Best Day Trips from Dublin
When thinking about day trips from Dublin, the first destination that comes to mind is usually the Cliffs of Moher. Naturally, it is included in this list. But there are so many other inspiring day trips to be taken from Dublin! Enjoy this compilation of first hand experiences by travel experts.
by Krystianna of Volumes & Voyages
Easily one of the best day trips from Dublin is to Blarney Castle in Co Cork.
As a tourist, it’s super easy to get there, because you can take public transportation all the way to the castle! Just take the Irish Rail from Dublin Houston to Cork (Kent).
From there, make your way to downtown Cork and then take the bus to Station Cross, which is a short walk to Blarney Castle and the entrance, where you can purchase tickets to enter the grounds. In total, it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get there from Dublin by public transportation.
Once you get to the castle, the absolute must see is obviously Blarney Castle. Make your way to the top of the castle where you can kiss the Blarney Stone if you’re not afraid of heights! You do get held while leaning over the edge to give it a peck, and it’s a great photo opportunity.
One of the more underrated things to do is to go around and explore the grounds. They’re pretty extensive so be sure to grab a map upon entering the attraction to see where everything is. One of the cool spots is the Poison Garden!
For food, it’s best to just eat within the grounds. There are many little cafes and restaurants throughout where you can grab a quick bite.
Game of Thrones Tour
by Sydney of A World in Reach
If you’re looking for a great day trip from Dublin, why not consider a trip to Winterfell? On a Game of Thrones Tour from Dublin, you can visit filming sites from the hit HBO series, including the location that was used for Winterfell in Season 1.
After boarding the coach in Dublin, you’ll drive for a couple of hours, crossing the border into Northern Ireland. Along the way, you’ll watch a couple of episodes featuring the filming locations that you’ll be seeing today.
Your first destination will be Tollymore Forest Park, the filming location for several important scenes in Season 1. The guides will lead you on a 3 kilometer trek through the forest, pointing out filming sites along the way.
After a quick lunch break, you’ll head to the next stop: Castle Ward, the filming location for Winterfell. You’ll also have a photo stop at Inch Abbey, another filming site that’s nearby.
On the drive back down to Dublin, you’ll have the option to be dropped off at the Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Bainbridge. If you’d like to visit, make sure to book your tickets separately as they are not included in the Game of Thrones Tour. If you take this option, you’ll have to make your way back to Dublin on your own via bus or train. If you don’t visit the Studio Tour, the coach will take you back to Dublin.
Tickets for the Game of Thrones tour from Dublin start at £60 per person.
by Steve of thetripgoeson
The best way to reach Belfast from Dublin is to take the coach as it is both the quickest and cheapest option. There is also a train service which is still inexpensive and may offer more options. The journey time by coach is 1h50m and by train 2h15m. Fares start from a very reasonable €10.
Belfast is packed with plenty of interesting things to do. From taking a tour of the city’s iconic murals to hiking up to Cave Hill for fantastic views of the city. Don’t forget to try the famous “Ulster Fry”!
Top Belfast Attractions:
- Harland and Wolfe Docks – the famous shipyard where the Titanic was built.
- The Titanic Museum – a look into Belfast’s history.
- Crumlin Road Gaol – take a look inside this infamous prison.
- Belfast Black Taxi Tours – a look around the murals and peace lines.
- Belfast Castle – a pleasant stately home on the outskirts of the city.
- Cave Hill Country Park – a series of wonderful hiking trails with stunning views.
- St George’s Market – the best place to try local specialities.
Stop for Lunch in:
Botanical. The area around Botanic Avenue a few minutes’ walk from the centre is packed with bars, cafes and restaurants. There is a wide choice from Nepalese, Japanese, Greek and of course a few traditional Irish pubs to choose from.
Cliffs of Moher
By Alanna of Periodic Adventures
Because Ireland is a relatively small country, it means you can get to many places via day trips. One of the best is a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin!
