Sheathed in acres of rolling green expanses, Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. This massive verdant swathe lies nestled in the west of the city, and is a mixture of wilderness and formal landscape gardens. Dotted with tree-cloaked boulevards, pristine tracts of grassland and open recreational spaces, the park is also home to some monumental, nationally significant edifices, too. The Ashtown Castle calls the park home, in addition to the towering Papal Cross which marks the visit of Pope John Paul II back in 1979, the stately Áras an Uachtaráin, the Wellington Monument which is a soaring tribute to the Duke of Wellington, and the teeming Dublin Zoo, are all nestled in its scenic, idyllic expanse. Among the many recreational activities offered here are Gaelic football, polo and cricket. Also enclosed within its viridescent fabric is a vibrant burst of plant life, while a bird sanctuary and a herd of fallow deer coexist in peaceful harmony. Playing host to an array of events, festivals as well as racing events, Phoenix Park is a massive window into the unbridled natural beauty and strategic finesse of Ireland.
A short bus ride from the city center, the splendid Botanic Gardens and its many floral wonders are a stunning treat to the senses. Accentuated all the more by the glimmering waters of River Tolka, these Irish gardens uphold an assemblage of hundreds of thousands of plants, and a smattering of botanical specimens. In all their floral glory, the gardens are a wonderland for naturalists and botany aficionados, its verdant course dotted by a string of splendid greenhouses, like the impressive, structural and glass-clad Curvilinear Range and the Palm House. The great glasshouses full of exotica were constructed in the mid 19th century and designed by Richard Turner, who was also the man behind the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. The gardens are divided into distinct areas of interest, featuring long herbaceous beds, a rose garden, alpine houses, a vegetable garden, orchid beds, an arboretum, a yew-clad walkway along the river, and a wonderful area exhibiting the various natural habitats of Ireland. Also sheltering willows plunging gracefully over gleaming waters, the National Botanic Gardens are a luxuriant canvas of natural glory and luminescence.
More than 235 species of wild animals and birds inhabit Dublin Zoo, a vast expanse within Phoenix Park. Created in 1830 and later restored and extended, this zoo is one of the oldest in the world. The thirty acres (12.1 hectares) provide lots of treats for the family, including a pet's corner and new attractions such as City Farm, Monkey Island and Fringes of the Arctic. The train ride around the zoo is also fun and a welcome rest for weary legs! Refreshments are available in the restaurant and coffee shop, while a variety of cuddly toys can be found in the gift shop.
Bray Head, which can be found in the County Wicklow by the Irish Sea, is a headland that forms a part of the Wicklow Mountains. This headland is a popular tourist attraction and a landmark in the city of Bray which is visited by people from all across the country. A beaten path takes you to the top of the hill providing a stunning view of the sea and the scening surroundings along the way. On top of Bray Head is a concrete cross, named the Holy Year Cross, that was placed there in 1953. During the ocassion of Good Friday, a procession attended by hundreds of devotees climb Bray Head with Holy Year Cross being the destination.
Dublin's most famous park is steeped in history. It started life as common ground, not far from a lepers' hospital, and was eventually enclosed in 1664. The site of public hangings throughout the 18th century, it was not until Lord Ardilaun's patronage in 1880 that the park took on the landscaped form that we see now. Memorials are dotted around the flower beds, trees, and willow-fringed duck pond. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats are just some of the famous names commemorated, while the Three Fates smugly measure the thread of humanity's destiny from their fountain at Leeson Street Gate. Free concerts are held on summer days in the bandstand.
Very popular amongst the football lovers, Richmond Park is home to Irish Football Players Team. This stadium can accommodate about 5340 people at once, and has witnessed several exciting tournaments. Built in 1952, this is one of the most well-maintained parks of the city. If you are a football fan, then watching a football tournament at this park is simply exhilarating.
Known as the Rutland Square in the 18th-century, it was re-christened as Parnell Square after Charles Stewart Parnell, one of Ireland's prominent sons who was part of the Irish independence revolution. It is a traditional Georgian square and many a Dubliner has been born on the Rotunda Hospital (one of the main maternity hospitals of the city) which is nestled in the heart of the square. One can still get a glimpse of traditional Georgian houses on the square's east side. Some of the interesting sites near Parnell Square are the Hugh Lane Gallery, Abbey Presbyterian Church (Findlater's Church), Dublin Writers Museum and the James Joyce Centre. There is also the Garden of Remembrance, a lovely garden in memory of those who laid down their lives for freedom.
Developed as part of the Iveagh Estate in the 18th Century, these gardens are still one of Dublin's best kept secrets, so well-tucked away that they remain quiet and tranquil even in the height of summer. The gardens date as far back as three hundred years, and are collectively known as Dublin's 'Secret Garden', owing to their beautifully obscure setting. The grounds were laid out at a time when all things Gothic were in vogue, hence, it is no surprise that the park is replete with ivy-clad corners, statues and winsome grottoes. Gloriously bathed in beds of vibrant flowers, this sprawling, characterful site is also home to an array of attractions like the Clonmell Lawns, Coburg Gardens, the Winter Garden, a dainty yew maze, a rose garden and the splendid Dublin Exhibition Palace, which is a vast repository of Irish art. The gardens also shelter the eponymous Iveagh House and a jubilant cascade. These gardens are well secluded from the main streets, thus functioning as a peaceful oasis tucked away from the cacophony of city noises.
Dublin has a lot to offer visitors - picturesque waterfronts, heritage landmarks and cultural hubs. One of the best ways to explore the city is on a bicycle. This is a fun, environmentally friendly option that showcases some of the city's major landmarks up close and personal. Marvel at the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Custom House or discover where Bernard Shaw was born as the knowledgeable local guides offer up fascinating tidbits about this beautiful city. The tour takes between two to three hours and covers a distance of 7.5 kilometers (4.6 miles). Tours operate between March and November daily. Visit the website for exact hours and to book a tour. Show up 30 minutes prior to pick up your gear and get briefed on the excursion.
Located in the heart of Dublin city, the Mayor Square is a huge cultural checkpoint. Lined by 30 odd restaurants, colleges, 4 star hotels and residential as well as commercial complexes, this area is a lively space for the city’s crowd. The road was the worst sink area before its redevelopment and now hosts an exercise walking line, pedestrian walking lane, and shops in its fresh public space.
For more than a hundred years, Croke Stadium has been Dublin's premiere host of major sporting events. Boasting a history of legendary visitors such as Muhammad Ali and Robbie Williams, this venue expects to maintain its popularity and continue filling their 82,500 seats.