wicklow mountains day trips from dublin
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12 Best Day Trips from Dublin, Ireland You Need to Take

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When many people book a trip to Ireland, they put a visit to Dublin on their list. This city is also where most flights from around the world come in, so it makes sense to spend some time in the city. However, there are many day trips from Dublin that I encourage you to go on if you have the time, as it allows you to explore the country further.

While you might not have much time if you’re only spending a day in Dublin, you’ll want to check out this list of Dublin day tours if you’re spending three days in Dublin or more. We’ve included everything from trips that will only take a few hours to longer trips that will take up the whole day.

Whether you want to explore the outdoors or learn about history, read on to find the perfect Dublin day trip for you. All of these can be done by car if you’re going on a road trip around Ireland, or you can join a tour for most of them if you’re visiting Ireland without a car.

1. Glendalough 

Glendalough

Distance From Dublin: 35 miles

The monastic history of the Wicklow area is a draw for many visitors. This particular site at Glendalough is said to have been founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. At the center of it stands the Round Tower, an impressively preserved 90-foot structure. 

It will take around an hour and a quarter to drive from Dublin to the Wicklow Mountains, but as with many drives in Ireland, it’s a drive you’ll want to appreciate. The views and stunning Irish landscape are well worth taking it slow and easy. 

“Glendalough” translates to “Valley of the Two Lakes.” Aside from those lakes, there are acres of green forests and, of course, the mountains to admire.

Once you get here, you can opt to take a hike – there are dozens of trails and open spaces to explore. Alternatively, take in the mystic atmosphere of the ruins. Many of the buildings here are based around a specific spirituality and ancient religious purpose. 

St. Mary’s Church, Trinity Church, and the Priest’s House (built in the 11th and 12th century, respectively) are popular stops. You can even visit some locations of the classic film Braveheart, partly filmed here and learn other fun facts about Dublin and the surrounding areas.

There are some modern amenities dotted around – consider taking a spa treatment to complete the experience of calm, relaxing spiritual healing. Or buy some arts and crafts at the nearby market stalls.

Tip: If the weather is pleasant, the route traversing the Sally Gap mountain pass offers an even more breathtaking view than the shorter M50. You can also go for a dip in the upper lake, and you are likely to find lots of enthusiastic swimmers and paddlers there on warm days. 

An official tour runs from Dublin, lasting 8-9 hours. It’s a full day of wondrous exploration and well worth the time if you’re looking to get into the heart of what makes Dublin’s surroundings so unique. You’ll also learn some interesting facts about Ireland during this tour.

Consider a half-day tour of the Wicklow Mountains for a start when you want day trips out of Dublin, Ireland. If you have more time to spare, the nine-hour version of the Wicklow and Glendalough Tour is definitely for you.  

2. Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle

Distance From Dublin: 70 miles

On the River Nore lies the fabled Marble City, and this medieval town is protected by Kilkenny Castle, a Norman-built fortress estimated to have been constructed around 1195. Kilkenny has a strong religious history and has many churches and other religious buildings. 

The name of the city means “Church of Cainnech.” Kilkenny City itself was walled, and parts of this wall can still be seen, though much of it is crumbling or has crumbled completely.

Much of the town and its history are attractions for tourists today. The highlight is undoubtedly the castle, which is open to tourists for a small fee. The gardens and grounds are also available to explore and are particularly beautiful in the spring in Dublin

You can reach Kilkenny by train, bus, or car if you’ve hired a rental. It takes roughly 90-100 minutes to get here from Dublin, depending on your choice of transport. Trains are fun, but you’ll have more flexibility if you take your own rental car.

The Black Abbey and St. Canice’s Cathedral are among the most popular points of historical interest for tourists. Dunmore Caves and the St. Francis Abbey Brewery are also good suggestions for a visit. 

Cultural history and good food are offered at places like the Petronella on the Butterslip and Anocht. Smithwick has been the site of the local brew since 1231 – it’s older than Guinness!

