Dublin Docklands — Freedom in the City
Dublin’s Docklands offers the visitor the freedom and space to explore this vibrant part of the city. The Docklands themselves, separated by the gently flowing River Liffey, has been built over many generations and continues to develop today. It is a place not set in stone but is still connected to its history, while also looking to the future. Only a short distance from the City Centre it has been home to Vikings and dockers, a leaving point for emigrants and a welcoming hub for tech start-ups. It is a place that flows with ideas and opportunities, connected by its heritage and its innovation. If you are feeling daring the Docklands offers a variety of outdoor activities including kayaking and wake boarding. Whether its music, food or freedom you are looking for, there is something here for everyone, why not make a day of it?
Dublin Docklands Family Trail
There is so much to see and discover in Dublin’s Docklands, from Ireland’s smallest museum to the magical creatures hidden atop The Custom House. This circular trail can be started at any of its seven stops and with a range of activities it’s suitable for all the family to take part in and enjoy.
Read more about things to do in Dublin’s Docklands
Docklands Immersive Itinerary
*Note – Docklands tours are currently unavailable
Take a stroll and discover the rich culture and heritage of Dublin’s Docklands
Begin your adventure by fuelling up with a coffee from The Bakehouse located in the historic chq Building, a grade one listed former warehouse built over 200 years ago. The chq Building is the best surviving example of Georgian architecture in the Docklands, where you can relax in the Galleria and watch the Liffey flow by, or sit outside in the gorgeous sun terrace and admire the mix of industrial brickwork mixing seamlessly with modern steel and glass architecture.
By booking a Docklands Walking Tour in advance, you will be met by a tour guide who will take you on a fascinating journey around the Docklands, to see where Dublin city was made. You will explore the history of the area from its beginnings as an international trade and transport hub, to its modern reimagining as the ‘Silicon Docks’. As you walk around you’ll start to feel the energy of the city’s engine room, the buzz of local and international trade, the warmth of locals young and old, and the clean salt air of Dublin Bay. Along the way the guide will paint a fascinating picture of how Dublin’s history has been shaped by its docklands and how it’s buildings and its people continue to shape the city today.
Historic landmarks like the elegant copper dome of The Custom House, the hauntingly moving Famine Memorial statues and the huge façade of Boland’s Mill stand in contrast to the striking contemporary designs by world-famous architects, such as Libeskind’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre with its dramatic curtain of glass, and Calatrava’s iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge. Other highlights on the tour include the Diving Bell, Dublin’s smallest museum and the key to understanding how the modern port of Dublin was created.
Your walking tour will conclude with a drink at the Marker Hotel’s stunning Rooftop Bar & Terrace, which offers an unparalleled 360° view of the Docklands – the perfect place to unwind and let the city sink in!
Docklands “Soul of the City” Itinerary
Music feeds the soul – and Dublin Docklands is the soul of the city
Dublin’s Docklands has, in modern times, made some beautiful music and has truly become the soul of the city. Every genre from Irish folk, to rock, to urban and gospel music has been sang, played and recorded here.
To understand the history of Irish music and dance and get your feet tapping, start your musical journey with a visit to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. Emigration has long been a central theme of Irish music, with countless songs and ballads inspired by nostalgia and love for Ireland – as well as feelings of loss and exile. The ‘Music & Dance: Sharing the Tradition’ gallery is the largest gallery in this award-winning museum and explores how emigrants and those of Irish origin have impacted the world through music and dance. You will discover how efforts were made in the 19th Century to preserve our distinct traditional music style, and how Irish music influenced other musical forms across the world, from British rock to American Jazz.
After your visit to EPIC, and armed with your new knowledge of musical history, take a stroll along the Liffey to the iconic Convention Centre and turn left. There you will see an extraordinary piece of art by the Royal Canal – an 8ft sculpture of Luke Kelly’s head, his halo of red hair intricately replicated by hundreds of copper strands. Luke Kelly was a founding member of The Dubliner’s, and a key character in the folk music revival of the 1960s. This striking statue memorializes where the singer lived as a child, on nearby Sheriff Street. It was also on Sheriff Street where U2 performed an unannounced rooftop gig in 1982.
