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There are many things to do around Dublin, and for such a small city it has many cool quirks and unusual experiences. Being a local myself, it took me a minute or two to think about what is considered ‘off the beaten path’. Yes, I may know about it, but how many others do? That’s when I came up with the idea to write a list on my favourite unusual things to do in Dublin. This guide will walk you through some of the top Dublin Hidden Gems, some are located right inside the city walls, while others involve some light travel.
So, if you have planned an extended trip to Dublin or are looking to spice up your weekend in Ireland’s capital city. Look no further, because this post will give you the in’s out out’s of some of the best Dublin off the beaten path experiences and locations.
1. The Hungry Tree, King’s Inn Park, Dublin, Ireland
There are many secret Dublin attractions, some are man-made and some were created by nature itself. The first gem is a rather unusual one. It is located in Kings Inn park on the Northside of the city. In the park lies a tree…but…it’s not just any old tree. It’s a rather famish tree for that matter.
Yes, that’s right. The tree is starting to grow over a park bench, ultimately eating away the benches existence. This secret Dublin spot is becoming increasingly popular and with the hungry tree becoming a famous addition to many’s Instagram feed’s.
2. Dublin Under Sail
Easily one of the best things to do in Dublin is take on Dublin Bay with Dublin Under Sail. An experience like no other. Hop on board the Brian Boru for an opportunity to see Ireland’s Capital from a whole different perspective.
The experience lasts 3 hours in total, passengers will learn what it is like to sail a tall ship. They can decide to get involved in the running of the ship or just sit back and relax with a cuppa while enjoying the scenic views of the Dublin coastline.
3. Oscar Wilde Statue, Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland
Next on the list is the Oscar Wilde Statue in Merrion Square only short walk from Grafton Street. Oscar Wilde was a famous Irish Poet who wrote some amazing pieces throughout the 1880’s. In the 1890’s, he later went on to write one of London’s most popular playwrights, writing plays like ‘the importance of being Earnest’ and ‘Salome’.
The park in which the Statue ordinates in is also a beautiful place to explore and is truly an off the beaten path Dublin location in it’s own right. The best part about the park is it is quite and tranquil, yet still within the grounds of the city centre.
Now, Before we go any further, if you are planning a trip to Ireland why not subscribe to my email list for a FREE eBook download with insider tips, an Ireland packing list, a weather guide and more.
4. Go Kayaking down the River Liffey
Another unusual thing to do in Dublin is Kayak down the River Liffey.
Wait! Hear me out…. the first time I heard about this idea I was a little bit sceptical. The Liffey isn’t exactly my dream place to kayak, but I can assure you, you do not get wet in the process.
City Kayaking offers a range of experiences from one-hour rentals, city tours and my personal favourite the music under the bridge tour.
In the music under the bridge tour, you spend 2 hours kayaking to each bridge along the River Liffey. At each stop, you will be graced with brilliant live performances. It’s one of my favourite things to do in Dublin as it is well and truly a unique experience.
5. The Doors of Dublin, Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland
Taking the internet by storm recently is the ‘Doors of Dublin’ phenomenon. Many of these famous doors can be found right next to the Oscar Wilde Statue in Merrion Square.
The square features some of Dublin’s most iconic Georgian houses where most doors are painted a vibrant colour or have a unique and unusual design to them. These doors can also be found in the likes of Fitzwilliam Square and on Baggot Street.
The phenomenon is becoming so popular that it even has its own dedicated instagram account and a hashtag. However, it is still not one of the top things to include in a Dublin itinerary making it perfect for those looking for somethings unusual to do in the city.
Related Post: One Day in Dublin
6. Smithfield Tower
Smithfield Tower, one of Dublin’s best kept secrets and it is located just a 10 minute walk from the city centre. This Dublin Hidden Gem will have you climbing up 200+ steps however the epic view of Dublin City from the top is well and truly worth the climb. The skinny observation deck offers 360 views of Ireland’s capital city and is the perfect place to watch the sunset.