The best way to experience these sites is with a guided day tour that offers plenty of information and additional stories to enjoy.

3. Giant’s Causeway

Giants Causeway

Distance from Dublin: 102 miles

Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular day trips from Dublin, and for good reason. This is a series of basalt columns in Northern Ireland numbering roughly 40,000. It was formed by a volcanic eruption an estimated 60 million years ago.

The columns have taken on a mythical backstory, as with most such anomalies. These columns were established and used by Irish folk hero Finn McCool to cross the sea to Scotland for battle with another giant. 

There are different versions of the story, but they mostly end with the Scottish giant opting not to fight or defeat. Whatever the case, many proud Irish proclaim the causeway to be the eighth wonder of the world. 

If you have extra time, I recommend taking the 15-minute drive over to walk another famous Irish landmarkCarrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. While short in length, this is definitely for the more adventurous, as it’s suspended high over the cold waters of the sea.

The area has also become a famous filming location for Game of Thrones, the hit TV show. The Scottish shoreline can be seen from the shore on clear days. 

The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the formations are remarkable and have been named in typical Irish fashion. For example, visitors can see and marvel at the Organ and Giant’s Boot, Shepherd’s Steps, the Honeycomb, and the Giant’s Harp.

Consider a Giant’s Causeway guided day trip for the full story of Finn McCool’s exploits when he crossed the sea. 

4. Belfast and the Titanic Quarter

Belfast Titanic Quarter

Distance from Dublin: 103 miles

Along with the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland and Belfast offer additional Dublin, Ireland day trips options. Belfast is a city that is keen on reinventing itself as a cultural tourist haven, and you’ll want to stop here if you’re going on a road trip around Northern Ireland.

Among the most visited attractions is the Titanic Quarter. The famous cruise ship RMS Titanic – and many others – was built here. Like Newcastle and Liverpool, Belfast was essentially a ship-building town, critical to the British Empire’s dominance of the seas. 

The story of the Titanic is one of legend, and the ship was touted as unsinkable when built and promptly sank. Unfortunately, more than 1,500 people were lost in the disaster. At the time of its construction in Belfast, it was one of the three largest ships in the world.

The Titanic Belfast building and Visitor Experience exhibition are impressive, complete with deck and cabin recreations. Titanic Quarter also hosts regular events and film shoots, making it feel like mini-Hollywood or Las Vegas. There are hotels and leisure-focused activities like restaurants and bars to explore as well. 

If you’d like to stay for the night, take a look at this great list of places to stay in Belfast. You can also extend your trip if you want to go on a Belfast day trip.

If you’d like to take a day tour from Dublin, you can join the Titanic Belfast Experience tour to see the museum as well as Giant’s Causeway. You could also explore the area via the Belfast Day Tour.

5. Newgrange / Hill of Tara

Mound of the Hostages

Distance from Dublin: 26 miles

Those unfamiliar with Irish historical sites might be shocked to learn that Newgrange is an older tomb structure than Stonehenge. It was built around 3200 BC, making it a remarkable historical artifact of ancient times – theoretically older than the Pyramids of Egypt.

The structure is circular and contains lots of passages and chambers. A white wall surrounds this UNESCO World Heritage Site, adding to the mystique and wonder. If you happen to be in Dublin in the winter visiting on the winter solstice, the sun illuminates the interior chambers. 

Like Newgrange, the nearby Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s legendary historic sites, and the two make for a beautiful double feature on a day out. The Mound of the Hostages tomb is almost as old as the Newgrange tomb, dated around 3000 BC. This was a site used to ordain ancient Irish Kings, so it would have been considered especially sacred. 

The Hill of Tara was the old seat of Irish Kings, and it is said that all ancient Irish roads lead here. All the buildings and castles have disappeared, but you can still see the Lia Fáil, the coronation stone at which kings were ordained, at the An Forradh monument.   

