Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland has a rich history and heritage and offers its visitors with plenty of historical monuments, museums, natural landscapes and more. While there is no dearth of fascinating things to do in Dublin, the capital city also makes for a great base to explore the amazing places around Ireland and even in Northern Ireland which are easy day trips from Dublin.
Belfast and Titanic Experience
Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland is only a couple of hours drive from Dublin. The city is the birthplace of the ill-fated RMS Titanic so the first stop on your city tour should be the Titanic Belfast Experience. The tour offers you an insight into the history and interesting facts about the luxury ship Titanic.
Belfast has a rich history which is evident from the plenty of historical monuments and fascinating architectural buildings around the city. Visit the St Anne’s Cathedral and the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Cathedral Quarter, take a guided tour of the magnificent Belfast City Hall or visit the grounds of the Queen University and explore its architecture. Next to the university is the Botanic Gardens where you can explore the diverse flora or just relax in the lush green oasis of tranquility.
Walk the narrow cobbled streets or go hunting for the colorful street art. Go shopping at the Victoria Square, eat in one of the top restaurants and at the same time marvel at its impressive architecture and even best visit the Dome of Victoria Square and enjoy panoramic views of Belfast City.
Giant’s Causeway & Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
By Lizzie & Dave from WANDERLUST & LIFE
One of the best day trips from Dublin is to cross over into Northern Ireland and visit the Causeway Coast. There are so many beautiful sights along this coastal driving route but our top two have to be The Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The drive itself is about 3 hours, and you can either rent a car and drive yourself or book through a tour company. We chose to drive ourselves which actually worked out really well because we could make as many stops as we liked along the way.
Our first stop was the Giant’s Causeway. It is actually one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland. The Causeway consists of around 40,000 connecting basalt columns. These were caused by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Visiting the Causeway is actually free but if you need parking and want to check out the visitor’s center run by the National Trust, then you do need to pay.
About 15 minutes down the road is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This is another must see in Northern Ireland. Run by the National Trust the bridge was originally built by fishermen in 1755 to cross over to the very small island of Carrickarede. The bridge is 20 meters long and 30 meters high and is probably not ideal for anyone scared of heights. As you cross you can feel the wind shaking the bridge and you can hear the waves crashing below you.
Only 8 people are allowed on the bridge at once and there is a timed ticketing system to avoid backlogs. The scenery around the bridge is absolutely stunning and it really does make for a perfect day trip from Dublin.
Cliffs of Moher
By Laurence Norah from FINDING THE UNIVERSE
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most popular natural attractions. The cliffs run for around 14km along Ireland’s west coast, near the coastal towns of Doolin and Liscannaor.
The cliffs feature spectacular (and vertigo-inducing!) 200 meter+ drops at their highest point and offer walking and seabird watching opportunities. It’s possible to walk the full length of the cliffs along the Cliffs of Moher coastal trail, although if you plan on doing the whole trail you’ll want to arrange transport to pick you up and drop you off, as the start and end points are at different locations.
The Cliffs of Moher are a popular day trip from Dublin, which is easiest to do as a tour as it’s around a three hour drive each way to the cliffs. Most tours also include nearby attractions, such as the coastal village, ruined castles, and the Burren – a huge limestone dotted landscape. There are also tours aimed at walkers, which will let you experience some of the quieter sections of the cliffs, without all the visitors. Read more about coming here and planning your trip in our guide to visiting the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin.
By Priyanko Sarkar from CONSTANT TRAVELLER
There is no shortage of castles to visit in Ireland. But not visiting Blarney Castle when in Ireland would be a real shame.
Not only is Blarney one of the most popular castles in Ireland, but it is also the main draw is something no other castle in the world can provide. You see, if you climb the Blarney Castle right up to the top, lie down on your back while a castle guard gently pushes you to the edge and you finally feel cold grey stone, you do the most unlikely thing. You kiss it.
