This article was originally published on Vita Bella Magazine.
Dublin day trips will get you out of the city in a flash so you can connect with your roots, nature, and history.
Here are the top 5 can’t-miss Dublin destinations perfect for a day trip, in no particular order
After living in Dublin for two years, I can say with confidence the city is on its way to becoming as multinational and industrial as cities like London and New York. A vibrant and busy city like Dublin with big companies, a lot of people, traffic, and tourists can be exhausting on the body and mind for both locals and tourists. Luckily, there are Dublin day trips with gorgeous places just a quick drive away from the city. You can easily run away, even for an afternoon, to relax and reset.
You can almost imagine the triple-Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan (pronounced seer-sha) walking along the craggy coastal path above the Irish Sea that leads to the Bailey Lighthouse. Her lovely Irish accent has charmed thousands on the big screen and Howth Head is one of the places she played while growing up outside of Dublin.
Howth Head is a peninsula just 15 km away from the Dublin city center. You can easily get there by car or a 30-minute train ride with Dart, the local coastal train.
Originally a small, beautiful fishing village, now more of a suburb with amazing rich houses, Howth Village has many pubs, restaurants, local markets, and its very own castle. It also has lighthouses, a large golf resort, but the most amazing place is the Howth Cliff Walk.
If you’re up for an adventure, little boats take you to the tiny uninhabited island, Ireland’s Eye. Here you will find a 2.5km trail, rugged in some parts, and with opportunities to stop for a picnic or see nesting birds in some seasons.
I’ll admit, this peninsula is my personal favorite place in all of Ireland. The scenery absolutely makes you feel like you are in a Poldark movie or a Jane Austen novel.
2-Malahide Castle and Gardens
Located 14km from Dublin, Malahide Castle is one of the oldest castles in the country. It sits on 250 acres of parkland and is a fortress and home for the Talbot Botanic Gardens. After paying an entrance fee (€12.50 at this writing) you can see the interior of the castle and the garden.
You can walk around the castle for free and have a picnic on the field next to it, even after the castle and gardens are closed (5:30pm).
The castle with its atmosphere could easily be a location on Downtown Abbey. I love sitting there, just looking at the castle and dreaming about being a noble family member coming home from my daily horse riding, my hot cuppa tea and the poker club waiting for me.
3-Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Similar to the one in Howth Head, this walk is a beautiful rocky path along the coastline that takes you from Bray Railway Station to Greystones. These are both beautiful, small coastal towns that often have temporary adventure parks, street food, live music, and pubs.
The 7km cliff walk between these two towns is part of a hill, Bray Head, from where you can look down on the seemingly never-ending vast ocean. The best part is that on clear, sunny days you can see Wales from the Top of Bray Head.
How amazing is that?!
Smugglers from England and France sued to sail their boats to this hill and unload their cargo, back in the day. Cool!
For those who love nature I highly recommend Dublin’s neighboring county, Wicklow. It’s a truly pleasant experience. Woods, forests, mountains, hills, and the ocean all come together here. Climb up to the top of the Great Sugar Loaf, a 1644-foot tall mountain.
I personally climbed this wearing a summer dress, so it’s not a dangerous trip.
There are lots of appointed BBQ places in Wicklow. The most popular one is located at the foot of the Powerscourt Waterfall. In summer for a small fee (€6 per person at this writing) you can spend your whole day there sunbathing, chilling, barbecuing, and listening to loud music.
You can go on bike rides in the Wicklow woods, as they have bike roads built for professionals.
The popular TV show Vikings has their main studio and a lot of their filming locations in Wicklow. Business Lake, for example, is used regularly as the port of their main city, Kattegat, in the series.
All hail King Ragnar!
5-Small Fishing Villages
I find something very calm and soothing about fishing village. A place where generations of simple, hardworking people lived their peaceful lives. There is no shortage of fishing villages around Dublin, even though most of them are now more like tourist attractions and suburbs rather than actual fishing places.
But the atmosphere is the same.
The most popular destinations are Monkstown, Blackrock, and Du’n Laoghaire. Friendly, pleasant little places where you can take long walks next to the sea, shop at local markets, try the seafood and wine at local restaurants, on terraces overlooking the sea.
The talented actor Cillian Murphy lives in Monkstown, so if it’s good for him, it’s good for me!