Dublin is the capital, the biggest city, the most important technological, industrial and cultural center in Ireland. It is also the biggest travel destination and where almost all travelers enter Ireland. This is a city where you can easily spend a week or two exploring and getting to know it better. However, Ireland is more than only Dublin, there are many things to see and do outside Dublin. The good thing is that you can establish a base in Dublin and visit most of the country doing day trips from Dublin.
In this post, we are going to explore the best day trips from Dublin – these include city breaks, castles, national parks, stunning views, and even beaches and waterfalls. And because we haven’t been everywhere we also invited a few fellow bloggers to contribute with their favorite day trips from Dublin!
Long Daytrips from Dublin (+2 hours)
Galway is located on the opposite side of the island, but it “only” roughly 2h30 to get there, so it’s perfectly possible to do on a long day trip from Dublin. Galway is one of the energetic, creative, and most touristy towns in Ireland, both because of its surroundings and the city itself.
On a day trip to Galway, you should go to the Latin quarter which still has a part of its medieval walls and cobbled streets. The attractiveness of Galway lies on these charming pedestrianized streets with copious pubs and cafes, more than in major attractions! Those big attractions are outside the town, particularly the Cliffs of Moher.
In all honesty, Galway is a good day trip from Dublin, but what really makes it the best is including the Cliffs o Moher on it! It will be a long day trip, but one you’ll not forget.
Cliffs of Moher
In our opinion, the Cliffs of Moher are the best thing to do in Ireland – the views are simply breathtaking and worth the long journey. Moreover, as e said above you can easily do the Cliffs and Galway on one day trip!
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 80 km south of Galway and they rise right from the sea to between 150 and 214 meters high, ranging 8 kilometers. They offer notable views. Moreover, there’s a path walk right next to the cliffs, sometimes without anything separating us from it. If you dare (and you should) this is a hike you won’t forget.
The cliffs are Ireland’s most visited attraction and they are “kind of” free to enter. There’s nothing stopping you to enter freely, but you can’t really get there without parking the car in one of the paid parks. Note that the ticket also includes entry to the visitor center and costs 8 Euros per person.
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is really far from Dublin, and it takes a little more than 4 hours to reach. We usually don’t suggest such long day trips as we feel that it’s too much time commuting and too little enjoying the destination. However, Killarney National Park is one of the most impressive parts of Ireland, thus if you don’t have time for more, do a day trip from Dublin.
Killarney National Park is the first Irish national park and hosts several interesting locations, from historical sites to wonderful countryside and mountains. When visiting the park we suggest you go to:
- Ladies View – incredible view over the park and the lakes;
- Torc Waterfall – impressive waterfall in a dense woodland area;
- Muckross House – Interesting house and gardens.
- Muckross Abbey – a 15th-century structure made by Franciscan monks
- Ross Castle – beautiful castle by the lake.
There are so many things to do in Killarney that you may want to set up a base there a take a few days to visit the whole area, instead of only doing a Dublin day trip.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare
by Catherine Jordan of Passports and Adventures
If you are looking for a great day trip from Dublin to take, then Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare is a lot. This historical site gives you the chance to see one of Ireland’s finest medieval castles and to experience village life in Ireland in the 19th century through a living museum. It will take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach Bunratty from Dublin either by car or coach.
The castle, while located in County Clare, is not far from Limerick City either. Situated on the site of a Viking trading site, the castle which stands today was built in the 15th century and is one of Ireland’s most authentic and complete medieval castles. You can visit various levels of the castle which is decorated with furnishings and tapestries from the 15th and 16th centuries. And if you decided to stay overnight, you could experience a Medieval Banquet in the castle in the evening.
As well as the castle, the site is home to the Bunratty Folk Park, a living museum. With over 30 buildings depicting village life in Ireland during the 19th century, you can get a feel for life back then from the sights, sounds, and smells (peat fires in the houses brought me back to my youth and time spent in my parent’s second home in County Galway). There are different dwelling houses, a school building, grocery, post office, and workshops showing the era in which they were lived and worked. And during certain times of the year, character actors will wander the village and are ready to answer any questions you may have about rural life in Ireland. There is also a Fairy Village and some farm animals if you are visiting with children, making Bunratty Castle one of the best things to do in Ireland with kids.