U2 has its spiritual home in Dublin Docklands: they’ve recorded eight of their albums at the Windmill Lane Recording Studios. Crossing the Liffey and heading across the beautiful Grand Canal Dock, today you can visit the new Windmill Lane Studios. It’s still the stuff of legend, with the music industry’s A-listers choosing to record there, from The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush and The Cranberries, to Sinead O’Connor, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran and Hozier, who recorded his powerful Nina Cried Power here with legendary soul singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. The guided tour of these world-famous studios is not to be missed, as you get the opportunity to discover what went into the creation and production of some of the best albums and tracks of the last 50 years.
After your tour of the studios, travel back around Grand Canal Dock and recharge with lunch from any of the number of amazing restaurants in the area. Some of the most beloved eateries recommended by locals include Charlotte Quay, herbstreet, Brewdog Outpost or Ryleigh’s Rooftop Steakhouse – located just across the Liffey at The Mayson hotel with amazing views of the Docklands and the 3Arena, the most well-known music venue in the country.
To finish your voyage of discovery of the Docklands sounds, why not enjoy the only live gig in town, right in the heart of the city! City Kayaking, located next to the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship, offer a truly unique experience by taking you along the Liffey in your kayak and gathering under the bridges of Dublin to listen to local artists recite poetry, tell stories and play live music. The acoustics and the atmosphere of listening to live music on a sunny evening while the river flows gently around you is an unforgettable feeling and not to be missed!
Returns, Departures & Reconnections Itinerary
Reconnect with your history, your family, and your place in the world
Everyone has a friend or relative who has had to leave Ireland at some point. Maybe even you. Nowadays most come back after a time, or the lines of communication are so advanced that it doesn’t feel like they are so far away.
It wasn’t always so, and Dublin’s Custom House Quay where you will begin your journey, witnessed many generations leaving never to return. So many souls. So many tales. Walking along Custom House Quay today, mingling with the ragged-clothed sculpted figures of the Famine Memorial, you can literally feel the void left by these people who left with so little in the hopes of something more.
Nearby on the impressive replica tall ship The Jeanie Johnston you can see for yourself the cramped conditions that passengers endured. Step on board and take a 50 minute guided tour to experience what life was like on board a famine ship, and uncover fascinating personal stories of those who travelled and the gruelling journey they embarked on.
To get a wider perspective on how emigration shaped every one of us, cross the street to the beautiful chq Building and visit EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum – a museum like no other that highlights the triumphant and tragic stories of over 300 Irish emigrants. Some you may have heard of, most you will not have, but all of them defined and redefined what it meant to be Irish. Or if you have always wanted to reconnect with you own family history, or discover if you have any Irish ancestry, then the Irish Family History Centre can also help you trace your ancestors and their stories. A genealogist will sit down with you for a one-to-one consultation and guide you through the process of finding out about your family history.
After this, there are plenty of options within The chq Building for lunch, including The Bakehouse which serves homemade foods and baked goods, and Toss’d serving a range of fresh nutritious noodles and salads. If you are looking for something more substantial, Oly’s Restaurant in the nearby Hilton Garden Inn serve delicious two course and three course lunches.
Ship to Ship Maritime Itinerary
Learn about the freedom that water brings, from the past to the present
The waters in and around Dublin have witnessed many journeys over the centuries. From invaders and settlers to merchants and emigrants, Dublin lives and breathes on the water. Imagine, for example, the hope and trepidation of the 210 passengers – labourers, carpenters, blacksmiths, housemaids, children – boarding the Perseverance that sailed from Custom House Quay on St Patrick’s Day 1846. Custom House Quay was the last sight for many emigrants as they left Ireland for a new life abroad, and as you start your journey along the quay you will see the hauntingly beautiful sculpted figures of the Famine Memorial, commemorating those who left these shores never to return.
Make your way down to the Jeanie Johnston and step on board this replica famine vessel to really get a sense of what leaving these shores was like for so many. This beautiful tall ship stands out on the waters of the Liffey as a vessel from a bygone era. Discover how both the original ship and its modern twin were constructed and go below the deck to learn all about the cramped conditions that passengers endured in a hull originally intended for transporting timber rather than human beings.
