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04th Sep 2023

15 outdoor activities to try in Dublin while the sun’s still shining

Fiona Frawley

activities in the sun dublin

The weather hasn’t granted us the chance to do these things during the usual allotted months – luckily we’ve been granted a couple of bonus weeks of sun to squeeze them in to.

If you call Dublin home, it’s likely you spent most of July sanguinely putting plans in place, only to have to swiftly cancel them the minute you looked out the window. BBQs have stayed under their canvas coverings, outdoor furniture abandoned; we almost weren’t mad at the annual early launch of the Brown Thomas Christmas Shop – weather conditions have been perfect for popping your tree up, tbh.

Luckily, the Indian summer is landing at just the right time and it seems we might be granted a couple of weeks of sun before October hits – if you’re looking to make the most of them, here are 15 outdoor activities we recommend in Dublin:

15. Botanic Gardens

Located in Glasnevin, more info right here

Home to over 15,000 plant species from habitats worldwide, the Botanic Gardens provides an oasis of green in the middle of Dublin and is the dream location for a leisurely stroll. Founded in 1795, the Gardens will have you feeling like you’re in a promenading scene from Bridgerton with their curvilinear glasshouses, meticulously pruned rose bushes and tasteful water features. A particularly beautiful spot for a date, but also great for a solo ramble. Entry is free.

Image via Heritage Ireland 

14. Day trip to Howth

Howth Head is something of a pilgrimage for anyone visiting Dublin, particularly those with an affinity for Joyce. Whether you adore Ulysses or the thought of reading even one page scares the bejaysus out of you, there’ll be something for you along one of the many trails around Howth Head.

Boasting lush greenery and unparalleled views of Dublin Bay, this walk isn’t to be missed if you’re the outdoorsy type or the type who wants to at least appear outdoorsy on social media. There are multiple trails to follow, the shortest taking around 1.5 hours and the longest taking 3 hours. If you fancy a dip along the way there’s the idyllic Balscadden Bay Beach and the famous “hidden” beach on Howth’s southeastern corner (take extreme caution getting to this one, surfaces are slippy, uneven and maybe worth avoiding if you’re not confident with unpredictable terrains), and you can treat yourself afterwards to fish and chips at Leo Burdocks – just watch out for the seagulls.

– 7 places to eat, drink and get coffee during a day trip to Howth

@lovindublin Let us know your favourite things to eat, drink and do in Howth below ? #dublintiktok #howth #daytripidea #seafood #fishingvillage #irishtiktok #placestovisit #dublinfood #fyp ♬ Yahyuppiyah (feat. Pcee, EeQue & Chley) – Uncle Waffles & Tony Duardo & Justin99

13. A dip in the sea

For those not brave enough to lob themselves into the Irish Sea come rain, hail or shine, sea-swim opportunities have been somewhat lacking this summer. However, these blissful bonus warm days we’re experiencing provide the perfect opportunity for you to dip your toe in.

If you’re looking for a Dublin experience that extends beyond the pub, a dip in one of the capital’s many beautiful swim spots really is the dream activity. Daredevils can pounce off the highest rock in the Forty Foot, or those just looking to float and enjoy the view can take themselves to the likes of Killiney Beach or Balscadden in Howth.

It’s the kind of activity you might not feel like diving into initially, but will always be glad to have done after the fact.

– 12 of the best places for a sea swim in Dublin

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12. Airfield

Located in Dundrum, Dublin 14. More info right here

Sometimes, the only thing that’ll make you feel better is a fluffy lamb frolicking freely in a field, and luckily Airfield Estate has you covered in that department.

Airfield is a serene experience offering visitors a chance to meet adorable farm animals and see how produce goes from field to plate, with daily activities to participate in like egg collecting and jersey herd milking.

After exploring the farm you can visit Airfield’s light and airy café with a menu designed around the weekly harvest and produce from their garden and farm teams, with freshly baked treats and McCabe’s Coffee to chase everything down with.

11. Outdoor Yoga

Various settings, check the likes of Yoga in the Park and Yoga Dublin for info on specific classes. 

Namasté to your heart’s content at one of Dublin’s many outdoor yoga classes, ideally while the sun’s still shining – your tree poses just won’t be the same when it’s bucketing down.

Despite the changeable weather, there are plenty of outdoor yoga classes on the go in the city, whether you fancy the tranquil surrounds of Phoenix Park or a seaside setting like Dún Laoghaire or Donabate. You’ll frequently find yogis stretching it out on a Saturday morning at various outdoor settings across Dublin, but these days there are more and more classes on weeknights and before work so you can slot one into your schedule as you see fit.

10. Outdoor Tours

Whether you’re looking for a murder mystery, a spooky ghost tour or an immersive scavenger hunt, these days tours of Dublin extend far beyond someone holding up an umbrella for you to follow and churning out info. An outdoor tour is obviously a fun way for visitors to see the city, but also great for a work party or a non-alcohol-fuelled date. There’s nothing like being a tourist in your own city, and the experience can only be enhanced by having treasure to track down or mysteries to solve.

Check out the likes of Mystery Trails and Silent Adventures for a unique way to explore the city.

9. SUP in Dún Laoghaire

If you’re looking for something that’s active and relaxing in equal measures, stand-up paddleboarding could be the order of the day. Enjoy a peaceful paddle through the sheltered waters of Dún Laoghaire and Sandycove, with plenty of chances to meet friendly seals and take enviable sunset snaps along the way.

