It’s been far too long since we last visited Dublin and a lot’s happened since then. I think we’re long overdue a return. To get those Dublin juices flowing, and to go some way towards planning our next visit, I’ve written an overview of “Free and Accessible Things to do in and Around Dublin” I hope you find it useful.
Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, is one of Europe’s top destinations for a weekend break. It’s not surprising when you think about it, Dublin has over a 1000 years of history, it’s a hotbed of culture and the epicentre of the craic.
As you’d expect, Dublin isn’t the cheapest city. The good news is, you can still have a good time in and around Dublin without breaking the bank.
1 – Go for a Walk
2 – Visit a Park
3 – Visit a Gallery
4 – Visit a Museum
5 – Visit a Market
6 – Go Window Shopping
7 – Visit Free Events
8 – Self-Guided Tours
Go for a Walk
Dublin is a small city, pretty much everything you want to see is within walking distance. That said, here are a few ideas for accessible walks in and around the Dublin area.
#1. The River Liffey – The last time we were in Dublin, we took a wheelchair walk along the River Liffey. Almost everywhere in the city is accessible from the river. There are access points down to the river boardwalk and seating areas en route.
In truth, if you are crossing the river, it’s almost impossible to avoid the boardwalk and on a nice day, it makes for a pleasant stroll.
The River Liffey cuts through the heart of Dublin, therefore, the boardwalk is a natural meeting point. As you would in any major city, keep your wits about you, your eyes open and your valuables secure.
#2. If like me, you prefer to walk in the fresh air, then you’ll probably need to get out of the city. It’s easy to forget that Dublin is a city by the sea, and the Dublin Bay area is the perfect getaway when you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
The coastline of Dublin Bay is home to numerous quaint towns and seaside villages, miles of sandy beaches and of course, free and accessible seaside walks – find out more here: Dublin Bay
#3. Dun Laoghaire – I’ve only ever sailed into Dun Laoghaire, then drove straight out again. But, I can’t help thinking I missed a trick.
The town is often overlooked, when you consider it has an accessible promenade, a bustling harbour and two piers, it’s definitely worth the effort to visit – get the Dun Laoghaire walking map
Visit a Park
Like most European capital cities, green space is at a premium. Dublin is no exception, so a visit to one of the many parks in and around Dublin is a must, here are three of the most popular parks:
#1. St Stephen’s Green – If you’re tired of wondering around the city streets, take a break in St Stephen’s Green park and gardens. A quiet oasis where you can relax, have a picnic or just admire the beautifully manicured flower beds – St Stephen’s Park and Garden
#2. Phoenix Park – A couple of miles outside the city centre is the 17500 acre Phoenix Park. A destination in itself, the park is home to the official residence of the Irish President, the US Ambassador and a herd of fallow deer.
The park has vast open spaces to wander about, accessible walks, gardens, a visitor centre, cafes and even a castle, although not all of the castle is accessible.
The park also has many other attractions including Dublin Zoo, but because charges apply I haven’t highlighted them in the guide. You can find more details of the park here: Phoenix Park in Dublin
#3. Merrion Square Park – The park is surrounded by grand Georgian houses, previously occupied by the likes of Daniel O’Connell and W.B Yeats.
Most visitors will recognise this park when they see the statue of Oscar Wilde relaxing on a rock. You can find more details about Merrion Square Park here: Merrion Square Park
Visit a Gallery
Ireland has a long and rich artistic heritage, and there is no better place to see these world-famous works than in their natural home.
#1. National Gallery of Ireland – As you’d expect, the National Gallery is home to some of the most important art collections and paintings in the world. With in excess of 2,500 paintings, over 10,000 other artworks and a full schedule of temporary exhibitions.
The National Gallery is a must visit if you are an art lover. Situated in the city centre, free admission and fully accessible, the gallery is the perfect place to while away the hours.
