Whether you’re studying in Dublin this summer, next semester, or just have plans to visit someday, there is one thing almost all travel guides warn you of– the rain! So much so, you are prepared to hunker down in a cozy pub with a hot whiskey or pint of Guinness if you happen to face a day of lousy weather. You even have a list of weather-proof activities (museums, galleries, brewery/distillery tours, indoor food markets) in your back pocket for that inevitable lashing-down-rain day. So what happens when you arrive in Dublin and suddenly face a day of sunshine? Put away your wellies, ditch your trench coat and umbrella, grab a pair of shades and use the following sunny day tips!
For the Beach-goer
Yes, Ireland does have beaches. Tons of them in fact! Most of the time you find yourself bundled up, fighting the wind as you walk along the coast. But on a warm, summer day, Dublin’s beaches are filled with locals frolicking in the sun. Dollymount is known as THE spot for kite surfers and is easily accessible from city center via Dublin Bus and even designated cycling lanes (30-45 minutes on bike from city center). Or take the DART (the tram system in Dublin) a bit farther north to the beaches of Portmarnock and Malahide. And don’t forget your sunscreen, when the Irish sun decides to make an appearance, it can be quite strong.
For the Art and Culture Feign
The National Gallery and IMMA are lovely, but no place you want to be when the sun is finally making an appearance. Don’t despair, Dublin has an abundance of street art to satisfy your creative side. While these works (often on sides of buildings, cement walls, and even on sidewalks, paths, and the streets themselves) are scattered throughout the city, Camden Street, Portobello, and Temple Bar have a decent abundance. Make your way to The Bernard Shaw, a self-proclaimed “bar, cafe, creative space”. It does indeed have quite the creative space, including a graffiti-filled beer garden, complete with a double decker bus that is fully outfitted with a pizza kitchen!
On Sundays, the exterior of Merrion Square is lined with artists showcasing their work in Dublin’s only open air art gallery. We would be amiss if we didn’t mention Ireland’s reputation for buskers (or street entertainment). While you will find musicians and street performers out everyday of the year (most often around Grafton Street, Temple Bar, and Henry Street), it’s a special treat to be able to enjoy a busker in the Dublin sun.
For the Foodie
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in Dublin with al fresco dining options. Particularly those along the side streets off of Grafton and Dawson Streets. Some favorites in that area include The Kitchen, Metro Cafe, and The Farm. The Cake Cafe off Camden Street has a lovely courtyard to enjoy coffee and a baked treat on a sunny morning. Or try a few cocktails on the swanky rooftop bar of the Marker Hotel in Grand Canal Dock. From the terrace you can see the mountains, sea, and much of the city, a great spot for sunset. For a more low-key afternoon grab some goodies at one of Dublin’s many outdoor/ indoor food markets and picnic in Merrion Square, Phoenix Park, or St. Stephen’s Green.
For the Sports Fan
Catch a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) match at Croke Park. Or if there is no match on that day, take the Skyline Tour, a guide-led rooftop walkway 44 meters high above Croke Park’s pitch. If you don’t like heights, this is not for you, but it does offer an amazing 360 degree view of the city. If watching a game on the tele is more your thing, you are in luck. Just because the match is on TV, it doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck inside on a nice day. Pubs like The Barge, Dicey’s, and Harry’s on the Green all have lovely beer gardens equipped with big screen TVs. Which can be just as enjoyable as being at the game itself!
For the Nature Lover
Even though Dublin is a bustling capital city, there are surprisingly plenty of green spaces in the city; St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square, Iveagh Gardens, Herbert Park, Marlay Park, National Botanical Gardens, and too many more to list. There are also some pretty amazing hiking trails, cliff walks, and overall wilderness just outside the city. The cliff walk from Bray to Greystones and the trails on Howth Head are lovely in the sunshine. A visit to Glendalough in Wicklow Mountains National Park is a must for the spectacular views alone.
For the Literature or History Buff
Dublin has quite the reputation for producing some of the greatest literary figures; Beckett, Joyce, Wilde, Yeats. So why not spend a sunny summer evening with them? The Literary Pub Crawl, complete with trained actors, is a unique way to see the literary side of Dublin’s past, present, and even future.
For those more interested in history, there are of course some great tours of the city, including 1916 Rebellion, a fact-filled, wit-laiden two hours focused on the people and places of the Easter Rising. We know it sounds like an odd suggestion, but a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery is great on a sunny day and is a must for anyone looking to put all the pieces of Irish history together. Another, less touristy, tour would be to join in on the free Phoenix Park Wednesday Walks, where each week, walkers are guided on either 60 or 90 minute walks focusing on a different topic related Phoenix Park’s history.
For the Fit Traveler
Dublin may have its fair share of Guinness, heavy meats, and starchy potatoes, but there are also plenty of opportunities to work all that yumminess off! Every Saturday morning there is a free 5K run in Malahide Park. And from May to September, there is Yoga in the Park at 11am on Saturdays in Phoenix Park! A donation is suggested and goes to supporting Dublin Simon Community, who work with homeless men and women. Phoenix Park is also a great place to cycle or to go for a run.
The city also has its fair share of water sports available. As we mentioned previously, kitesurfing is quite popular on the windy coast, along with surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, paddle boarding and sailing. There are several activity centers who offer lessons and rentals including Above Board in Dun Laoghaire, Surf Dock in Grand Canal Dock, Pure Magic in Clontarf, and Wake Dock in Ringsend. But you don’t even have to venture out of city center to get your water sport on! Rent a kayak from City Kayaking and cruise the River Liffey, separating North and South Dublin.
Which sunny-day suggestion are you looking most forward to during your time in Dublin? Leave us a comment below.
Photo sources: Sarah’s own, Sarah’s own, Love and London, Giuseppe Milo via Flickr
This is a great list! I love the Brey-Greystones walk–it’s an incredible way to spend the day, and such a lovely example of how public transportation can enable outdoorsyness and adventure.
As for beaches, Bull Island in Clontarf is another awesome option! It’s got beautiful sand dunes and you can watch the boats coming in and out of the harbor. Glorious on a sunny day.
I also have a bizarre love of foreign cemeteries, and Glasnevin is one of the greats. The Botanic Gardens are also free and right next door, which makes for a lovely afternoon in the sun.
You’ve succeeded in making me feel homesick for Dublin! Thanks so much for this great piece.
Such great additions to this list Katie. Thanks so much!