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Dublin: Best parks for exploring nature and meeting locals

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Phoenix Park Dublin
Dublin's Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe. Photo: Pallotron

By Jessica Colley—

When the sun shines in Dublin, there are two places locals go: pubs and parks. Choosing parks allows Cheapos to explore new areas of the city while holding on to those euros for a rainy day, when you might be more inclined to order an extra pint of Guinness or two.

For such a small city, Dublin is rich in parks. It has the largest city park in Europe as well as small parks and a charming little canal. Venturing to the following parks will get you face to face with local Dubliners kicking around a soccer ball, having a family picnic, or sneaking a few cans of Bulmers (that’s “Magners” to us Americans) in the sun.

St. Stephens Green Dublin

Hanging out in St. Stephens Green. Photo: MNicoleM

St. Stephens Green
Web site

It’s certainly not off the beaten path, but St. Stephens Green is the main artery of the whole city. This park, situated smack in the middle of Dublin, is beautiful and serene, particularly in spring and fall. When the first daffodils break ground in Stephens Green, this is the first signal that winter is on the way out.

Plan a picnic here and you might encounter lunchtime concerts. Don’t be surprised to see kids walking around with bags of stale bread–they’ve come to feed the swans and ducks.

Herbert Park
Web site

In the leafy neighborhood of Ballsbridge is a gorgeous little park called Herbert Park. This is where you will find the family picnics, the after-work rugby matches, the outdoor yoga classes, and in season, lovely flowers. In the spring Herbert Park is especially spectacular, when the trees flower and the ducklings have just hatched.

One easy way to reach Herbert Park is by Dublin Bike, the city’s bike share program. The park is less than a 15-minute cycle from St. Stephens Green.

Phoenix Park
Web site

Located on the north side of the River Liffey, Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe. Famous for the deer that roam wildly, this is one of the best places in Dublin for a serious cycle or long run. The massive park also hosts concerts from time to time, and makes a fantastic outdoor venue.

Iveagh Gardens
Web site

Of all the parks in Dublin, Iveagh Gardens is one of the best-kept secrets. It’s tucked away just beyond St. Stephens Green, and feels as if you’re making a great discovery when you enter through its ancient gates. It might be small in size, but between fountains, statues, and flowers, there’s plenty to see. Bring your picnic here, and you are sure to be surrounded only by Irish accents.

Cheapos know that you don’t have to spend big to scratch beneath the surface of a destination. You just need to find a free park bench and open your eyes.

Your favorite park in Dublin?

Have a favorite park in Dublin that we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in our comments section.

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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