Are you visiting Dublin? If so, you need to check out these spectacular Dublin day trips during your stay. Ireland is not a large country so many visitors base themselves in Dublin with plans to explore the country on day trips. While I do not recommend going as far as Galway or the Ring of Kerry on a day trip, it is certainly doable.
However, what we offer here are some of the best day trips from Dublin for visitors looking to get off the beaten path a bit, experience Ireland as many locals do without spending hours on a bus while also getting in some epic nature scenery, history and food along the way.
After visiting the Dublin and Ireland for the last 20 years, we have made our share of mistakes and have come up with a great list of spectacular day trips from Dublin that will be worth the effort and time.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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Getting Around Dublin (& Out of Dublin)
Whether you are staying in Dublin for a weekend or long trip, we highly recommend using a variety of transportation options during your stay. Depending on where you choose to stay, your options will be different. For many visitors they opt to stay within the city center. If this is you, you will have no problem walking to most all of the best things to do in Dublin.
If you plan to be only in the city center of Dublin during your visit to Ireland, we highly suggest learning all you can about the local public transport options like the LUAS (street tram), DART (light rail) and the bus system.
For those planning to venture around Ireland, consider renting a car. We love driving in Ireland, but understand that for many visitors it can be scary. While most vehicles are manual shift, automatic cars can be booked for a bit higher price. On my planning a trip to Ireland page, I share all the info on driving in Ireland to help you get going. Consider renting a car after your stay in Dublin has finished as driving in the city is confusing and stressful for many.
Getting Around Dublin By Bus
The Dublin bus network is extensive and your best bet for journeys outside of the center of town. You can use this Journey Planner to find the nearest bus stop and plan your route. The biggest negative for taking the bus in Dublin is that passengers need to have exact change for their destination. To get around this, visitors can purchase a Leap Card (valid for 72 hours) which can be purchased at local convenience stores and topped up as needed.
Children under the age of 5 travel free with a paying adult. Also note that space is limited at rush hour, but buses run quite frequently during this time so you should never have to wait too long.
Getting Around Dublin by LUAS & DART
For those who plan to use public transportation to get out of town, you will want to check out the DART and LUAS. Tickets can be purchased online or from vending machines at stations. Your Leap Card is also valid on the LUAS and DART in Dublin.
The LUAS is a tram that crosses the city. There are only 2 routes, so most visitors won’t find themselves on this unless they are staying one either the Red or Green lines. To find out more on routes check out the map here.
The DART, Dublin Area Rapid Transit, is the train that you will take to get outside of Dublin to the coast. This rail system runs from the northern suburbs of Howth and Malahide, through the City Centre, and onto the outer southern suburbs of Blackrock and Greystones. Again, your Leap Card will also work on this.
Getting Out of Dublin
For the day trips that require you to go further afield, you can check out the Irish rail tickets as well as various bus lines that traverse the country. However, by far the most extensive public transport system around the country is bus. Travel is typically affordable and can be purchased in advance through Bus Eiranne. Connections are available between all major cities and are are reliable and comfortable.
9 Spectacular Day Trips from Dublin
1. Howth Is A Beautiful Seaside Village Dublin Day Trip
One of the best day trips from Dublin is to see a traditional Irish fishing village. One of the best examples of this is just a short drive or ride away to the seaside town of Howth. This cute little village has everything from amazing seafood, cute shops and even some hiking! Located only 40 minutes drive from Dublin, Howth offers a great place to escape for the day. For those looking to get in their daily steps, you can try out the Howth Cliff Walk Loop Trail that is about 6 kilometers in length along easy terrain. You will have gorgeous views along the coastline where you can see birds and even occasionally seals.
Another great option for visiting Howth is to get out on the sea by boat. Here you can hire a boat from the west pier from 10 euros (and up) to explore by water or even stop off at some of the islands in the area to hike around.
For those with multigenerational families, there is also plenty to do here in Howth from eating to shopping. We love King Sitric Restaurant, but there are tons of options. Peak in and see what smells the best.
Getting to Howth from Dublin
Howth can be reached easily by car or by train from Dublin. By train, get on the northbound DART from Dublin city center. A day-return ticket costs €6.25. By car, it is approximately 45 minutes from the city center.
2. Glendalough & Wicklow Mountains is the Best Nature Day Trip from Dublin
At the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park is Glendalough, a medieval monastic settlement from the 6th century. It is one of Ireland’s top attractions and is one of the best places to visit as a day trip from Dublin. It is best done by your own car, however there are a few options for joining day tour groups.
