Dublin is a fantastic city to visit and explore; there is so much to see and do and eat and drink! Yes, it is a notoriously expensive city but it doesn’t have to be – you can check out my free guide to Dublin here.
Most tourists who travel to Ireland will land in Dublin which is the perfect base to explore the rest of the Emerald Isle. As Ireland is a relatively small country, it’s possible to do a day trip to any county that you would like to visit. Plus you’ll also experience the most beautiful scenery along the way!
What I will say though, as a local and as someone who has travelled extensively around Ireland is that you may want to tie some of your day trips from Dublin together, depending on how much time you have.
In this post, incredible travel bloggers from around the world have shared their favourite day trips from Dublin and you don’t want to miss out on what they have to say!
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Visit The World Heritage Site In Newgrange, Co. Meath
One of my favourite places to visit outside of Dublin is Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site officially titled “Brú na Bóinne – Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne.” Newgrange is one of the best day trips from Dublin and as it’s only a 40-minute drive away, you really shouldn’t miss out on seeing this beautiful site.
Newgrange, a prehistoric burial site, actually predates the Egyptian Pyramids! According to UNESCO, the three burial mounds here, called Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, collectively comprise “Europe’s largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.”
To visit, book your tour here; this amazing tour includes a scenic coastal tour and expert local guides. You may also want to spend some time in the museum before your tour begins. All visitors have an informed guide who gives a wonderfully in-depth overview so that you can truly understand the historical impact of Newgrange.
You can tour one or two of the mounds during your visit, though I think two is the best option for learning the most and experiencing what the site has to offer. Wear comfortable shoes, as there’s a bit of standing and walking on the tour!
Hike The Stunning Wicklow Mountains
By Marta from Learning Escapes | Facebook
One of the most beautiful day trips you can take from Dublin is an excursion to the Wicklow mountains and the monastic site of Glendalough. Located about 1h south of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains are easily accessible from the city and pack a punch in terms of both natural beauty and historical significance.
The Wicklow Mountains offer wonderful opportunities for hiking and scenic drives and they are one of the best places near Dublin to experience the beautiful green scenery that Ireland is famous for.
From the Sally Gap, for instance, you get sweeping views over the ‘Guinness lake’, with its dark waters and white sands and expansive views stretching towards the Irish sea. To get a more in-depth knowledge of the area from the history to famous filming locations, you can book a guided tour here.
Among the most famous attractions in the area is the medieval site of Glendalough. It dates back to the 6th Century and it is said to have been the place where St Kevin settled.
Glendalough now has the remains of a monastic village, a cemetery and a round tower, all nestled in a gorgeous valley with two sister lakes. It is one of the most atmospheric sites in this part of the country and one to add to any Ireland itinerary for atmosphere and visual impact.
Explore The Inside of Cahir Castle, Co. Tipperary
Cahir Castle, located in Co. Tipperary is one of Ireland’s most well-known castles. It sits on an island in the River Suir in the town of Cahir which is about a two-hour drive from Dublin. Somewhat of a hidden gem, it is definitely one of the best day trips from Dublin to take during your time in Ireland.
I highly recommend taking a tour of the castle which is around 40 minutes long and takes you through the medieval history of the castle and its impressive defence system. Although Cahir Castle was besieged multiple times, it still remains one of the best preserved castles in Ireland todY.
After you have toured the castle, including seeing its working portcullis, you can explore the fortress on your own. You can even climb to the top of a tower for a great view of the river and the town of Cahir.
The best way to get to Cahir Castle from Dublin on your own is by bus, which stops right across from the castle. Another option is a guided bus tour, which I personally did, that takes you to Cahir Castle as well as Blarney Castle and the Rock of Cashel. You get to see a lot of Ireland this way, and it’s by far one of the best day trips you can take from Dublin!
Visit The Modern, Cultural City of Galway
One of the best day trips from Dublin would definitely be Co. Galway. Galway is one of my favourite cities in Ireland because it is so incredibly charming, cultural and lively.
The drive from Dublin to Galway is approximately 2 hours, and there are also very good bus and train connections. Start your time in Galway with brunch at the quirky and delicious Ard Bia at Nimmos.