Yes, that’s correct. According to the legend that’s really caught on, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will receive the gift of gab. If that’s not enough motivation, how about taking a stroll along a poisoned garden? Yep, the castle grounds have an entire section where dangerous plants are grown and sit innocently while you pass them by. Word of advice though, there’s no talking out of a plant’s poison if you try to be too daring.
Finally, the castle grounds are also blessed with enough greenery and small waterfalls that you can forget the big city vibe of Dublin in its environs and breathe clean natural air all you want. It’s probably one of the main reasons citizens of nearby Cork spend so much time at Blarney. And so should you.
There are day trips to Blarney and Cork from Dublin via various tour companies. Alternately, you could get to Cork by train from Dublin and take a shuttle bus to Blarney that’ll drop you just a little outside the gates of the castle.
By Suzanne from SEEKING SUZANNE
Just 2.5 hours by motorway from Dublin will have you in County Wexford on Ireland’s South Eastern tip.
After the journey, stop in the gorgeous little fishing village of Kilmore Quay and enjoy the best fish and chips in the country. With the fresh beer-battered catch of the day served daily alongside the perfect ‘chipper’ chips as the Irish like to say, The Saltee Chipper has become something of an institution in these parts.
Following a good feed, enjoy the boats with a walk along the harbor and keep an eye out for the many wild seals that take up residence here. Don’t forget to peruse the gorgeous craft shops and traditional Irish pubs. For some outdoor activities, consider a walk along the coastline to the memorial garden and on to the vast Burren beach (but be warned that you cannot swim here due to strong currents!). You can also take a stroll out to Forlorn Point, a long stretch of rocks and beach that juts out into the sea.
From Kilmore Quay, it is a 45-minute drive to the popular Hook Lighthouse and Heritage Centre. Enjoy a tour of the oldest operational lighthouse in the world and then relax with a cup of hot chocolate in the cozy cafe. On your way back from the lighthouse keep an eye out for Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted mansion!
Tours run daily through this majestic yet creepy property and trust us when we say that the history and folklore of this house is nothing short of fascinating. Children are allowed on the tours but parent discretion is advised. If you don’t feel comfortable taking the tour, feel free to visit the grounds, coffee shop and gift store while in this great part of the country.
By Faith from XYU AND BEYOND
The simply spectacular Powerscourt Estate is located just south of Dublin. It’s an easy drive to the Estate which from central Dublin will take around an hour. There are buses to the Estate but it is a 25-minute walk from the bus stop to the estate so if you can take a guided tour or drive.
Powerscourt was a medieval castle, which was transformed in the 17th century to a Palladian Mansion built on the old castle’s footprint. In 1974, the Estate was undergoing a major renovation when a fire broke out. The fire raged for hours and when it was finally doused, there was nothing more than the shell of a building. In 1996, another restoration took place and the Estate was opened to the public.
There isn’t an actual house tour as Powerscourt is famous for its award-winning gardens. However, in the house itself is a fantastic Avoca store and cafe along with several displays and museums such as Tara’s Palace a museum of childhood things. This lovely little museum has some of the most amazing doll’s houses you have ever seen along with teddy bears, antique children’s pedal cars and much more. The views from the second floor of the house need to be seen to be believed as well.
The Gardens at Powerscourt are the great attraction with stunning views of Sugarloaf Mountain they stretch over 47 acres and offer a breathtaking blend of formal gardens, statuary, fountains, lakes, Japanese gardens, a Pet Cemetery, the Pepperpot Tower, sweeping terraces, secret hollows, and rambling walks. Not forgetting that the grounds also contain one of Ireland tallest waterfalls at 398 ft high. It was used as a backdrop in the History Channels show The Vikings.
Bangor (Northern Ireland)
By Allan Wilson from LIVE LESS ORDINARY
In its heyday (the 1950’s) Bangor was one of the most exciting destinations in Ireland, where minstrels would sing songs about it, and boats would flood the area in summer months from Scotland (Glasgow) and northern England. And it was a bit like a mini Blackpool in Northern Ireland until cheaper travel and flights took off, and people jetted instead to the sunny beaches of Europe.
