Flowing through the center of town and dividing Dublin in two, the River Liffey is the waterway around which the city first grew and developed, and it remains at the heart of city life. Originating in the Wicklow Mountains, the river flows through Wicklow, Kildare, and Dublin, before emptying into the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay.
With many of Dublin’s top attractions situated on either the north or south bank of the river, visitors to Dublin are guaranteed to see the River Liffey. Most walking tours of the city pass over the river via the pedestrianized Ha’penny Bridge, moving between Temple Bar on the south side of the city and O’Connell Street on the north side. Hop-on hop-off tour buses and sightseeing buses also pass over the Liffey via O’Connell Bridge.
Of course, the best way to experience the River Liffey is to get out on the water. Choose from among leisurely river cruises, trips on amphibious vehicles, and kayaking excursions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Exploring the River Liffey and its immediate surrounds is a must for first-time visitors to Dublin.
- If you plan on swimming, know that the waters of the Liffey are cold year-round.
- Wheelchair-accessible boat cruises are offered, and many of the paths that run alongside the river’s edge are wheelchair and stroller accessible.
How to Get There
The River Liffey is accessible from many different parts of Dublin, but the most attraction-packed stretch flows through the city center. To get there, ride the Green Line Luas to the Westmoreland stop or the Red Line Luas to Abbey Street.
When to Get There
Kayaking excursions and cruises run on the Liffey year-round. The best time for riverside walks is early morning, before the commuting crowds arrive, or at dusk when you can watch the city light up. Open-water swimmers may want to attempt the Liffey Swim, a race that takes place annually in late August or early September.
Attractions Along the River Liffey
The Liffey is lined with some of Dublin’s most well-known attractions. Stroll east from O’Connell Bridge along the north side of the river and you’ll reach the Custom House, the Famine Memorial, and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. Temple Bar is on the south bank, where you’ll find Smock Alley Theatre, Christ Church Cathedral, and Dublinia.