Dublin, Ireland’s capital, is where most travellers will start and end their trip. However, if you only have a short amount of time in Ireland, it also makes as a good base from which to see some of the island’s best attractions. From Game of Thrones tours in the North, to the famous Cliffs of Moher in the West, here are the best day trips from Dublin.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are the second most visited attraction in the country (Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse takes first place). It’s no wonder why; the towering cliffs overlooking the rough Atlantic Ocean is a majestic view that just can’t be beat. It’s an absolute must when visiting Ireland and is considered to be one of the best day trips from Dublin.
You can also pair your Cliff of Moher experience with some other sight-seeing along the Galway Bay area. The Burren makes an interesting stop; the rocky landscape is almost alien and the area is steeped in history with lots of interesting archaeological finds.
*Note: Seeing the Cliffs is very weather dependent, so keep an eye on the forecast. Fog and rain can make it impossible to see, so if the weather doesn’t look too promising, consider another day tour instead.
Cork and the Blarney Stone
If you are planning on visiting Ireland, chances are you’ve heard of the Blarney stone; the famous stone in Blarney Castle that, when kissed, is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are several myths and legends about where it actually came from, but today it’s a sort of pilgrimage site for travellers from around the world.
While kissing the Blarney Stone is a must (though definitely requires some courage!) the Blarney Castle grounds are beautiful as well with a castle to explore and plenty of walking trails. Also nearby is the town of Cork; a cute city known for the English Market. If you are searching for your Irish fairytale castle, then Blarney and Cork is the best day trip form Dublin for you.
Northern Ireland really deserves at least a few days to explore, but if you don’t have a time then a day trip will give you a good taste of what the country has to offer. It’s one of the best day trips from Dublin and a favourite for Game of Thrones fans.
Perhaps the biggest attraction in Northern Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway; a UNESCO World Heritage site made up of basalt columns. Hiking trails, coastal views, and legends of giants are the highlights here. Most day trips from Dublin to Northern Ireland will also take the Antrim Coastal route, one of the most beautiful driving routes in Ireland. You will get to walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and have a quick stop in Belfast for a bit of exploring.
If you hoped for more time to explore Belfast, famous for its murals and history, then you can spend your day trip exploring some of the best of what Northern Ireland’s capital has to offer.
Or, get the best of both worlds by dividing your day between Belfast, where you can explore the Titanic Quarter, then head to the beautiful Giant’s Causeway.
Of course, Northern Ireland is also famous for its Game of Thrones filming locations such as the Dark Hedges. Fans of the tv series should definitely take the time to explore Northern Ireland’s Westeros.
Wicklow and Glendalough
The Wicklow mountains aren’t far from Dublin, but the scenery of this area is drastically different. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and was used as a filming location for P.S. I Love You and Braveheart. Perhaps the most beautiful place in the area is Glendalough famous not only for the beautiful landscape but also the monastic ruins. If you are an outdoor enthusiest, then this is one of the best day trips from Dublin.
Or, add an extra stop on your Wicklow day trip and explore the medieval town of Kilkenny with its impressive castle and the Black Abbey.
Kilkenny can be explored in combination with Glendalough, but if you are a big fan of historical places and medieval cities, then you may just want to spend your whole day in Kilkenny. A magnificent castle on sprawling green grounds, the historic Medieval Mile filled with pubs, shops, and cafes, churches, pubs, and even the Swmithwicks Brewing Experience can be found here. Kilkenny is one of the best cities in Ireland and definitely a top contender as one of the best day trips from Dublin.
*If you are interested in a full day tour to Kilkenny, your best bet is to hop a bus in Dublin and explore at your leisure.
Galway and Connemara
Ireland’s west coast has some of the most scenic sights; mountains, lakes, and plenty of sheep make it a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Galway, Ireland’s ‘coolest town’ is another must, especially for those looking to experience true Irish craic. Cozy pubs, boutique shops, and buskers in the street add to the fun atmosphere of this charming, coastal Irish city.
Looking to get out of Dublin but don’t want to go too far? Easy- head to Howth. This fishing village is just a short ride 27 minute DART ride away and is great for walking around and enjoying the scenic coastal views. There is a castle worth exploring and a couple of great walking trails. Howth is also known for its fresh delicious seafood, so make sure to stay for at least one meal! Plus, if you go on Sundays, you’ll get to experience the local food market. If you are looking for a relaxing day trip that isn’t too far away, then Howth is a great pick for a day trip from Dublin.
Whatever your interests are, Dublin makes a good base from which to explore some of the best and most beautiful areas of Ireland.