There are many major motorways in Ireland that will get you from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher. Start in Dublin and travel along R148 to N4. Head to M4 then stay on to M6. Stay to the right to continue on N6, which turns into M6. At the junction, take M18 toward Limerick where you’ll exit at junction 16 toward R458. After that, there are a number of smaller roads to travel on, so it’s best to use a GPS or international data plan to map the route.
The drive takes about 3 hours each way.
The Cliffs are well worth it though! These magnificent natural wonders stand at over 700 feet tall (~215 meters)! They’ve been featured in many films most notably including Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
When you’re there, check out the Visitors Center to learn about the Cliffs geology and history. O’Brien’s Tower is a must-do and hard to miss. This structure was built in 1835 with the purpose of viewing the Cliffs. You can go mid-way with your general admission ticket or for a few extra euros all the way to the top.
The paths follow the Cliffs for quite a ways although some are paved and fenced from the edge for visitors’ safety. These are those funded officially. However, there are many free paths that can be dangerous, especially on windy days so take caution.
One travel tip is to check the weather before you visit as it can get quite cold and stormy. You want to make sure you’re comfortable!
by Raluca from Travel With A Spin
Howth is an easy day trip from Dublin for people looking to escape from the city and see the stunning shoreline. The peaceful fishing village is just 30 minutes away from Ireland’s capital city. Getting from Dublin to Howth is pretty simple as buses, trains and ferries travel regularly between the two locations.
The main attraction of a day trip from Dublin to Howth is its cliff walk. In fact, there are four trails that start at the train station and follow the coastline. But the most popular is also the easiest one. All of them offer gorgeous views over the shore the entire way.
You can also stop on a small beach to take some great photos or for an actual swimming session if you don’t mind the cold waters. Depending on the chosen path, the walk takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours. At the end of the trail, you can turn back and explore the quaint Howth Village.
After a detour in the sleepy village and a fresh seafood lunch, head towards Howth Harbour. There one can watch the colorful boats as they come and leave and explore some little shops. Plus, there’s no better place to indulge in a fresh seafood lunch.
Planning a trip from Dublin to Howth is pretty easy and it can make for both a relaxing and entertaining day, as there aren’t major sights to tick, just the nature in various forms and a pleasant atmosphere to enjoy.
by Anda of Travel for a while
Malahide Castle is a short trip from Dublin City, one of the most convenient Irish castles to visit out of the capital. You can drive there, or better yet, take the DART (local train system) to Malahide village. It takes about 25 minutes to get there.
The village has a marina, colorful houses and restaurants in the center, a beach, and many green spaces. But, the main attraction of this coastal village is Malahide Castle and Gardens. The Castle complex alone will take you at least a couple of hours to explore the walled gardens full of exotic plants.
The West Lawn is home to the Fairy trail and also to some impressive trees. This is the perfect place to set down your picnic blanket and enjoy the day and the views of Malahide Castle. There is also a neat Butterfly House, and you can tour the 800 years castle on a guided tour.
You should also make one more stop at the Casino Railway Museum on your trip to Malahide. It’s a beautiful traditional cottage, restored to host a train models collection. Children love admiring the displayed running trains.
For lunch, you can stay on the castle’s grounds at the local Avoca Cafe. A good alternative is the Fish Shack down in the village.
The Rock of Cashel
by Cath of Travel Around Ireland
One of the best day trips to take from the Irish capital is to the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. Located around 2 hours from Dublin City Centre by car, there are also plenty of companies operating day trips to the site from Dublin.
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s oldest sites and is also part of a heritage route in the east of the country known as Ireland’s Ancient East, which encompasses more counties and heritage sites alongside the Rock of Cashel.
The Rock of Cashel is a 13th century, a mostly ruined abbey that was once the seat of the High King’s of Ireland. The site not only has the 13th-century abbey, with its missing roof but also a 12th-century chapel and a round tower. The graveyard contains centuries-old headstones and some examples of Celtic crosses as well.
