If you’re tired of city life and are looking for the perfect location for a day trip from Dublin, whether it’s by the sea, in the mountains or satisfying the inner history buff in you, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of some of the most wonderful, whimsical and easily affordable adventures you can make from Dublin.
The Wicklow Mountains
Situated just south of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains contain Ireland’s largest national park which spans a whopping 20,483 hectares. These mountains are the perfect day trip from Dublin if you’re craving a bit of fresh air or just fancy a picnic (though do remember, we ARE in Ireland). These mountains have been inhabited since Neolithic times, so if you like hiking and historical site hopping, just buy your bus ticket already.
Things to do:
- Glendalough – Valley of Two Lakes
If you go to County Wicklow it is most likely you’ll be making your way to Glendalough. These undisturbed, biodiverse hills are home to the ancient monastic ruins of St. Kevin, which date all the way back to the 6th Century. You can even spend the night in the Glendalough Youth Hostel if you feel like you can’t do it all in one day or, you know, you just like it there.
- The Seefin Passage Grave
A huge element of mystery shrouds this empty tomb. Situated on a hill around 650m above sea level, the effort of construction in Neolithic times would not have been light…literally. It is a strenuous 8km walk up to the top but if you’re feeling up to it the view is definitely worth it.
There is a limited but daily bus service from St. Stephen’s Green North, Dublin to Glendalough. Only two buses leave daily; one at 11.30 and the other at 18.00 with a return fare costing €20 and a single at €13.00. Check the winter bus time table here.
Cost: The national park and monastic site are both free, though charges do apply for the cark park and entry to the monastic site’s exhibition.
2. The Cliffs Of Moher
Here we have one of Ireland’s most visited attractions, the Cliffs of Moher. Located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, they are a hallmark stop on the Wild Atlantic Way and a coastal walk that runs 18km. It’s not only us here at Babylon that are in awe of this landmark’s beauty – these cliffs have appeared in many a music video and famous movies, most notably The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half Bod Prince.
Things To Do:
- O’Brien’s Tower
O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher and not only looks over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean but also, weather permitting, the island of Aran and the Twelve Bens (mountains) in County Galway.
Transport: Sadly there are no direct bus links but there are nonetheless several busses that leave daily. However, you may be better off booking a day tour through Darby O’Gill’s for €35 (please note, this rate is only for online purchases!)
Cost: Free if you rock up yourself, costs will vary on an organised trip
Howth isn’t exactly outside of Dublin – in fact, it’s only a 25-minute ride on the Dart train – but that only means you can spend much more of your day trip here, rather than in transit. Don’t worry though, this quaint little fishing village is far removed from the frantic bustle of Dublin. Here you have the best of both worlds: city-like comforts, the sea and stunning coastal hike trails.
Things to do:
- Balscadden Bay and Red Rock Beach
Balscadden Bay is the secluded but not so secret bay tucked away on the far side of the Howth Peninsula and is a regular haunt for swimmers and scuba divers. However, if you’re looking for a less-frequented beach then Red Rocks is perfect for you. It is small, quiet and sheltered. The perfect location for day trip from busy Dublin.
- St. Mary’s Abbey medieval ruins
These ruins are the perfect addition to such a picturesque village. The ruins date back to 1042, making them one of the oldest monuments in the area. It has strong Viking connections and is absolutely stunning, rain or shine.
Transport: The 31a bus leaves from Talbot Street and the DART line.
Cost: Both aforementioned attractions are free; Dart cost: €2.70 adult single (€2.10 with a leap card); Adult day return €4.80
On Ireland’s jagged west coast, not far from Galway, lies a trove of hidden white sand beaches and brooding, rugged landscapes like nothing you’ve seen before in Ireland. This place should be at the top of your Day Trip From Dublin bucket list. It’s got it all. National parks, beaches, the Sky Road (so you don’t even have to get out of the car if you so desire) and hikes that lead to beautiful views.
Things to do:
- Twelve Bens and Maumturk mountains
Here’s another one for those fresh-air-thrill-seekers out there. The views from these towering peaks sometimes referred to as the Twelve Pins offer an unbeatable panoramic views as far as the Atlantic Ocean. The Maumaturks are less well known than the Twelve Bens next door, but they still offer another incredibly aesthetic (Instagrammable if you will) opportunity for a mountain range hike on the other side of the Inagh Valley.
- Dog’s Bay beach
This horseshoe-shaped bay of white sand made of seashells, dunes and surprisingly crystalline waters is a paradise for all who tread on its shore. The beach is well protected from currents and therefore safe for swimmers and those who enjoy watersports, so if you think you’re brave enough to take on the harsh bite of the cool Atlantic, remember your trunks!
- Sky Road
This circular route spanning 16km is a part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way which is a 2,500 km driving route that passes through nine counties and three provinces. The Sky Road takes you from west Clifden, onto the Kingstown peninsula, and back into Clifden via the N59 and there are genuinely few places nationwide that can compare with its rugged, natural beauty.
Transport: This journey will take you approximately five hours on public transport, however, it is relatively straight forward. Catch the Galway Service from Dublin Heuston to Galway, then get the 923 bus to Veldons.
Cost: €9.10 for a day return on the Galway Service
5. County Antrim
Things to do:
- Giant’s Causeway
We’ve all heard of it, even if we still imagine two massive rock-giants embracing to make a bridge…. Oh just me? Anyway, there’s a reason why so many people flock to this World Heritage Site every year. The Giant’s Causeway is a collection of 40,000 hexagonal columns made of solidified molten lava around 60 million-year-old. The tallest columns reach about 39ft.
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
This bridge near Ballintoy came into being a long time ago when local fishermen would stand on the cliff edges of the mainland and the island of Carrickarede (which literally translates from Irish to “rock of the casting”) and cast their fishing rods to intercept the passing salmon. Sounds kinda romantic huh? This famous rope bridge is about 20m long, 1m wide and 30m high. Although it is perfectly safe, the toll fare is not worth it for those with vertigo.
Transport: Tours from Dublin generally cost around the €50-65 mark but here is one from Get Your Guide which is currently discounted from €60 to €48. However, if you’re serious about doing this day trip from Dublin via public transport, there are bus services from Dublin which you can check out on Google maps. The 172 and 402 buses run between the causeway and bridge and take about 40 minutes.
Cost: Access to the Giant’s Causeway is free of charge: it is not necessary to go via the visitors’ centre, which charges a fee. For the rope bridge, you will need to book an hour time slot for €9.
Cork is the perfect destination for a day trip from Dublin. This popular bustling getaway full of history, colour and thriving with charm is the perfect relaxed alternative to Dublin. Walking through the narrow cobbled streets between the tall pink, yellow and blue buildings you can really get a feel for the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
Things to do:
- Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney near Cork city which is most famous for its contents: the Blarney Stone. Kiss the blarney stone and gain the gift of the gab, that’s what the locals say anyway. Make sure you kiss it leaning backwards though, or your journey will have been for nothing.
- The English Market
Established in 1788, this aesthetic little gem is a staple in Cork, bustling with life, sounds and smells. Take a walk through and sample the local produce and culture.
Transport: You can get the 600,707, X8 or Cork/Mallow Service
Cost: Market: free; Castle: €16 for adults, €13 for students/seniors