Dublin’s top five places to escape from exam season | Top Universities

Dublin’s top five places to escape from exam season

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Rory Chinn

Updated Apr 20, 2022



Hapenny Bridge and Liffey River in Dublin

Catching the sunrise from the library window as you work to reach a deadline is a sure sign of exam season. When your head is constantly in the books to get you ready for the imminent test papers, it’s easy to wish you were somewhere else.

Luckily for me and other students living in Dublin, Ireland, exam escapes are everywhere when you’re in the heart of the city. I’ve pulled together a list of my favourite exam escapes to help you get up and out for a well-earned break.

The Hideout pool hall

Within walking distance of Trinity College Dublin, but far enough to feel nestled away from the university life is The Hideout. This retro pool hall provides a well-earned rest for anyone looking to escape the busy humdrum of the city. The intentionally styled ‘dive bar’ is open from 11:00 to 23:00 and is the perfect spot for a quick escape with friends. At €15ph to rent a pool table and a bring your own bottle (BYOB) policy, it’s a student favourite. The staff are welcoming and the mood of the venue is casual and chilled. There really is no better spot for a break with friends during exam time.

The Craic Den Comedy Club @ Mulligan and Haines

Mulligan & Haines in Dublin, Ireland

Sundays and Mondays do not need to be the sombre leadup to an intensive week of revision. Instead, you can indulge in an evening of comedy on Dame Street (or rather under) in the cellar of Mulligan and Haines, where Ireland's top comics host shows every week. In keeping with the whimsical mood, access to the show is through a secret door underneath the bar that leads to a night of laughter. The diverse crowd is matched by the diversity of comedians from Ireland and around the world, laughing and heckling for three hours straight. It’s a handy deal too as student tickets usually run for €10.

Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens provides a tranquil spot in the heart of Dublin. Although well known, this park is a true ‘hidden gem’ owing its seclusion to the surrounding buildings like the National Concert Hall and Iveagh House, hiding it from the rest of the city. The gardens are well suited for strolls with a hot coffee after winter exams or picnics in the summer. Concerts and other cultural events often crop up throughout the year in the Archery ground and if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, playing in the hedge maze or relaxing by the pond might. As it’s a public park, admission is free.

I find great value in having a secluded green space to unwind in only minutes from university and Iveagh gardens being one like no other.

Chester Beatty Library

The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

The proud legacy of an American philanthropist, The Chester Beatty Library is open for all to enjoy. A walk through Dublin Castle and gardens would be enough to qualify as a good exam escape, but this cultural treasure is something that shouldn’t be missed. Admission is free to the library but a €5 donation is always appreciated. Its proximity to Trinity College Dublin is another attractive feature as it doubles as both an area to study and relax in. It’s also a gold mine for inspiration, especially for history students like me. The chance to get a look at the material you are covering brings a topic to life and may even give you that little nugget of information you wouldn’t have got from reading online.

The Cake Café

The Cake Cafe

Another hidden spot in Dublin is The Cake Café. Hidden behind a book shop on Dublin's famous Camden Street, it’s my favourite spot for escaping the world any time of the year. The true beauty of the café is found not just in its coffee, lemon slices or vegan brownies, but in the scene that surrounds it. Entry to the café requires a sneak through the Last Bookshop before heading into a leafy courtyard. On a nice day, the sun floods the space with light all day, so sitting outside is an option too. This café truly is ‘hidden’ but the journey to it is a quick one, heading just south of Trinity College. Being surrounded by books but being able to completely switch off is an ideal solution for me during exam season.

Howth Cliff Walk

Made up of five routes that loop Howth Head, the Howth cliff walks make a golden experience and take you up through the fishing village of Howth and along the cliffs for stunning views across Dublin Bay and up to the summit. On a good day you might even see the university from there, but maybe you’d prefer to look the other way! When you descend, you can stop for tea, coffee or a pint anywhere along the harbour and finish the day with a stroll to the lighthouse and a view out across the Irish Sea.

Having a break from studying is a necessity, especially during exam season when you’re cramming as much as you can. Luckily Dublin is full of places to escape and take a breath whether you’re looking for a cosy café or a soulful hike to Howth Head. These escapes are affordable for students, so try them out for yourself and discover your own favourite spots.