At the time of writing, the gallery is undergoing refurbishment so some access issues may occur. Please check the National Gallery Access Page
#2. Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane – A registered charity, the gallery is home to culturally important Irish and international art. The gallery is more than a place to visit and appreciate art. Its purpose is to encourage engagement and inform public understanding of modern and contemporary art.
Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane is free to enter and is fully accessible in a wheelchair – Access Details Here
#3. Science Gallery, Trinity College – Fed up with art, how about a bit of science then. In truth, the Science Gallery describes itself on Twitter as “where science and art collide”, so that’ll be more art!
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re going to look at more pictures. The gallery is more about the science with a rolling programme of exhibitions where science really does collide with art.
The gallery is free to enter and accessible, you can read about access details here: Science Gallery Disabled Access
Dublin isn’t short of galleries so here’s a link to the gallery page on Visit Dublin, please check pricing and access details for individual galleries before visiting.
Visit a Museum
You won’t be stuck finding a museum in Dublin. Like galleries, the capital city is home to the most important museums on the island:
#1. National Museum of Ireland – The national museum can be broken down into four distinct departments, three of them are in Dublin:
Archaeology – home to artefacts dating back to 7000 BC
Decorative Arts and History – glassware, garments, furniture, jewellery and ceramics
Natural History – explore the natural world, approximately 2 million specimens
The fourth, the National Museum of Country Life, is over on the west coast of Ireland in Castlebar, County Mayo.
All four national museums are accessible and free to enter, you can see access details here: National Museum Access and Facilities
#2. The Irish Museum of Modern Art – The museum is home to the national collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum promotes education and appreciation of art by engaging, supporting and working with Irish artists.
The museum offers free admission and is fully wheelchair accessible, it also has a limited number of manual wheelchairs available on a first-come first served basis. You can find all the access details here: Visit IMMA
For a full list of Dublin museums, check out Visit Dublin – Museums. Note: I have not checked each museum for entrance fees and accessibility, so check before you visit.
Visit a Market
If there’s one thing that defines a city, it’s a market. You can get a feel for real people and often bump into the characters.
Another reason I always head for a market is that they are free. And, If you’re that way inclined, you can even fill your boots on a free sample of local produce.
The one problem with markets, especially street markets, is cobblestones. If you can cope with them in your wheelchair, or are able to navigate around them, a street market is always a good place to visit.
Because I’m not familiar with individual markets in Dublin, I can’t recommend them.
But, take a look at the farmers, fruit and veg, craft and flea markets on Visit Dublin’s website and decide for yourself whether you’d like to visit them.
If you do visit a market, or if anyone who lives in Dublin reads this post, I’d love to know how accessible they are to wheelchair users – let me know in the comments section.
Go Window Shopping
Window shopping might not be your thing, but if it is, there are plenty of windows to shop in Dublin. Personally, I like looking in authentic Irish shops, the ones where they sell local crafts and stuff, and there are loads of them in Dublin.
When we were last there, Bridget went mad at me because I dragged her around every one of them. In my defence, I was trying to buy her an Irish blanket for her wheelchair… still haven’t got one.
#1. Grafton Street – Probably the most famous shopping street in the whole of Dublin. Grafton Street attacks your senses with the smells, sights and sounds.
The thing I like about Grafton street is, although it has shops and brands you know, it also has many that you won’t.
The side streets which run off Grafton Street are like a mystery tour because you never know what you’ll find down them.
Grafton Street is the home of buskers and impromptu performances. I think I’m right in saying that even Bono of U2 did a stint on the street.
What I can say is this, these buskers wouldn’t look out of place on the stage, they really are that good.
#2. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is just one of many shopping centres in Dublin. I personally enjoyed the food court and strangely the baubles hanging from the ceiling.
#3. O’Connell Street is a must. On O’Connell Street, you’ll find a mixture of shops. But, more importantly, you’ll find the General Post Office which is famed for being the stronghold of the Irish volunteers during the 1916 rising and the impressive Spire of Dublin.
