Dublin is a popular city for a city break and a stop on a wider trip around Ireland! There are many famous Dublin attractions like Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, St Stephens Green and the Guinness Tour but what if you’ve been to Dublin before and now want to see a different part of the city? Or you want to see Dublin like a local?
In this post I give you hidden gems in Dublin to visit that will take you to secret spots in Dublin like secret gardens, coastal walks and lively and local pubs!
In order to appreciate some of these unusual things to do in Dublin and unique things to do in Dublin you will have to travel out of Dublin city centre a little bit but thanks to good public transport in Dublin it is easy to do that and makes seeing these hidden places in Dublin easy!
Hidden Gems in Dublin
1. Iveagh Gardens
Right in the heart of Dublin, only a few minutes walk from the well-known Stephen’s Green lies the Iveagh Gardens. This park is not only one of Dublin’s best parks but is undoubtedly also one of the top hidden gems in Dublin! In fact, it has even earned itself the nickname of being Dublin’s “Secret Garden”.
Nestled behind high walls with many buildings bordering its outside perimeter, the actual existence of the park is unknown to many and is a difficult place to locate if you do not know exactly where to look. This keeps the visitor numbers low, even on the most glorious of days!
The easiest way to access the park is via Clonmel Street, although there are other entrances on Hatch Street and behind the National Concert Hall on Earlsfort Terrace. Once inside, visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beautifully landscaped features, many of which originally date back to the 19th century.
One of the most spectacular, and perhaps unexpected, features in this park is the tall waterfall, which contains 32 stones, one from each of the counties in Ireland. The sound of running water over the stones creates a strong sense of tranquillity in the park. There are many other sculpted fountains to admire along the pathways, as well as a yew maze, woodlands, rockeries and archery grounds. The garden is particularly stunning in summer when the roses in the rosarium are in full bloom, especially around the month of June.
Suggested by: Let’s Go Ireland
2. Dublin Doors In and Around Fitzwilliam Square
The beautiful Georgian doors of Dublin are one of the capital’s most mesmerizing and photographed features. In the ten years that I’ve lived in Dublin, I’ve taken many pictures of Dublin and Dublin’s doors are definitely one of my most frequent subjects.
If you know where to look, you’ll find bright and uplifting colours, intricate brickwork, flowers and ivy that are absolutely irresistible, and fanlights (the semi-circular glass top to the door) that range from understated to ostentatious. Some of Dublin’s doors are adorned with stained glass panels.
Where can you find the Georgian doors of Dublin? Tourists tend to focus on the area around St. Stephen’s Green. This post is about hidden gems in Dublin so I’m going to tell you about my favourite spots to photograph doors from a local.
Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin is about a 10-minute walk from St. Stephen’s Green and is a great starting point for a door-focused photo walk in Dublin. Do a loop around the square and then walk down Leeson Street toward the Grand Canal taking pictures of the doors that catch your eye along the way. Cross the canal and continue on Leeson Street. From here, you could walk down Leeson Street all the way to Donnybrook. You could turn on Waterloo Rd. toward Baggot St. and St. Mary’s Road (my absolute favourite residential street for posh Dublin doors).
You could also turn on Appian Way and head to Ranelagh or Rathmines where your door-sploration continues. The roads intersecting Leeson Street feature some of the most photogenic doors in Dublin. Have a wander in this area and see where the day takes you. You won’t regret it!
Suggested by: Sidewalk Safari
3. Teeling Whiskey Distillery
A hidden gem in Dublin and a must-visit when visiting Dublin is the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. Located in the Liberties region of Dublin, is it close to the centre of the city and a great place to step away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy a drink or lunch and then take their tour.
Teeling Whiskey is the first new distillery in Dublin for over 125 years. In terms of location, it can be found a short walk from the Guinness Storehouse (you can visit both in the same day). You should book a tour in advance, as they are popular.
The tour begins with the history of Dublin whiskey. There are some excellent displays and the tour guides are very knowledgeable. The whole manufacturing process is then shown to you, including the mash room, fermenters, copper stills (each one named after the owner’s daughters). You are shown the warehouse full of maturing casks.
The fun bit is that you then go to a tasting room to sample the whiskey and a whiskey-based cocktail. You tour a working distillery in action, with employees going about their day-to-day duties, stopping to explain to you what they are doing, so for one of the fun and tasty hidden gems in Dublin, head here!
Suggested by: PackThePJs
4. The Dodder Rhino
The River Dodder is a tributary of the Liffey River that runs through Dublin and situated beside the river near Classon’s Bridge you will spot one of Dublin’s ancient pubs The historic Dropping Well. The Dropping Well, whose origins date back to the Great Famine of Ireland was licensed as a community morgue in “Black 47”.
