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Dublin, Ireland is a beautiful, high energy city. Many areas of interest vie for the attention of the adventure seeker, from Dublin Castle to St. Stephen’s Green to the Temple Bar Area’s pubs and shops. And by all means, explore those well known spots.
Then, check out several off the beaten path locations in and near the city. Less crowded and lesser known, these spots offer fun, beauty and history as well.
These are non touristy places to visit in Dublin.
Off the Beaten Path
One of my favorite ways to really get to know a city is to wander streets, explore plazas and follow curiosity wherever it leads. Getting a bit…or a lot…lost can lead to unexpected surprises and delights.
To help you out in Dublin, wander to these places that the locals know about, but many tourists do not. And then see where curiosity leads after that.
Temple Bar Food Market
Located in the heart of Dublin, the Temple Bar Area is famous for its pubs and shops. The streets are crowded with locals and visitors, especially in the evenings. One must visit some of the pubs in Temple Bar. It’s a great way to connect with Dubliners and listen to fine music.
However, lesser known is the Temple Bar Food Market. Held every Saturday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, the market is a foodie paradise. It’s located in Meeting House Square, on Dublin’s South Side. The market offers fresh produce, meats, baked goods, artisanal cheeses, street food and hot bites. During the summer months there’s a night market as well, an alternative to the sometimes rowdy pubs. The night market offers stalls of arts and crafts created by local artisans.
St. Stephen’s Green is the most well known, and popular, green space in Dublin. Reminiscent of Central Park in NYC, it’s worth a visit for its beauty and historical significance.
Not far away lies Iveagh Gardens, tucked away between Clonmel and Upper Hatch Streets near the National Concert Hall. Once a private park, this 300 year old secluded green space doesn’t draw the tourists. It’s a quiet, beautiful space to wander or hang out for an hour with its fountains, yew maze and rose garden. During the summer, the park hosts festivals and music performances, increasing the number of visitors. Otherwise, it feels like a secret garden.
Does swimming in the cold, wild Irish Sea sound exciting? Located just outside of Dublin, and easily accessible by the city’s electronic transit system, Forty Foot is a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay. People have been swimming here, year around, for more than 250 years.
Up until the 1970s, Forty Foot was an exclusive gentlemen’s swimming club. During the women’s liberation movement, a group of female equal rights activists jumped into the sea, opening the area for women and children. All are welcome now. No matter the weather or season, locals believe that swimming in the frigid waters boosts health.
Many who literally take the plunge claim that swimming with locals at Forty Foot remains the most authentic experience they’ve ever had.
After checking out the Trinity College Library and its treasure, The Book of Kells, head to the quaint, quiet Marsh’s Library. Located in St. Patrick’s Close, next to the cathedral, this library claims the distinction of “first public library” in Ireland. The doors opened in 1707.
This well preserved library, of the late Renaissance – early Enlightenment period, boasts a collection of more than 25,000 books, some extremely rare, and 300 manuscripts. Marsh’s Library is one of the last 18th century buildings in Ireland still used for its original purpose. The library even uses social media. Visit their Instagram page, for daily photos and videos.
Of historical interest, some of the bookcases in the library contain bullet holes from the Easter Rising in 1916. And there are unique wire alcoves, or cages, built in response to book thefts in the late 18th century. Readers were locked into the cages to peruse the rare books.
Linger in this beautiful library. And know that you aren’t the only one lingering there. The ghost of the founder, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, reportedly haunts the building, rummaging through the shelves of books at night.
National Botanic Gardens
Located a little outside Dublin’s city center, the botanic gardens offer visitors a relaxing off the beaten path experience.
Enjoy the expansive lawns and the pond, explore the restored glasshouses, or stroll through the rose gardens, herbaceous borders and alpine yard. This botanical garden is home to hundreds of endangered plants from around the world. It even houses six plants that are now extinct in the wild, making them a rare sight indeed.
If you love the serenity of nature or need time to destress or unwind, check out this natural oasis and soak up the beauty and perhaps some sun.
Great South Wall
I saved one of the best non touristy places until last, the Great South Wall. Accessible from Pigeon House Road, the broad, walkable wall extends 4 kilometers into Dublin Bay. One can “walk on water”, experiencing the winds and waves on the march to the lighthouse at the end of the walkway.
Built more than 200 years ago, at the time of its completion the Great South Wall was the world’s longest sea wall. Today it remains one of the longest in Europe.
At the seaward end of the wall stands the red Poolbeg Lighthouse, built in 1820. It replaced an older lighthouse from the late 1700s.
Dream of Travel
I am keenly aware that due to the continuing pandemic, international travel is severely restricted. However, as we all do our part to get through this time, we can dream of travel. We can plan and research. And, gratefully, we can revisit memories from past trips and experience them again.
I hope you’ll add Dublin to your travel list. It’s a magnificent city, rich in culture, art, literature and music. And it’s one of the most joyful cities that I’ve ever visited. I can’t wait to travel to Dublin again, and explore more of Ireland.
Have you visited any of these non touristy Dublin locations?
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