually are, scattered behind the cross or the green on the left/fields to the right. Heading left across the playing fields brings you to the magazine fort. Which is pretty cool in itself, but I always run past this way just for the view (where there is also a handy little bench) so you can fully appreciate the city stretching across the horizon, jammed with apartment blocks and church spires, but the real beauty are the mountains beginning in the background. They’re more like hills, but frame the city in summer with dusky green or in winter with snow dusted caps. If you happen to arrive an hour or so before sunset the view gets that little bit more picturesque.




#3 Howth had to be on the list and is relatively well known to tourists for its picturesque little fishing village qualities, pier with its view out to Lambay island and of course the cliff walk(s). As you meander your way past a few steep cliff drops littered with chattering seagulls the Irish sea stretches out onto the horizon. Passing around another corner or two brings you to the lighthouse where there is a choice to go up to the carpark (and the local with its typical pub grub) or continue around the headland for another hour long stretch which circles back through the golf course to Howth. Again the afternoon is the best time to go as the sun slowly moves over the city, highlighting Dun Laoghaire (and its brick of a library), ringsend, Dublin port and Bull island. There are one or two points along this side which makes it a little easier to take a quick swim in the sea from stone beaches. The best time of year to walk this way is August/September when the gorse bushes are dripping with sunshine yellow flowers (I think they also have a coconut-y smell) and deep purple or fuchsia bell flowers on the heather. For the budding ecologist its interesting to note the charred areas where fires destroyed the overgrowth but little shoots peep out through the soil. For a jam-packed day stop off at Bull Island on the way back to the city and stroll along the strand watching the kitesurfers or along the pier watching giant boats glide by. That’s my kind of hangover cure!





#4 Even if you don’t have a car, the Hellfire club is about 45 minutes slow walk (uphill) from the closest bus stop. Another short but steep climb from the carpark brings you to old ruins on a hill overlooking the whole city. The lodge has all sorts of stories associated with it, ranging from debauchery, appearing demons, hauntings etc. If you’re brave enough you can walk around it seven times in a particular direction the devil himself should appear. If you’re not into spooky stuff, the walk is worth it for the city views, and if thats not enough walking the other option is to head across the road from the carpark into Masseys wood. If you follow the path down the slope to the small river and cross it (its not deep, but there also should be a rope to swing across there somewhere) there are some beautiful old walls and such blended into the trees and shrubs around it. Besides being a great spot for getting lost, its also great for mushroom foraging when it gets damp in September/October. Just make sure they are edible – there are a lot of ones which look like they are, but are actually poisonous. There is an odd toadstool or two to be found, along with some bizarre multi-coloured ones which gives it all the more of a mystical quality. Best in summer under dappled sunlight. For a longer adventure continue into the mountains to Sally Gap (where it gets amazingly windy as you might be able to see from the oh-so-attractive picture below) and zip along in your car around the tiny country roads to Glendalough.





It was a little tough choosing only a few places to get the best views of Dublin. With all the above places giving you a great overview of the city I might post again with some of my favourite things to do in the city, but my main point is just to get out and explore whats just on our doorstep! The main thing to remember is to be prepared for any weather!