Grace Austin of extreme nomads
Located in the far south of Ireland, Cork makes for an epic day trip from Dublin thanks to its vibrant city streets, myriad pubs, yummy eateries, and ubiquitous creative soul. Cork is Ireland’s biggest county in terms of size and second-largest (to Dublin) in terms of population — so as you can imagine, there’s no shortage of awesome things to do in Cork.
Spend a day strolling through the streets of the city; Oliver Plunkett Street, Patrick’s Street, and Grand Parade constitute the downtown area, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities for retail therapy and a quick coffee. Pop into the English Market and peruse the best local produce and gourmet creations. Don’t miss the wonderful Scrypt Café, which is tucked away down a small side street by the Triskel.
Speaking of which, a trip to Cork wouldn’t be complete without a visit to some of the city’s resident art galleries. Check out some of Ireland’s most treasured classics in the Crawford Gallery and stop by the Triskel Art Centre for an indie film screening in the unusual church setting.
Cork is blissfully easy (and cheap) to reach from Dublin, particularly if you take the bus. There are a few different companies that cover the journey, though the cheapest we’ve found is a €10 express Aircoach bus. Expect to spend about 3 hours on the road.
Blarney Castle is located in Blarney, close to Cork, so it may be a good idea to combine cork and Blarney on the same day trip. Though you may also combine it with the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny castle or the Killarney National Park.
The current castle was built in the 15th century, though, earlier fortifications existed in the same place. It’s a partially ruined castle but one can still enter some rooms and see how it was. In fact, I believe that being partially ruined gives it a charming medieval touch. The surroundings of the castle hold huge gardens with plants from all over the world, which may be interesting for some people.
Blarney Castle is notorious for the Blarney stone, where people visiting the Castle hang upside down over a drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of the gab or eloquence. This is a particularly fun thing to do and it may work… at least our site has been growing ever since we did it.
Tickets to Blarney castle cost 18 Euros, which is a bit steep in our opinion. Yet, this is one of the most popular things in Ireland, because… who doesn’t want to be eloquent?
Short Dublin Day trips (Less than 2 hours)
Fiona from Passport and Piano
The National Geographic rates Powerscourt Gardens as one of the world’s most beautiful gardens, and it’s worth visiting this magnificent Landmark in Ireland at any time of the year. The Powerscourt Estate is in County Wicklow and its just a 20-minute drive south from Dublin.
There are 47 acres to enjoy, and the Sugar Loaf Mountain frames the views from the terrace over the Italian garden beautifully. Magnificent statues fill the garden, and the two horses in front of the central lake are particularly stunning.
There are many gardens to explore within the estate and several woodland areas. The azalea and rhododendron walk is not to miss, and the bluebells are stunning in spring. Another spectacular section is the Japanese garden, where the maple trees are a hue of reds and oranges in the autumn. It’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful parts of the estate and the various water features and small bridges are idyllic.
After exploring the gardens, it’s worth visiting the delightful artisan shops which showcase local handmade products, and the cafe which serves delicious cakes. The entrance fee to the estate is €10.50 for adults, and there are reductions for students, pensioners, and families. The gardens are open daily between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm, but in winter they close at dusk.
Kilkenny Castle is located in Kilkenny, about 1h30 from Dublin, thus perfectly located for a nice day trip from the Irish capital. You can easily reach it by car, public transports or an organized tour.
This is one of the most easily recognizable buildings in Ireland and an important site since its construction in the 12th century. Guided tours are offered daily at a cost of 6 Euros but access to the castle gardens and park grounds is free.
We recommend you to take the tour so you can visit the inside and understand the history of the castle. It’s a really fascinating one. The tour to the castle is about 40 minutes, but you should give it at least 1 hour.