Located within Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Big Style teaches seafaring newbies everything they need to know about stand-up paddle, while also facilitating interesting courses for seasoned paddlers to explore.

Looking for somewhere to eat, drink or get coffee after your paddle? Here are 10 of our favourite spots in and around Sandycove.

8. Bike through the Phoenix Park

Dublin 8

There’s something about renting a bike and cycling through a city’s park that screams European holiday, and as luck would have it, Dublin’s Phoenix Park is prime for bikin’. There’s plenty within this haven of green to explore, whether you want to peep the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin, visit the zoo or introduce yourself to the park’s resident herd of deer.

There are bike rental facilities in Phoenix Park, but you can always hop on a Dublin Bike or Bleeper either.

7. Cruise of Dublin Bay

The Dublin Bay Cruise’s Boarding Office is located on the East Pier of Dún Laoghaire Harbour – More info right here

If you’ve always dreamt of having Leo Burdock fish and chips from Howth and a Teddy’s 99 from Dún Laoghaire in the same afternoon, hop aboard a Dublin Bay Cruise and make it happen.

These state-of-the-art, modern vessels will take you on a variety of routes – from Dún Laoghaire to Dalkey Island, Howth to Ireland’s Eye, Dún Laoghaire to Howth via Dublin City – the choice is yours. You’ll be comfy and well looked after on board, and you can even bring your dog along if she/he would like to see the sights too.

6. Kayaking

There are a number of kayaking tours and rental services across Dublin – head to the likes of City Kayaking and for more.

Continuing with the exploring-dublin-via-water theme, the balmy transition from summer to autumn is the perfect time for kayaking around Dalkey or even under the Ha’penny Bridge if that’s your vibe.

Explore the city or get out of town and see wildlife around Dalkey Island and Bullock Harbour – whatever your route of choice is, you’ll be able to take in the scenes from a completely different perspective and feel at one with nature while doing it.  Most kayaking tours around Dublin are beginner-friendly, and suitable for large groups as well as individuals.

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5. Lunch al fresco

Maybe a bit of an obvious one but hey, let’s throw it in for good measure. If you’re sticking close to the city on a sunny day, you don’t need to spend a bomb on food, pints and coffee (although obviously, this is one of our favourite activities to partake in) – you can always just pack a lunch and enjoy it in one of the city’s many parks and patches of green. If the swarm of seagulls in Stephen’s Green intimidates you too much, fear not – you can peruse our favourite places for lunch in the sun right here.

The park at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in D8. 

4. A stroll through the grounds at IMMA

IMMA is located on Military Road in Kilmainham – more info is available via its website

IMMA’s inspiring assembly of exhibitions are obviously ideal to peruse whatever the weather, but exploring the gallery’s walled formal gardens and meadows is definitely an activity more conducive to a sunny day.

IMMA is located in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, one of the most impressive 17th-century buildings in Dublin, if not Ireland. The building’s formal facade and large elegant courtyard will have you feeling like you’re a main character in Bridgerton and the grounds are the dream location for a sunny afternoon stroll. Originally used for medicinal purposes, the Royal Hospital is steeped in history – it was once under the possession of the Head of the British Army before being repurposed and used as Garda Headquarters, eventually becoming home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1991. The gardens are now free for the public to explore, with neatly trimmed hedges and classical fountains aplenty.

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3. Stroll and ice cream in Dún Laoghaire

Dún Laoghaire is accessible from Dublin City Centre by DART. There are multiple ice cream shops around the pier and in the town itself. 

One of the go-to activities for a sunny day in Dublin, we’d be inclined to say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. A walk along Dún Laoghaire Pier is good for the mind, body and soul – the sea breeze paired with a creep on the impressive period houses along the seafront will have you feeling like you’re in the Dublin equivalent of Monaco, and a visit to Teddy’s after your walk is non-negotiable. Probably the most famous 99s in Dublin, this creamy soft serve topped with syrup, sprinkles or Oreo crumbs is something everyone needs to experience at least once.

2. Day trip to Bray

Bray is accessible from Dublin City Centre by DART. 

We’ve snuck across the county bounds to Wicklow for this one, but for good reason. The seaside haven of Bray is the perfect place to day-trip to when the sun is shining, whether you’re in the mood for a scenic hike, a mini food tour or just chilling on the seafront. In the last few years, Bray has upped its game significantly in terms of food offerings with some of the best brunch, pub grub and small plate offerings you’ll find for miles around, with the likes of Catalyst Café catering to all your coffee-and-a-seafront-stroll needs. The Bray-to-Greystones walk and Bray Head hikes are hugely popular activities for a sunny day – neither of them is overtly tough and both provide unrivalled views of the seafront, Dublin Bay and beyond.

– 12 of the best places to eat, drink and get coffee in Bray

Aerial view of Bray Seafront, via Getty.

1. Killiney Hill

About 45 minutes from Dublin city centre via DART. 

Another great spot for some seriously impressive views, Killiney Hill is a southside gem with its winding trails and the ‘witches hat’ that sits proudly on top. Accented with prickly gorse and lush green patches you’ll find postcard-esque views of Dalkey Island, the Dublin coastline, Bray and the Wicklow Mountains, with the Irish Sea glistening like one of Beyoncé’s bodysuits on a sunny day. Killiney Hill has an off-leash policy for dogs throughout, as well as a great café about halfway up with a tempting selection of homemade cakes and sambos.

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