Even though this area is known for its monastic settlement ruins, the biggest draw is hiking. In less than half a day you can easily hike both the upper and lower lakes loop starting from the visitors center. There are some boggy areas (fun for tourists!), but you shouldn’t need anything too much more than rain jackets, and waterproof shoes with a decent tread.
After your hike and look around, head to the Glendalough Hotel for simple traditional Irish food and drink to refresh you for your journey home. While here also visit the picturesque Glendalough Cemetery and monastic ruins.
Another unique experience in this area if you have time is to visit the village of Annamoe, located at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains where you can experience a sheppard at work.
Getting to Glendalough from Dublin
The best way to get to Glendalough from Dublin on a day trip is to go by car. If you don’t have a car, there are several day tour operators that you can join. There are no public bus options, however there is a private bus company St Kevin’s Bus Service that offers daily services between Dublin and Glendalough with a few stops in between. This is a great option if you don’t want a tour and don’t have a car of your own.
On your way to Glendalough or on your way back to Dublin, take the road less traveled through Sally Gap. Here you will see one of the most beautiful roads in Ireland. Keep an eye for the sheep who are sure to be all over the road!
3. Belfast & Beyond – A Great Day Trip from Dublin for City Lovers
This is the longest day trip on the list, but one that many visitors to Dublin aim to do, so I’ve included it here. And honestly it is one of my favorites although if you have time, stay longer than a day!
Located only 2 hours from Dublin, the capital of Northern Ireland is a fascinating city to visit. Once in Belfast, you can take a black taxi tour to learn more about “The Troubles” (what the Irish call the separation between north and south that took over the island for many many years), or spend time visiting the beautiful Titanic Belfast museum built on the site of the former shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built.
If going to Belfast isn’t quite enough Northern Ireland for you, you can continue up the Causeway Coast to visit some of North’s most spectacular sights. To do this in a day trip, you will definitely need a tour as it is a long day.
Getting to Belfast from Dublin
There are a myriad of options for day trips to Belfast from Dublin. This is one destination on our list of day trips from Dublin that I do not recommend taking your own car. Parking in Belfast is expensive and difficult to navigate at times and the train takes almost the exact same time as driving.
The average travel time between Dublin and Belfast is approximately 2 hours and 9 minutes. The first train leaves Dublin around 7:35 a.m. with the last at 20:45. With 8 trains a day, leaving every few hours, this is a great way to explore Belfast in a day (or more!). Check out the fastest train between the two cities, the Enterprise.
4. Bray to Greystones: A Nature Break on the Coast
Another great coastal day trip from Dublin is Bray and Greystones. This day trip can be combined with a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains for those of you with a car of your own. The main draw for this Dublin day trip is the chance to explore the coast on a lovely coastal cliff walk. Starting in Bray (or Greystones), the Cliff Walk is approximately 7 kilometers, taking about 2 hours for most people. The Cliff Walk offers beautiful views, wildlife sightings and a rich history to explore.
From the Bray promenade, follow the signs in Bray to Bray Head to start the walk. You can also park in the Raheen Park car park which will reduce the walk by 1 kilometer. Once you arrive to either Bray or Greystones, stop in one of the many pubs for drink and food before driving or catching the train back to Dublin.
Getting to Bray/Greystones from Dublin
Getting to and from Bray and Greystones is very easy from Dublin. You can drive as it is super easy to park in both towns or you can take the bus or train. Check timings and costs from the links above to find out the best option for your journey. Also, note if you have parked on one end and do not want to return by foot, there are several option by bus, train or even taxi to return.
5. Athlone – Visit the Center of Ireland on a Day Trip from Dublin
You can’t visit Ireland without getting out to a traditional village off the beaten path. After visiting much of the country, Athlone is one of my favorite villages. Big enough to offer plenty to do but still traditional and colorful enough for great photo ops. Located about 2 hours from Dublin by train, this is a little long of a day trip, but is a perfect stopping off point if you are heading west towards Galway.
Getting to Athlone from Dublin
If you plan your day trip early enough, you can catch a train for around 30 Euro return from Connolly Station. If you are like me and wait until the last minute and train tickets are too expensive, consider the bus. A return bus journey costs around 18 Euro and takes about 2 hours 15 minutes.
For those of you with a car, driving to Athlone is simple and the town offers an abundance of parking. We highly recommend driving if possible as there are a great number of beautiful sights to see on the outskirts of Athlone if you have a car.
