For centuries Dublin’s Docklands, port and River Liffey have played a vital part in the city’s history and development. From Vikings and Normans settlers, to it’s development as a major commerce and trading hub, Dublin is a city that has been shaped by it’s connection to the docks and sea.
Today, Dublin’s Docklands continues to play a major role in trade for the city. The hustle and bustle of the traditional docks may be gone, but Dublin’s Docklands is still home to tens of thousands of busy workers based in the gleaming office spaces of Google, Facebook and many other international companies.
It is also home to many wonderful bars and eateries, cultural and entertainment venues (like EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum) catering to all types and genres of music, theatre, opera, exhibitions and galleries. And it’s proximity to the water means there’s plenty for the more adventurous visitor, from wake boarding to kayak tours along on the Liffey. We’ve put together a list of trails to help you explore Dublin’s Docklands and to help you make the most of your visit. Download our map for more information.
Take a stroll through Dublin’s Docklands culture and heritage from the eighteenth century to today.
Trail Length: 2.7 Km Walking Time: 35 minutes
Recommended time for trail: ½ day
1. Begin your journey at James Gandon’s magnificent Custom House. Built in 1791, and visit the free exhibition in the Visitor Centre while enjoying the neoclassical architecture.
2. Walk 5 minutes to Rowan Gillespie’s moving Famine Memorial Sculptures. The statues commemorate the million Irish people who died and the million who emigrated in the nineteenth century.
3. Walk 2 minutes to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, a state of the art interactive museum in the vaults of CHQ. Here you’ll discover the incredible stories of those who left Ireland, and the influence they brought to bear on global art, culture, science and politics. While you’re here, why not visit the Irish Family History Centre to research your Irish roots, and take a break for a coffee or lunch in one of CHQ’s many fantastic cafes.
4. Find out more about famine history at the Jeanie Johnston tall ship and famine museum, 2 minutes’ walk away. 6.
5. For evening entertainment, take a 9 minute stroll across the Sean O’Casey Bridge, named for one of Dublin’s famous playwrights, to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
6. Or if science is your thing, why not take a 12 minute stroll to the Science Gallery where art and science collide.
From water sports, to boating trips, to relaxing yoga, Dublin’s Docklands has it all.
Trail Length: 4.7 km Walking Time: 54 minutes
Recommended time for trail: 1 or ½ day
1. Start your adventure on Custom House Quay with Dublin City Kayaking, where you can tour the city from the River Liffey.
2. To see the splendours of Dublin Bay’s views and wildlife! Walk 8 minutes across the Samuel Beckett Bridge, one of Dublin’s newest landmarks, to Dublin Bay Cruises, which will take you all the way out to picturesque Howth.
3. If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, you can access the Canal City Cycle Route from the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Cycle the 3.5km Premium Cycle Route along the peaceful banks of the Grand Canal to Portobello.
4. If water sports are your thing, take an 8 minute stroll across Grand Canal Bridge past the famous Windmill Lane Studios (where U2 record their albums) to Wakedock and Surfdock. They offer everything from wake boarding to yoga on the water.
5. If you’re still in the mood to explore, walk the Dock Mile, admiring the architecture and vistas of Grand Canal Dock.
Food and Drink Trail
Dublin’s Docklands has a wealth of options on offer for the gourmand traveller – from quirky cafés to high-end restaurants.
Trail Length: 2.6 km Walking Time: 32 minutes
Recommended time for trail: ½ day
1. Begin by soaking up the atmosphere of the docklands at the Harbourmaster Pub and Restaurant, a renovated 1830s harbourmaster’s house.
2. Walk 3 minutes to CHQ, a grade one listed former warehouse built in the 1820s, and now a hub of bustling cafés, delis and restaurants.
3. If afternoon tea is your thing, the pick-up point for the Vintage Tea Tours bus, which runs Wednesday–Saturday, is in front of CHQ.
4. If you’re looking for drinks on the water, the MV Cill Airne bar and restaurant 3 is on board a historic boat which is a 9 minute stroll along the quays.
5. If you’re feeling thirsty, take a 5 minute stroll across the Samuel Beckett Bridge to the Ferryman Pub, a traditional docklands pub overlooking the River Liffey.
6. Now that you’ve got the taste for a good view, it’s time to visit the exclusive Marker Hotel’s 5 beautiful rooftop terrace for the best views of Dublin. And why not stay for dinner at the award-winning Brasserie at the Marker? A 4 minute walk through some of Dublin’s best modern architecture.
7. For family dinners and your Italian fix, Osteria Lucio is only a 6 minute walk away.
8. For that chilled out holiday feel, get your caffeine fix while enjoying views of the gliding swans and the colourful canal barges at The Art of Coffee.
Top tips for Dublin’s Docklands from Robert Mrugala, Head Concierge at The Marker Hotel.
- If you’re visiting from Ireland or abroad, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum should be your first port of call! It offers fascinating insights into the causes and history of Irish emigration, and into its global impact today. Its cutting-edge interactive exhibition appeals to all the family. While there, you can also trace your roots at the Irish Family History Centre. A visit to the Science Gallery is also a must whilst in Dublin. It offers an immersive programme of interactive scientific exhibitions and events which are suitable for young and old.
- For those feeling a little more adventurous, a walk out to Sandymount Beach could be just the cure you need to clear your head. Take in sights on the way such as Poolbeg Lighthouse and Sandymount’s Martello Tower. And afterwards you can unwind in one of Sandymount’s many cafés with a juice (or glass of vino).
- Le Drunch at The Marker or brunch in Herb Street is essential for any weekend trip to the Docklands. 3FE is more like a laboratory with coffee tasting and brewing classes than just a fantastic coffee shop. Sprout & Co. offer healthy and delicious seasonal food and juices for those looking for a health fix.
- The Design Tower is home to a vibrant community of exceptionally gifted, award-winning designers, artists and craftspeople. You will discover goldsmiths, jewellery designers, ceramics artists, sculptors, painters, textile conservationists, paper-conservationists and more. Personal favourite is Da Capo Goldsmiths where Sé and Lee’s work is bespoke and very beautiful. As they are working studios, an appointment is recommended.