By Michael Erving
I did a lot of wandering in Dublin; partly because I was too broke to afford a car, partly because I enjoy walking, and mostly because I have an appalling sense of direction. It’s arguably my worst fault as a traveler (its biggest competition comes from my innate ability to make an ass out of myself in every situation from ordering a sandwich to attempting to ascend an escalator), but it’s something that usually leads to more adventure than I bargain for.
If you’re looking for a few good paths to wander in Dublin, here’s a few I’d recommend:
The River Liffey
Original, I know. But, for those of us whose internal GPS is about as accurate as a blind marksman, it’s a good place to start—a good place to get your bearings. You’ll find all the attractions you could hope for: bars, shops, cafes, the lot, and if you’re hoping to capture a few classic shots of Dublin, you really can’t go wrong.
I ended up (in the spirit of trailblazing originality) heading east toward Samuel Beckett Bridge, arguably the most distinct of Dublin’s bridges, and certainly one of my favorites. The walk to and around it provide some equally impressive structures: the stately Custom House, Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Famine Memorial, and a slew of benches and cafes prime for sneaking into.
If you’re heading west and are looking for a turnaround point, the Millennium Bridge and the Ha’penny Bridge are two excellent choices, and both will—on the south side, at least—put you right into Temple Bar. If you vouch for the Ha’Penny entrance, check out the sandwich shop just inside Merchant’s Arch. The guy who runs it makes some delicious, healthy food, and can pull some pretty decent espresso, too.
Trinity University, South, past the canal
If you’re looking to have a little coffee with your walk, you’ll be well taken care of. Two of the main streets on the south side of Trinity University—Kildare and Dawson—will take you through a hive of shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes—not to mention the historical sites (The Mansion House on Dawson—where the Lord Mayor lives—and the National Museum and Library of Ireland on Kildare).
*Nearby: Dawson Street Bars, Literary Pub Crawl
Whichever route you choose, you’ll soon find yourself staring St. Stephen’s Green in the shrubs. Aside from this venerable city park (which has enough greenery and open space to swallow up an afternoon if you so desire), there’s plenty of “urban sprawl” to see. From the different houses that speckle the sidewalks, a jaunt down Lesson Street Upper brings you to Sussex Road, just across the canal. This, after a few strides, will put you at the doorstep of M. O’Brien, a lovely little pub to duck into when the weather’s gone grey. But, if you’re in the mood for a cafe, there’s always the Canal Bank Cafe, just across street.
The area along the canal is also something to behold: calling it a miniature of the Liffey—although it wouldn’t be an insult—wouldn’t be entirely accurate; it’s much more suburban, subdued. The city’s hum is still present, but if you’re looking for space (and a decent reference point) there’s plenty to be had. And there’s plenty of sites to see along the way, and, in my case, plenty of places to get a little lost.
A Teeny-Tiny Train Ride
This was much more of an ad-hoc adventure than a well-thought-out expedition. I set out with a friend, heading north over the canal, past St. Stephen’s, toward Trinity in search for the Book of Kells (which, even with my sense of direction isn’t difficult to find). After a little gawking and taking a salvo of photos, we made our way north to the Liffey, where we caught sight of the Loopline Bridge. We decided we needed to take the train because we had no reason not to.
* Check out the Trinity College Tour that includes a ticket to the Book of Kells exhibition
We ended up taking it from the Pearse Station to Connolly: a whole stop away. From there, we headed out of the station, walking back over the river, snapping photos and missing the keynote that was going on at that moment. It was certainly one of the silliest trips I’d taken, but it was one of my favorites. On the way back, I’d recommend ducking into The Flowing Tide, a lovely pub that serves the spread of local beer (and cider, if you’re into that), all in the warmth of a fun-loving corner pub.