Croke Park + Aviva Stadium

Essential to Irish sporting life for over a century, Croke Park Stadium (in Drumcondra, on Dublin’s Northside) has a 82,300-capacity, making it one of the largest sports stadia in Europe. Croke Park hosts both the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship finals each September - the twin pinnacles in the Irish sporting calendar.

Should you be suddenly overwhelmed by thirst whilst attending a match, the Davin Bar on Level 5 can come to the rescue - it’s the largest in Ireland boasting about 400 beer taps alone.

‘Croker’, as it’s affectionately known locally, is not only the home of Gaelic games but also the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). On site there’s the official GAA Museum, which traces the birth and growth of the GAA at home and abroad and its unique role in the national movement and cultural revival in Ireland.

Fancy a chance to poke around dressing rooms, stick your nose into the Players Lounge, case the VIP area and pop up to the top tier for a spectacular bird’s eye view of Croker? For all this and more, be sure to join a Stadium Tour.

Croke Park Stadium is situated in a residential area that has limited parking, and local residents have priority. So use of public transport is strongly encouraged - bus, rail, DART and LUAS - all of which bring you to within 15 minutes’ walk, or less, of the stadium.

Crossing to the Southside, the Aviva Stadium (in Ballsbridge, just over a mile from St Stephen’s Green) is another world-class destination for sport. Home of Ireland’s international rugby and football (aka soccer) teams, the Aviva packs in 51,700.

The ground itself is well known to Dubliners but was always referred to as Lansdowne Road, where the Stadium first opened for athletics in 1872.

However having undergone various phases of redevelopment since then, the whole stadium was eventually demolished over a two-month period in 2007. The rebuilt, shiny new Aviva officially re-opened in spring of 2010.

Behind-the-scenes Stadium Tours provide a peek into the world of the Irish footballer or rugby star on match day, leading participants into areas usually only accessible to athletes and officials - including a trip through the players’ tunnel to go pitchside.

Aviva Stadium is easily reached by foot, rail (there’s a DART stop right at the Stadium) and bus from the city centre. Driving there can be a challenge, as there’s no parking around the ground and roads will be closed to private vehicles two hours prior to an event.

Photos, from top to bottom: Top 2 - Croke Park (courtesy of Tourism Ireland); Aviva Stadium; Aviva Stadium Tour