THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Dublin

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Dublin, the vibrant capital of Ireland, is a fantastic destination filled with rich history, lively pubs, and stunning architecture. However, there’s also a wealth of incredible experiences waiting just outside the city limits.

From the serene lakes and monastic ruins of Glendalough and the breathtaking Wicklow Mountains to the bustling streets of Belfast and the magic of Galway on the west coast, the best day trips from Dublin provide a delightful taste of the Emerald Isle.

Whether you’re interested in ancient history or exploring picturesque coastal towns, these day trips promise unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for all that Ireland has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Ireland’s diverse landscapes and history on day trips from Dublin
  • Visit Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains, and coastal towns like Howth and Dublin Bay
  • Discover the charm of Kilkenny, South-East Ireland,Irelands Ancient East, and the vibrant cities of Galway and Belfast

Quick Summary on Dublin Day Trips

If you are planning a Dublin day trip here are our top suggestions, though if you are travelling to the West Coast, you might be better making these a two day tour.

1. Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains: Enjoy the serene beauty of the Glendalough monastic site and explore the stunning landscapes of the Wicklow Mountains. Experience scenic drives, serene lakes, and trails that lead to panoramic views.

2. Boyne Valley and Newgrange: Delve into the rich history of Ireland’s Ancient East with a trip to the Boyne Valley. Here, you’ll find the Bru na Boinne complex which includes Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage site older than Stonehenge.

3. Cliffs of Moher and The Burren: Though a longer day trip, the Cliffs of Moher are a must-see. The dramatic cliffs and the unique landscape of The Burren are unforgettable.

4. Kilkenny and Waterford: Explore the medieval city of Kilkenny with its stunning castle and then head to Waterford, famous for its crystal-making heritage.

5. Belfast and Titanic Experience: Cross the border to Northern Ireland and explore the city of Belfast. Visit the Titanic Belfast museum to learn about the ship’s history.

6. Connemara and Galway: Experience the beauty of Connemara’s rugged landscapes and enjoy the vibrant culture and charming streets of Galway City.

7. Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge: A longer day trip to Northern Ireland but worth it to see the unique basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway and the thrilling Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

8. Cork and Blarney Castle: Kiss the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle and enjoy exploring the bustling city of Cork.

9. Malahide Castle and Howth: Take a short trip to visit the beautiful Malahide Castle and then enjoy the charming seaside town of Howth. It’s great for a cliff walk and some fresh seafood!

10. Slane Castle and Distillery: A treat for whiskey lovers, visit Slane Castle and its distillery. Learn about the process of whiskey-making and enjoy some tasting.

Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains

Wicklow Mountains National Park

When planning your day trip from Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains National Park is a must-see destination. As a friendly and welcoming place, it offers stunning landscapes and breathtaking views that are perfect for a day of exploration and adventure. The park’s lush forests, rolling hills, and picturesque lakes create a serene and beautiful environment that you’ll surely enjoy.

Some highlights you shouldn’t miss at the park include:

  • Lough Tay: Known as the “Guinness Lake” due to its dark waters and white sand beach, this picturesque lake offers a great spot for photography.
  • Powerscourt Waterfall: At 121 meters high, it’s the tallest waterfall in Ireland and offers a lovely setting for a leisurely walk or a family picnic.

Glendalough Valley

Another must-visit on your day trip is the Glendalough Valley, located within the Wicklow Mountains National Park. This enchanting valley is home to a monastic city founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. As you explore the ancient ruins, you’ll be amazed by the well-preserved structures and beautiful landscape surrounding them.

Here are some key attractions in Glendalough Valley:

  • Monastic City: Venture through the charming monastic city and admire the iconic Round Tower, St. Kevin’s Church, and the famous Celtic crosses.
  • Upper and Lower Lakes: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the valley by taking a peaceful walk around these stunning lakes.

Take advantage of the variety of guided tours available that not only offer insights into the fascinating history of the region but also provide comfortable transportation, ensuring a hassle-free and enjoyable day trip to remember.

Howth and Dublin Bay

Howth Castle

Howth Castle is a must-see destination during your day trip from Dublin. This historic castle, dating back to the 14th century, is surrounded by beautiful gardens and offers a glimpse of Ireland’s rich history. Although the castle itself is private and not open for public tours, you can still admire its stunning exterior and take a stroll through the nearby grounds. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the castle makes for an excellent photo backdrop.

