As James Joyce’s Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom could attest, Dublin is tailor-made for walking. Few European capitals pack as much history and texture into such a compact cityscape—not to mention the abundance of green space, right in the heart of town. Here’s a route that’ll take you through two of Dublin’s greatest parks (a perfect jet lag cure in any season), both just steps away from the Conrad. You can do the loop in under an hour, but if you’re inclined to stop, you’ll find plenty of benches, shops, museums, and spots for snacking and sipping along the way.
1. Leaving the Conrad, take a left onto Earlesfort Terrace and head south, passing the striking National Concert Hall across the street.
2. Turn right onto Hatch Street. 150 yards west you’ll spot the gated entrance to the Iveagh Gardens on your right. Step inside: the grounds open at 8am daily (10am Sundays and holidays), and close between 3:30pm and 6pm. Iveagh (pronounced “ivy”) is often called Dublin’s “Secret Garden,” owing to its tucked-away location—albeit right in the city center.
3. Head north along the rustic path through the park’s overgrown southeastern corner—you won’t believe you’re in a European metropolis. Further along is a broad grassy clearing where Dubliners find a spot of tranquility and (if lucky) sunshine. You could spend a full hour just meandering these grounds. But if you’ve only got an hour, head for the highlight: a dramatic cascade waterfall at the park’s western edge.
4. From the waterfall, walk 50 yards north to the park’s Clonmel Street exit. Follow Clonmel one block west, then turn right onto Harcourt Street.
5. Walk 2 blocks north on Harcourt to St. Stephen’s Green. Just inside the park you’ll see the Ardilaun Lodge, a handsome red-brick-and-sandstone Tudor cottage named for Lord Ardilaun, the 19th-century nobleman who purchased St. Stephen’s Green, redesigned the grounds, and gifted the park back to the city. Head east along the path until you come upon a craggy bust of James Joyce, as full of character as the author’s prose.
6. Turn north toward the center of the park, past manicured lawns framed by flower gardens. Take the footbridge across the lake leading to the verdant allée known as the Lime Walk (for the double row of lime trees once planted here).
7. Exit onto the north side of St. Stephen’s Green. Across the street you’ll see two Georgian brick edifices, at numbers 16 and 17, whose facades are completely shrouded in ivy—lush green in spring and summer, the foliage turns flaming red in autumn. Next door is the brilliantly conceived Little Museum of Dublin (see our 1-hour itinerary “Picnic in the Park”), where you can opt for a quick guided tour if you have extra time. (The museum promises to tell the story of Dublin in 29 minutes flat.)
8. From here you could head west and dive into the fray of Grafton Street, Dublin’s lively pedestrian drag. But for a more refreshing stroll, head north on Dawson Street. At number 27-28, the diminutive Celtic Whiskey Shop has a not-at-all-diminutive selection of hard-to-find bottlings; the knowledgeable staff can arrange for overseas shipping.
9. Craving sustenance? Two blocks north, turn left onto South Anne Street to find CoffeeAngel, one of Dublin’s most acclaimed cafés. The staff are dead-serious about their craft, and famously refuse to serve cups larger than 12 ounces (go ahead and let them explain why).
10. Return to Dawson Street, turn left, then make an immediate right onto Molesworth Street. Walk east for 200 yards, then turn right onto Kildare Street. Opposite, you’ll see the spectacular domed rotunda (modeled on Rome’s Pantheon) of the National Museum of Ireland’s Archaeology collection. The rotunda interior is no less impressive, with its Zodiac-themed mosaic floors and soaring ceiling painted robin’s egg blue.
11. Continue south on Dawson Street until you’re back at St. Stephen’s Green. Turn left, proceeding to Merrion Row.
12. “Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub,” mused Leopold Bloom in Ulysses. You’ll pass two great ones on Merrion Row alone: timeless O’Donoghue’s at number 15 and the more modern Foley’s at number 1. Half a block further east on Baggot Street, you’ll find Doheny & Nesbitt, one of Dublin’s most photogenic pubs, with well-worn plank floors and mahogany snugs that catapult you back to the 1840s.
13. From here it’s just a 5-minute walk to the Conrad. Turn back west on Merrion Row to St. Stephen’s Green, then turn right, passing the elegant, flower-boxed Georgian townhouses that line the park’s eastern edge. Continue south onto Earlesfort Terrace and in 150 yards you’ll see the hotel on your left.
Main entrance on Clonmel Street, off Harcourt Street
St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Little Museum of Dublin
15 St. Stephen’s Green
+353 1 661 1000
Celtic Whiskey Shop
27-28 Dawson St., Dublin
+353 1 675 9744
16 Anne St S, Dublin 2, D02 VF29, Ireland
+353 1 969 6001
15 Merrion Row
+353 1 660 7194
1 Merrion Row
+353 1 661 0115
Doheny & Nesbitt
5 Baggot Street Lower