If you are looking for a unique tour of Dublin, the relaxing cruise on the Liffey with Dublin Discovered (formerly known as Liffey River Cruises) may be worth a serious consideration.
Your enjoyment might very much depend on what you actually expect. On the surface, this is one of the classic boat tours through a capital city on a major waterway. It's akin to how one might peruse London on the Thames, through Paris on the Seine, or past Budapest's sights on the Danube.
Yet there are some drawbacks to this in Dublin. The Liffey is not that wide, the quay walls may appear very high at times, and many of the main sights, like Trinity College, are not in sight at all.
But let us start with accentuating the positives, and then continue with analyzing the negatives.
Why a Tour with Dublin Discovered Is Worth Your While
Dublin Discovered certainly will show you Dublin from an unusual perspective and at a leisurely pace. And it is quite enjoyable, even the "Dublin veteran" will see the city from a new perspective. Plus, remember that you will not get stuck in traffic, which is always a risk with other tours confined to the busy roads of the Irish capital. Planning will be easier if you are on a tight schedule. And, after all, it is a classic boat ride through a capital city straddling the banks of a river.
The "Buts" You Should Know
First of all, you have to remember that the Liffey is a tidal river, at least all the way through Dublin.
Your views may thus be slightly disappointing at times. It is nature working her weird ways. When the water level drops to a real low, the quay walls actually dominate the view (in contrast, it gets slightly claustrophobic under the Liffey bridges at high tide). Always bear in mind that not all important attractions can be seen from the Liffey and others only allow for short glimpses.
Having said that, the many windows and (at least partially) glass roof allows for maximum visibility for passengers. You'll certainly have unusual views of landmarks like the Custom House, Ha'penny Bridge, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Four Courts.
Liffey Cruises With Dublin Discovered - Recommended?
Liffey river cruises? At a first glance, a boat tour through Dublin sounds like a grand idea. After all, the city was defined by and still straddles the Liffey. So, "see the attractions from a boat" should be a fun way to get to know Dublin. Unfortunately, the reality is slightly different. Or can be, if circumstances conspire against you.
Problem number one: out of Dublin's main attractions, not too many are actually located right on the banks of the Liffey or at least visible from there. To be blunt, only the Custom House, the Four Courts and Christ Church Cathedral are really to be seen in full. On the other hand, you will see a lot of bridges from beneath, including the famous Ha'penny Bridge. This latter view can be very close or more panoramic, depending on the tide.
This brings us to problem number two: the Liffey is a tidal river and the water level can actually be very low at times, leading to further restricted views from the very flat, low-riding boat.
If you are unlucky, you'll see a lot of the quay walls, the bottom of the Liffey (down there it is a strange world of shopping trolleys, traffic cones, and bicycles sticking out from the mud) and have to crane your neck to catch the actual sights. So, plan ahead, and mind the tides. The staff at Dublin Discovered will be able to tell you when the Liffey is "full".
So, should you join Dublin Discovered on the Liffey? If you are a fan of urban boat rides and do not mind a somewhat limited view, let nothing stop you from joining the cruise provided by Dublin Discovered. If, on the other hand, you are really only looking for a comprehensive look at all of Dublin's major sights, do take a bus tour or a walk through Dublin.
Dublin Discovered Website: www.dublindiscovered.ie
Address: Bachelors Walk, Dublin 1 (next to O'Connell Bridge)
Tours last about 45 minutes.
Tour Pricing: Adult € 15 (€13.50 online), Students or Seniors € 13, Young Students (13-17) € 11, Children (4-12) € 9 - Family Tickets (2+2) at € 35.
Tour Times: 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 12.30 pm, 2.15 pm, 3.15 pm and 4.15 pm – take note that departure times vary depending on tidal conditions. There is a winter break between November and March! For updated departure times please see the website linked above.