Go big at the National Aquatic Centre and National Sports Complex
Hosted on a massive Blanchardstown sports complex that forms the hub of Ireland’s elite sports scene, the National Aquatic Centre and National Indoor Arena combine to make an impressive facility. The Aquatic Centre has an Olympic-sized swimming pool as well as a sizeable splash-around area containing slides, a surf facility, a wave pool, a lazy river and a pirate ship for little ones. The rest of the complex is dedicated to sports pitches, an indoor athletics track and high-end fitness facilities.
Snugborough Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland. +353 16464300
Experience Gaelic Games
Get an introduction to Ireland’s most unique sports offering, the GAA. You’ll dabble in the organization’s two main sports, the fiercely locally popular combo of Gaelic football and hurling. Gaelic football utilizes skills similar to those used in soccer, basketball and rugby, combining them in a fast-paced contest on a sizeable pitch.
Hurling is sometimes jokingly called a cross between hockey and murder. Games are played to a breathtaking level at the high end, but you can get taught the basics in an afternoon, via Experience Gaelic Games, featured at several local clubs.
Go Kitesurfing off North Bull Island
One of Ireland’s unlikely super-sports, kitesurfing in Dublin even has its own annual festival. It’s largely focused around the sandy nature reserve that is North Bull Island, in the northern end of Dublin Bay, and, providing the weather’s not too windy, it’s surprisingly easy to learn at a basic level. Pure Magic is the spot to head to; the shop will hook you up with anything from an instructor to any bit of a kitesurfing kit you might feel like snapping up.
Pure Magic, 370 Clontarf Road, Dublin, Ireland. +353 18054912
Swim off the Forty Foot
One of Ireland’s most iconic leisure spots, the Forty Foot, is a sea swimming location in the south of the city that’s traditionally the preserve of the nude. That particular tradition has subsided over the last few decades (perhaps because of the predominance of seals in the area, as much as the temperature), but the swimming in the cool waters of the Irish Sea is still astoundingly popular. At Christmas, it goes completely nuts, but you’ll probably have a nice time in the height of summer.
Gravity Climbing Centre
A climbing and bouldering facility in the west Dublin suburbs, this is the best spot to test your upper body strength in the city. Gravity Climbing Centre is particularly strong in bouldering and offers instructors to help beginners get to grips with the action. A great workout.
Run in Phoenix Park
One of the largest walled parks in Europe, Phoenix Park, makes for a fantastic running location. It’s fairly flat and large enough that you could easily run a marathon inside without ever running a path twice. The park is extremely popular with both runners and cyclists, and you’ll be running past the President’s house, the zoo, the American ambassador’s residence, the Papal Cross, a magazine fort and a towering obelisk. Not a bad little selection if you’re able to cover the distance.
Combining the world’s most popular sport with a few greens, fairways and flags, the new sport of Footgolf is a clever and enticing adaptation. There are already serious competitions, but to start off with you’ll probably want to play a round with friends, blasting soccer balls toward a flag before ‘putting’ home once you get a little closer. It’s hugely entertaining, and, amazingly, Dublin already has three courses.
There are countless opportunities to hit the water aboard a buoyant little boat in the capital, from involved adventures exploring some of the offshore islands, to leisurely floating around the Grand Canal. You can find quite a few of the cross-city options here, but our favourite is a little more central. With City Kayaking, you can spend two hours paddling on the city’s heart, crossing the entire heart of Dublin on the River Liffey, from the Famine Ship at the port end of the capital to the Guinness factory a couple of kilometres upstream. It makes for a great unusual way to explore the city and grab a little exercise at the same time.