Howth Cliff Walk

For a breath of fresh air and unforgettable views, take the Howth Cliff Walk during your visit. This scenic trail takes you along the rugged coastline and offers panoramic views of Dublin Bay and the picturesque fishing village of Howth.

The walk is relatively easy and suitable for all fitness levels, so feel free to take your time and enjoy the stunning natural beauty that surrounds you. Along the way, keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seals, birds, and even the occasional dolphin.

Dublin Bay

Your day trip to Howth wouldn’t be complete without exploring the magnificent Dublin Bay. There are several options available to experience the bay, such as boat tours and cruises departing from Howth and Dublin City. These cruises offer a unique perspective of Howth and its surrounding areas.

Kilkenny and South-East Ireland

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is a must-visit destination on your day trip from Dublin. This magnificent medieval structure has been an important symbol of Kilkenny since the 12th century. As you tour the castle, you’ll marvel at the impressive architecture, beautiful gardens, and fascinating history.

Be sure to take advantage of a guided tour or audio guide to fully appreciate everything this Norman castle has to offer. Kilkenny is also known as the marble city and you will find plenty of arts and crafts in the town.

Rock of Cashel

Next, you can head over to the Rock of Cashel, an iconic historic site in County Tipperary, just a short drive from Kilkenny. The Rock of Cashel is known for its stunning medieval buildings, including a chapel, cathedral, and round tower, all set atop a limestone plateau.

You’ll be in awe of the impressive architecture and incredible views of the surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to explore the ancient cemetery and marvel at the Celtic art displayed throughout the site.

Cahir

Finally, make your way to the picturesque town of Cahir in County Tipperary. Here, you’ll find one of Ireland’s best-preserved castles. Cahir Castle is an impressive Norman fortress, located on an island in the River Suir.

Walk through the castle’s many rooms and courtyards, take in the stunning panoramic views, and discover its rich history. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a guided tour that takes you through secret passages and spiral staircases.

Cahir boasts a charming town center with quaint streets, shops, and cafes. Take a stroll, enjoy a meal in a cozy restaurant, or just sit back and admire the beauty of this charming Irish town.

Galway and West Ireland

Galway Bay

Your journey to the west of Ireland begins with a visit to the lovely Galway Bay. This picturesque area is known for its stunning coastline and vibrant cultural scene. As you stroll along the waterfront, take in the sights of traditional fishing boats and historic landmarks.

Don’t forget to make time for a refreshing pint at a local pub, where you’ll likely be treated to some traditional Irish music.

Aran Islands

Next on your list should be a ferry ride to the Aran Islands, a group of three islands off the coast of Galway. These rugged islands offer a glimpse of traditional Irish culture and stunning landscapes. As you explore the islands, take note of the unique stone walls that crisscross the landscape and the beautiful hand-knit Aran sweaters for which the islands are famous.

Cliffs of Moher

Continue your adventure by visiting the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare. These impressive cliffs stand over 700 feet tall and stretch for five miles along the Atlantic Ocean. As you take in the magnificent views, keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seabirds and dolphins. It is also worth taking a side trip to the nearby Burren, a fascinating area of limestone pavements and unique flora.

Belfast and Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is a must-see natural wonder on your day trip from Dublin. This UNESCO World Heritage site in County Antrim features stunning hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. As you stroll along the Causeway Coastal Route, marvel at the dramatic coastal scenery and listen to the local legends about the mythical Irish giant, Finn McCool.

Belfast City

Next stop on your trip is the vibrant Belfast City, the capital of Northern Ireland. Here, you can immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and culture. Be sure not to miss the Titanic Belfast, an interactive museum dedicated to the ill-fated ocean liner. Explore the bustling St. George’s Market, where you’ll find local artisan products, food, and crafts.

Don’t miss the chance to take a Black Cab tour around the city’s political murals, which tell the story of Belfast’s turbulent past. If you have time go to Belfast city hall just to appreciate its stunning architecture, its right in the city center of Belfast just down from the train station.

Game of Thrones Locations

As a bonus, Northern Ireland is home to many iconic Game of Thrones filming locations. The breathtaking County Antrim coastline served as the backdrop for the Iron Islands, while the mysterious Dark Hedges was transformed into the King’s Road.

