What to do on a Saturday – Top Five Free Things to Do in Dublin City
Most of Dublin’s best attractions are within walking distance of each other but if your boots weren’t made for walking you can always hop on a bus or luas for a couple of euros. Or even better hire a DublinBike. They’re very affordable at €5 for a Three Day Pass. And as your first 30 mins of any bike trip is free, you can get where you want to go quicker, cheaper and feel good about yourself too.
For those with more time on their hands both North County Dublin and South County Dublin have so much to offer when it comes to life by the sea but this guide is specifically for the city. And so without further ado here are my Top Five Free Things to Do on a Saturday:
- The Phoenix Park & Farmleigh
- Irish Food Markets
- Sandemans New Dublin Tour
- Dublin Art Galleries
- Science Gallery Dublin
Table of Contents
The Phoenix Park & Farmleigh
The Phoenix Park
Open 24/7, 365 days a year, The Phoenix Park is one of Europe’s ‘largest designed landscapes’. It was originally purposed as a deer park back in the 17th Century and hundreds of years later, you can still spot deers (not the same ones from the 1600’s obviously), running, grazing and doing deer stuff there. You’ll also spot walkers, joggers, cyclists, footballers, cricketers, horse riders and dog walkers too. Complete with a Visitor Centre, Café, Tea Rooms, Zoo and Bicycle Hire – you could spend quite some time out of your Saturday here so keep an eye on your watch!
If you are visiting The Phoenix Park between the months of January and April, be sure to visit Farmleigh. They offer free tours and a history lesson for you to enjoy. Other times of the year you will find markets, festivals and fairs happening in and around Farmleigh’s buildings but always check their website for access to save disappointment www.farmleigh.ie
After an early morning walk and exploration of The Phoenix Park, you may want to get a bite to eat and an ideal place to do so is at one of Dublin’s Food Markets – although not exactly a ‘free’ activity if you are purchasing, it is still deserves a place on this listing of free things to do. Because I highly recommend you explore the food markets of Dublin. Witness what they have to offer, and soak in all those foodie delights.
Dublin has a number of Food Markets but my favourite three so far are The Temple Bar Food Market, The Green Door Market and the Honest 2 Goodness Market.
The Temple Bar Market
The Temple Bar Market is the easiest one to get to as it is slap bang in the middle of Temple Bar, Dublin 2 in the Meeting House Square. It’s open from 10am to 4.30pm every Saturday and you can purchase everything from cheese to oysters.
The Green Door Market
Up until a couple of years ago The Green Door Market was based in Newmarket in Dublin 8. A little further south of the city but still within walking distance. However with the ‘development’ of Dublin City, a number of markets including The Green Door had to find new homes, if they could at all.
Thankfully The Green Door Market did, and albeit not exactly walking distance, you’ll be happy to know you can get a luas to it. You can now find it at Blue Bell Business Centre on the Old Naas Road. It opens from Tuesday to Sunday. On Saturday it’s open from 9.30am to 4pm. At the market you’ll find deliciously organic foods from breads to meat and fish.
Honest 2 Goodness Market
Finally further to the North of the City, you will find the Honest 2 Goodness Market at 136a Slaney Closein in Glasnevin, Dublin 9. You could walk it but I’d recommend taking a bus instead. The market is open every Saturday from 9.30am to 4pm and you will find everything from baked goods and coffee to wine and cheese. Plus if you have some time on your hands you could visit the Glasnevin Cemetery close by, tours here are optional but it is worth a visit. Or if it’s a sunny Saturday why not purchase all the goods to make a fantastic picnic and then take a stroll around the National Botanic Gardens which are based in Glasnevin too.
Sandemans New Dublin Tour
Patrick and I took the Sandeman’s New Dublin Tour a couple of years ago for the craic, and we did indeed have the craic. The tour guide was friendly and informative and made the tour fun and interesting. The tour is a three-hour walking tour that is free (free for 1-9 people and for groups of over 10 it’s €6 per person). Although tour guides do accept tips and going by our experience, you will want to tip to show your appreciation.
We took in sights and history lessons about Dublin Castle, Christchurch, The Vikings, Trinity College and the Easter Rising, but to name a handful! We got a break half way through where we stopped off for a pint (unfortunately not free but also not mandatory as you are free to go where you like). Tours normally start at 11am and 2pm daily but make sure you check the availability and also book online at www.newdublintours.com
Dublin Art Galleries & Museums
Four fantastic Art Galleries and Museums that are FREE and should be on your list are:
- Hugh Lane Gallery (Dublin City Gallery) – Parnell Square North, Dublin 1
- The National Gallery of Ireland – Merrion Square West, Dublin 2
- Irish Museum of Modern Art – Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8
- Royal Hibernian Academy – Ely Place, Dublin 2
One of my favourite galleries in Dublin is the Hugh Lane Gallery (Dublin City Gallery).
Hugh Lane Gallery
Open on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, Hugh Lane Gallery can be found on the North Side of the City at Parnell Square North in Dublin 1. It’s free, has the amazing Francis Bacon Studio, it ‘houses the foremost collection of Irish and International modern and contemporary art in Ireland’. And it hosts some of the most eclectic temporary exhibitions on the art scene.
Hugh Lane offers free tours as well as workshops for young and old. I’d recommend keeping an eye on their website, in particular their ‘Whats On’ category for future events and exhibitions.
Science Gallery Dublin
The Science Gallery in Dublin is a must see and most times a must do as it can be a very interactive experience. Although not guaranteed to have exhibitions open every Saturday throughout the year (so please check their event calendar) – when this Gallery does host an exhibition, it does it in style.
I’ve been to numerous exhibitions here and am disappointed when I miss out. Think of a sandwich made of Art and Science, add a slice of food, perhaps a sprinkle of music, finally top it all off with lots of passion and you’ve got what they are offering. I’ve witnessed cheese grown from humans, tried to understand how its good to fail better and have had my blood tested in the past here. I’ve also enjoyed a beer and had a bit of a dance too!
The Science Gallery is ‘pioneered by Trinity College Dublin’, can be found on Pearse Street in Dublin 2 and is open on Saturdays from 12 noon to 6pm.
*This article was first published in March 2015 but has since been updated.