Tickets into the observation deck cost five euros and there are no lifts so you must be prepared to climb. You can purchase tickets from the Generator Hostel located beside the tower. If you are looking for more cheap or free things to do in the city please check out my Free Dublin Attractions Guide.
7. Sweny’s Pharmacy, Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland
Ok, so continuing with the Merrion Square theme, the next on the list for secrets of Dublin is Sweny’s Pharmacy. But…wait…it’s not actually a Pharmacy…well not anymore that is.
This hidden gem is some what of an iconic spot as it was mentioned in the famous Irish author James Joyce’s book the ‘Ulysses’.
Now, the old pharmacy serves as a vintage book and craft store. Still, it is a pretty sweet gem for those who love literature and the talent of James Joyce.
8. Walk Along the Croke Park Skyline
We Irish are proud of our heritage, and there is nothing we enjoy more than a good olde banter over a game of GAA. Croke park is our national stadium for our iconic sports, Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie.
But…getting the opportunity to see a Gaelic Game unfold is not the only way to experience Croke Park. Unknown to many local’s is the Croke Park Skyline Tour.
The experience brings visitors 17-stories high, and allows them to walk along the stadiums skyline. Throughout the experience, you will see some breathtaking 360 views of the Dublin Skyline and even have the ability to look down into the stadiums playing fields.
On the tour, you are equipped with a harness and a tour guide. This is an experience not to be missed and certainly one of the best unique things to do in Dublin.
So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to add the Croke Park Skyline tour to your Adrenaline Junkie Bucket List.
9. The Croke Park Stadium and Museum Tour
Ok, so if soaring 17 stories above the ground is not your cup of tea. Don’t fret. It is still possible to experience and learn all about the Gaelic Games by taking the Croke Park Stadium and Museum tour. The tour will tell visitors all there is to know about our three national sports, Gaelic, Hurling and Camogie.
Croke Park is also famous for hosting musical acts such as U2, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, One Directions and Pharrell Williams. The stadium can hold over 82 thousand people at a time.
The Croke Park Tour costs €14 per person and is FREE for those who hold a Dublin Pass.
10. Go for a Peaceful Stroll in the Iveagh Gardens
Ok, so right in the heart of Dublin lies the lessor known Iveagh Gardens. The park is only a short walk from the extremely popular and busy St. Stephens Green Park.
The Iveagh Gardens is a great place to go if you want to have a little relaxation time while on your travels in Dublin.
The park is small but very rarely busy, making it the perfect hidden gem to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
For those of you who are wondering, the word ‘Iveagh’ is pronounced as ‘Ivy’. What can I say…the Irish language is a complicated one.
11. War Memorial Gardens at the Phoenix Park
Next on the list is the National War Memorial Garden’s located beside the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
This stunning garden is a tribute to the 49,400 Irish soldiers who lost their lives in ‘the Great War, 1914–1918’.
It is a beautiful garden that has two identical flower bed sections that lay side by side of each other.
The Memorial garden is not super known and is a great place to visit and pay respect to the lives lost. While doing a completely non touristy thing to do in Dublin.
12. Visit Ireland’s Presidents House the ‘Aras an Uachtarain’
The ‘Aras an Uachtarain’ is the official residence of the President of Ireland. Michael D the Irish president kindly allows members of the public to take a tour of the residence. And the best thing about it is it doesn’t cost a dime. Yes, that’s right it’s 100% FREE. And possibly one of the best FREE Things to do in Dublin.
The tours are delivered by the Office of Public Works and allows visitors to view the main reception and state rooms of Áras an Uachtaráin. The tour takes around an hour to complete and are available most Saturdays throughout the year. For those interested in taking part in the tour, tickets are sold on first come first served basis from the Phoenix park visitor centre.
13. Go Deer Spotting in the Phoenix Park
A visit to the Phoenix Park is a must on any Dublin itinerary, but did you know that the park is home to over 400 deer? Yep that’s right, 400 HUNDRED :O
If you plan on visiting the park durning your trip to Dublin be sure to keep an eye out for the herd. They tend to stick together and I have seen them a handful of times hanging out by the popes cross.
