The Grand Canal is one of my favourite things about Dublin.
I find the flowing water brings a certain sense of calmness and serenity to the city (although I'm sure anyone stuck in gridlocked traffic along the canal during rush hour will probably beg to differ!).
Traditionally used as a method of transportation, the canal itself is a lot more leisure based nowadays with barges of private parties easing their way down the waters during the summer months. It's also a great spot for exercise enthusiasts with walkers, joggers and cyclists getting great use of the flat, straight track.
The beauty of the canal is that it runs the length of the south side of the city centre, transecting lots of gorgeous areas of Dublin just waiting to be discovered. Starting at Harold's Cross Bridge and walking all the way down to Grand Canal Dock takes a solid 40 minutes if you've got a brisk walking pace.
This walk with suggested diversions may end up taking a bit longer but it's a nice leisurely way to spend a few hours some weekend.
Before you start off, pop into Café en Swan at MVP just by Harold's Cross Bridge for a coffee and a cake to put some pep in your step. As you walk along the pedestrianised side of the canal from there to Portobello you'll pass by some of the cutest houses in Dublin, with gorgeous gardens and pastel colours walls.
You'll also bump into loads of ducks and swans along this stretch, so stale bread would come in handy if you wish to feed them.
After crossing the Portobello Bridge you'll encounter stunning weeping willows and a little wooden dock perfect for perching on.
At the Ranelagh Bridge, why not stop for a pint at The Barge, or alternatively pick up a Dublin Bike from the pod at the Charlemont Luas stop so you can wheel your way down to the next section of the canal.
The Leeson Street Bridge leads down to Wilton Terrace, with the infamous Patrick Kavanaghstatue sitting stoically on his bench, admiring his beautiful canal.
From then on you're in Juniors territory where you'll find some of the best sambos in Dublin. The path takes a fork then, down Londonbridge Road via the Bath for a pint and then on to Sandymount Strand for an iconic view of the sunset behind the Poolbeg Towers or down Barrow Street to head on to Grand Canal Dock for a walk around the futuristic square.
No matter which one you end up at, it's a few hours of your weekend well spent with many discoveries made along the way.