Dublin, Ireland is the capital city of the country as well as the largest and most populated. Established around the 7th century by the Gaels, Dublin is part of the province of Leinster and is known for its landscape as much as its culture. Bordered by the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and situated on the bay at the mouth of the River Liffey, visitors don't have to go far to find fantastic opportunities to spend time outdoors and in nature.
Dublin is considered one of the top thirty cities on the planet, but many places around Dublin that are perfect for day trips for visitors who want a taste of all Ireland has to offer.
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Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital and is around two hours from Dublin. Belfast is an exceptional city to visit for learning about ancient history as well as being immersed in contemporary pop culture. The land Belfast is on has been settled since the Bronze Age. Visitors can visit a 5,000year-old stone henge named The Giant's Ring nearby as well as many Iron Age forts hidden within the hills surrounding Belfast, and 12th-14th-century castles.
Many visitors to Belfast come to see the Titanic Belfast, which is the largest Titanic exhibit in the world, and the SS Nomadic which was the Titanic's tender ship. The iconic Samson & Goliath Cranes, Titanic Memorial Garden, Hickson's Point, Belfast Whiskey Club, Belfast Cathedral, are other great attractions. People who love Game of Thrones visit Belfast from all over the world to attend the filming locations of the HBO hit show and historic castles.
Blarney Castle is where the famous Blarney Stone is found in Cork, Ireland and is three to four hours from Dublin. Trains are available from Dublin to Cork regularly, and visitors should plan to spend half a day at the Blarney Castle and Gardens. Blarney Castle was constructed in 1446 by the King of Munster and remains standing for visitors to explore all year around. There is also a cave, lake, Rock Close gardens, and dungeons that can be visited. A café is available for light food and lunch items, and a coffee hut is located inside the castle entrance. Visitors over eight years climb up the tower and kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck! If the visitor is under eight years old their kiss will be at the discretion of an employee.
Blarney, Cork, Ireland, Phone: 00-35-32-14-38-52-52
3.Burren National Park
Visitors looking for a quiet and tranquil day away from Dublin can travel just a few hours to Burren National Park and enjoy walking trails, beautiful habitats of limestone grassland and woodlands, and several local townlands. The terrain at the park is exceptionally rocky, and there are several deep fissures, loose rock, cliffs, and cracks in the foundation. Visitors must stay on the marked paths for their safety and take caution when the limestone is wet. The weather often changes, so wear comfortable, water-resistant clothing. Burren National Park is open year-round to the public.
Clare Heritage Center, Corofin, Phone: 06-56-82-76-93
The Midlands of Ireland in County Offaly is home to Charleville Castle, just outside of Tullamore. Charleville Castle is found within the oldest oak woods forest in Ireland which Ireland's ancient druids once settled. The castle was constructed in 1798 for the Earl of Charleville, Charles William Bury and is said to be Ireland's finest example of gothic-revival architectural style.
The castle is open for tours during summer months daily and the rest of the year by appointment only. Visitors wishing to get the most out of their experience can participate in Offaly Enchanting Tours, go the Windmill Restaurant, play a round of golf at Tullamore Golf Club, or the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre.
Charleville Estate, Tullamore Offaly, Republic of Ireland, Phone: 35-35-79-32-20-40
5.Cliffs Of Moher
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The five-mile stretch of cliffs towering 700 feet above Ireland's coast is one of the most visited places in the country, partly because the cliffs were a filming location in the movie The Princess Bride. The cliffs are just three hours from Dublin in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland and are one of the stops on the Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic route through Ireland. More than 30,000 birds live on the cliffs including Atlantic Puffins. Visitors can walk south of the visitor's center to see the stone tower that dates back tot eh Napoleonic Wars. Coastal walks, or ferry boat tours are another way to see the majestic cliffs.
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Connemara is a diverse landscape on the west coast of Ireland that is made up of bogs, lakes, and mountains. Just west of Galway, many villages dot the roads of Connemara that can be explored by foot, boat, or bicycle. There is also a mix of deserted and inhabited islands along the rugged coast of Connemara. The rugged landscape makes Connemara perfect for families and visitors that love fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, sailing, horseback riding, and water sports.
One of the best times to visit Connemara is during the festivals including the Connemara Pony Festival which the region is known for. This festival occurs annually in August and is followed in September by the Clifden Arts Festivals. Both of these events are highly attended.
Cork is known as Ireland's Maritime Haven that began as a 7th-century settlement. The county now offers 326 different attractions, 253 places to eat, 206 places to stay and a friendly city of more than 500,000 people. Cork is Ireland's biggest county and features 1000km of Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East Coastlines. Cork City is comprised of several islands and is known for its vibrant artistic culture, craft breweries, and artisan coffees, and fantastic restaurants and English Market which have also dubbed the city Ireland's food capital.