After your tour, take a stroll along the quays, taking in the sights and sounds of modern Dublin and imagine what our ancestors would make of this bustling international hub. If you fancy a seafood lunch while you explore the docklands, why not try Urban Brewing or J2 Grill & Sushi along the Campshires of the North Wall Quay. Or walk across Calatrava’s iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge to Mackenzie’s Restaurant & Bar on Grand Canal Dock where they have something for every taste.
If you are still yearning to feel the freedom of the open water, then why not head out to sea to catch a glimpse of what it must have felt like to sail out of the Docklands all those years ago on a cruise with Dublin Bay Cruises. This 60-70 minute trip will take you south of Dublin Bay to the beautiful Dun Laoghaire Harbour, taking in parts of Dublin Port, Poolbeg Lighthouse, passing by Dalkey Island, the world wildlife reserve at Bull Island and Baily and Kish Lighthouses. While on board you can imagine the many thousands of emigrants who glimpsed these sights and smelt the salt breeze as they left for new lives and opportunities.
Once arriving in Dun Laoghaire, be sure to take in a stroll along the remarkable Harbour that stretches out from the town, followed by a visit to the National Maritime Museum. This magnificent museum is housed in the impressive 180-year-old Mariners’ Church and has something for the maritime enthusiast and casual visitor alike. The museum features ship models and different instruments used for exploring the oceans over the centuries, as well as a Titanic exhibit and the beautiful 10-tonne revolving Baily Lighthouse Optic.
As part of your trip on Dublin Bay Cruise you will receive a discounted ticket to travel back to Dublin on the DART, reconnecting with where you began your journey.
Cultural attractions nearby
The Jeanie Johnston
Address: Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 473 0111
Over 1 million people left Ireland during the 1840s at the height of the Great Famine, fleeing starvation and hoping for a new life in America. Daily tours begin at the ship, which is located on Custom House Quay just downriver from the International Financial Services Centre and across the road from the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. (2 min walk from EPIC)
Address Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1
Phone (01) 888 2000
The magnificent Custom House houses the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Destroyed on 25 May, 1921 during the Irish War of Independence it was fully restored to its former glory in 1928. Relax and enjoy the neoclassical architecture by visiting the free exhibition in the Visitor Centre. (5 min walk from EPIC)
Famine Memorial Sculptures
Address Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
Presented to the City of Dublin in 1997 the Famine Memorial Sculptures depict those who migrated during Ireland’s Great Famine from 1845 to 1852. The location of the sculptures is of particular importance since one of the first voyages of the Famine period departed from Custom House Quay in 1846. (2 min walk from EPIC)
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
Address Grand Canal Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
The Bord Gais Theatre is a 2,111-capacity theatre in Dublin, Ireland. For evening entertainment you can find a diverse array of theatrical experiences here including ballets, musicals, family shows, drama, concerts, comedy, orchestral and opera. (10 min walk from EPIC)
Address The Naughton Institute, Pearse St, Dublin 2
Phone (01) 896 4091
The Science Gallery is a mix between a museum and a gallery where ideas and opinions are sure to collide. If you are interested in a diverse experience the Science Gallery offers visitors a combination of both art and science. There is also an onsite café and makeshop. (12 min walk from EPIC)
The Convention Centre Dublin
Address: Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 856 0000
Designed by renowned Pritzker award-winning architect Kevin Roche, The CCD has become an iconic landmark building on Dublin’s skyline. With Roche’s signature Atrium integral to the design, The CCD offers six light-flooded foyers for networking and hospitality, offering stunning views of Dublin on the upper levels and the unique ability to light the building in your brand colours for your event! (5 min walk from EPIC)
The Diving Bell
Address: Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2
The Diving Bell used in the building of the Port’s quay walls from the Victorian era right up until almost the 1960s is a remarkable feat of Irish engineering, Designed by the port engineer Bindon Blood Stoney (1828 to 1907) and built by Grendon and Co., Drogheda. it was delivered to Dublin Port in 1866, entered service in 1871, and was used in the building of the Port’s quay walls until 1958. (10 min walk from EPIC)
Leisure activities nearby
Dublin City Kayaking
Address Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin
Phone (+353) 085 866 7787
Dublin City Kayaking offers guests a chance to explore Dublin in a unique way. Tours usually last 1.5 hours and are organized so that guests are kayaking with the tide along the River Liffey.