As you pass over Classon’s Bridge to get to the pub you may just happen to notice a life-sized bronze rhino standing in the middle of the river. The rhino is not only life-sized but it is cast in intricate detail and is incredibly realistic.
To this day though nobody seems to know where the rhino came from or who sculpted it and if the pub owners know they are not saying. The rhino appeared in the river in 2002 and although the pub proprietors won’t speak of who installed the rhino they did run a competition to name their new “pet”.
In typical Dublin fashion, the naming included “Rhino O’Neal”, in honour of the film actor, along with “The Plodder in the Dodder”, “The Milltown Muddler” and “The Dodder Spike” so be sure to head to this hidden gem in Dublin on your trip to say hi!
Suggested by: XYU and Beyond
5. Brú na Bóinne
Brú na Bóinne is found in Meath County around 45 minutes outside of Dublin on a bend in the Boyne River – and is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited and is one of the top hidden gems in Dublin and near Dublin.
It contains one of the world’s most fascinating geological landscapes spanning back to the stone age, consisting of the large Megalithic Passage Tombs of Knowth, Newgrange, and Dowth as well as around 90 other sites. The associated archaeological history of these sites is called the “Boyne civilization,” and they have all been protected by UNESCO since 1993.
I would never have known to go here, except a few local friends decided to take me and I just can’t believe this place is not more famous. Even they admitted they had not been since school trips as children.
Punctuated by some 40 satellite tombs, Brú Na Bóinne forms a mortuary landscape considered to have important ritual relevance, though later use saw temples built here during the Iron Age, and again in the early Christian and medieval times. The area is still mostly agricultural and is rich in tales from ancient Ireland history. Currently, Brú na Bóinne is the most excellent and most significant (known) collection of prehistoric megalithic art in Europe, and should not be missed when you visit Ireland.
Only Skara Brae’s ancient beauty in Scotland is perhaps comparable in terms of overlooked history. Still, even that cannot compare to the spiritual feeling that will wash over you at this site, especially in the Newgrange Stone Age passage tomb. This is one of the top unusual things to do in Dublin!
Suggested by: Inspired by Maps
6. Howth Cliff Walk
To escape busy Dublin and a get a cool breath of fresh air (especially necessary after a night at Temple Bar), one of the best ways to see a different side to Dublin is to take the Howth Cliff Walk. It may not be the best-known attraction in the city but if you have 2 days in Dublin or longer, you’ll have plenty of time to see the top tourist attractions along with these hidden gems in Dublin and unique things to do in Dublin too.
Howth Cliff Walk is a leisurely two-hour walk with stunning views over the ocean the whole time. If you’re visiting Ireland and only seeing Dublin, it’s perfect to get a feel for the landscape and coastline of the island.
To begin the walk, catch bus number 31a to Howth Railway Station departing from Busáras Bus Station in central Dublin. This takes 30 minutes and costs €3.30 each way. First, along the walk, you will visit a charming harbour before beginning your walk around the ‘Nose of Howth’. From Howth Summit, you will have the best, unrivalled views over the water. You can even continue further to Baily Lighthouse which juts out on a photo-worthy peninsular.
After you have taken the 6km loop, you can finish the excursion in the gorgeous village of Howth. Eat some goodies at Howth Market held on weekends or relax in one of the charming tea shops.
Suggested by: Where Goes Rose
7. Killiney Hill
If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the City then Killiney is the place for you. Killiney is located just a short 30 minute DART ride from Dublin City Centre and is home to beautiful beaches, iconic swimming spots and peaceful walks.
Killiney is most definitely one of Dublin’s lesser-known seaside towns among tourists which is why I have included it as one of the hidden gems in Dublin, however, that does not stop locals from venturing out for a visit on the weekends.
For those of you looking to do something a little unusual while visiting Dublin, I’d highly recommend taking a stroll up Killiney Hill. Here, you will be presented with a breathtaking 360 views of both Dublin and County Wicklow. It is by far one of the best walks in Dublin.
The walk can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to complete depending on your starting point, on the way you will come across the Obelisk, the Pyramid of Dublin and the main viewing point. The terrain isn’t overly difficult, however, the walk does ascend rather quickly so be prepared to be a little breathless!
The summit of the hill is a lovely place to have a picnic, there are even some hidden turn off points with a view if you are looking somewhere a little quiet to relax.
After the walk, if you are feeling brave you could even try to go for a swim in the Irish sea. Just be prepared to scream a few times as your body adjusts to the temperature. Nonetheless, Killiney is the perfect place to enjoy a day by the ocean.
Suggested by: Live Adventure Travel
8. The Celt Pub
Visiting the pubs in Dublin for live music is a must-do Dublin activity, but many of the pubs and bars are now only visited by tourists due to how popular they have become, how busy they are, and how expensive the drinks are!