So these days Bangor has lost its pizazz, I guess, but it no doubts shares the original beauty and scenic coastlines which attracted people, to begin with. Otherwise, Bangor remains a popular destination with the well-heeled traveler, having Northern Ireland’s largest marina at the center of its seafront, as well as a multitude of golf courses dotted along what is often referred to as the “Gold Coast” of Northern Ireland.
It is also an easy destination to reach by train from Dublin, found just a few stops down from Belfast, where Bangor’s station sits on the top of a hill opposite Bangor Castle, looking down towards the coastline of the town. And while Bangor does have its fair share of historic and heritage attractions, it will always be the coastline that attracts people, including the central marina, Eisenhower Pier, Pickie Fun Park (for the kids), as well as the North Down Coastal Path which would be one of the most scenic seasides walks in the region.
Here the coastline follows both magnificent seascapes, and the train line towards Belfast, so it is possible to just jump back onto a train for a return journey to the town. Watch drone footage of the Bangor coastline to inspire your travels.
By Carole from TRAVELS WITH CAROLE
Just an hour north of Dublin and an hour south of Belfast, the small town of Carlingford is considered Ireland’s best-preserved medieval village. It wraps around a sheltered harbor and sports 13th-century King John’s Castle.
Wandering the narrow streets and lanes is an easy way to pass time, stopping in at this shop and that pub. But the P.J. O’Hare pub is the one not to miss. That is where they pour a proper Guinness and also make a decent Irish coffee. And for doubters, they additionally have a display of leprechaun bones.
Another don’t-miss is a meal at the 18th-century Early Georgian Ghan House, which is famous for its restaurant. The staff grows their own vegetables and makes just about everything in the house. You won’t soon forget the bread and jams.
Hit it right, and you can also take a cooking class at Ireland’s third-oldest cooking school. And if you’re really smart you’ll book in for overnight in one of the upstairs guest rooms. While in the area, it is interesting to visit the renowned Carlingford Oyster Company, where one family has been farming for more than 40 years. This small company supplies their prized oysters to top restaurants throughout Ireland and the U.K.
By Sanne Van Den Berg from VENI VIDI
The town of Cashel 2-hour drive away from Dublin is a must visit on your Ireland trip. It’s also accessible by bus. Cashel is known for the Rock of Cashel, sometimes called St. Patrick’s Rock. It’s historically a very important site on which ruins of important ecclesiastical buildings can be found.
You can take two guided tours to learn more about the Rock of Cashel. The general 1-hour tour is included in your entry fee. During this tour, you’ll learn a lot about the history and the buildings of the Rock of Cashel, such as the 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
For an additional 3 euros, you can also visit Cormac’s chapel. This chapel is one of the oldest and finest churches built in the Romanesque style. Because the building is very fragile, you can only visit this Romanesque chapel with a guided tour, and only a certain number of people are allowed inside at the same time.
Make sure to pay attention to the frescoes inside. Another must-visit of the chapel is the northern entrance to the chapel, which has been preserved well because it has been shield by the cathedral from weather influences. Above the door, there is a carving of a centaur attacking a lion. Visiting the chapel is certainly worth the additional 3 euros!
After you’ve explored the Rock with a guided tour or on your own, I recommend a quick visit to Hore Abbey, a monastery from the 13th-century. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Rock. These ruins are free of charge. The view of the Rock of Cashel from is nice as well.
By Faith from XYU AND BEYOND
Located just south of Dublin Glendalough is located in the Wicklow National Park. It is a very difficult place to get to on public transit, as it is simply not accessible. However, it is easy to get to by car and there are many tours that will take you to the area as well. There is no bus service into the park apart from the tourist tours.
Glendalough certainly lives up to its reputation as “one of the most beautiful places in Ireland”
The National Park includes two lakes and one of the most important historic sites in Ireland St. Kevin’s Christian Monastic Settlement Glendalough, which gave the area its name.