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destination sites. If you are travelling to Cashel by car, plan to arrive early or later in the day to avoid the crowds from the tour buses.
Visitors can plan to spend 1-2 hours at the site exploring the abbey, chapel, and graveyard, as well as the small museum. There are some pubs in town where you can grab a bite to eat before or after your visit too.
by Sinead of Map Made Memories
The seaside town of Bray in County Wicklow is an ideal day trip destination to escape busy Dublin city centre. Bray can be reached by car from Dublin in one hour or by a direct DART train in 45 minutes. Bray seafront is a five-minute walk from the rail station so there is no need to use public transport or taxis during the day trip.
Walk Brays’ 1-mile-long Victorian promenade that runs alongside the pebble beach and visit the towns’ small harbour. On a rainy day, Bray Sea Life Centre on the seafront makes an ideal stop. Walk to the end of Bray Promenade to pick up walking trails to Bray Head and Greystones.
It will take around one hour to climb the woodland trail to the top of Bray Head, 218 metres above sea level. There are fantastic 360-degree views from the top of Bray Head of Bray, the Wicklow coast and the Wicklow Mountains including the Sugar Loaf Mountains.
On a clear day, the views stretch to Dublin city centre. Alternatively, follow the 7-kilometre coastal path to neighbouring Greystones. This path runs alongside the train line (designed by Brunel in the 19th century) and has incredible views of the Wicklow coastline and the Irish sea.
From Greystones, you can catch the DART back to Bray or to Dublin. For lunch, head to the 19th century Harbour Bar overlooking Bray Harbour. The pub was voted Best Bar in the World by Lonely Planet in 2010.
By Michelle of Totally Texas Travel
The medieval town of Kilkenny, Ireland is located 1.5-2 hours from Dublin, making it one of the quick and easy day trips from Dublin. Home to an impressive castle, medieval churches, fun pubs, and some great restaurants and shops, Kilkenny is sure to have something everyone will love.
Of course one of the top attractions is Kilkenny Castle, which dates back to 1195. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour, or a guided tour of the castle and castle grounds for a small fee.
After your castle tour, head down Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile. This stretch of road connects Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral. It is here that you will find Kilkenny’s boutique shops, restaurants, and pubs.
Take note, if you would like a fun little tour before you set off walking; consider hopping on the Kilkenny Road Train Tour that leaves from the castle.
As you make your way down the Medieval Mile, you will pass many other Kilkenny attractions. Be sure to stop in at St. Canice’s Cathedral. The beautiful stained glass and the round tower of the cathedral definitely should not be missed.
Taking a tour of Smithwicks Brewery should also be on your list while visiting Kilkenny. Smithwicks is the oldest operating brewery in Ireland and offers tours (that include a tasting) to visitors for a small fee.
When you are hungry for lunch, consider visiting Langtons on John Street Lower where they serve up traditional Irish fare or for a charming spot with load of character, head to Petronella.
Other noteworthy sites in Kilkenny include the Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Roth House, and the Kilkenny Jail and Courthouse (also known as Grace’s Castle).
No matter what you choose to see during your visit, Kilkenny will not disappoint.
Powerscourt House & Gardens
by Allan of It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
Located within the Wicklow Mountains National Park, with the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain as a backdrop, Powerscourt is a beautifully landscaped estate known for its prestige with a regular top 3 spot in the World’s Top Ten Gardens by National Geographic.
Photos will never do it justice. It is also just 30-minutes out from the city centre (20km), making it a simple, scenic and stress free day trip from Dublin.
The estate itself is fairly large (47 acres), sectioned into separate areas which can be navigated with a map included in the entrance fee. And while a visit could be rushed, I would recommend giving at least half a day with a picnic maybe by one of the many gardens, fountains or ponds of the estate.
