With an abundance of scenic landscapes and historic sights, there are plenty of great day trips from Dublin.
Wicklow, known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’ thanks to its diverse and beautiful greenery, makes for a popular day trip and hikers can enjoy the varied terrain of the 132km-long Wicklow Way walking trail that crosses the county. Combine a visit to the town with a look at the 6th century monastic ruins nearby Glendalough located in the rugged Wicklow Mountains National park, where scenes from Braveheart and, more recently, P.S. I Love You, were filmed.
A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth is another popular excursion, less than an hour’s drive from the city and home to some of Europe’s most significant Neolithic burial grounds, dating back to 3200BC. The full-scale burial chamber replica and the Hill of Tara – once the seat of the High Kings – are also worth a visit.
Dalkey, a rambling suburb just South of Dublin, is one of Ireland’s designated Heritage towns and home to the 14th Century Dalkey Castle and a tiny harbor where boats run to the historic Dalkey island. For the most scenic journey, hop on the train, and be sure to cruise through the residences of the nearby Killiney Hill Park, where U2’s Bono and Enya inhabit the grand houses on the picturesque hilltop.
If haunted castles and ghostly legends sound up your alley, the Malahide Castle, just 30 minutes north of Dublin, is said to house not one, but 5 ghosts, including Lady Maud Plunkett, Miles Corbett Puck, Sir Walter Hussey, and the mysterious “White Lady”. Even if you don’t spot any spirits, you can still enjoy a visit to the nostalgic Tara’s Palace Childhood Museum, stroll around the Talbot Botanic Gardens and tee-off at the 9-hole golf course.
A little further affield, the medieval town of Kilkenny (around 1 and a half hours from Dublin) is a popular choice, with its many historic buildings set around the River Nore. The music and art capital of Ireland, there’s plenty to entertain you in town, or else a visit to the Kilkenny Castle offers excellent views.
If you can handle the distance, a Cliffs of Moher day trip from Dublin (around 3 hours drive) provides a striking change to the urban landscape, with around 5 miles of windswept pathways traversing the cliff-edge. The famous Giant’s Causeway is about the same distance, but with its 40,000 polygonal basalt columns formed from 28m thick lava rock, it’s a worthy trek.