Walking Around City Centre & Docklands
4.The Ultimate Walk Around Dublin City Centre
Alright, let’s face it. Dublin is not Paris, you do not come here for museums. It is not Italy, you do not come here for sunny beaches. You probably want to wander around the streets, have a pint of Guinness, listen to some live music and have a craig (which is an Irish word for fun).
Now something that travel guides do not tell. Dublin is divided by the Liffey River for north and south sides. North is little bit dodgy and tough, south is posh and wants to be elegant. Both sides used to avoid each other. I believe it’s not really the case anymore, however you can see that south side looks nicer and is safer than the north. There’re some exceptions though; Phoenix Park is in the north, docklands on both sides, and The Temple Bar (the biggest tourist trap in Dublin, but one of those worth seeing anyway) on the south.
Here’s my proposal for a walk to explore the city and not waste precious time:
Start your walk from Henry St., which is one of the most popular shopping streets. Famous brands and shopping malls like Arnott’s (the oldest in Ireland) are situated there. Go towards O’Connell St. You can’t miss The Spire, pin-like monument installed in 2002/03 to replace Nelson’s Monument bombed by IRA in 1966. Next turn right towards O’Connell Bridge. This is a very touristic area avoided by many locals due to crowds, noise, lack of independent cafes and decent restaurants, but you can’t experience Dublin without being here.
Before the bridge turn right again and walk along the Liffey River until the next landmark – Ha’Penny Bridge. Then cross the bridge – they used to charge for that half penny so now you have an idea where the name is coming from. Go through the Merchant’s Arch and now The Temple Bar is waiting for you!
As mentioned before, this is the biggest tourist trap full of overcrowded pubs and overpriced restaurants, some of them claiming that only they have authentic Irish cuisine! Yeah, right… After dark it’s full of drunk tourists (both Irish and foreign to be fair) and should be avoided, especially at weekends. Nevertheless this place is world’s famous, so come here during the less busy weekdays or not too late at weekend. Walking around, enjoying architecture, small shops and taking pictures of Temple Bar Pub is a must-do experience in Dublin. To be honest, I really like it. And the further you’d go away from the city center, towards the building of Dublin City Council, the more quiet it is!
The next step is visiting Trinity College, which was described before. From there you reach Grafton Street, another shopping street in Dublin. This one is famous for buskers and street artists performing on a regular basis (yes, Glen Hansard of indie phenomenon movie “Once” was busking here in his early years!). At the end of Grafton Street you’ll find St. Stephen’s Green Park which was also described earlier, and a shopping centre with the same name and pretty interesting architecture (but not so great shops, though).
While coming back to the O’Connell Bridge take a different route so you walk through William’s St. South, St. Andrew’s St, Castle Market, Trinity St and Dame Lane. Don’t miss Powerscourt Townhouse Centre on the way. This is my favourite area in the city center. A place with the coolest pubs, interesting corners and genuine shops. Not Temple Bar, but this is the area where locals go for nightlife – so feel free to come back here after dark!
That’s it, Dublin isn’t very big after all. This walk will take you from half to a full day. It depends how much time you spend in shops and cafes, and whether you take a tour in Trinity College or not. Unless you’re not a very slow walker it’s definitely doable in one day. Just don’t forget to keep some time to walk around Dublin’s docklands some other time!
5. Docklands in Dublin
This is the area between Dublin city center and the harbour, where The Grand Canal comes to River Liffey. Opened in 1796, The Grand Canal Docks were once the world’s largest, until they became abandoned in the 1960s. In recent years docklands have been regenerated and refurbished to become a business hub in the capital of Ireland.
As I’m writing this, docklands in the north side are still kind of a building site, with plenty of buildings not yet finished. Believe me when I say that once it’s done, docklands will have a chance to be the coolest place in Dublin! Why?
I just love the new architecture mixed with renovated old buildings here and there. Iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge is there (designated by famous Santiago Calatrava who also did City of Arts and Sciences and Opera House in Valencia) along with a great view to “Poolbeg Chimneys”, yet another symbol of the city.
There are already some interesting cultural facilities among other attractions such as EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, Three Arena, The Famine Memorial, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, The Jeanie Johnston Ship, Luke Kelly Statue and few new restaurants, pubs and cafes – hopefully more to be opened.
Huge walking/cycling area along the river and small car traffic on the north side are big advantages compared to rather tight streets elsewhere.
I also recommend Grand Canal Square in the front of Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and modern Silicon Valley with offices of the most significant internet giants.
If you’re visiting in the late evening, walking along the river towards the city center will give you probably one of the best views for the sunset, comparable only with some spots in Phoenix Park. So what’s not to like about docklands?
The whole walk in docklands should take about up to 3 hours if you’re not entering anywhere.