Some of the top attractions in Cork include CIT Blackrock Castle, Cork Public Museum, Cork City Gaol, Elizabeth Fort, Shandon Bells & Tower, St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, and the Fitzgerald Park & Museum.
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Enniskerry is a picturesque village in the countryside of Wicklow where visitors can explore the Powerscourt Estate grounds, superb cafes, local boutiques, and The Catholic Church which was constructed by Patrick Byrne in 1843. The cathedral is one of the original churches in Ireland to be built in the gothic revival style of architecture. Some visitors also enjoy taking walks in the forested countryside surrounding the village or fishing in the Glencullen River. The Glencree Visitor's Center in Enniskerry sits at the edge of Wicklow National Park and is an excellent place for hikers to begin their journey through the Glencree Valley. The center is inside the former 19th-century army barracks and also includes the Armoury Café and a gift shop.
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Galway is the only city found on the 2500km Wild Atlantic Way and also marks the halfway point on the route. Galway is a culturally bright city with a bohemian vibe and exceptional food. Visitors can enjoy the sandy beaches or thriving cosmopolitical city center with cobblestone streets, brightly colored boutiques, and dozens of exciting bars and cafes.
The best times to visit Galway are during the festivals held in the city annually including Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Races, International Oyster Festival, the Macnas Halloween Parade, and the St. Patrick's Day Festival, among others.
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Found in County Wicklow, Glendalough is known for its tranquil and scenic landscapes. The city's name means 'the valley of the two lakes' and the outdoor recreation combined with the historic and archaeological significance of the city draw thousands of visitors each year. Most visitors come to Glendalough to see the Monastic City which includes churches and the round tower in Wicklow Mountains National Park where there is also access to the lakes and hiking trails. Other outdoor activities include fishing, cycling, horseback riding, and golfing.
There are many festivals held in Glendalough that are great excuses for a day trip from Dublin including The Walking Festival, The Bealtaine Festivals, The Festival of St. Kevin, and the Wicklow Gardens Festival.
People that love Guinness Beer should make a point to spend a day at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. The history of Guinness Beer in Dublin goes back to the 1770s when Arthur Guinness was named the official brewer for the Dublin Castle. The Storehouse is open seven days per week but closed on select holidays and offers tours of the St. James Gate Brewery, tasting experiences, a Guinness Academy where visitors can learn how to pour the best pint of beer, shop at the retail store, or hand out at one of two bars, or four restaurants.
Some of the best times of year to visit the Guinness Storehouse are during the three annual events hosted there including the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Guinness X Meatopia, and Seafest.
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Just over the northern boundary of Dublin, the hilly landscapes are home to a small fishing village on the Dublin Bay called Howth. The busy harbor is often full of fisherman boats with cod and ray being plentiful and the restaurant dotting the coastline serves up delicious, fresh-caught seafood. Visitors who like to explore can take a hike down the Howth Head Walk or stroll along the pier or Bog of Frogs Loop.
The Bailey Lighthouse is a popular attraction, and the Howth Market at the DART Station offers locally made crafts, art, handmade jewelry, organic food, desserts, sandwiches, and hot prepared foods. The main attraction in Howth is the Howth Castle and Grounds which includes the St. Mary’s Abbey ruins and ledges more than 10 meters high.
13.Johnnie Fox's Pub
© Johnnie Fox's Pub
One of the first pubs in all of Ireland, Johnnie Fox’s was established on the mountain top city of Glenncullen in 1798. The pub features live music every night, serves award-winning food, and is famous for their Hooley Night that includes traditional Irish dance and dinner. Visitors from all over the planet come to the restaurant and pub which is also a living museum. The food at the restaurant is all farm-to-fork with a menu showcasing seafood and European cuisine. Johnnie Fox’s Pub is consistently voted one of the best in Ireland and reservations are suggested.
Johnnie Fox’s Pub, Glencullen, Dublin Mountains, Co. Dublin, D18 X635, Ireland, Phone: 35-30-12-95-56-47
The Kingdom of Kerry was first settled by pre-Gaelic tribes in the Munster Province. The county in Southwest Ireland is full of award-winning restaurants, cafes, and traditional pubs, as well as many historic and cultural sites. Visitors to North Kerry can enjoy Carrigafoyle Castle, Lislaghton Abbey, Ballybunion Castle, Listowel Castle, St. John’s Theatre, and more. Visitors to East Kerry can enjoy many outdoor activities such as spelunking, Kingdom Falconry, or the Knocknagoshel Halloween Festival. West Kerry offers swimming with dolphins, beautiful beaches, mountain climbing, fishing and boating along with tours of ancient archaeological sites. Mid Kerry is where visitors should go for hiking in the mountains and valleys or stopping by the small villages. South Kerry is known for their archaeological sites, hiking, UNESCO World Heritage Site Skellig Michael, and the Daniel O’Connell-Derrynane House, National Park, Gardens, and Beach. In the capital city of Tralee, visitors can explore beaches, visit museums, golf, go to the Aqua Dome or go shopping.