6. Kilkenny Offers the Most Picturesque Day Trip from Dublin
Go back in time with a visit to picturesque Kilkenny Ireland, one of the best day trips from Dublin to take if you are on a limited time schedule. Kilkenny offers fun for the entire family only 90 minutes from Dublin. One of the top attractions in Kilkenny is the Medieval Mile walk that takes visitors from St Canice’s Cathedral to the Anglo Norman castle with lots in between. From visiting Kilkenny Castle, a ghost tour, train tours and even the Kilkenny Famine Experience there is something for everyone here.
Wonder along High Street, Parliament Street and through St. Kiernan’s going through the various slips (connecting alleyways built underneath buildings) for some great shots of the city and to soak up the vibe here.
Getting to Kilkenny from Dublin
Visiting Kilkenny from Dublin is a quick and easy day trip either by car, bus or train. Once you are in Kilkenny you can get around easily without a car, so if your budget allows, take the train as it’s the most comfortable! Check the sites above for the best options on rail and road.
7. Powerscourt Waterfall is the Best Day Trip from Dublin for Families
For those of you needing a little nature time, a great day trip from Dublin is to Powerscourt Waterfall. This is a popular family day out from Dublin throughout the year, but especially when the weather is nice. Families will load up the car and head out for a day at the waterfall, play on a the playground and of course a picnic. There is a small kiosk for snacks and drinks, but we highly recommending packing your own road snacks!
While you are in the area, you can also make a quick visit to the Powerscourt Gardens.
Getting to Powerscourt Waterfall from Dublin
The only way to get to Powerscourt Waterfall on a day trip from Dublin is by car. However, if you want to go to the Powerscourt Gardens, there are a couple of transport options. To reach the estate, you can take a bus (185 and 44) to Enniskerry village which is about a 25 minute walk from the gardens. DART goes to Bray, where you can then catch a bus to Enniskerry village.
8. Malahide Castle – A Dublin Day Trip Close to Town
Not quite even a day trip, Malahide Castle is located only a few minutes from the Dublin airport, offering one of the easiest day trips from Dublin. Located on over 250 acres of land, Malahide Castle dates back to the 12th century and was build more than 800 years ago. The town of Malahide is quaint and worth the visit.
When you arrive to town, hop on the Toot train for a wonderful tour of Malahide or go straight to the castle. For the best tour, make sure to make a reservation as you will learn a great deal of Irish history on the tour. Otherwise enjoy the beautiful gardens and butterfly house while cruising around the grounds.
Getting to Malahide from Dublin
The easiest way to get to Malahide from Dublin is via the DART which has a train ending here from Dublin city center. Driving is also easy with ample parking (paid) available.
9. Newgrange & The Hill of Tara is the Oldest Site in the World
Officially Newgrange is said to be older than the Egyptian pyramids (but probably not as impressive if I say so myself!) and is located only 45 minutes from Dublin, making it a great Dublin day trip. Newgrange is one of the largest Neolithic burial chambers in the world. The Hill of Tara was the epicenter for political and religious development. For the spiritual, these two sites hold great significance and offers a unique and informative day trip from Dublin.
Getting to Newgrange From Dublin
Unfortunately the best way to see Newgrange is either with your own personal car or an organized tour.
+ Even More Dublin Day Trips
While I stated above that I do not recommend taking long day trips across the country to places like Galway, Ring of Kerry or the Blarney Stone, if you only have limited time and do not want to do a longer Ireland tour or self drive tour around the country, you can see these famous places on a LONG day tour.
Blarney Castle is also known as the home of the Blarney Stone. The gift of gab is what you come here for. Kiss the Blarney Stone, explore the castle, eat some food and then head back to Dublin on your day trip here. For a great full day tour, check out this one.
My favorite town in all of the Republic of Ireland is the colorful, art filled town of Galway. This is a quintessential Irish town. The accents are stronger, the pubs are more vibrant and the colors are everywhere. If you can stay for more than a day, you will love it, but see what you can during a short visit from Dublin.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher is one of the most popular day trips from Dublin even though it is a LONG day. If you can’t make your way here on a larger Ireland tour, plan to visit on an organized tour. The Cliffs of Moher is one of the most spectacular sights in Ireland. For the best of the west, check out this tour that takes in the Cliffs of Moher and Galway.
Ring of Kerry
The biggest draw for many visitors to Ireland is the chance to drive the Ring of Kerry. The biggest reason I don’t recommend doing this on a day trip is because you will spend your entire day driving with little time on the ground. When possible make a stop in Killarney and venture out to the Ring of Kerry from here. If this isn’t an option, here are some great Dublin day tours to check out.
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