If you’re debating staying in Harold’s Cross in Dublin, you’ve landed in the right place.
Harold’s Cross (Cros Araild in Irish) is a charming urban village on the south side of Dublin, close to the Grand Canal.
It boasts a variety of local shops, cafés, period homes and some great pubs and restaurants to nip into.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Harold’s Cross to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Harold’s Cross
Although a visit to Harold’s Cross in Dublin is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Harold’s Cross is located about 3km south of Dublin. It falls within the bounds of Dublin City Council and is situated north of Terenure and Rathgar, between Rathmines and Crumlin. It’s just south of the Grand Canal.
2. Cool and quirky with a mix of old and new
This village is an old neighbourhood with some gorgeous historic houses mixed in with newer ones. There’s a real energy and vibe in the area and it has some cool casual places to eat. It’s a little oasis of family-owned businesses with a strong sense of community just a short drive from the city centre.
3. A great base to explore Dublin from
You can actually walk into Dublin from Harold’s Cross in about 20 minutes, and by bus it’s even quicker! In the past it had something of a reputation as a dodgy area, but it is now a delightful place to live, within easy reach of local shops, employment and city attractions.
About Harold’s Cross
The history surrounding the name of Harold’s Cross throws up several possibilities. Also known as Harald’s Cross, one theory is that a cross once stood on the land which was part of the Manor of St Sepulchre.
The cross marked the boundary warning a groups or class of “Harolds” (the wild guardians of the border of the Pale near Whitechurch), that they must not encroach beyond that point.
Another theory suggests a stone cross marked the boundary of the lands held by the Viking Harold clan. It stood on what is now the junction on Harold’s Cross Road.
A final connection is that the site once had a gallows. In medieval times it may have been used for supporting weighing scales for the market, or to weigh goods for tax purposes when entering the city.
However, by the 18th century it was certainly an area where executions took place. Whatever the origins of the name, Harold’s Cross today is a delightful village on the River Poddle and a coveted place to live.
Things to do in Harold’s Cross (and nearby)
Although there isn’t a huge number of things to do in Harold’s Cross, the area is a stone’s throw from many of the best places to visit in Dublin.
Below, you’ll find heaps of things to do a short walk away, along with a handful of things to do in Harold’s Cross itself.
1. Harold’s Cross Park
Harold’s Cross Park is a small city park that is well maintained. It is on the site of the original village green. It has a children’s playground, a water feature and a coffee kiosk. It preserves a green piece of rural countryside in this suburb.
The park hosts the annual Harold’s Cross Community Festival each May when a Maypole is erected. There’s a Dog Show, live entertainment, yoga, sports and outdoor craft workshops.
2. The Canal Walk
As well as being on the River Poddle, Harold’s Cross is a hop from the Grand Canal, and canals always mean nice walks! This path is no exception, swapping gridlocked traffic for private barges and slow-moving boats.
Starting from Harold’s Cross Bridge, you can enjoy a 3km walk all the way to the Grand Canal Dock on a well maintained path. It’s takes about 40 minutes at a brisk pace. The south side of the river follows the river to La Touche Bridge.
Further east there are weeping willows and tempting refreshments at The Barge on the north side of the water near Ranelagh Bridge. Pass the Patrick Kavanagh statue on Wilton Terrace, further sculptures and the Pepper Canister Church to reach the Grand Canal Dock.
3. Sandymount (15-minute drive)
Can you believe Harold’s Cross is just a short drive from the extensive sandy beach at Sandymount, which is on the south side of Dublin Bay?
The Poolbeg Lighthouse walk is well worth doing with some interesting sights along the way including the old baths. It also has a defensive Martello Tower which was built to thwart any invasion by Napoleon.
The Sandymount Promenade is a pleasant 2.5km walkway from Sandymount Strand to the Great South Wall in Dublin Bay. It’s always popular with locals offering breezy coastal walks.
4. Guinness Storehouse (10-minute drive)
The Guinness Storehouse is one of Dublin’s most popular attractions. Behind the gates of the iconic building you can discover the secrets of Ireland’s famous brew. After a tour of this 7-storey building, relax with a pint and some tasty chow in the Gravity Bar.
It offers 360 degree views from what was the first skyscraper built in the British Isles! Guided tours include a tasting experience, seeing past Guinness advertisements and sipping the perfect Stoutie with your selfie on the creamy head!
5. Kilmainham Gaol (15-minute drive)
Explore more of Ireland’s history with a guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol which dates back to 1796. It exemplifies much of Ireland’s turbulent political history including the “Invincibles”, the rebellions of 1978, 1803, 1848, 1916 and the Irish Civil War. Many convicts spent time here before being deported to Australia.
Admission is free but you need to pre-book a timed ticket and secure a place on an escorted tour. View the ground floor of the gaol while hearing tales of the gaol’s vast history. Enter the Stonebreaker’s Yard and the Museum with its “Forgotten Ten” exhibition.
6. Phoenix Park (15-minute drive)
Lovely Phoenix Park is in the centre of Dublin. It is one of the largest public parks in any European capital city.