Dublin Bay Cruises
Address Quarry, Dublin
Phone (01) 901 1757
Cruises are operated between Dun Laoghaire, Dublin Port and Howth. Guests are able to enjoy the panoramic views and discover the wildlife reserves that line the bay from north to south.
Canal City Cycle Route
Address Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, North Wall
The Grand Canal Cycle Route offers a peaceful bike ride along the banks of the Grand Canal. The journey is 3.5 km and the starting point is the Samuel Beckett Bridge.
Wakedock and Surfdock
Address Grand Canal Dockyard, Ringsend, Dublin 4,
Phone (01) 668 3945
The Wakedock and Surdock offers everything from wake boarding to yoga on the water. It is also Dublin’s No 1 stockist of all things watersports. Wetsuites are also available for men, women and children.
National Famine Way
Follow in the footsteps of 1,490 people, who walked the 165km route from Strokestown Park Estate to Custom House Quay in Dublin, along the National Famine Way, a new interactive historic trail including an official Passport/Guide and OSI Map. This Heritage and Arts Trail is an accredited Trail from Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon through six counties to Dublin, mostly through countryside along the Royal Canal on flat and well-surfaced paths.
The Dock Mile is great for tourists who want to explore the Docklands more. Along the walk one can admire the architecture and numerous vistas that the Grand Canal Dock has to offer.
Cafés and restaurants nearby
Harbourmaster Pub and Restaurant
Address Old Dock Offices, Custom House Dock, I.F.S.C., Dublin 1.
Phone (01) 670 1688
The Harbourmaster Pub and Restaurant offers a diverse and delicious menu. An extensive choice of starters, mains and side dishes will certainly please any pallet. Food is served in a converted brick walled harbourmaster’s office with feature glass and wood.
Address 1 Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1.
Phone (01) 673 6054
The CHQ building is a grade one listed former warehouse built in the 19th century. It was originally used to hold wine and tobacco with vaults beneath for storage. In 1856 it hosted the Crimean War Banquet in celebration of the returning 3,000 Irish soldiers. Today it contains a hub of cafes, delis and restaurants.
MV Cill Airne
Address Quay 16, North Wall Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1.
Phone (01) 817 8760
The MV Cill Airne is a renovated training vessel that holds a Modern European restaurant, maritime-style bar and deck seating. The restaurant is a great place to enjoy drinks on the water.
Address 35 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2.
Phone (01) 671 7053
The Ferryman Pub is a traditional docklands pub overlooking the River Liffey. The pub has an extensive whiskey and wine menu and is available to book for large groups of people. You can also experience a genuine Irish welcome from the locals.
Address The Malting Tower, Grand Canal Quay, Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 2.
Phone (01) 662 4199
Osteria Lucio is a contemporary pizzeria and restaurant with exposed brickwork and outdoor seating. The restaurant is perfect for families and those craving a mixture between Irish and Italian food. All of their wines come from smallholdings across Italy. You can also find some delicious Irish craft beers at Lucio’s.
The Art of Coffee
Address 1 Alto Vetro, Grand Canal Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
Phone (01) 764 5740
The Art of Coffee is a bright and modern waterfront coffee house that offers gourmet drinks with an artistic finish. Customers can enjoy a quick coffee fix while watching the swans and canal barges pass by.
Address 9 Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2.
Phone (01) 675 3875
Brunch at Herb Street offers an alternative dining experience. The goal of this café is to minimize our carbon footprint and provide sustainable food and drink. Even the décor is designed to have a low impact on the environment. Enjoy food that is both healthy and environmentally friendly!
Address 32 Grand Canal Street Lower, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2.