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is located a few kilometers southwest to Kilkenny making it a little more than 2 hours from Dublin. However, it’s a perfect place to in the same day trip as Kilkenny. If you love history, old buildings, and interesting stories, then the Rock of Cashel + Kilkenny Castle is the day trip to take.
The Origins of the Rock of Cashel as a center of power go back to the 4th or 5th centuries and it was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years. In 1104 they donated it to the church. The complex is picturesque and has a character of its own, with a remarkable collection of Celtic art and medieval architecture. You should, however, note that very few things remain from the original fortress, most of what we can see is from the 12th/13th century and after.
Today we can see the spectacular group of medieval buildings set on a huge limestone rock. It includes a 12th century round tower, a High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral, a 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.
A ticket to the Rock of Cashel costs 15 Euros, and guided tours are available every hour on the half-hour. The tour takes about 45 minutes and it’s a very interesting one, giving context to what we are seeing.
Kaisa Lee of Glam Granola Travel
Glendalough is the absolutely perfect day trip from Dublin for nature lovers. You will spend the day hiking, exploring monastic ruins, and enjoying rural Irish countryside charm at its finest. There are plenty of busses that drive the hour south to Glendalough, whether you want to go on a tour or not.
Driving yourself is ideal, as it gives you more freedom, but either is doable, inexpensive (unless you pick a luxury tour company), and quick. While there are driving roads through Glendalough’s beautiful Wicklow Mountains, hiking is really a spectacular way to experience this part of Ireland. The main draws of Glendalough are its nature and archeology.
Wicklow Mountains National Park has several trails leaving from the Glendalough visitor center. Spinc and Glenealo Valley (also known as the white route) is the most epic hike – 9 km of lush valleys, peaceful streams and lakes, and breathtaking mountain views. For archaeology, add in St Kevin’s way (the gray route) to explore Glendalough’s truly fascinating ancient monastic ruins. As for eating, I recommend packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in a meadow, but failing that the Wicklow Heather Restaurant is nearby and tasty! Next time you’re in Dublin, Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park is well worth the day trip from Dublin.
Kate Storm of our escape clause
Located less than an hour from Dublin, the adorable fishing village of Howth is among the easiest and most relaxing day trips from Dublin.
Easily the most unmissable thing to do while visiting Howth is to check out the Howth Cliff Walk: home to absolutely stunning views of the coast of Ireland, these cliffside views are the perfect way to enjoy Ireland’s magnificent coastline without traveling far from Dublin.
While hikers will love the full 6-10km loop, the Howth Cliff Walk is quite accessible, and even those who aren’t partial to hiking will be able to enjoy magnificent views a short stroll from their car.
If you have time, be sure to hike down to the Howth Lighthouse for some absolutely gorgeous views–especially if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Howth on a sunny (or at least dry) day.
Once you finish admiring the views, head into the village for a delicious seafood meal and a pint of Guinness (or two) while enjoying the bustle of the port and, if you’re so inclined, a boat tour to enjoy views from the water.
Weekend visitors will also be lucky enough to enjoy the Howth Market, and those with a bit of extra time during their day trip from Dublin may want to add a visit to the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey to their trip to Howth.
Howth can easily be reached from Dublin by either as part of an Ireland road trip or by bus, and there’s an easily accessible parking lot right next to the Howth Cliff Walk.
Sinead Camplin of Map Made Memories
The popular seaside town of Bray makes a great day trip from Dublin. It is just under a one hour drive from Dublin city center or Bray can be easily reached in 45 minutes using a direct DART train. Bray is a pretty, bustling town famous for its long promenade.
The one-mile long promenade cuts between the clean, pebbly beach and a stretch of green leisure area which includes an active bandstand, outdoor gym and children’s playground. Lively pubs, restaurants, and cafes with terraces and balconies line the seafront. A popular activity in Bray is to hike from the seafront up to the 218 meters high Bray Head promontory which dominates the small town.
