Ireland is a country famed for its beauty. From the Lakes of Kerry to the Cliffs of Clare to the rolling green hills in…well…pretty much everywhere you look. It should come as no surprise then that even our cities are in tune with nature and have fantastic parks.
These gorgeous green spaces act as a refuge for those wanting a reprieve from the city life, a meeting place for both young and old, a picnic spot for outdoor eaters and a place to exercise for the more health conscious.
This list of the very best parks in Dublin will be a guide to suit everyone, whether you’re a tourist in Ireland for the first time or a local who is looking to get to know their county a little better.
There should be no surprise that Phoenix Park tops this list. One of the largest urban parks in Europe, Phoenix Park covers over 1,700 acres with a perimeter wall 11 kilometres in length and is less than a half hour walk away from the city centre.
There is an abundance of things to do at Phoenix Park. Dublin Zoo over 400 species of animal can be seen and the park also houses the residences of the President of Ireland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. An extensive number of sports are provided for such as walking, running, cycling, polo, cricket, hurling, and more.
The wildlife is possibly the highlight of the park, particularly the herd of wild deer that have called the park home for 4 centuries. While there is a strict no-feeding policy for the deer, do feel free to take all the pictures of these Insta-worthy creatures as you want!
There is also a Phoenix Park Visitor Centre with displays on park wildlife, Celtic history and shows the park’s history dating all the way back to 3,500BC. The main gates of the park are open 24/7 all year round.
St Stephen’s Green Park
St Stephen’s Green Park, also sometimes referred to as simply Stephen’s Green, is the most central of the parks listed here. Located beside the bustling Grafton Street as well as the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, it provides the perfect haven for city workers on lunch breaks, weary shoppers and friends looking for a place to hang out.
The park has a long history spanning four centuries that involves some of the most important people in Irish history such as Arthur Guinness and Countess Markievicz. It boasts a large lake that provides a home to many swans and ducks and a playground for younger visitors to enjoy.
The Green comes as a welcome respite for all who enter and the ultimate chill out spot in the city centre.
Spanning roughly 300 acres, the park sits at the foot of the Dublin Mountains in Rathfarnham, about 9 kilometres from the city centre.
There is no shortage of things to do at Marlay Park. For the youngest of visitors, there is a playground and for four-legged friends, there is a dog park and an area of the park specifically marked where dogs can be let off their leashes. There is a multitude of sporting activities on offer such as tennis courts, all-weather courts and numerous football pitches. A 9-hole par 3 course was closed in 2018 but it was announced earlier this year that it was to be revamped and reopened.
There are running and walking trails and the park plays host to weekly runs. For the more hiking-inclined, it marks the beginning of the Wicklow Way, a self-guided hiking trail that ends in Clonegal in County Carlow some 127 kilometres away.
The Marlay Park opening hours run from 8am to 8pm daily.
Blackrock Park is a small yet beautiful park overlooking Dublin Bay. It boasts a number of features such as trees, a cycle lane and a playground, though its crowning glory is without question the pond which dominates the gazes of any visitors to the park. There is an island in the middle of the pond and a Peace Fountain was constructed in 1986 to mark the International Year of Peace.
The park is very popular with graduate students from the nearby UCD Smurfit School of Business and provides the perfect location for unwinding after a long day. It is easily accessible and is immediately adjacent to the Blackrock DART station, just a short journey from the city centre.
The park is maintained by the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
Bushy Park, Terenure, is another beautiful find. Over 210 acres in size and also about 9 kilometres from the city centre, it offers a wonderful escape for those with green fingers.
The park has a multitude of facilities, including football pitches, a boules court, numerous tennis courts, a skate park and one of the limited number of padel courts in Ireland. A pond sits in the middle of the park where ducks and swans can regularly be seen as well as a small waterfall. Perhaps one of the most standout features of the park is the unique crossing over the River Dodder that runs through it.
On Saturdays, a market opens up showcasing crafts, produce and food from over 30 vendors and provides another great picnic opportunity. The Bushy Park opening hours change monthly and it is advised to ensure the park is open before going.
If you’re looking for things to do in Dun Laoghaire, then why not head down to the gorgeous People’s Park, located only a short stroll from the harbour. The park has a lengthy history, dating all the way back to the end of the 19th century and was constructed in the typical formal Victorian style including wrought iron railings, stone walls, large gates and a bandstand. The playground and restaurant provide something for all the family to enjoy. But the real beauty of this park comes at the weekend. There is a farmer’s market every Sunday from 11am to 4pm and stalls ranging from crafts to food to arts fill the park giving it a real buzz.
Of course, it isn’t all about the market and on those quieter days it is well worth calling to the park with a Teddy’s ice cream and just chilling out for a bit.
A hotel near Dublin’s must-see parks
An afternoon stroll should be a relaxing exercise so it only makes sense that you stay at a nearby hotel so you can walk to these parks. Maldron Hotels have several ideal locations that would allow you access to any of these beautiful parks!
Why not stay at our partner property Belvedere Hotel in Dublin 1? It is surrounded by Ireland’s most historic buildings, most famous shopping streets, and nearby parks! Or check out our full list of hotels in Dublin and take your pick!