If you have extra time, you may want to stop by Trim Castle, about 30 minutes from Newgrange by car. The majestic castle is the biggest in Ireland and took 30 years to build the Anglo-Normans. 

6. Powerscourt

Powerscourt Trees

Distance from Dublin: 28 miles

Powerscourt is a gardens and grounds project designed to show off and enhance the natural beauty of the Wicklow area. The countryside is known for its greenery, and Powerscourt was intended to blend with the hills and mountains. 

Sugarloaf Mountain – yes, there’s a Sugarloaf Mountain here, too – is the famous nearby landmark. Powerscourt is divided into themed gardens, including Japanese, Italian, Kitchen, and Roses as a focus.

There are reportedly more than 200 varieties of trees and shrubs along the 47 acres of walks and pathways of the gardens. Further along, the estate contains a large manor house which is now used as a shopping center for local arts and crafts. 

Try this list if you’re looking for more superb hikes near Dublin, and of course, what Dublin pubs to stop at after your day out.

7. Howth

Howth Lighthouse day trips from dublin

Distance from Dublin: 10 miles

Take the DART train for a quick day trip to Howth, barely 30 minutes from the Dublin City Center. This is one of the more underrated day trips from Dublin, but one of the most scenic in my opinion. You’ll encounter a peaceful but character-filled seaside scene, complete with a rocky pier and lighthouse.

The pier is a beautiful, romantic walk, but you can also go for hikes along the coastline or take the Howth Cliff Walk if you’re feeling the fresh energy. The area also offers a visit to Howth Castle, which has lovely gardens to admire. Interestingly, Howth Castle hosts cooking classes, too.

The St. Mary’s Abbey ruins make a fascinating visit for those interested in history. And you can find more modern history at the National Transport Museum.

Howth has a vibrant seafood and local crafts scene. Most of the restaurants offer fresh fare straight off the local fishing boats in the harbor. Traditional music plays almost nightly at the Abbey Tavern, after which you can return to your hotel in Dublin to relax.

If you’re looking to connect with others, check out the Dublin Peninsula Hiking Tour that goes by scenic viewpoints and teaches you about the area. You can also take a fun E-Bike Tour to see the region.

8. Cliffs of Moher

Cliff Of Moher

Distance From Dublin: 166 miles

The best Dublin day trips involve seeing the green country at its most natural. If you’re up to visiting a destination a little further out and perhaps even considering an overnight break away from Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher ranks as one of the top tourist spots in Ireland. It is statistically Ireland’s most visited natural attraction, despite being 3 hours away by car.

The 5 miles of coastline shows off the 600+ foot cliffs rising out of the rough waters. You can walk along the tops of the cliffs overlooking the sea and the Aran Islands, where you’ll see plenty of sea birds. On a clear day, the views are pretty spectacular. 

Nearby castles provide an additional reason to visit. Try Dunguaire Castle (16th century) or St. John’s Castle (also known as Limerick Castle) for a start. The Burren National Park also provides lots of extra walking opportunities if you’ve brought your hiking boots. 

If you are staying over, there are plenty of accommodation options if you are staying over, like the highly-rated Glasha Meadows B&B with its lush green lawns just ten minutes from the Cliffs. Another option is the fantastic Cliffs of Moher Hotel, in the village of Liscannor.

Don’t feel like driving here on your own? Since this is one of the top day trips from Dublin, you can join plenty of tours. This Cliffs of Moher tour also stops in Galway so you can explore a new city. You can also join a small group tour that stops at both the Cliffs and St. John’s Castle in Limerick.

9. Galway

Galway Town

Distance from Dublin: 129 miles

Like the Cliffs of Moher, Galway is across the country, on the west coast. You may also want to consider staying overnight for these lengthy Dublin day trips. It’s perfectly possible to do it in one day, though, especially if you opt to take a train or bus. 