The scenic walk takes around 1-2 hours and gently ascends on a rough path through trees and rocky scrub dotted with yellow gorse. There is a magnificent, 360-degree view from the concrete cross which tops Bray Head. To the south, there is a beautiful view of the Wicklow coast and the Wicklow Mountains including the iconic peaks of Great Sugar Loaf and Little Sugar Loaf. To the north, there are wonderful coastline views and on a clear day, you can see Dublin city.
Sarah Hughes of Live Dream Discover
Dalkey is a quaint seaside village just 8 miles southeast of Dublin. It’s easily accessible by DART public transit from the city making it an ideal day trip from the busy urban center. The town of Dalkey is a pleasing blend of historic sights, charming streets, and seaside activities so you can spend the morning touring a castle, have a fresh seafood lunch and then take a scenic boat ride.
One of the top sights is Dalkey Castle and Heritage Center where actors dress in period costume and tell tales from the castles rich historic past. Another popular activity is to kayak or take a boat ride out to Dalkey Island where you can see wild goats and rabbits roaming around the ruins of an old church. While you’re out on the water you can enjoy the views of many beautiful houses, some of which are home to celebrities such as Bono and “The Edge” from U2.
Back in town, you can wander the streets full of historic buildings and boutique shops and when hungry and thirst hit there are plenty of pubs, restaurants, and cafes to relax and refresh. Although just a short ride from Dublin, Dalkey is many miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city and transports you back to simpler times.
Lerato Bambo of life from a bag
The birthplace of Halloween and the Guinness World Record Book is located just 2 hours southeast from the capital city.
Not only is Wexford is the perfect place to go for a day trip from Dublin but the beaches are among the most visited places in the country as Wexford is also the warmest region in Ireland.
Known for the best strawberry farms in the country, Wexford is also home to one of Ireland’s two Botanical gardens and famous for the annual opera festival held every October.
There are many things to do in Wexford, like taking a scenic drive to Hook Peninsula where you will find Hook Lighthouse – the world’s second-oldest working lighthouse that is still operating to date and the Loftus Hall – Ireland’s most famous haunted house, a popular attraction during Halloween.
Along the way stop at the Tacumshane Windmill, the only remaining windmill in Ireland from 1846 with a revolving straw-thatched cap to catch the wind for its sails.
Nature enthusiasts can rejoice as Wexford is also home to thousands of acres of parks and gardens, including the historic John F. Kennedy Memorial Park & Arboretum, Wells House
Jennifer P. of Sidewalk Safari
Maynooth is located only 45 minutes by train from Dublin’s Connolly station making Maynooth an easy day trip from Dublin. A photogenic university town, Maynooth is arguably one of the best places in Ireland to visit by train.
Stroll through Maynooth Castle ruins entering by way of an imposing archway into a lush courtyard nestled between the remains of the castle and castle wall. Maynooth University is definitely the highlight of this Dublin day trip. Discover a campus where ivy-covered buildings and historic facades abound.
The biggest decision will be where to point your camera first. Focus your visit on Maynooth University’s historic south campus, home to St. Patrick’s College. Slip inside St. Patrick’s church to explore the gorgeous interior. A tremendous pipe organ is the centerpiece of the church with richly colored and patterned ceilings. Seek out the beautiful courtyard of St. Patrick’s College and take a moment to contemplate your surroundings. Don’t miss Maynooth University’s Bicentenary Garden.
The extensive park abuts South Campus and includes a cozy walled garden. On the way back to Maynooth train station, take a few minutes to walk along the Royal Canal. Find stone bridges spanning the canal and look for fishermen spending a quiet day in nature. The best thing about Maynooth is that it’s an economical Dublin day trip. Other than the cost of the train ticket, Maynooth’s key attractions are all free.
Hill of Slane
Stephen of A backpackers Tale
The Hill of Slane sits near the prehistoric mounds in the Boyne Valley. Today a ruined monastery, that’s free to wander, sits on top of the hill. But throughout history, this hill has played a part in Irish legends. Making it one of the best places to visit in Ireland.
The myth says that the old king Fir Bolg was ruled, died, and was buried here. But the most well-known story surrounding the hill focus on St. Patrick, Irelands’ most famous hero.
