The confines of Dublin city centre may not offer up many hiking opportunities, but there are some beautiful walking trails within easy reach by bus, train, car, or bike.
There are more than 350 walking trails around the country listed on www.irishtrails.ie, 23 of which are within County Dublin, and at least 50 others could be easily done on a day trip from the city. Members of An Oige or those with a Youth Hostel Association card can join regular day-long walking trips departing from the city centre; see http://www.anoige.ie/activities/hillwalking for more details.
If you are going walking alone, the following trails are easily accessible and safe for tourists:
There are four lovely routes to choose from around this pretty fishing village in north County Dublin. The cliff path loops around Howth Head for 6km, with stunning scenic views. The tramline loop is an easy and relatively flat 7km, but for a more strenuous climb take the Black Linn loop (8km) or Bog of Frogs loop (10km), which scale Howth Head.
The Phoenix Park
You could spend days walking around the Phoenix Park in Dublin and still not see it all. Covering an area of 707 hectares, it is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe. Originally named Royal Deer Park by its founder in 1662, it still has a large herd of wild deer which can be spotted sheltering among the woodlands of oak, ash, chestnut, sycamore and beech trees. The Victorian People’s Flower Gardens are a lovely place to rest after a bracing walk, with ornamental lakes, Victorian rose beds and a playground and picnic area.
Bray to Greystones cliff walk
Thousands of walkers take the DART (Dublin’s light rail system) to Bray in north County Wicklow every summer to begin this stunning coastal walk, which snakes up and around Bray Head from the promenade and out along the sea to the fishing port of Greystones. From the top of the Head, there are beautiful views of the whole of Dublin Bay, the Wicklow Mountains, and on a clear day it may even be possible to spot Wales on the horizon. There’s a DART station in Greystones to take visitors back to the city centre.
The Wicklow Way
County Wicklow, the county south of Dublin, is known as the “Garden of Ireland,” and offers up some of the most beautiful walks in the country. The Wicklow Way is the main walking trail, which winds for 132km from the suburb of Rathfarnham in South Dublin, across the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, through the villages of Eniskerry, Glencree, Glendalough, Rathdrum and Roundwood before ending in Clonegal in County Carlow. The whole trail will take approximately 8-10 days to complete, but small sections of the trail, especially around Glendalough, are extremely popular day-trips from Dublin. See www.wicklowway.com or www.wicklowwalks.com for more details.
Images courtesy of geograph.ie