Originally a royal hunting ground it still has a herd of deer along with Victorian Flower Gardens and Dublin Zoo. Open 24/7, the park has miles of walking and cycling trails and frequently hosts festivals and events.
7. Cathedrals and castles galore (5 to 10-minue drive)
Dublin has more than its fair share of cathedrals and castles, all with a story to tell. You can visit many of these on a stroll around the city.
Start with Christ Church Cathedral, a Viking Church established in the 11th century by the Norse King Sitriuc and Dublin’s first bishop, Dúnán. It’s breathtaking inside.
Move on to St Patrick’s Cathedral, started in 1220 and named after Ireland’s patron saint. Jonathan Swift (of Gulliver’s Tales fame) was the Dean and is buried there.
Dublin Castle with its turreted circular tower was the seat of English rulers for over 800 years until 1922. It has hosted many international state and government figures including John F. Kennedy.
8. Lots more to see and do (5 to 20 minute drive)
Places to eat in Harold’s Cross
There are plenty of solid places to eat in Harold’s Cross if you’re looking for a feed after a long day on the road. Below, you’ll find some of our favourites:
1. HX46 Cafe
Harold’s Cross (HX) is known for its independent cafés, pubs and restaurants and HX46 Café is one of the most renowned. It serves everything from traditional weekend brunch and cakes to weekday lunch and dinner. The café specialises in Pan Asian Casual Dining with a menu to tickle the tastebuds.
2. Craft Restaurant
Newly renovated, Craft Restaurant lets the seasonal ingredients speak for themselves in tasty dishes with a definite Irish leaning. Lunchtime offerings include fixed price 2 and 3 course menus including Wicklow venison, red cabbage and pumpkin or market fish of the day with celeriac and clams. Desserts continue to embrace local produce with Fingle gin custard or Ballykisk cheese served on homemade Armagh-style crackers. Superb!
3. Konkan Indian Restaurant
One of the best Indian restaurants in the Dublin, Konkan has been thrilling diners from its Clanbrassil Street location since 2004. Specialities include dishes from the south of India. Reviews cite Konkan’s biryanis and samosas as the best in Dublin. Quite an acclaim! Dishes are made fresh to order and are reasonably priced. Quality ingredients, superb food and wonderful service make this a top choice to try.
Pubs in Harold’s Cross
There’s a handful of great pubs in Harold’s Cross for those of you itching to kick-back with a post adventure-tipple after a day of exploring. Here are our favourite spots:
1. Peggy Kellys Pub
For something a little more relaxed, Peggy Kelly’s Pub is a great place to chill, whether it be in the beer garden, the bar or the restaurant. The large redbrick building is hard to miss on Harolds Cross Road. Start with a generous cocktail before tucking into one of their noteworthy Park Burgers.
2. Harold House
Harold House on Clanbrassil Street does some of the best Guinness in Dublin. It’s known for its bargain happy hour prices and wonderful location near the Grand Canal. Blend in with the locals by ordering a Beamish, the preferred beverage in this laid-back pub. This authentic old school pub is a place for liquid refreshment only and remains comfortable in its own time-warp.
While you’re sipping your pint and soaking up the ambience, you might play a game of guess what MVP stands for. It’s Minimum Viable Product, a concept that struck the imagination of the owner, Trevor O’Shea, when he revamped the pub and renamed it back in 2014. Now open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am till late, it has a full bar and a simple menu of gourmet toasties and soup.
Harold’s Cross accommodation
Alas, there’s no accommodation in Harold’s Cross itself, but there are plenty of excellent hotels nearby, and you’ll find our favourites below.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Hyatt Centric The Liberties
The luxury Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin is an exclusive place to stay on Dean Street in the heart of Dublin’s historic city centre. This four star hotel exceeds expectation with state-of-the-art amenities including a fitness centre and digital key access. There are 234 rooms and suites, many with views of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
2. Hilton Dublin Kilmainham
The contemporary Hilton Dublin Kilmainham is 5km east of St Stephen’s Green in a pleasant location near the Collins Barracks National Museum of Ireland. It has 120 tastefully furnished rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, a connectivity centre and Livingwell Health Suite complete with hydrotherapy pool, gym, steam room and sauna.
3. Aloft Dublin City
Another stylish hotel in Dublin, Aloft has a colourful contemporary exterior in the historic Liberties area of the city. Inside this 4-star hotel has cutting-edge urban design elements designed to wow along with ultra-modern in-room technology and a state-of-the-art fitness centre. Enjoy signature dishes in the Tenters Gastro Pub with superb city views.
FAQs about visiting Harold’s Cross in Dublin
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Dublin that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Harold’s Cross in Dublin.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Harold’s Cross in Dublin?
If you’re looking for things to do in Harold’s Cross in Dublin and nearby, Harold’s Cross Park, The Canal Walk and Sandymount are worth a look.
Is Harold’s Cross worth visiting?
Harold’s Cross makes a great base to explore Dublin from, however, we wouldn’t be going out of our way to visit.
Are there many pubs and restaurants in Harold’s Cross Park?
Pub wise, MVP, Harold House and Peggy Kellys are all mighty spots. For food, Konkan, Craft and HX46 pack a tasty punch.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.