During a pagan holiday, when no fires were allowed to be lit in view of the Hill of Tara, St. Patrick climbed to the top of the Hill of Slane. Here he lit a paschal fire, defying the pagan king, Laoghaire, who was celebrating at Tara.
This marked the start of St. Patricks campaign to overthrow pagan traditions and make Christianity the main religion of Ireland. Because of this, the Hill of Slane has become a pilgrimage site for Christians traveling Ireland. But don’t worry, there are rarely more than a handful of people there.
The Hill of Slane is just 40 minutes north of Dublin, nearby Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. And the legends, history, ruins make it a worthy addition to any road trip through Ireland.
Day trips from Dublin to Northern Ireland
Belfast is the capital and main city of Northern Ireland. It’s an interesting place to understand better the differences between both Irelands and learn about their history. You can reach Belfast from Dublin in about 2 hours by car and then have the full day to visit the city.
In Belfast, the most popular things to do include:
- Titanic experience – the birthplace of the titanic is now a very popular museum and one of the most famous landmarks in Belfast. Opened in 2012 it’s a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built.
- the Crumlin Road Gaol – former prison situated on the Crumlin Road and the only Victorian prison remaining in Northern Ireland. It’s a very interesting tour.
- touring around the center – You can do this on your own roaming around town, visiting the city hall, the peace wall, St. George market, the big fish, and a few others. Or you can do an organized tour which is always fun, interesting and give you an insight into the things you are seeing. This one on the history of the troubles looks particularly interesting.
Belfast is easily one of the most interesting day trips from Dublin and I would even suggest you stay overnight to have time to include some of the other Northern Ireland destinations. In two days you can easily visit the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, and Belfast.
Patrick Muntzinger of German Backpacker
No trip to Ireland is complete without a visit at Giant’s Causeway – the dramatic rock formations on the coast of Northern Ireland. For hundreds of years, the polygonal columns of basalt (resulting from a volcanic eruption) were a mystery and even though the mystery regarding its creation is resolved by now, the unique cliffs attract and impress millions of tourists (for good reason!).
Although you’re technically in a different county (Northern Ireland), Giant’s Causeway is still doable as a (long) day trip from Dublin. It will take you about 3 hours to get there by car and I’d also recommend a stop in the capital Belfast. In case you don’t have your own car in Dublin, there are also several day tours you could choose. I actually went on an organized day tour from Dublin, stopping briefly in Belfast before arriving on the northern coast.
Keep in mind though that the Giant’s Causeway can get pretty crowded during the day – if you’d like to have the place to yourself, I highly recommend getting there early in the morning before the crowds arrive. By the way – you can also easily combine the Giant’s Causeway with other cool spots along the northern coast, such as the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge as well as some of the Game of Thrones filming locations!
by Chrisoula Manika of Historic European Castles
Originally erected by a salmon fisherman in 1755 (in order to reach the single fisherman’s cottage located on Carrick-a-Rede Island) this picturesque rope bridge, suspended over the Atlantic Ocean, is now a National Trust tourist attraction that receives almost half a million visitors per year!
Not only is the walk across the Carrick-a-Rede bridge exhilarating, but the views across the ocean and down the cliffside are absolutely breath-taking. Stand on the bridge, letting the breeze run through your hair while listening to the waves crashing below you – it’s simply magical!
Visitors can cross the Carrick-a-Rede bridge for just £9 (£4.50 for children) which is a real bargain for such a memorable experience.
Despite being located all the way up in Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the famed Carrick-a-Rede bridge is a great day-trip destination from Dublin and it can be combined with a trip to Giant’s Causeway for a double-whammy of incredible landscapes! Travelers can choose to drive from Dublin to Carrick-a-Rede (just under three hours each way) or can let someone else do the driving by taking a Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Day Trip. Either way, it’s a fantastic day trip to add to your Ireland itinerary.
Did you enjoy this post? You can continue to learn about Ireland and prepare your tips with:
- 50 things you should know before traveling to Ireland;
- Famous landmarks in Ireland;
- What is Ireland famous for?
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