Dublin has a booming tourist economy, therefore it can be tough to absorb anything of cultural relevance without waiting forever in a queue or paying exorbitant admission fees (10€ to see one page from the Book of Kells? Yeah right!) so we have assembled six destinations that are off the beaten tourist path and absolutely free. While all those pesky tourists are waiting in line to see a book that was stolen from the Scottish, pay a visit to any of these six Irish wonders and you will not be disappointed.
1) Irish Museum of Modern Art
This free museum is Ireland’s leading institution for the presentation and collection of contemporary art. The IMMA exhibits works by world-famous artists in an immaculate space which is basically empty besides the gallery attendants. When Marina Abramovic shows in New York people come by the thousands, at her exhibition here we were the only people in the room. Also, the building is a 17th century hospital! Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Military Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
2) Glendalough Walking Trails – Wicklow Mountains
This series of pristine hiking trails is located in heart of the picturesque Wicklow Mountains. Our wonderful hosts in Dublin kindly took us to the Spinc and Glenealo Mountains White Route; a 9km walk that starts at a waterfall, climbs across grassy cliffs and eventually leads into the scenic Glenealo valley where we saw a small herd of mountain goats. The parking lot was quite full but most people just hang out by the lake at the entrance and have picnics. The trails are each listed here.
3) Explore the Trinity College Campus
Founded in 1592, this gorgeous campus inspired some of the sets for the Harry Potter and Star Wars movies. There are large fields in the south lawns where you can watch teams practice cricket and gaelic football. More on that later! College Green, Dublin 2
4) Greystones South Beach
Located along the southern end of the town of Greystones, this scenic beach makes the perfect picnic spot. Remember the wonderful hosts that I mentioned earlier? They took us here too! But if you don’t have a ride you can easily catch the DART train that runs here from Dublin city center regularly throughout the day.
5) National Photographic Archive
We saw the poignant exhibition Portraits of the Invisible: the Irish in WWI. Images of soldiers and nurses from all walks of life are presented here with accompanying text collected during the Irish World War I Roadshows. If history isn’t your thing and you’re all about “Be Here Now“, then be sure to visit the Gallery of Photography right across the square which houses modern photography exhibits and is also free. Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
6) Trinity College Playing Fields
We wandered into here with a loaf of crusty bread and cheese and had a picnic while watching a heated match of cricket. If there is more intense sport that can be played in a polo shirt and creased trousers then I don’t want to know about it! And where are all the tourists at? Oh yeah they are still in line to see the Book of Kells…