Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in Europe of over 707 hectares and is twice the size of Central Park in New York City. It is home to the residence of the President of Ireland, Aras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the American Ambassador, Dublin Zoo and a beautiful herd of over 600 wild deer.
There is plenty to see in the park, so depending on the time you have, you can make this a full day trip, or go for a short stroll to see the highlights.
We started this journey by hopping on the Luas directly outside the gibson hotel and got off at the Luas stop called Museum. This is the closest stop to the Phoenix Park entrance on Conyngham Road which leads into Chesterfield Avenue. It’s no more than a 5 minutes walk from the Luas stop where you will pass some shops if you need to buy a bottle of water or snacks. There are some delicious coffee shops inside the park but no other retail outlets.
As you enter the park on the right-hand side you have a park within the park. It’s the People’s Flower Gardens and comprises of 22 acres and showcases Victorian horticulture at its best. A large ornamental lake, a children’s playground, picnic areas and Victorian bedding schemes are just some of the attractions. There is also a bike shop on your left where you can hire a bike if you would rather cycle the park instead of walking.
As you stroll through people’s park you may see a large imposing 62m obelisk built to commemorate victories of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, he was reputed to have been born in Dublin. It was completed in 1861 and is the tallest obelisk in Europe at just over sixty-two metres tall. There are also four bronze plaques cast from cannons captured at Waterloo.
Just after people’s park you come to a lovely little busy coffee shop called “Tea Rooms” that looks after all foodies, vegan and non-vegan options available, very good coffee if we do say so ourselves 😊
Once you pick up a coffee you could head to Dublin Zoo to see Irelands biggest family attraction covering 28 hectares and learn and discover about our world’s precious wildlife.
Just past the obelisk is where the park becomes wild and more untouched by the grounds keeper as there are over 600 wild deer in this park. There is plenty of signage to remind you that they are wild animals and not to feed them. Be prepared as they can come into close quarters with you.
If you return to the main road which is Chesterfield Avenue, and continue to walk into the park, you will discover Aras an Uachtarain, home of the President of Ireland. where you may get lucky and see President Micheal D. Higgins himself walking his dogs. Just a 2-minute stroll up the road on the left-hand side you will see the gated entrance to the to the American Ambassador’s residence.
At this point you will see a very impressive roundabout. Here you can turn up a slip road to the right-hand side and come to Ashtown Castle which is a great spot to stop for a picnic lunch and also admire the Victorian Kitchen Walled Garden. Some amenities here include a visitor centre & café, toilets, bike parking and a water filing station.
After lunch head back to the main road where you will see a large white cross on the left-hand side of the park called The Papal Cross. This Cross was erected for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 where he delivered an open-air sermon to 1.25 million people in attendance. It is one of the most popular sites to visit within the park.
From the Papal Cross, take a 15-minute walk across the many football fields which leads you to The Magazine Fort dating from 1734, so it is worth checking-out. Also the views from this vantage point are breath-taking on a clear day as you can see right across Dublin city.
If you continue to walk through the park you will reach Farmleigh House, an eclectic Edwardian Mansion that serves as the Irish state guesthouse.
Previously it was one of the homes of the renowned Guinness family and purchased by the Irish state in 1999. Guided tours can be booked to view this magnificent mansion. There is also a café/restaurant available.
There are plenty of other walking routes and paths to discover around the park which you are welcome to explore. The park is a great attraction to locals living in the area taking their daily walk or run. It’s possible to visit the park 10 times and still find or see something new.
When you are ready to head back to the hotel, just jump back on at the Luas for The Point and enjoy a well-earned rest!