With that being said it is extremely hard to find the deer on foot, so consider renting a car or bike to cover more ground. After all, the deer are free to roam the 707 hectares park.
If you so happen to come across a park warden, ask if they could point you in the right direction.
*It is important to note that feeding the deer human food is prohibited. In the photo a above, I was holding leaves and the deer came over towards me*
14. Go to Tara Street for the Best View of the Custom House
Possibly, one of the most stunning buildings in all of Dublin is the Custom House. It is located in the heart of Dublin City and at certain times of the day the 18th century building reflects onto the river Liffey.
The best spot to take a picture of the Custom house is from Tara Street. I’d suggest going in early in the morning for the picture perfect reflection.
The building is also lite up at night making this the perfect spot for some night time photography of Dublin.
15. Reflect at the Famine Memorial in North Dock Dublin
The Famine Memorials located on the North Docklands was made back 1997 by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie.. The Memorial pays tribute over 1 million people who died durning the Irish famine.
The famine had a huge impact on the Irish and our population dropped by nearly 25%. Due to those who died from starvation and those who emigrated abroad.
16. Get a Boat out to Ireland’s Eye
Ireland’s Eye is a remote Island off the Irish coast near a Dublin fishing village, Howth. The island is the perfect place for wildlife spotting opportunities. Explorers can see seabirds, Sea Gulls and mannnny seals. I took my first trip to the Island back in 2012 and that day there was a swarm of birds flying about. It was super cool to see.
A trip around the Island cost €10 per adults whereas a trip onto the island costs €15. A visit to Ireland’s Eye is a truly unique thing to do in Dublin.
17. Catch the Sunset in Howth
Another fantastic thing to do in Howth is catch the sun go down over the water. There are many wonderful sunset locations in Dublin but I think Howth is my personal favourite.
It is the only place in the Capital where the sunsets on the water. Head out onto the pier and walk toward the Howth lighthouse. There you will have the perfect view of the sky changing from day to night.
18. Check Out Dublin’s Street Art Scene
Throughout the recent year’s, the Dublin street art scene is thriving with murals popping up all over the city.
If you want to get a little off the beaten path in Dublin why not join in on a FREE alternative Dublin walking tour. The tour leaves everyday at 11am and ticks off some of the top Dublin hidden gems. Including the top street art murals in the city.
The tour also covers, emerging Dublin scenes, some of Dublin’s best kept secrets, the Art and Music History, Cool Bars, Cafes, Markets, some Cheap Eats and some good old Insider’s Knowledge.
19. National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
So, this next one, is something even I, as local didn’t know anything about. I was strolling the streets of temple bar with my camera in one hand and my phone in the other and when I bent down to get a reflection puddle shot, a man stopped me to ask what I was doing. He presumed I was a tourist, and if I am being honest I don’t blame him, I was rocking the tourist look that day. He told me to check out the National Photographic Archive. And…boy am I glad I did.
The National Photographic Archive is a FREE exhibition that showcases the archived collections of the National Library of Ireland. It is a great place to learn about the troubles of Ireland. I 100% recommend you pop in, even if it is only for 10 minutes or so.
20. Design your own Cheesecake at Mad Egg
More and more Mad Egg restaurants are popping up over Dublin and it’s a good thing too because local’s are becoming obsessed with designing their own cheesecakes.
So, if you are looking to feed your sweet tooth and want to do it in a cool and unique way. Head on in to Mad Egg for a full filled experience.
Topping choices include Milk, White or Dark Chocolate. The Choice of Roasted Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pieces, Oreo Crumbs, Honeycomb Nuggets, Smashed Maltesers, Kinder Bueno or Daim Pieces. And Finally the sticky stuff, Nutella or Caramel.