Next, if the weather is nice, walk the Salthill Promenade along the water. Turn back towards town and spend some time exploring the Latin Quarter and Quay Street where the cobblestones and cute buildings will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.
Pop into independent bookstores, visit the Galway Cathedral, shop for Irish wool souvenirs and definitely enjoy a meal at a local pub. Galway is also the perfect base if you want to visit the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most stunning natural landscapes.
Enjoy The Food and Craic in Co. Cork
Cork sits in the south of Ireland on the River Lee, and can be reached within 3 hours of Dublin by car and 2.5 hours by train.
Cork is without a doubt the culinary capital of Ireland. This is due to the abundance of fresh, market bought, local produce and an abundance of local chefs.
You can eat at fine dining establishments or opt for the cheaper cafe-style places such as The Workshop Cork. If you are planning a trip here, make sure you visit The English Market where local vendors sell fresh bread, artisan cheese, fish meat and more.
This city has an interesting atmosphere soaked in music and culture. Cork is home to Ireland’s biggest jazz festival – the Cork Jazz Festival and it also has quite the rebellious past. Make sure take a tour of the Military Museum, Cork City Gaol and Spike Island to learn more about Cork’s involvement in the Irish War of Independence.
Be Amazed At The Sights and History of Belfast
Belfast, in Northern Ireland, is one of the most amazing day trips from Dublin. There is so much history, culture and vibrancy in Belfast and it’s only around 1hr 45mins away from Dublin by car.
The distance of 165km is an easy drive following the M1 out of Dublin connecting to the A1 once you cross the border. The city itself is cloaked in history and if you plan it right you could cover a lot of the major sites in a day.
I highly recommend grabbing a one day pass for the hop on hop off bus so you can fit in all the sites without spending the day hunting for parking and staring blankly at maps.
The Titanic Museum is a must-see; it is a wonderful interactive museum experience and an easy way to spend a few hours learning all about the ship and the people who built it right here in Belfast by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line.
If you’re interested in The Troubles, a visit to see the murals on the Falls Road (Republican) and Shankill Road (Loyalists) is a must-do. These confronting and powerful murals can help to understand some of what the people in Northern Ireland have lived through in the past.
If the weather is good, the stunning grounds of the Stormont Estate and the majestic Parliament Buildings which lie within are worthy of a visit. The free guided tour of the Parliament Buildings takes about 45 minutes. Whilst Belfast has a lot to offer and is worthy of more time, there is a lot you can pack on a day trip from Dublin so I recommend setting out early to make the most of your time in this wonderful city.
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Visit The Stunning Cliffs of Moher
Despite being on the opposite side of the country, the Cliffs of Moher can be easily visited on a day trip from Dublin. This is a day trip that can be done by either driving or going on a guided tour.
You could take a bus from Dublin to the Cliffs, though the trip would take over five hours making it not feasible for a day trip. If you choose to drive yourself or take a guided tour, the journey will only take about 2 and a half hours.
There are several tour operators running day trips, with some of the most popular being this full-day tour with an experienced guide. Many of the guided tours also include stops at other popular Western Ireland sites, including Galway and Burren National Park.
Once you arrive at the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll be amazed at their beauty – the Cliffs are definitely one of the most beautiful sites in Ireland and maybe even the world! Walk along the trails for incredible views and make sure to stop by the Visitor’s Centre to check out the Cliffs Exhibition.
Visit The Viking Port Town of Co. Waterford
The romantic, scenic drive from Dublin to Waterford can be undertaken in a day (approx. 200Km/125miles), but don’t rush it as there are loads of wonderful places to stop en-route and you’ll want to be fresh to enjoy the delights of Waterford.
Popular tourist sites along the way include Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough Cathedral and Ferns Castle. Start your journey by hiring a car in Dublin and driving west on the R148, passing underneath Jameson’s Distillery and Phoenix Park.
Your scenic drive really starts on the Old Military Road through the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. Take a break, take it all in, stop at Glendalough Cathedral and take a walk around the picturesque lake.
Once you reach Waterford, there are so many incredible things to see and do! From Curraghmore House which is the largest private dwelling in Ireland to Tramore, a seaside beach town with fun-fair rides and games.
