Dublin is filled with tons of things to see and do – you could literally stay here for a full year and still not explore everything this city has to offer. I have written a few posts about all the things you should see if you only have a weekend in Dublin, 20 free things to do in Dublin, a handy list of the free museums to explore, as well as the top 5 tourist spots most people go to. Most people when they arrive in Dublin, tick off Temple Bar, possibly Guinness Storehouse or a whiskey tasting, and then head off to explore the rest of Ireland. What people might not realise is that Dublin is a great place to base yourself, and head out on a few day trips around Dublin.
We have done a few day trips that have involved heading to Cliffs of Moher or heading up to Northern Ireland, but this is a list of our fave day trips around the Dublin area that would take under an hour to get to:
Heading North of Dublin:
- Malahide: a 30 minute train ride on the DART heading north of Dublin. A visit to Malahide Castle and Gardens, most people choose to grab a lunch at Avoca which is at Malahide Castle however there are some great food spots in the town of Malahide. Malahide is a quaint town, and it is quick to walk through to explore it from the train station (you do not need to pay for the mini train tour – its a bit of rip off, but the tourists love it. Another great walk is from Malahide harbour towards Portmarnock beach. Portmarnock beach is really beautiful, and it was the first beach that kind of reminded me of home with the sand dunes. It is a rated as a blue flag beach, so the water quality is good for swimming, if you are feeling brave!
- Howth: a 30 minute train ride on the DART heading north of Dublin. Howth is technically east of Dublin, as it is a peninsula that juts out. It is a lovely seaside irish village, and one of the most recommended spots to grab some fish and chips and eat it along the harbour front, or on the pier – just be careful of the seagulls. My mother in law last a huge chunk of her fish to an attacking seagull! After lunch, you can walk through town, and along the cliffs. There is a great path that takes you around Howth Head, and up to a parking lot at the top. You have to have a pint at the Summit Inn (well earned after the walk!) and then it is a downhill walk back to the train station, or you can catch a bus that starts its route right outside the Summit Inn.
- Skerries: Slightly further North from Dublin is Skerries, about a 40 minute train ride from Connolly Station (note: this is not on the DART line, you would need to take the train going to Drogheda/Dundalk). Skerries has a great sea front, which you will often find people going for a summer or picnic in Summer. You can also grab a bite to eat at some of the little restaurants. Another popular thing to do is to visit the Skerries windmills. We didn’t pay to go in, since we took Jack along with us, but the walk around the windmills is easily accessible and free to do.
Heading West of Dublin:
- Powerscourt Estate: The simplest way to get there if you are relying on public transport is taking the 44 bus to Enniskerry village, and then it is 25 minute walk to Powerscourt Estate. If you are driving, then it is about a 50 minute drive from the city center. The estate and gardens are simply beautiful to explore. The garden foliage changes with the seasons, and a highlight is to visit in spring to see the flowers in bloom. You honestly could spend a full day walking around the gardens, stopping for lunch at the estate or walking back to Enniskerry village. There is a hike to the waterfalls which we are yet to explore, I think this is probably a bit too much if you are walking/bussing. We plan to go back and hike to the Powerscourt waterfalls when we have a car as the waterfall is 6km walk from the main estate.
- Glendalough: Glendalough is in part of the Wicklow way, so technically you are travelling to another county, it is still just an hour drive from Dublin. You can take a bus tour there if you don’t have a car (which is what we did) or drive there yourself. There is a great walk you can do around the loughs, bring a picnic lunch or stop at the restaurant for lunch while you are there.
- Dublin Mountains: less than a 30 minute drive from Dublin, or you can take a bus out to various spots along the Dublin Mountains. We took the bus but in hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend it. It is about a 3-4 km walk from where the bus drops you off, along narrow country roads which is often quite busy with cars travelling up and down – several times whilst we were walking we had to jump out the way of passing traffic. It is a bit high risk, plus if you drive up you can save your energy for doing a longer walk in the Mountains! There are several walks you can do. This is a great website which has several walks and maps you can download and use. Some of the ones we have done are:
- Hellfire Club
- Kilmashogue (which leads through to Fairy Castle past Three Rock and then through Ticknock forest)
- Ticknock Forest
- Massy’s Estate
Heading South of Dublin:
- Dun Laoghaire: a 30 minute train ride from city center. Dun Laoghaire is a great seaside town, I wrote a blog post about all the things you can do in Dun Laoghaire. We love to grab an ice cream and scroll along the promenade – we do this all year round, in fact, our favourite time to eat ice cream is in the middle of winter.
- Bray/Greystones: an hour train ride from city center. Bray is a little further south from Dun Laoghaire, and another great seaside town. There is loads to do here, but probably the most popular thing to do is to do the walk from Bray to Greystones. I think the prettiest view is taking the train to Greystones and walking towards Bray. That way when you arrive in Bray you can stay for a pint at the Harbour bar, and grab a pizza at Pizza ‘n Cream (which does great pizza and pretty good ice cream too!). If you are feeling super athletic and fit, after walking the Greystones to Bray cliff walk, you could walk up Bray’s Head. The walk up Bray’s Head is steep but it is totally doable if you take it slow, plus the views of Bray and Dublin in the distance makes it really worth it. You can read more about Bray in this blog post.
GOT ANY OTHER GREAT DAY TRIPS AROUND DUBLIN? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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