Visit the impressive ruins of Dunluce Castle, which inspired the Greyjoy’s stronghold, Pyke Castle. To discover more about these sites, you can join a specialized tour that takes you to the most iconic Game of Thrones locations in the area.

Newgrange and the Boyne Valley

Brú na Bóinne

When planning your day trips from Dublin, you shouldn’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne. Located in County Meath, Brú na Bóinne is a rich archaeological landscape with ancient tombs, monuments, and structures around the River Boyne and Boyne Valley.

Visiting this extraordinary site, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time, exploring the ancient past. Newgrange makes for a very informative day trip which is steeped in Irish history.

Knowth and Dowth

Another worth-visiting site in the Boyne Valley is Knowth and Dowth, two Neolithic passage tombs that are considered some of the most important in the world. As part of your tour, you’ll get the opportunity to enter these unique tombs and learn about the history behind their construction, art, and rituals. It’s a wonderful way to discover more about the ancient civilizations that once inhabited the area.

Hill of Tara

Finally, make sure to include a visit to the Hill of Tara in your day trip itinerary. Known as the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, this historical site offers incredible insights into Ireland’s rich history, being at the very centre of political and religious development. Wander around the legendary stone circles, burial mounds, and ancient monuments to immerse yourself in the fascinating past of this sacred hill.

If you have extra time it’s well worth visiting Carlingford, situated in the Cooley peninsula an area of outstanding natural beauty with a medieval village at its centre.

County Cork and South-West Ireland

Blarney Castle

During your visit to County Cork, you should definitely spend some time exploring Blarney Castle, a 15th-century medieval stronghold that’s steeped in history and charm. As you walk through its lush gardens and marvel at the castle’s impressive architecture, you can’t help but feel the friendly, magical atmosphere that surrounds you.

Blarney Stone

While at Blarney Castle, don’t miss the chance to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. Perched atop the castle’s battlements, it’s said that if you manage to bend over backward and plant a smooch on this famous rock, you’ll be granted the gift of eloquence. Do this, and you’ll find yourself speaking more persuasively and confidently – a skill that’s sure to come in handy throughout your travels!

English Market

Finally, make sure to visit the English Market, a lively and bustling marketplace in the heart of Cork City. Here, you’ll encounter a wide array of local and exotic foods, as well as friendly vendors who are more than happy to chat and share their stories. Wander the colorful, fragrant stalls, and you’re sure to leave with not only some delicious treats but also memories that will last a lifetime.

FAQS on Day Trips from Dublin

Can you take day trips from Dublin?

Yes, Dublin is a fantastic base for day trips. There are many iconic locations and attractions within a few hours’ drive, including the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway, the city of Cork, the medieval city of Kilkenny, the Wicklow Mountains, and many more. You can do these as part of an organized tour or just make up your own day tours.

Is Cork a day trip from Dublin?

Yes, Cork can be visited as a day trip from Dublin. The journey takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours by car or 2.5 hours by train. Keep in mind that it’s a long day as there’s a lot to see and do in Cork, including visiting Blarney Castle, exploring the English Market, and strolling around the city.

Can you do a day trip from Dublin to Galway?

Yes, Galway can also be visited as a day trip from Dublin. The journey is about 2.5 hours by car or 2 hours and 30 minutes by train. Galway is known for its vibrant cultural scene, charming streets, and close proximity to the beautiful landscapes of Connemara.

How many days is enough for Dublin?

The ideal amount of time to spend in Dublin would be 2-3 days. This would give you enough time to see the major attractions such as Trinity College and the Book of Kells, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, and also to enjoy the atmosphere of the city, explore its neighborhoods, and perhaps take in a show or concert. The DART (Dublin area rapid transit) will get your around the Irish capital fairly quickly and is the best way to travel in the city centre.

Where can I take a train to from Dublin?

From Dublin, you can take a train to many locations throughout Ireland. Direct train routes to nearly every Irish city adn these include those to Cork, Galway, Sligo, Waterford, Limerick, Belfast, and many more towns and cities. Trains in Ireland are managed by Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann)

Is there a train from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher?

There is no direct train from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher. The nearest train stations are in Galway and Limerick. From there, you can take a bus or join a tour to reach the Cliffs of Moher. Alternatively, many companies run day tours from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher.

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