The two lakes at Glendalough are known as the Lower Lake and Upper Lake. The Glendalough Visitors’ Centre, the Glendalough Hotel, and the monastic ruins are located near the Lower Lake on the east end of the site, the parking here is extremely minimal perhaps enough room for 10 cars so you are better to park at the Upper Lake and walk back.
The Upper Lake contains the parking lot, which costs £4 to park, there are some amenities there for food, coffee, and washroom facilities and the walks through the park are all signposted from here. The whole area is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Glendalough has nine marked walks from easy to difficult for walkers. The Visitor Centre in Glendalough sells a Trail Guide for only €0.50. The maps list the nine routes with the shortest distance being a few kilometers and the longest 11 kilometers.
By Sally Pederson from LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLES
Kilkenny is located in south-east Ireland in the province of Leinster. In Irish ‘Cill Chainnigh’, means “church of Cainnech”. It is ninety-minutes from Dublin which makes it an excellent destination for a day trip from Dublin city. Kilkenny is often referred to as a city and is built on both sides of the River Nore.
The narrow Norman streets are maze-like throughout the city. In the city, you will see several monasteries and churches along with numerous architectural masterpieces. Visit the 6th-century St Canice’s Round Tower and Kilkenny Castle which was built in 1195. Additionally, you can visit the Shea Alms House which was built in the 12th-century, the 13th-century is the Black Abby Dominican Priory and St. Canice’s Cathedral, and the 18th-century Thosel. The Thosel is now used as Kilkenny’s City Hall.
Europe’s first witchcraft trial and Ireland’s only witchcraft trial took place in 1324 in Kilkenny. Dame Alice Kyteler was accused of sorcery and poisoning her four husbands accumulating a large fortune from them. Alice fled to England before being tried so her maid was burned at the stake for being her accessory.
The rich medieval heritage is not the only things to see in Kilkenny. It also has numerous shops selling paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other locally made products. For the sports fans, there are several GAA games including the legendary hurling. Kilkenny also hosts several festivals and music events throughout the year.
Ancient East’s Thomastown
By Gemma from TWO SCOTS ABROAD
Foodies definitely want to hire a car and take a road trip to Ireland’s Ancient East. Head to Thomastown to visit Highbank Organic (apple) Farm and sample the cider. This family is innovative – check out their alternative apple products of brandy and treacle! You can stay the night on the orchard too.
Sweet-toothed travellers should head to Thomastown’s award-winning Truffle Fairy next to gorge on chocolate treats. End the next in luxury at Mount Juliet, the 5-star Georgian home. Expect Michelin star dining, bike rides and of course, a golf course fit for professionals.
By Elisa from WORLD IN PARIS
Newgrange is a beautiful day trip to Dublin, especially if you like Archaeology. It is located in Boyne Valley, in the county of Meath, 56 km South of Dublin. It is a prehistoric monument built by a farmer community 5000 years ago as part of the biggest site called Brú na Boinne.
Newgrange consists on a circular 85m diameter mound with a central chamber inside it. This inner chamber is reached by a passage 19 m long. It is impressive to see the giant stones which form the corridor and chamber perfectly aligned which means that the community who built this site was very well organized. Also, visitors can see prehistoric drawings carved on the stone with beautiful, geometric designs.
Some historians believe Newgrange is a funerary chamber used to bury somebody important while others are convinced it is a kind of spiritual and astrological sanctuary. One of the reasons for this second theory is the fact that the passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the Winter Solstice.
Newgrange is visited on a guided tour starting from the Visitors Center. It is also interesting to spend some time there before the visit so you can read the information panels on the site and its historical background.
When I went to Newgrange, I took a shuttle from Dublin but I think it does not operate anymore. You can try with Uber or book a guided tour with transportation with Viator or Get Your Guide.
