Dublin boasts many infamous charms. Perhaps the most famous is the friendly pub scene—with the rich history coming in a close second. But before you drown in lushy festivities during your overseas stay, discover on foot why this walker-friendly city is appropriately dubbed the “Emerald Isle.” The year-round verdant shade that graces both the countryside and city parks makes for a picture-perfect running escape.
“The convivial nature of the Irish always creates an uplifting running experience, as you receive smiles, hat tips, even ‘Good on ya’ commentary from passersby,” says Shannon Davis, who works with local industry experts on the European circuit of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “It makes you feel welcome.”
Between touring the countryside, sipping local brews and tucking into Irish eats, enjoy a few miles at one of Dublin’s many breathtaking sites. There’s something for every type of runner—enchanting greenery for the country girl, beautiful architecture for the city gal or a mix of both for the travel buff who wants the full luck-of-the-Irish experience.
Planning a late-summer vacay? The second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon is slotted for August 4. With a start line near St. Stephen’s Green, the race offers easy morning access for out-of-towners crashing in nearby hotels. Runners will experience Phoenix Park, run under the archway of Christ Church Cathedral and admire the River Liffey before finishing in front of the National Concert Hall, one of the busiest music venues in Europe. Learn more at ie.competitor.com/dublin.
Saint Stephen’s Green
Located in the heart of Dublin, this historic park—roughly the size of a 400-meter track—is a perfect location for a jogging tour through Irish history. On sunny mornings, dozens of runners take to the paved walk-ing paths lined with figurehead statues. Keep your eyes peeled for James Joyce, whose copper tribute faces the Georgian townhouses outside the park. Located on the north end of the green, the garden for the blind is a good resting spot.
Less than three miles from the down-town area, Phoenix Park spans 1,750 acres and is one of the largest walled parks in Europe. Housing such attractions as the Dublin zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (residence of the president) and the People’s Garden, the space is a great place for a long run. After your workout, stop by Ashtown Castle, the oldest building in the park dating back to the 15th century. If your travel agenda brings you to the city in April, the park hosts the Great Ireland Run, a 10K event that attracts runners from all over the world.
Grand Canal Towpath
Connecting the southernmost parts of Dublin to the River Shannon, this path spans many miles, with plenty of spots for a jaunt along the quiet canal. Run anywhere between the Grand Canal Basin and the Shannon Harbour—the distance totals more than 80 miles. The waterway cuts through various parts of the city, offering plenty of pit-stop options for food, drink and live Irish music.
Take advantage of the wide pedestrian footpaths along the River Liffey, which make the bustling area runner-friendly. Follow the 1-mile route from City Centre along North Wall toward Point Village for a quick riverside tour, or, for an extended sweat session, continue to the Grand Canal Dock, where you can zigzag back and forth over the pedestrian bridges.
Dating back to the 13th century, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a marker of the Emerald Isle’s Catholic heritage. Regardless of your belief system, this beautiful piece of history is a must-see, standing as the largest cathedral in the nation. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds and absorb the silent reverence along the pews and altar.
If you’ve never seen a college track made of only grass (no, seriously), Trinity College will be a site for wide-eyed tourists and running nerds alike. The Book of Kells lives in the campus library, which serves as a legal deposit for Ireland and the United Kingdom. Although the school’s courses and curriculum continue to evolve, the buildings maintain their old-world feel.
Hop on the Bay Rail Tour from Dublin to admire the Cliffs of Moher—the ultimate Irish countryside experience. Photos barely capture the beauty of these 390-foot cliffs, towering over the Atlantic Ocean with a teetering straight-down drop. On a clear day, the contrast of deep blue sea splashing against green mountains will take your breath away.
The Old Jameson Distillery, located on the original 1780 grounds, is a dim-lit guide to Ireland’s favorite whiskey. Participants shuffle through various corridors to discover the history behind the perfect process John Jameson created nearly 250 years ago.
The Guinness Storehouse is the motherland for lovers of traditional Irish stout. Standing seven stories high, the factory-turned-museum takes eager connoisseurs through the steps toward the perfect pour. Participants of the self-guided tour finish at the Gravity Bar, offering a 360-degree view of the entire city.
CHEERS TO THAT!
Kehoe’s Pub is an original Irish water-ing hole, located in the Temple Bar district. Watch your step as you weave in and out of the crowd—this space is narrow and intimate, a perfect spot for runners looking to mingle with in-the-know locals.
For party ladies seeking the best nightclub in town, Copper Face Jack’s is a prime all-night-dancing spot to get your groove back after a long run.
After you’ve had enough of the libations from Jameson’s distillery, head to 37 Dawson Street, which sports its own whiskey bar in back. With a full menu of food and drink, this spot is always packed with locals and tourists.
Go big at the five-star Conrad Hotel, which offers stylish rooms and suites for the sophisticated traveler. Suites are available for larger run-bud parties, and this plush rest stop offers up two top-notch restaurants.
For those gals on a tighter budget (most of us), check out the Burlington Hotel. Located less than a mile from Dublin’s City Centre, this hotel sits on the quiet streets of the southside, minutes away from Croke Park.