Dublin Alfresco: 5 picnic spots (and cheap eats!)

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a picnic on st. stephens green
Picnicking on sunny St. Stephens Green. Photo: Steve-h.

By Jessica Colley—

Picnics are a Cheapo’s best friend. Stocking up in a market, grocery store, café or takeaway saves cash on tips and overpriced entrees, leaving more room in the budget for delicious picnic supplies.

Spending an afternoon eating outdoors is also a great excuse to explore new neighborhoods. Here are some of my favorite picnic spots in Dublin, both in the city center and a little further afield.

1. Picnic Spot: Herbert Park
Stock up at: Roly’s Bistro

Tucked away in Ballsbridge, Herbert Park is a 25-minute walk (or 10-minute bike ride) from city center. In spring, it’s full of blossoming trees and tall tulips. 

Just outside the park entrance, Roly’s Bistro beckons with sandwiches (on homemade bread), scones, salads and even tiny bottles of wine. After 4 p.m., café slashes prices on all sandwiches, making this the perfect Cheapo time for a picnic during spring and early summer when the sun sets late.

2. Picnic Spot: Pier in Dun Laoghaire
Stock up at: Sunshine Café

Take the DART train to Dun Laoghaire for a picnic on the pier. The tiny, bright Sunshine Café is the perfect spot to pick up sandwiches, salads, soups or daily blackboard specials (anything served with a side of homemade brown bread gets my vote). Then stroll out to the Irish sea to watch the colorful sailboats float by.

dun laoghair pier

Dun Laoghaire East Pier. Photo: infomatique

3. Picnic Spot: Grand Canal
Where to stock up: Supplies: Junior’s / Mespil Road Market

In addition to tasty treats, literary buffs will want to pack a pen and paper for a picnic on one of the benches along the Grand Canal—the spot where poets like Patrick Kavanagh were often seen scrawling their lines is surely to inspire you to “wax poetic.”

Before setting pen to paper, stop into Junior’s for one of Dublin’s best sandwiches (try the chargrilled chicken with lemon and basil aioli, arugula and roasted tomatoes). And if you’re planning a picnic on a Thursday, hit up the Mespil Road Market, where you can choose between several affordable food trucks.

4. Picnic Spot: Grand Canal Dock
Stock up at: KC Peaches

On a sunny afternoon, Grand Canal Dock is one of the best places to be in Dublin. With your feet dangling over the dock and a picnic by your side, a few uninterrupted hours of sunbathing and people watching feels just right. Get your picnic supplies from KC Peaches, a café and whole foods shop known for healthy eats, including grilled salmon, vegetable stir fries, noodle dishes and many a daily special. (They also make great pastries.)

5. Picnic Spot: St. Stephen’s Green
Stock up at: Fallon & Byrne

The most central and classic place to picnic in Dublin is St. Stephen’s Green. Join the buzz on a sunny day with a meal from Fallon & Byrne, the wine bar and restaurant, with a ground-floor market and café serving fresh soups, sandwiches, salads and savory pies.

About the author

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.

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