20 Off The Beaten Path Things To Do In Dublin
Every once in a while, we all get fed up with the famous tourist attractions and just want a little bit of a hidden gem where there aren’t as many people.
While the Irish capital isn’t entirely massive, it does hold some unique things to do that a lot of people don’t know about, and you’re in luck because we’re here to fill you in on all of these hidden gems.
In this post, you can find 20 of the best off-the-beaten-path things to do in Dublin to get you off the tourist trail and give you a different experience from others.
Before we get started, be sure to check out some of our other pages with all of the best visitor tips you should know before visiting Dublin. It’s not to be missed.
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The Best Hidden Gems In Dublin
The Hellfire Club
A major Dublin hidden gem that you need to see is the Hellfire Club. It’s an abandoned house on top of Montpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains that’s rumoured to be haunted. There’s have multiple stories from people in the past stating that they had spotted a ghost. So, you’ve been warned.
Apart from the haunted aspect, the panoramic view from Montpelier Hill is arguably the best in the county. You can pretty much see the whole of Dublin on a clear day. You’re better off heading up at night, though; the view is a lot better.
The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk
The Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk is one of the best places to go to escape Dublin city. It’s a 4km walk along the craggy cliffs between the two seaside areas that offer some stunning views of Lambay Island and the Irish Sea. Personally, I think it’s one of the best walks in the capital as there are never that many people there, so sometimes you can have the whole thing to yourself.
After you’ve completed the walk, you can enjoy either of the beaches at each end. Donabate’s beach is bigger and better. If you walk to the end of it, you’ll be able to see the popular coastal town of Malahide.
Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library is one of Dublin’s many free museums that you can visit. It’s a museum that’s not like others, which focuses on bringing all cultures together by displaying a wide range of works that have come from different regions around the world and from certain cultural groups in Ireland.
You can visit Chester Beatty Library 7 days a week and can even avail of a free tour on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, so plan your trip there accordingly.
Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park is more commonly known for the likes of the zoo and the herds of wild deer running about, but it’s also home to one of the top Dublin off-the-beaten-path activities, the Magazine Fort.
The Magazine Fort was built in 1736. It was used by the British Army to store their ammunition and gunpowder for weapons. There have been two reported attacks on the barracks in the past. One of those happened during the 1916 Easter Rising, a very special day in Irish history.
Finding the fort isn’t as easy as it may sound, as it’s nestled away at the very back of the Phoenix Park. Google Maps will be able to help you get there. The fort is surrounded by large walls and is square in shape. Walking around it, you’ll be able to see some of the defensive aspects, including the machine gun posts.
Unfortunately, you cannot enter the fort without booking a free tour with the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. You can find out more information on their website.
Believe it or not, there are some interesting places in Dublin’s city centre that not many people know about. One of them is Love Lane. Situated in Crampton Court on the southside, Love Lane is an alleyway that was given a complete makeover after locals removed rubbish, cleaned it up, and then painted murals and loving words on tiles across the walls. It can be quite difficult to find, it’s near enough to the popular tourist attraction Dublin Castle, but if you stick Crampton Court into your maps and ask somebody in a shop around the area, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
The National Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens are located beside Glasnevin Cemetery in the heart of Dublin. They date back to the 18th century, and over the years they have been preserved to be the place of serenity that they are today.
It’s free to enter the grounds, and once you do, you’ll soon realise why the few people that know about this place go here to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Strolling through this hidden spot brings a sense of calm like no other.
To get a better feel for the National Botanic Gardens, take a guided tour. You can find out more information here.
Only a stone’s throw away from the popular St.Patrick’s Cathedral is Marsh’s Library, one of Dublin’s unusual attractions. It dates back all the way to 1707 and was Ireland’s first public library and is now the oldest.
The well-preserved library is still in operation and has two long galleries, both of which meet a small reading room. 25,000 books and 300 manuscripts are housed at Marsh’s Library. Some of which can be read upon request when you get there.
Sometimes compared to something from Harry Potter, Marsh’s Library is one of the best-hidden gems in Dublin.
The Oscar Wilde Statue At Merrion Square
Most people venture to Merrion Square to see the Georgian Doors of Dublin, but little do they know that a statue of one of Ireland’s most famous poets, Oscar Wilde, is hidden away in the same location.
Oscar Wilde is renowned for writing the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and the play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” His statue is placed at Merrion Square as a symbol of gratitude for the great work that he left behind for the Irish people.
After you’ve got a snap of the Oscar Wilde Statue, be sure to explore that area of Dublin, including the park. It’s a lovely little area of the city where you can have a picnic if the weather is right.
The Famine Memorial
Another one of Dublin’s great off-the-beaten-path things to see is the Famine Memorial, over on the north side of the docklands. The memorial is a set of sculptures that were designed to replicate the millions of starving people who ran in the direction where the ships were leaving to go across the Irish Sea.
The famine in the 1840s was a time in Ireland when a lot of people were living in poverty and relied heavily on potatoes as a food source. Unfortunately, in 1845 there was potato blight, so these people had nothing to eat and many starved to death, it destroyed the county’s population.
Catch A Movie At The Stella Theatre In Rathmines
The Stella Theatre in Rathmines is one of the city’s hidden attractions and a great place to take refuge if it’s raining.
An old cinema that has been redesigned into something that was around in the early 1900s, the Stella Theatre offers an experience like your great-grandparents had with the ancient leather seats with a little lamp on the side and the original granite pillars that have stayed there all these years, not to mention the vintage movies that are shown.
For an even cosier time, you can request to have a bed while watching your movie. Make sure you don’t fall asleep though.
By the name of the place, you’d probably expect it to be a pharmacy, but it’s not. This off-the-beaten-track attraction is the James Joyce Heritage Visitor Centre. For those of you who aren’t aware of who James Joyce was, he was a famous poet and published some notable works, such as “The Dubliners” and “Exiles.”