The oldest licensed distillery in Ireland is Kilbeggan Distillery which was founded as a whiskey distillery in 1757. Kilbeggan Whiskey is famous for being distilled twice rather than the traditional three times which preserves the flavor. After distilling, the whiskey is aged for at least four years in ex-bourbon casks. The distillery is named after the town it is located in, Kilbeggan in Co. Westmeath, Ireland and offers daily tours to see how the traditional Irish Whiskey, Small Batch Rye Whiskey, and Single Grain Whiskeys are produced.
Lower Main Street, Aghamore, Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, Ireland, Phone: 35-35-79-33-21-34
Visiting Kilkenny is like stepping back into Medieval times in southeast Ireland. The town was settled by Norman occupiers in 1195, and Kilkenny Castle was constructed. There are many ancient religious sites in Kilkenny including St. Canice’s Cathedral from the 13th century and the Black Abbey Dominican Priory which was built during the same period. Visitors can walk the Medieval Mile which links the Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral and is lined with shops, cafes, pubs, boutiques.
Other great attractions to visit in Kilkenny include Rothe House and Gardens, Kyteler’s Inn, The National Craft Gallery, The Butter Slip, Grace’s Castle (Now Kilkenny Jail and Courthouse), The Canal Walk, Jerpoint Abbey, and Shee Alms House. Ghost tours are also popular.
17.Killarney National Park
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The mountainous countryside to the west and south of Killarney encompasses Killarney National Park. McGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountain Range is found inside the park and is the highest range in the country. The lakes at the base of the mountains are known around the world for their pristine beauty and enchanting waterfalls. Killarney National Park is UNESCO designated preserve.
A popular attraction at Killarney National Park is the Muckross House and Gardens. The mansion was constructed in the 19th century is still preserved with period furniture and artwork. The Killarney House and Gardens are also found inside the park in Kenmare Desmene. The educational center of the park is located in the Knockreer house. There are many special events at these attractions all year.
Malahide Castle belonged to the Talbots, a diplomatic family in Ireland, from 1185 to 1975 when it was sold to the Irish State after the death of Lord Milo Talbot, the last Baron de Malahide. Today, visitors to the castle can take ticketed guided tours, visit the gardens and butterfly house, or walk the fairy garden. The castle is thought to be haunted according to local legends, and meeting rooms and event space are available to rent. The Visitor Center is where ticket sales are, entrances to the butterfly house and gardens, and the Museum Shop, Malahide Outdoors Shop, and Avoca. The Fairy Garden is an experience meant for children and features sculptures, fairy houses, special events throughout the year.
Malahide Demesne, Malahide Co., Dublin, Ireland, Phone: 35-30-61-71-12-22
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Maynooth Castle is a giant stone castle built sometime in the early 13th century and served as the residence of the Geraldines. The Fitzgerald’s became one of the most influential families in Ireland with Garret Mor becoming known as the Great Earl of Kildare when he governed Ireland as the King of England’s Proxy from 1487-1513. The castle was extensively remodeled in the 17th century, and in 1991 was vested in the state with restoration beginning in 2000. Visitors can take guided tours of the keep daily during the summer season and admission is always free.
Main Street, Maynooth, Co Kildare, W23 F2D5, Phone: 353-16-28-67-44
The soft bogland of Mountmellick, County Laois near the River Owenass and Slieve Bloom Mountains. The area was industrialized in the 18th century by the Quakers, and many of the large homes, barns, and buildings are still standing today. One of the main attractions in Mountmellick is the Museum which showcases the history of the town, unique Irish embroidery that was developed in Mountmellick in the early 19th century and has been recently revived in modern clothing.
There are a few restaurants in Mountmellick, including Amrita’s Restaurant & Pizza, Café Arioso, and Ena’s at The Mill. There is also a Bed & Breakfast and hostel for visitors that wish to extend their day trip overnight.
People interested in exploring the ancient past of Ireland’s East can visit Newgrange, a passage tomb in the Boyne Valley that is 5,200 years old. The was constructed by Stone Age farmers and took up an acre of space. The mound is 13.5 meters high, and a nineteen-meter passage running through the tomb is aligned with the sun on the Winter Solstice. Ninety-seven kerbstones surround Newgrange with the entrance stone being particularly striking and adorned with megalithic art. Many of the other rocks around Newgrange are also decorated. This ancient monument is older than Stone Henge and The Pyramids of Giza.