Or just grab a bite in the house itself with the on-site Avoca Cafe. Powerscourt Waterfall, said to be Ireland’s highest Waterfall, is also nearby (6km) but is a separate paid attraction
Located just south of Dublin, it is possible to take the public bus to the local village of Enniskerry where it is a 5-minute walk to the estate. Or, for a wider itinerary in Wicklow, Powerscourt is often included in sightseeing tours from Dublin. It is also one of the must-see attractions on Ireland’s Ancient East.
by Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler
One of the best day trips from Dublin is the idyllic glacial valley of Glendalough. Located in Wicklow County, Glendalough is located only 30 miles (48km) from Dublin and features some of the best things to do in Ireland.
Most travelers take the bus to Glendalough for a day trip, though there are a number of guided tours as well. Glendalough is home to a variety of landscapes including barren boglands and mountain lakes. The gorgeous nature has become the backdrop of movies such as PS I love you, Braveheart, and Vikings.
There Glendalough monastic site is a collection of ruins – including seven churches and the iconic round tower (one of the only complete buildings). Allegedly, these buildings have been a number of attacks and raids dating back to 835. There are two lakes to hike around (takes about 4 hours to complete both).
They both start from the Visitor’s Centre and are loop hikes. If you’re interested in unique experiences, then head to Annamoe at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for a chance to see sheepdogs in action. It’s impressive to see the dog listening to the whistles of the Shepherd to feed the sheep into the corrals.
For a break from exploring, head to Wicklow Heather for lunch. It’s a family-owned restaurant featuring traditional Irish cuisine.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
by Nicole of Go far grow close
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is located in Northern Ireland. It is 170 mi from Dublin. Most people either rent a car and self drive which takes around 3 hours. However, it is also a popular bus tour destination that is normally combined with a visit to nearby Giants Causeway.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was built in 1755 by local fishermen. It is a rope bridge that links two cliffs and hangs over 100 ft above the Atlantic Ocean. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction managed by a National Trust. It includes breathtaking walks along cliffs overlooking the ocean.
To reach the bridge, you walk about a mile along an easy paved path high above the ocean. Then, you must descend fairly steep stairs to the entrance of the bridge. Only those who are physically fit should climb down as they require a bit of an effort to climb back up.
There is no elevator. At the bridge, you wait your turn to cross. Although you feel like you are only inches away from falling into the crashing waves below, you are safe and completely surrounded by rope. You might slip, but you should not fall into the ocean.
Once across, you spend as much time as you want on the little island with spectacular views. Then, you follow your footsteps and return the way you came.
You only need between 1-2 hours to comfortably experience this attraction. Try and purchase your tickets in advance so you can secure the time of entry that you wish. In addition, make sure that you wear comfortable walking shoes with good treads.
Swiss Cottage in Cahir Tipperary
by Nicola of AllAboutRosalilla
Swiss Cottage, a delightful ornamental cottage, was built in the early 1800s by Richard Butler, first Earl of Glengall. It is regarded as one of the finest examples of “cottage-orné” in Europe and a perfect day trip from Dublin. It remains an enduring local attraction in South Tipperary and an iconic image of the ancient past of Ireland.
Situated between The Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle it is an important tourist attraction in Ireland. Swiss Cottage is an exquisite Irish landmark, located south of the heritage town of Cahir and close to the River Suir. You will get a true sense of the Irish spirit by visiting this cottage which looks like it belongs on the pages of a fairytale.
Fantasy houses such as Swiss Cottage were popular with the gentry in the 19th century where they could play at being peasants and entertain guests! It was built for Richard Butler and his wife, Emily, whose titles were Lord and Lady Cahir, and was designed by the famous English regency architect John Nash.
The cottage was never used as a residence. It’s purpose was for entertaining guests, enjoying picnics and parties during the summer months and it was also rumoured to be the Earl’s love nest with a secret tunnel entrance supporting this theory.