Sweny’s Pharmacy is the only Victorian shop left in Dublin City. It was once a pharmacy, but in 2009, it closed its doors and later became the cultural hub that it is today. The shop is open for people to come as they please and check out the books they have by James Joyce himself.
The Secret Beach Of Howth
Howth is a popular weekend destination for locals. It’s lovely out that way. People usually take on the cliff walk and that’s it, but what a lot of them don’t know is that there’s one of Dublin’s best-kept hidden places to visit there the secret beach.
Nicely tucked away below the dramatic cliffs and thorny bushes, getting to the secret beach isn’t as easy as one may think. To get there, you’ll start your journey at the summit carpark and put into your Google Maps “A Tiny Hidden Beach Howth.” When you arrive at the point, you’ll encounter the edge of a cliff, but it winds slightly to the right. If you follow that path, you’ll then come to a set of uneasy steps that will lead you down to the deserted, tranquil paradise.
Anybody who wishes to take on the challenge should do so at their own risk. Problems can arise if you’re not careful. There’s nothing to hang on to on the way down, so it requires a good level of balance.
Like all other major cities, Dublin has its very own umbrella street over at Anne’s Lane. It’s a place that you won’t spend a very long time at, but it’s quite a cool thing to see.
The adorable umbrella street was once a tiny little Dublin lane until the idea came to perk it up a little and make it the colourful place that it is today. It’s only a stone’s throw away from the popular shopping street, Grafton Street. Google maps will lead you close enough to it, but to make things simple, just go to Zozimus Bar and you’ll be there.
Hopefully, when you arrive, you’ll have this photo spot to yourself to get an Instagram shot or two, as it’s not one of the well-known Dublin attractions.
Killiney Hill is one of the many enjoyable walks in Dublin. The south side trail is situated in the suburb of Killiney and boasts a leafy forest area that strollers must go through to get to the hill peak where they can enjoy an amazing view of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains.
You’ll often have hiking and walking enthusiasts exploring the grounds, but there are some attractions that people tend to look for whilst there, including the huge pyramid structure nestled in the bushes near enough to the main viewpoint. It’s said that if you walk around each level of the pyramid once and make a wish, it will come true.
The Hungry Tree
The name might sound a little odd and turn you off, but the Hungry Tree is one of the unusual things that you have to go see. It’s a bench in King’s Inns park that has been sucked into a tree that’s overgrowing. The tree is an 80-year-old London plane tree, and believe me, this is as weird as it gets.
Since its discovery, the Hungry Tree has become a bit of an Instagramable place and sees a bit more people than others on this list. I would advise you to try to go see it mid-week during the day, as it won’t be nearly as busy.
The Iveagh Gardens
The Iveagh Gardens is a Dublin city centre park which displays a variety of flora and fauna that’s hard to come by anywhere else in the capital.
The gardens were to be Earl’s lawn and went on to be constructed and designed in the year 1865 with a blend of French and English landscape styles. Fast forward over 100 years and they were cleaned up and restored to be a public park for the people of Dublin.
Small concerts are sometimes held at the Iveagh Gardens. You’ll often see events popping up in local newspapers advertising them.
Still, to this day, many people who live in the city are unaware that they exist. Walking past the gates from the outside, you wouldn’t even know what was inside. As soon as you walk through those gates, you’ll understand why it’s referred to as Dublin’s Garden of Eden.
The Lotts Snug Bar
If you’re looking for one of those non-touristy places to eat and drink in Dublin, you need to make your way to the Lotts Snug Bar.
The Lotts Snug Pub is the smallest bar in Dublin. When you walk through those doors, you’ll be treated to a toasty warm fire blazing with the light reflecting off the vintage chandeliers, while the locals sit in their claimed seats nursing their creamy pints of Guinness. It’s only a short distance from the Ha’Penney Bridge, which spans the Liffey River.
Whether you’re in the mood for a full Irish or want a succulent steak, the secluded Lotts Snug Bar’s menu has you covered for all times of the day.
Sail Around Dublin Bay
Hop on board a traditional vessel and sail through Dublin Bay with Dublin Under sail.
The three-hour experience takes sailors on board the Brian Ború to learn the tricks of the sailing trade, from steering the wheel to trimming the sails. You’ll get the chance to sail through the Dublin Bay Biosphere with a team of fully trained professionals along with others like yourself, and you’ll all work as one team to get the boat from point A to point B.
This is a great way to see Dublin from a different perspective.
Smithfield Tower is another one of not just Dublin’s but also Ireland’s hidden gems that deserve a mention. A lot of people, including myself, have walked past this attraction without knowing what it was until I found out, and I was shocked. The tower was once used by Jameson to distill their world-famous whiskey, but after some time it was transformed into a viewpoint for the public to catch insane views of the city.
To reach the top, you can either take the lift up if it’s in operation or tackle the stairs. The second option is not for the faint-hearted as there are rumoured to be over 200 steps. You’d want to be fairly fit for that.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built between 1220 and 1260 and is one of the last remaining buildings from the mediaeval times in Dublin. The cathedral was named after St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. He was a special figure in Ireland and was known to baptise Christian converts at the cathedral. That’s one of the reasons why it was named after him.
The cathedral is the largest in Ireland, and wow is this secret place stunning. As soon as you walk through the doors, you’ll be mesmerised by the beautiful stained glass windows.
Book your tickets before arriving, as there’s a chance they may be sold out. Find out more information on the cathedral’s website.
Written By Adam
Where In Dublin is owned, controlled and run by Adam Ryan. He’s a one-man army who knows Dublin like the back of his hand and strives to help anybody planning on visiting Dublin enjoy themselves.