Guided tours are the only way for visitors to explore the ancient temple, and visitors can access the tours through the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. Most tours of the Boyne Valley include Newgrange and private tours from Dublin are also available.
22.Rock of Cashel
The Golden Vale is home to a grouping of Medieval buildings that sit on top of a limestone cliff known as Rock of Cashel. Visitor’s looking to explore ancient Ireland can see 12th century Romanesque Chapel and round tower, 13th-century Gothic Cathedral, and a castle built during the 15th century. The Rock of Cashel is located 500 m from the Cashel town center just off Dublin Road.
Guided tours of the medieval sites are available, and photography is welcomed. Visitors should expect the Rock of Cashel to have heavy tourism traffic all year round but particularly in the summer months.
A short train ride from Dublin will take visitors to Skerries, a scenic, seaside town where time slows down and provides an escape from the busy city life. The coastal village is home to food and cultural festivals throughout the year and is an excellent place for outdoor adventurers to explore. Many people choose to kayak to the surrounding islands just off Dublin’s coast that offers hiking, garden trails, and beaches. Skerries are known for the legend of St. Patrick and what is believed to be his footprint is still seen on Red Island today.
Many visitors to Skerries love to visit the 16th-century mill where guided tours are available. The Ardgillan Castle is part of the regional park that includes a five-mile stretch of trails, gardens, and parks that are perfect for a day outdoors in the mountains.
24.The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is an iconic place in Northern Ireland and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The visitor’s center was opened in 2012 and is a modern, building that has won many awards for its innovative design and sustainable architecture. Clifftop Experience Tours are available that includes a 5-mile guided hike to see the rock columns from the clifftop. T
he most famous feature of the Giant’s Causeway is the Giant’s Boot a formation said to be the boot of Finn, a giant fleeing from another giant. The Wishing Chair is another great spot to visit. These rocks form a natural throne, and the basalt stones are smooth and shiny from so many people sitting on them. The Wishing Chair is one of the best spots for a photo op. Visitors can also see the famous basaltic dyke that looks like a giant camel, said to have once been alive and belonged to Finn.
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Only thirty minutes south of Dublin is Wicklow where visitors can explore both the mountains and beautiful sandy beaches with lakes, bogs, and cliffs in between. Wicklow is considered the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East and visitors can explore many ancient religious buildings, pre-historic places of worship, and the Wicklow Jail which tells the jail of the 1798 Rebellion in Wicklow Jail. There are also many centuries-old gardens and homes still standing in Wicklow. Some of the most famous and well-preserved gardens are at Powerscourt and Mount Usher.
Wicklow is also known as one of the premier outdoor recreation areas in Ireland with a vast array of water sports, mountain sports, and hiking, biking, and walking, that can be done through the wood and Wicklow National Park. Visitors can also enjoy golf, sailing, and fishing.
25 Best Weekend and Day Trips from Dublin, Ireland
- Belfast, Photo: Torval Mork/stock.adobe.com
- Blarney Castle, Photo: russellg10/stock.adobe.com
- Burren National Park, Photo: Jenifoto/stock.adobe.com
- Charleville Castle, Photo: orsinico/stock.adobe.com
- Cliffs Of Moher, Photo: Markus Mainka/stock.adobe.com
- Connemara, Photo: Jürgen Hamann/stock.adobe.com
- Cork, Photo: kwiatek7/stock.adobe.com
- Enniskerry, Photo: Dawid/stock.adobe.com
- Galway City, Photo: Elzbieta Sekowska/stock.adobe.com
- Glendalough, Photo: fominayaphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Guinness Storehouse, Photo: Stefan/stock.adobe.com
- Howth, Photo: Natalia Pavlova/stock.adobe.com
- Johnnie Fox's Pub, Photo: Johnnie Fox's Pub
- Kerry, Photo: MNStudio/stock.adobe.com
- Kilbeggan Distillery, Photo: spectrumblue/stock.adobe.com
- Kilkenny, Photo: Kaleb/stock.adobe.com
- Killarney National Park, Photo: Lukasz Pajor/stock.adobe.com
- Malahide Castle, Photo: valerijs/stock.adobe.com
- Maynooth Castle, Photo: Daniel Poloha/stock.adobe.com
- Mountmellick, Photo: Classic/stock.adobe.com
- Newgrange, Photo: MNStudio/stock.adobe.com
- Rock of Cashel, Photo: Arcady/stock.adobe.com
- Skerries, Photo: Jonas/stock.adobe.com
- The Giant’s Causeway, Photo: kilhan/stock.adobe.com
- Wicklow, Photo: Ocskay Bence/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: puckillustrations/stock.adobe.com