Hill of Tara
By Jill Bowdery from READING THE BOOK TRAVEL
Ireland is a country with a history which goes deep back into the mists (and myths) of time, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Hill of Tara, located within an easy day trip distance from Dublin.
Rising to a height of just over 150 meters above the farmland of County Meath, the Hill of Tara was once the seat of the High King of Ireland. Iron Age remains have been found on the top of the hill, which was mentioned in the 11th Century Book of Invasions as being the location where High Kings were inaugurated in a pagan ceremony. Roman and even Neolithic remains have also been found at the site.
Today the Hill of Tara is a windswept hilltop dotted with burial mounds and ring forts, double rings of the raised earth which can still be clearly seen today. A barrow (long raised earth structure) known as the Royal Seat is home to a standing stone which is believed to be where kings were crowned. Check out, too, the beautiful Celtic cross which stands as a (comparatively!) modern counterpoint to the ancient hilltop.
The Hill of Tara is essentially an open area which needs to be explored with a map and a healthy dose of imagination, but for fans of Irish myth and legend, it should not be missed! Reach the Hill in 45-60 minutes by car, or take the 109 bus from Dublin city center. The site has plenty of parking and a cafe and gift shop.
By Teresa from BROGAN ABROAD
Dalkey is a small seaside town that’s only a short ride on the DART or bus from Dublin city center. It was once an important trading post, with seven castles in the area that protected the trading route. Now, it is better known for its most famous resident, Bono, and Dalkey Castle.
At Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre actors bring history back to life and act out live theatre performances. You can go up to the top of the castle tower and enjoy a beautiful view of the High Street, with its historic buildings.
If you enjoy literature, the town has very close ties to the literary world, with Maeve Binchy and James Joyce had been former residents. You can take a literary walk through Dalkey and you can visit the James Joyce Tower & Museum, a Martello tower where James Joyce once spent 6 days and, and the place where the opening scenes of his novel Ulysses take place.
If you are looking for more adventurous activities on Dublin’s doorstep, then Dalkey is the place for you. You can go sea kayaking from Bullock Harbour to Dalkey Island, where you will be able to see a 60-strong colony of seals and step back in time to an ancient era. The island was a Viking settlement, and you can still see the ruins of an early Christian church, as well as a Napoleonic Fort and a Martello Tower. And if you’re lucky, you may even see bottlenose dolphins!
Galway City and Places Around Galway City
The Galway City is 2.5 hours drive from Dublin. There is a good frequency of buses and trains from Dublin to Galway City which is also about 2.5 hours journey. Some of the top Galway attractions are beautiful 16th-century tower house of Dunguaire Castle, Galway Cathedral, Eyre Square, the Spanish Arch once part of city walls and Galway City Museum.
Connemara National Park is one of the six national parks in the Republic of Ireland. The park is known as bird watchers paradise and features scenic landscapes. The park is also home to 4,000-year-old megalithic tombs. The park is about 1.5 hours from Galway town and is one of the best day trips to do from Galway.
One of the top things to do on your visit to Galway is to visit the Aran Islands which is a short ferry trip away from Galway Bay. Aran Islands are a group of three rocky islands located off the coast of Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. The three islands are Inishmore, the largest, Inishmaan the second-largest and Inisheer the smallest of the islands. Apart from the scenic vistas, there are ruins of churches and historical monuments including ancient forts Dun Aonghasa and Dun Chonchuirto and ancient stone walls to explore on the islands.
If you are planning to get directly to Aran Islands from Dublin; Dublin to Rossaveal is about 3 hours drive and then from Rossaveal a ferry to Inishmore, one of the main islands of Aran Islands takes another one hour 15 minutes.
While exploring Galway City and the Aran Islands or Connemara National Park in a day may not be a practical idea. You can spend a couple of days in Galway City. Spend one day exploring the Galway City and the other day you can take a day trip to the Aran Islands or Connemara National Park.
Have you already added these amazing places to your list for Dublin trip? How many of these have you already crossed from your bucket list? Do share with us in comments.
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