The truth is, there are so many shops in Dublin it’d be impossible to list them all. For window shoppers and browsers a few worth a mention are:
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre – Disabled access at Coppinger Row entrance
Arnotts – Ireland’s oldest department store
Brown Thomas – Ireland’s luxury department store
George’s Street Arcade – Dublin’s first purpose built shopping centre
Note: Please check individual websites for disabled access information. They tell me they are accessible, but I haven’t been inside these shops or arcades.
Visit Free Events
I have already mentioned the quality and talent of the buskers in Dublin, and the same can be said for the street entertainers in and around Dublin city centre.
In fact, we watched a fire-eater, an amateur play and a beat boxer just in Grafton Street. Wandering around Dublin is like one big free event because there is so much going on.
It would be impossible to list all of the free events going on in Dublin, not least because they change so often. Therefore, I would advise keeping an eye on the Visit Dublin Free Event Guide to see what’s happening.
Also, check the Dublin Event Guide for more free events in Dublin
There are many guided tours you can take in Dublin, but are they free and more importantly are they accessible?
I’m waiting for a response to emails I’ve sent out about accessible tours in Dublin. When I receive a response, I’ll add them to the post.
#1. One response I’ve received so far is from Sandemans New Europe – Free Walking Tours. They offer a number of free tours in Dublin, some of them are suitable for wheelchair users. Take a look at their website, specifically the FAQ’s page which explains access for wheelchair users.
In the meantime, how about designing your own self-guided tour. Pick a theme, grab a map or the Dublin Discovery Trails app and off you go, your very own self-guided walking tour.
Here are a few ideas for you:
#1. Street Art Tour – Dublin is awash with street art, Visit Dublin even commissioned their own mural – Dublin Street Art
#2. Statues and Monuments Tour – Dublin isn’t short of statues or monuments. The city has so many people and events to commemorate and celebrate.
I found this handy page on Dublin Escape, they claim to list all of the statues and monuments in Dublin. Whether they have them all or not, it’s a great place to start when you’re designing your tour.
#3. Churches and Cathedrals Tour – As you’d expect in Ireland, churches and cathedrals are important buildings. In fact, Dublin has three Cathedrals, Christ Church, Saint Patrick’s and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, not many cities can boast that.
But, they’re not all free to enter? I think it’s because they are charities, so I can understand why they charge.
From what I can tell, there is no charge to worship in Christ Church or any charges to visit St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. If you have more details, I am happy to be corrected and I will amend this post accordingly.
As for access, St Patrick’s mention it here: Wheelchair Access, but I can’t find any access details for St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral or Christ Church?
I was reluctant to include them on the list of “free” things to do in Dublin, but you can still go and look as part of your self-guided tour or pay the small entrance fee (donation) to enter.
#4. Film Locations Tour – before we look at film locations we should mention celebrities. Apparently, Dublin is a celebrity hotspot so you never know, you might be able to do a bit of star spotting as you bimble around.
Anyway, back to film locations.
One of my favourite films of all time is “The Commitments” and I actually enjoyed “Once”, if you haven’t seen them I recommend you do. I’m not just saying that because I’m writing this post, it’s true!
Both of these films were filmed in and around Dublin as were many other iconic films. If you fancy putting together your own film location walking tour, here are a few ideas to help you – 10 Films Set in Dublin
Free and Accessible Things to do in Dublin
So there you go, it’s a long post but its certainly given me a few ideas for when we next visit.
Dublin is a great city to visit and it doesn’t have to be expensive if you use a bit of imagination and planning. There are plenty of things to do and see without putting your hand in your pocket.
If you don’t mind spending a few Euros, consider getting a Dublin Pass which will save you money on many entrance fees and bus tours and it will open up many other attractions to you.
Where would you like to go in Dublin, what would you like to see or what would you recommend I add to the list, let me know in the comments section below – thank you.
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