Phone (01) 661 9329
3fe is a contemporary café with coffee tasting and brewing classes. The café also offers a delicious array of cakes, sandwiches, and soups. The brewing classes make it seem like a laboratory rather than a café. If you are interested in learning how to brew your own cup of coffee then this is the place to go.
Address: 6 Excise Walk, Clarion Quay, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 611 9012
This newly refurbished and spacious restaurant next to the river Liffey is situated in the heart of the Dublin Financial Services Centre. Milano Clarion Quay is the perfect spot for a business lunch during the week, and a great place to relax over the weekend. Situated only a short distance from the 3 Arena and the Convention Centre, you will find the perfect place to come for a pre-gig meal. Party bookings are welcome, please call for more details.
Address Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2
Phone (01) 687 5100
The Marker Hotel offers guests a stunning view of Dublin from its rooftop terrace. The Brasserie serves award-winning food that is locally sourced. On Sunday from 2pm to 5pm guests can enjoy Le Drunch, which is a delicious combination of lunch and dinner. (12 min walk from EPIC)
The Gibson Hotel
Address: Point Square, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 681 5000
Adjacent to the 3Arena and a Luas light rail stop in the lively Dublin Docklands area, this trendy glass-clad hotel is 1 block from the River Liffey and 1.5 km east of the city centre. (14 min walk from EPIC)
The Spencer Hotel
Address: Excise Walk, IFSC, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 433 8850
The Spencer Hotel is located in Dublin city centre overlooking the River Liffey, minutes’ walk from the shopping and entertainment hotspots of the City. East Restaurant offers an extensive Asian fusion menu served by our super friendly team. After dinner head into The Spencer Cocktail Bar where the signature cocktails created by the team of mixologists will quench any thirst! (4 min walk from EPIC)
Address: Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2
Phone: (01) 643 9500
Located in the heart of the docklands, opposite Bord Gais Energy Theatre. The hotel is walking distance from Dublin city centre shopping and iconic venues including The CCD, 3Arena, Croke Park and Aviva Stadium. (9 min walk from EPIC)
Hilton Garden Inn
Address: 1 Custom House Quay
Phone: (01) 854 1500
Explore the city from our family-friendly Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House hotel, just a 10-minute walk from the city center. Dine on-site at Oly’s Bar & Restaurant. Food is served throughout the day until 10pm with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kids enjoy a menu designed just for them. Relax with a pint of Guinness at the comfortable bar while watching sports on the large screen TVs. (1 min walk from EPIC)
Grand Canal Hotel
Address: Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin 2
Phone: (01) 646 1000
The Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin City boasts 142 comfortable & beautifully decorated bedrooms. Our hotel is family owned and is situated across the road from The Canal Dock Rail Station. Whether you are looking for a relaxing break or want to explore all that the city of Dublin has to offer, come and stay with us. (18 min walk from EPIC)
The Mayson Hotel
Address: 82 North Wall Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1
Phone: (01) 245 7900
The Mayson is a brand new 4 star boutique hotel in Dublin 1 and is the coolest place to stay in Dublin City, and has quickly established itself as one of Dublin’s coolest places to stay as well as one of Ireland’s top lifestyle hotels. Boasting luxury hotel rooms, delicious dining options, gym and outdoor pool, The Mayson is ideal for your hotel break in Dublin. (13 min walk from EPIC)
The Shelbourne Hotel
Address: 27 St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2
Phone: (01) 663 4500
Just outside the docklands, you’ll find Dublin’s most prestigious and historic five-star property. For almost 200 years, it has offered its guests an unforgettable experience of luxury, comfort, and authentic Irish hospitality. Located in the social heart of Ireland’s capital, guests may enjoy an elegant Afternoon Tea in The Lord Mayor’s Lounge, traditional fine dining in The Saddle Room, spectacular cocktails and whiskeys at the 1824 Bar, or a perfect pint at the legendary Horseshoe Bar. In-house amenities include a tranquil spa with a menu of indulgent treatments and an opulent relaxation room, a leading-edge health club with swimming pool. (17 min walk from EPIC)
Download our map of Dublin’s Docklands area and use to get 10% off at selected attractions, cafés and restaurants – click here to download