Waterford is steeped in history and the arrival of the Vikings hundreds of years ago still plays a huge part in the towns tourism and cultural infrastructure. You will see this as you wander around the cobbled streets – don’t forget to get your (free) photo taken as a Viking!
Don’t forget to check out the famous House of Waterford Crystal and the Medieval Museum too!
Explore The Beautiful Sights Of Dingle In Co.Kerry
The Dingle Peninsula on Ireland’s west coast can make for a long day trip from Dublin as it is a 4-hour drive, but it is possible to do in a day. In fact, if you have the time, it is up there as one of the best day trips from Dublin that you can take!
Driving around the Dingle Peninsula and giving yourself enough time to stop in Dingle Town and at all of the many photo opportunities should take about 6 hours, making this a 14 hour day so you should leave early from Dublin.
Start off your trip to the Dingle Peninsula by taking in the views of Inch Beach, a long sandy beach with lots of dunes. After Inch Beach, there are multiple places where you will want to stop and take photos of the spectacular coastline here.
The drive will also take you through rolling green hills of the Irish countryside. Driving through Dingle town, the Slea Head drive starts. Slea Head is the most westerly point in Europe and the scenery of the rugged coastline here is some of the best in Ireland. There are many possible stops here, including beehive huts and famine cottages.
In Dingle town, take a leisurely stroll around this colourful coastal town. Dingle has lots of food options for lunch and plenty of interesting shops to explore. Depending on how you are feeling about driving on small roads, you can either head directly back to Dublin on the motorway or drive the Conor Pass.
The Conor Pass is quite narrow, so much so that tour buses don’t drive it. The winding road through Conor Pass offers up gorgeous scenery of the mountains and landscape of the Dingle Peninsula. It is a fantastic way to end your day visiting the Dingle Peninsula before heading back to Dublin.
Enjoy A Day At The Seaside in Bray, Co. Wicklow
Bray is a lovely seaside town – the largest in County Wicklow – just a DART’s ride southeast from the city centre of Dublin.
It’s home to a lovely, physically low-impact, visually high-impact cliff walk. You can reach Bray by public transportation (via the DART) or you can drive and park for free in the Bray Head car park close to the edge of town, at the beginning of the cliffs.
This was one of our favourite, free parts of our trip to Ireland – some physical activity to work off all of the shepherd’s pie and pints of Guinness, with some amazing views thrown in! If you’re lucky, you’ll also see dolphins and seals swimming in the Irish Sea below as you explore the ruins of Lord Meath’s Lodge and walk easy, fenced trails high above the water.
Don’t forget to bring your camera, because the striking emerald green against the turquoise waters deserves to be captured for posterity. You can begin your walk in Bray and finish in Greystones, a nearby coastal town which takes about two hours to walk. Greystones is also accessible by the DART; you can take it from there and head straight back to Dublin.
Explore The Sights And Sounds of Donegal
By Faith from XYU and Beyond | Facebook
Donegal is a bit of a hike from Dublin, as it takes around a 3 hour drive to get there, but it can be done. In the summer months when the sun comes up at 5am and sets around 11pm you have a beautiful long day to enjoy the drive and see some of what Donegal has to offer.
For your day trip, I would highly recommend heading to Donegal Town where you can make a brief stop to see Donegal Castle and maybe walk around town to see the Abbey Ruins at the harbour.
Next, grab some lunch at The House voted one of Ireland’s best gastro pubs or on your way to Slieve League (the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and free) stop at the Seafood Shack food truck in Killybegs for some great harbour views and the best freshest fish and chips ever.
From Donegal Town the drive to Slieve League is around an hour but what a glorious hour it will be driving the jaw-dropping Wild Atlantic Way. The vistas are incredible and the drive to the cliffs is outstanding. On your way stop for a coffee at the Pod and soak in the stunning views at Largy Point. From here you can see across to Benbulben in Sligo, to the right is Muckross Head, Bunglas and Slieve League where you are headed.
From Slieve League you can drive right back to Dublin if you want to leave that is, you may be convinced to just stay in Donegal and never go back.
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Over To You….
Have you been on any day trips from Dublin? If you’ve been to Ireland, what did you like?