The house became a private residence for a time before it was abandoned and left in disrepair. Restoration of the Swiss Cottage began in 1985 and it was opened to the public in 1989. The restoration was a collaborative effort but was largely funded by American philanthropist Sally Aall, allowing the cottage to be refurbished to its original condition.
The house is inspired by nature and this is evident in such things as the curving thatched roof, the external woodwork which resembles branches of trees, the nature themes on the wallpaper, and many of the internal furnishings.
Tours inside the cottage operate daily during the summer but please note that photography inside the cottage is forbidden to help preserve details such as hand-painted French wallpaper. This was the most expensive wallpaper in the world at the time, made by Dufour in Paris.
Here are some things to know before you go:
- Admission is by guided tour only with tours taking about 30-40 mins. You can visit the outside of the building for free. Adult admission is €5 and €13 for a family ticket.
- Photography / Videography is not allowed inside the building or while you are on a guided tour.
- Summer is extremely busy so be prepared to have to wait to get on a tour.
- Groups of 10 or more must be pre-booked.
- Swiss Cottage Cahir is closed during the off season (November to March) but you can still explore the grounds and the exterior of the cottage.
How to get there:
From Dublin follow the M7 and M8 to N24 in South Tipperary. The Swiss Cottage is a 2 hour drive from Dublin and is located on Ardfinnan Road with postcode E21 DX07. Take the R670 road to Ardfinnan. Access to the cottage is via the Cahir and R670 Ardfinnan Road only. There is strictly no access via the R668 Clogheen Road.
Other hidden gems in the area:
Be sure to also check out The Apple Farm, a family run orchard selling farm produce nearby. The River House with views of the River Suir is also the perfect spot for lunch and you can’t visit Cahir without also exploring the Norman Cahir Castle.
by Mary of BRbyMary
Dalkey Town is a beautiful coastal village located about 45 minutes South of Dublin city centre. From Dublin, Dalkey is really easy to get to. You can either drive or hop on the DART (the local train) for only a couple of euros. If you choose to drive to Dalkey, you can either rent a car at your local rental company or use the car-sharing service called GoCar.
If you are in need of a Dublin break or would like to add part of the Irish coast to your Dublin itinerary, Dalkey is a great pick as it features lots of activities and is both quaint and charming. One highlight of Dalkey is Killiney Hill which you can reach by foot in about 30 minutes. From the top of Killiney Hill, you get one of the best 360° views of Dublin and the sea. Another must-stop for incredible views is Sorrento park in the town.
After a busy morning walking and taking in the scenic vistas, head back to town for lunch. You can enjoy a good quality piece of meat and crème brûlée at 1909 Restaurant and Wine Bar in the historical centre of the town.
After lunch, head to Dalkey castle and heritage centre for an entertaining and educational visit about the castle and the area. It is recommended to book in advance as slots fill up quickly, especially on a nice sunny day!
Newgrange – Brú na Bóinne – Meath
by Faith of XYUandBEYOND
Newgrange is an ancient stone monument Megalithic monument in the Boyne Valley around 45 minutes from Dublin. To visit you would either have to drive or take an organized tour as there is no public transport to the site.
Newgrange is older than the pyramids and Stonehenge and is believed to have been a royal tomb. The site consists of a large circular mound ringed by 97 huge curbstones some of which are carved with ancient symbols
In order to get to see Newgrange you must get your ticket at the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre. The cost is €7 Euros and that will give you access to the tomb and the museum. The Centre has a small café where you can enjoy some Irish treats along with a cup of tea.
Once your ticket is purchased there is a short walk over the River Boyne to where the shuttle buses are waiting to drive you to the site. Your guide at the site will introduce you to the archaeology and history of Newgrange and guide you deep into the tomb. Once inside your guide will demonstrate how the ancient Irish celebrated the spring solstice with a re-enactment of the sun entering the tomb.
Every year Newgrange holds a lottery to grant access to the few people who will be allowed to be in the tomb at dawn to witness the actual solstice event. Thousands gather around Newgrange just to be part of that historic moment.
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