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Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Best ways to explore Dublin

  • Visitors to the National Library of Ireland inspect some of the sketchbooks compiled by the artist Jack Yeats in Dublin. Paintings by Jack Yeats, brot...

    Shawn Pogatchnik / Associated Press

    Visitors to the National Library of Ireland inspect some of the sketchbooks compiled by the artist Jack Yeats in Dublin. Paintings by Jack Yeats, brother to Ireland's Nobel-winning poet W.B Yeats, form the centerpiece of Ireland's national art collection on view for free at the art gallery on Dublin's Merrion Square.

  • Dublin resident Catherine Heaney, 45, relaxes near a field of blooming heather and a statue of Socrates in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. The...

    Dublin resident Catherine Heaney, 45, relaxes near a field of blooming heather and a statue of Socrates in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. The gardens, founded in 1795, are home to more than 300 endangered plant species.

  • An American tourist group gathers outside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The 11th-century cathedral is a focal point for tourists exploring the me...

    Shawn Pogatchnik / Associated Press

    An American tourist group gathers outside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The 11th-century cathedral is a focal point for tourists exploring the medieval Viking origins of Dublin more than a millennium ago.

DUBLIN -- Dublin isn't cheap. But the flat, compact Irish capital is exceptionally walkable, with a wide range of free attractions easily reached on foot from any downtown hotel.
Live music might cost no more than the pint that's probably in your hand. And exhilarating seaside hikes with a salty breeze are just a 15-minute train trip away.
These five pointers will leave you with a quid or two, make that several euros, for a pint of Guinness.
Urban hikes: Dublin Tourism offers free downloadable podcasts and maps to help you explore Dublin's urban heart and the castles and coastlines of nearby suburbs (http://bit.ly/ywFpbW).
Don't worry about paying for Internet on the trot. Dublin City Council has just launched a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots (http://bit.ly/VvRtWq) .
Pub music: No, the beverages at the pubs aren't free, but traditional Irish music often is, and there's no obligation to imbibe while you listen. The most famous pub for live "trad" performances is O'Donoghue's (www.odonoghues.ie), a living room-sized venue that inspired the Dubliners and Chieftains in the 1960s.
Parks: St. Stephen's Green has frequent summertime music performances.
Two nearby parks inside Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square, are both surrounded by some of Europe's best-preserved Georgian-era properties.
Merrion (http://merrionsquare.ie) features the city's best new statue honoring Oscar Wilde. You'll laugh reading Wilde's best quips recorded in his own handwriting on neighboring pillars.
Phoenix Park is the biggest urban park in Europe. You can tour its two major properties: the official residence of Ireland's president and Farmleigh, the former Dublin residence of the Guinness brewing dynasty and now the government's guesthouse for visiting dignitaries (www.farmleigh.ie).
The prez's pad can be toured free with tickets distributed Saturday mornings at the visitor center (www.phoenixpark.ie/visitorcentre).
Museums: All of Ireland's state-funded museums are free and most are near each other, surrounding the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Ireland's Parliament building, Leinster House, which itself can be toured weekdays (http://bit.ly/WPYwqd).
Next door, the National Library (http://www.nli.ie) this year features exhibits on James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, including many of the poet's letters and unfinished works.
The National Museum of Ireland (www.museum.ie) has three Dublin bases, all free. The Archaeology Museum displays Celtic gold artifacts, including stunning broad necklaces called lunulas and torcs. Most children will enjoy the small, old-fashioned Natural History Museum with glass.
Coastal hikes: Pack hard-soled boots and a rainproof windbreaker and hop on the commuter DART. The rail service hugs the Irish Sea coastline and can drop you at popular trailheads with ocean views.
The longest recommended hike is a three-hour loop around the Howth peninsula overlooking Dublin Bay (http://bit.ly/YA3d6M).
The best local sandy beach is in posh Malahide to the north (http://bit.ly/Y7vJPe).
Or head south to Bray. From its arcade-studded promenade, you can use an inland path to Bray Head with views all the way to Wales.
Or take a 90-minute cliffside hike to the upscale village of Greystones, the most southerly DART stop (tinyurl.com/cwobudd).
Story tags » Travel

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