When you feel like a break from the bustling city life of Dublin, do what the Dubliners do and head for a walk along the Howth Coastal Path.
The small village of Howth is located 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Dublin’s city center and easily reached on the DART, Dublin’s rapid transport system.
South of the village is Howth Head, a headland full of sights and scents to fill the senses and views to take your breath away. The coastal path is well-marked.
As you walk, you’ll get stunning views across the bay towards Dublin city, north to County Down’s Mountains of Mourne or south to the Wicklow Mountains.
From the clifftops you’ll see Lambay Island and Ireland’s Eye, a small uninhabited island which is famed for as a seabird colony and is a nesting ground from April to July. You can catch a ferry from Howth out to the Eye to explore Martello tower – evidence of previous Celtic settlement – or to walk or rock-climb, though climbing is not allowed during bird nesting season.
The coastal path takes you to Baily lighthouse, one of Ireland’s 82 lighthouses and the last to be automated. Then on to Ben of Howth, which is the highest point on your walk and is marked by a burial cairn; it’s said to be the final resting place of Ireland’s last giant.
As you walk you might be tempted to look for coconut trees but that heady smell is from the yellow gorse.
The full walk is 4 miles (7 kilometers) of easy strolling on good paths. Most people spend between two and three hours completing the circuit before heading to one of the excellent cafes or restaurants in Howth for a well-earned sit down. The House is one of Howth’s award-winning and very Irish cafés, and claims to have once been home to the notorious Captain Bligh. For good coffee and Italian food with a view, head to Il Panorama Café.
There are many other things in Howth to catch your interest including 16th-century Howth Castle and grounds (extensively renovated in 1738 and 1911) where you’ll find the National Transport Museum, the Deer Park Hotel and several golf courses. The castle itself is privately owned – and is unusual for having been in the same family for so long, since the 12th century – and is not open to the public but the restored Georgian kitchens are used by a cookery school: Kitchen in the Castle.