Galway is known as the City of Festivals and Ireland’s “Most Irish City” for a good reason. Many colorful buildings are around that make any photographer happy, and fantastic music and Irish traditional culture seem to emanate from every door and window, so you’ll want this city on your list of day trips from Dublin.

As can be expected, the ale runs freely, and the city is bustling with visitors and students, especially in the spring season. 

You might also want to wander around Eyre Square, a public park that features lots of shops and activities. When it comes to taste, there’s something for everyone in Galway, from the expected grub at Galway pubs to Michelin-star level cuisine. The novelty and gift shops include books, pottery, and trinkets.

Galway is a pretty long day trip from Dublin, so you may prefer to stay the night. The Savoy Hostel Galway is a great spot for younger student-age travelers. Older folks may like the Galmont Hotel and Spa, and both are within walking distance of the popular Eyre Square.

I also have a complete article on cute Galway bed and breakfasts to stay at if you prefer that.

You can join this Connemara and Galway Bay Rail Tour to get to Galway by train for a unique way to see the country.

10. Ring of Kerry

Ring Of Kerry View

Distance from Dublin: 237 miles

The Ring of Kerry isn’t technically one location, but it is still one of the best day tours from Dublin. It’s a drive that wanders along the Iveragh Peninsula, and you’ll have views of the ocean and the delightful interiors and coastline with its islands and mountains abound. This is undoubtedly one the best day trips from Dublin by car.

If you’ve got a day to truly wander around Ireland, this drive can occupy hours over its 100+ miles of the scenic road. Some of the highlights on the interior road include the Lakes of Killarney and Ireland’s highest peak, Carrantuohill.

You can take a guided Ring of Kerry rail trip from Dublin, which will occupy a significant 16 hours of your time. It’s long, but you’re sure to see most of what’s good and get a lot of extra interesting information along the way during one of the most scenic day trips from Dublin. 

11. Blarney Castle and Cork

Blarney Castle

Distance from Dublin: 165 miles

Most visitors to Ireland have heard about kissing the famous Blarney Stone, which was initially built in 1446. The Blarney Stone is found close to the city of Cork, at Blarney Castle, which is open to visitors.

The castle, like most in Ireland, boasts gorgeous green gardens. There’s also a shop on site – Blarney Woollen Mills – where visitors can pick up a knitted trinket or two. 

The Blarney Stone itself is a block of limestone built into the castle wall. Seek out the Blarney Stone if you want to learn to speak fluently and eloquently – that’s the best advice anyone will give you when visiting this iconic site. The origins of the stone and its legend have many versions. Many of these stories are imaginative and questionable at best, but you can just go with it.

Nearby you’ll also find another rock, the Rock of Cashel. This medieval religious complex hosts a cathedral, its own castle, and a 15th-century tower. The story goes that this rock came from a mountain some 20 miles away. 

According to the legend, it was deposited there in an incident involving St. Patrick and Satan. The site was the seat of many Kings before the Norman invasion. Even the view of the hill from below is mystical and spectacular, offering a glimpse into life in Ancient Ireland. 

A Blarney Castle and Cork tour takes you around the country on a 12-hour trip from Dublin. The additional feature of a luxury coach setting offers some respite from the long road. What could be better than simply looking out the window as the green hills roll by?

12. Boyne Valley

Panorama Boyne Valley near Knowth

Distance from Dublin: 60 miles

The beautiful Boyne Valley makes a beautiful double attraction with the legendary Loughcrew Celtic Tombs. The stone carvings here are 6,000 years old, making them some of the oldest existing artifacts of ancient culture. 

You will also want to venture along the River Boyne. You’ll find ancient Celtic crosses, Trim Castle, and lots of stories about the legends and history of the region. A day trip by bus will take around ten hours, so settle in for a wonderful day.

This Celtic Boyne Valley Tour will let you see some of the oldest sites in the country.

As you can see, there are plenty of day trips from Dublin you can take, whether you want to go on a short tour or be gone all day.

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