The Temple Bar in Dublin is a good example of this and although it is worth a visit, I really urge you to visit a pub in Dublin that is popular with locals too for a more authentic Irish experience.
We stumbled upon The Celt which is in the North part of the city and this is one of the true hidden gems in Dublin to visit for traditional live music every night and hearty Irish pub food!
I really recommend going to this Dublin pub if you want to experience a more local side of the city and a Dublin hidden gem!
Suggested by: The Wandering Quinn
9. Johnnie Fox’s Pub
Deep in the Dublin Mountains amongst rolling green hills, you’ll find the most lively Irish pub nestled away.
From the outside, you’d never know just how much fun lies behind the door. The pub is full of character with low ceilings, old farming tools and cosy snugs, you’ll almost always see an open fire at Johnnie Fox’s Pub.
The smell of burning wood and amazing food that feeds the soul is the first thing that hits you as you walk through the door! Once you’ve had a drink and some food, it’s most likely you’ll be up and Irish dancing in no time. The entertainment at Johnnie Fox’s is always traditional and lively, to say the least. It’s the perfect setting for this awesome Dublin hideaway.
Suggested by: Travel Mad Mum
10. Merrion Square Park
This lovely Georgian garden square in Dublin dates from the late 1700s. One of the city’s finest parks, it is lined with stately red-brick Georgian townhouses on three sides. Government buildings, the Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery now line the fourth side.
The square acted as a private park for the homeowners in this fashionable area, where poet, novelist, and satirist Oscar Wilde once lived at #1, and poet W. B. Yeats at #82. In 1930, the Roman Catholic Church purchased it as a cathedral site, however that never happened and in 1974 it became a public park.
Though in the early 19th century the park was enclosed by iron railings, a homeowner’s key is no longer needed to enter. The park is filled with contoured grass areas and sunken curved paths, and noteworthy features include many sculptures (including a colourful one of Oscar Wilde), a collection of old Dublin lamp posts, a central floral garden, a heather garden, and a playground.
Most recently, the National Memorial to Members of the Defence Forces was added at one of the park entrances. Designed by artist Brian King, it is a small Canova-style pyramid made of granite slabs and glass panels. Within it are four Defence Forces personnel cast in bronze and representing the Air Corps, Army, and permanent and reserve Naval Service. Built-in memory of all the people who lost their lives in service to their country, the pyramid shape is reference to burial, the dead, and it also brings to mind an army tent.
Suggested by: Travels with Carole
11. Zaytoon Restaurant Dublin
While there are a number of amazing attractions in Dublin, the restaurants of Dublin turned out to be some of the best hidden gems in Dublin I found.
One that stands out above all others was recommended by a local – Zaytoon, which is a Persian food restaurant in the heart of the Temple Bar District, among other locations. It quickly became our favourite restaurant that we returned to twice during our week and a half long trip!
Try the doner meals, which come with roasted meat of your choice, served with various veggies and sauces on a freshly baked Taftoon bread. They also have a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Visit Zaytoon for lunch, dinner, or even a late-night meal after a pub crawl around the Temple Bat District as they’re open until 4:00 am or 5:00 am depending on the day.
If you want a break from Irish stews, Zaytoon will not let you down!
Suggested by: Periodic Adventures
12. Samuel Beckett Bridge
The Samuel Beckett Bridge is a must-see bridge when visiting Dublin. Built in 2009, this cable-stayed bridge crosses the River Liffey connecting Guild Street with Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect behind this masterpiece, designed the bridge to represent an Irish harp (the country’s national symbol) lying on its edge. The beautiful bridge bears the namesake of Samuel Beckett, an Irish novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. It has 4 auto-lanes, 2 pedestrian lanes, and is supported by 31 cables.
At a total cost of €60 million, the steel structure of the bridge was manufactured in Rotterdam by the same Dutch company that manufactured the London Eye.
In addition to the fact that it is a photography paradise, the bridge has some cool moves too. It rotates horizontally (vs raising vertically like most bridges) up to 90 degrees to allow ships to pass! I highly recommend trying to see this in action as well as photographing the bridge during the day and at night.
Suggested by: Trimm Travels
13. Glasnevin Cemetery
If you’re looking for hidden gems in Dublin, then you definitely don’t want to miss Glasnevin Cemetery. Originating in 1832, Glasnevin is a now a historic cemetery and museum that is well worth visiting.
Home to historical monuments and the resting place for many notable Irish figures, including Michael Collins, the famous nationalist. You could spend hours just roaming around the cemetery viewing the historical gravesites. While doing so you will notice many of the noteworthy Celtic Crosses marking the graves of many here. This is one of the many free things to do in Dublin and Glasnevin definitely shouldn’t be missed.
Suggested by: That Texas Couple