Also, while your there, give the love me loco chicken a try. It’s Delish <3
21. Spend the day exploring Kiliney Hill and the surrounding area
Kiliney Hill is possibly one of my favourite walks in Dublin. The easy going uphill walk offers outstanding views from the top. With panoramic views of the Dublin seaside to the left and an outstanding view of the Wicklow mountains to the right.
It is possible to spend hours sitting there, admiring the view and watching the world go by.
After spending a few hours on the hill, why not go for a dip in the ocean at another amazing hidden gem in Dublin, the Vico Bathing Place. Or otherwise known as the ‘Dublin baths’.
22. Go back in Time at the Stella in Rathmines
Get ready to go back in time with the Stella Movie Theatre in Rathmines. The old movie theatre has been restored to ‘reflect the glamour and glitz of the 1920’s for an entire new generation of movie-goers’.
This is honestly such a unique movie experience to enjoy while in Dublin. The seats represent a 1920 style lounge chairs that visitors can lie back and cuddle into as the movie plays. The theatre is also kitted with a cushioned foot stool, a blanket and a side table for all your movie snacks and drinks.
Movie goers can order a range of food and drink, which are brought out your seats when ready.
23. Find Rory Gallagher’s Corner in Temple Bar
Go wandering around the streets of temple bar in search for Rory’s Corner. Once you find it, look up. You will find an exact replica of the 1916 Fender Strarocaster Guitar owned by Rory Gallagher himself.
Rory was an Irish musician believed to be the best blues guitarists in the world. Rory passed in 1995 and the memorial was created in 2006.
24. Winding Stair Bookshop
Visit one of Ireland’s oldest surviving independent bookshop, the Winding Stair. The colourful bookshop is home to both new and second hand books all sold at exceptional value.
The credit themselves in stocking some more ‘unusual books’ that are not normally stocked in larger chain bookstores.
They have a wide range of genres ranging from ‘fiction, poetry, drama, current affairs, gardening, cookery, art and design, humour, non-fiction and a children’s section’.
But…not only is the bookshop truly unique in its own right. It also serves a multipurpose with the restaurant next store serving under the same name. It’s the best of both world’s.
25. Have a look at the Ancient Huguenot Cemetery
This Secret Dublin location is easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled, located between two houses just off St. Stephen’s Green.
Huguenot Cemetery is an a grave yard that dates back to 1693. It is not possible to walk inside but it is a cool place to walk by and stop for a moment.
On the left wall there is a plague with the names of those buried in the cemetery.
26. Hike up the Dublin’s Spooky Hellfire Club Ruins
The Hellfire Club is one of the most off the beaten path places to visit in Dublin. The old house ruins are located on the foot of Montpellier Hill. But…there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to the Hellfire club. Like many old buildings, the club is subject to some old Irish myths and legend. Some even believed that the house was burnt down by the devil leaving it in its ruined state that we see today.
Besides being one of the freakiest places in Dublin, the hellfire club is the ideal place for a picnic while watching the sunset. It is also home to phenomenal views of Dublin city and beyond.
27. Skiing in Ireland. Who Knew?
Ok, so it’s not the alps, Sure, it’s not even close. But… did you know that it is possible to practice your alpine skills right here in Dublin?
Ski club Ireland hosts the only dry slopes in Ireland (located in Kilternan). It will set you back 30 euro for a 3 hour practice session, however that also includes all rentals. It’s a great deal if you ask me.
For an extra bonus, the top of the highest slope offers stunning view of the Irish cost line <3
28. Use Dublin Bikes to Travel Around the City
Did you know that it is FREE to use Dublin bikes? Yes, that’s right! Riders can avail of a 30 minute FREE cycle session once they return the bike before the time is up.
They can then pick up another bike and start the timer all over again. Just be mindful that to avail of this service, riders must register and put in their credit card details just incase they go over the 30 minute limit.
Hidden Gems in Dublin Map
Thanks for reading!
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Disclaimer: I was invited by the Dublin Undersail and Dublin City Kayaking as a guest to enjoy the experience. As always all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.