If you are heading to Dublin, Ireland on a cruise and are looking for something other than a trip to Trinity College or the Guinness Storehouse, why not escape the city to explore all the beauty and history that Ireland has to offer? Or perhaps, you are spending a few days in Dublin pre-cruise or post-cruise and want to get beyond the city limits. A day trip outside the hustle and bustle of Dublin is the perfect getaway. Get lost in the picturesque landscapes and marvel at the historic attractions in one of these top 5 day trips from Dublin, Ireland.
Top 5 Day Trips from Dublin, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher
A day trip to the Cliffs of Moher is mandatory for anyone spending 13+ hours in the city. Although it is a long drive from Dublin to the west coast area of County Clare, the breathtaking and panoramic views from the Cliffs of Moher are well worth the trip. This 5-mile span of rugged landscape reaches over 700 feet at the highest point. From here, you can enjoy the sweeping views of the cliffs themselves, Galway Bay, and even the Aran Islands on a clear day. You can stroll the coastal paths, admiring the flora and fauna along the way, and learn about the history and geology of this natural wonder.
Several companies offer organized tours to the Cliffs of Moher with most also stopping at The Burren for some dramatic views of limestone formations. To complete your day trip, many tours also allow for free time in the neighboring cities of Doolin and/or Galway. These charming coastal towns are known for their live music and traditional pubs. Stroll the quaint streets, indulge in a tasty lunch, and enjoy the music and street performers before making the trek back to Dublin.
Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough
A Wild Wicklow tour from Dublin takes you beyond the city limits to the charming countryside. As you journey through the Wicklow Mountains National Park, admire the stunning scenery of bogs, hills, and lakes. Visit famous locations like Sally’s Gap from the movies Braveheart and P.S. I Love You. You will soon learn why Wicklow is called the “Garden of Ireland”. This day trip will provide endless picturesque views and plenty of photo-ops.
The tour will also visit Glendalough, a valley in the Wicklow Mountains, to tour the ruins of the 6th century monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin. The main sites are located in the area known as the Monastic City. Some notable landmarks include the Gateway, the Round Tower, and the Cathedral, as well as the peaceful tree-lined walk to the Upper Lake.
Newgrange and Hill of Tara
Travel back in time to the Boyne Valley to visit historical landmarks and ancient neolithic tombs. Brú na Bóinne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to three well-known passage tombs Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth built during the Neolithic period and housing a large collection of art. These 5,000 year old structures precede Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids! Newgrange and Knowth can be accessed with a formal tour, but there is no public access to the tombs at Dowth.
Newgrange is the most famous of these tombs and is a very popular tourist attraction, so be sure to book a tour that guarantees entrance. The most notable feature at Newgrange is the small opening above the passage entrance that allows light to illuminate the inner chamber on the dawn of the winter solstice symbolizing rebirth. Most tours to Newgrange also stop at the Hill of Tara, believed to be the seat of the high king of Ireland and a sacred site associated with religious rituals.
Powerscourt Estate and Gardens
A visit to Powerscourt Estate is also another popular day trip from Dublin. Located in Enniskerry just 20 minutes south of Dublin, Powerscourt boasts 47 lush acres of gardens to be admired. Powerscourt Gardens include the Italian Garden and the Japanese Gardens with stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance, Pepperpot Tower that you can climb to admire the views of the estate and gardens from atop, marvelous statues including life-sized winged horses, the Dolphin Pond with its central fountain, and even a Pets Cemetery.
The estate itself, a medieval castle transformed into a grand mansion by Viscount Powerscourt in the 1700’s, suffered extensive fire damage in the 1970’s. It was later restored to a collection of shops featuring authentic Irish goods. The Powerscourt Waterfall is located 6km from the estate (not walkable). Set in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, this waterfall is the highest in Ireland at 398 ft.
Malahide Castle and Howth Village
In this half day trip from Dublin, you can explore a 12th century castle as well as a quaint seaside village. Malahide Castle and Gardens is one of Ireland’s oldest castles and is located only 9 miles north of Dublin. Explore the family history of the castle, the beautiful reception rooms, and the extensive collection of paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland. Make sure to also allow for time to explore the magnificently manicured grounds including the walled botanical garden.
Next, head to the fishing village of Howth. Enjoy a seafood lunch, walk the pier to admire the stunning coastal views, or take a cliff walk to the summit for beautiful vistas of Ireland’s Eye, Dublin Bay, and photo-worthy lighthouses. You might even catch a glimpse of some seals along the way. Whatever you chose to do, this will certainly be a trip to remember.
Have you visited Ireland on a cruise or land-based vacation? Have you taken any of these Top 5 Day Trips from Dublin, Ireland? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences visiting the Emerald Isle.