Oh, the Irish capital, where the people are jolly, the pints are tasty, and the vibe is like nowhere else in the world. Visitors venture to Dublin for a multitude of reasons, whether it be tourism or the nightlife.
But what happens when you want a break from city life and want to see somewhere else for the day? These day trips from Dublin are perfect for exploring more of Ireland, just be careful if you are renting a car and braving these Irish roads!
Regardless of whatever you’re visiting for, Dublin is definitely worth visiting. From early morning hikes in the Wicklow mountains to historical endeavors to Kylemore Abbey in Galway, a substantial number of one-day trips are available for visitors to take to suit all types of travelers’ needs.
This post will comprehensively summarize all the best day trips from Dublin. By the end, you’ll have a mountain of ideas on how to spend a day away from the capital.
Let’s get started.
1. Belfast, Co. Antrim
The vibrant capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, has stormed onto the scene in recent years. From quirky bars popping up on every corner to state-of-the-art experiences like the Titanic experience, there are a plethora of things to do in one day.
Belfast was once a city with a violent past, but there has been a real push lately to make it a cosmopolitan city like its other competitors on the island.
One of the best things you can do in Belfast is the world-leading Titanic experience. Located on the outskirts of the main city center near the Titanic Slipways, the self-guided tour brings visitors on an interactive journey through what it was like to be a ship worker on the Titanic and the story behind the catastrophe.
Belfast is a two-hour drive from Dublin, making it an ideal spot for a day out.
2. Cliffs Of Moher, Co. Clare
Did you really go to Ireland without visiting the Cliffs of Moher? Hands down, it’s the most popular day trip from Dublin, with thousands of people flocking to county Clare to catch a glimpse of the natural formation.
The breathtaking cliffs formed over 320 million years ago stretch for nearly 14 kilometers in distance and up to almost 700 ft in height. So it’s no wonder they get the recognition that they deserve.
Tickets to see the cliffs of Moher are 7 euros per person; with that, you get full access to the visitor center, an audio guide, and also entry into O’Brien’s tower.
The cliffs of Moher are just over a 3 hour’s drive from Dublin. However, those looking to really make the most of their day away from the capital should look into visiting the Ailwee Caves, which are one of the oldest sets of caves in Ireland and are on the way back from the cliffs of Moher.
3. Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork
The Old Head of Kinsale is the most southern point on the famed Wild Atlantic Way, one of the most popular road-trip routes globally! The ‘Old Head’ as it’s known locally is a 20-minute drive from the colorful town of Kinsale in the region of West Cork. The vast and dramatic cliffs towering over the wild Atlantic Ocean below are one of the best photo opportunities in Ireland.
If you love storm watching, then visit the Old Head of Kinsale in the Winter, ideally in December or January when the rain and wind are at their worst. The largest wave ever recorded here was a huge 85.6 feet (26.1m) back in 2014, but, during a stormy Winter’s day (which is common in Ireland), the waves at the Old Head reach an average of 75 feet.
You can park in the small car park here and watch the storm roll in from the comfort of your car, but for the best view of the waves crashing against the cliffs, you will need to get out and stand close (as is safely possible) to the cliff’s edge. Just make sure you have your rain gear!
If you’re a history fan, then you may know that this site is the closest land point to where the Lusitania ship sank during World War I, with the loss of 1200 lives.
3. Mitchelstown Cave, Co. Cork
Also in county Cork, Tipperary is one of the country’s most highly thought about natural wonders, Mitchelstown Cave, an ideal thing to do on a rainy day. The set of caves was accidentally found in 1833 by a man named Michael Condon, an average man quarrying limestone who let his crowbar fall and discovered the antre.
After the discovery, people who lived on the land decided to step in and ensure the cave’s natural beauty was preserved. For this to happen, the landowners gave visitors tours of the cave in an orderly fashion, so nobody could stroll in as they pleased.
In the 1960s, professionals eventually looked at the cave to make it easier to access. Footpaths were installed so people could walk through freely, electricity was put in place for some lighting, and today it’s one of the country’s top day trips from Dublin.
4. Powerscourt Estate, Co. Wicklow
This magnificent estate and gardens are less than an hour’s drive from Dublin and make for the perfect day trip. Visitor’s have the opportunity to walk the 47 acres of gardens, eat at the Avoca Terrace or explore the Powerscourt waterfall.
The audio guide is triggered by GPS, so as you walk around the gardens, you can listen to the history and hear stories of the past. The walk will take approximately one hour with 22 stops along the way.
The trail to the waterfall is 1.5 km and takes about 25 minutes to reach the falls. The parking lot is a separate entrance and 6km from the main Powerscourt Estate and tickets cannot be purchased online.
5. Waterford Greenway, Co. Waterford
Those looking for some active leisure time away from city life should head to the wonderful Waterford Greenway for a cycle of a lifetime.
Hop on your bike and take the 46km route, which will bring you through some of the finest parts of the sunny southeast, including the rugged Comeragh mountains, bright green fields, and quaint rural villages such as Dungarvan.
Along the trail, multiple rental stores offer enthusiasts bikes to rent for all skill sets and ages.
Cyclists should give themselves at least 6 hours to complete the track, but it’s best enjoyed by spending the whole day with plenty of breaks to get the most out of the experience.
Waterford is less than 2 hours away from Dublin, so you can get the full day out of it if you leave early.
6. Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway
Situated in the west of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way, Kylemore Abbey is one of Dublin’s most underrated day trips.
The abbey itself was built in the 1800s by a wealthy businessman named Mitchell Henry Mp, who wanted to show the potential of what could be constructed in rural Ireland, and boy did he show it.
In 1920, ownership of Kylemore Abbey was handed over to the Benedictine community, who now run the show. Anybody who wishes to spend the day at the abbey will get a raw insight into how the Benedictine nuns live their lives. It’s fascinating to see if you’ve never been introduced to something like it.
It takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes from Dublin to Kylemore Abbey. Although it’s a long way from home, it’s definitely worth spending the day there.
7. Newgrange, Co. Meath
A brilliant way to spend the day away from Dublin is by heading to its neighboring county of Meath to see the Stone Age Neolithic monument known as Newgrange.
Newgrange is a site that is over 5000 years old and was built by Stone Age farmers. The best way to describe this incredible construction is to say it’s a mound-like formation that hits up to 13 meters high, 85 meters in diameter, and has a passageway that is 19 meters long that hides some of the hidden sacred chambers still to this day.
The ancient site is part of a set of monuments known as Brú Na Bóinne that are situated along the river Boyne, which can also be visited while you’re around the area. The other monuments are named Knowth and Dowth. Both are similar creations to Newgrange.
Tickets for Newgrange can be purchased directly through their website.
8. The Wicklow Mountains National Park, Co. Wicklow
Just south of Dublin is the well-sought-after Wicklow Mountains National Park. It’s an area of over 23,000 hectares of rugged mountains, quiet lakes, and gentle streams for you to explore. The National Park is the largest of the six in Ireland.
Visitors can spend the day in many ways, including hiking the treacherous Wicklow Way on several trails, swimming in Gledaloughs’ upper lakes, and much more. You may even come into contact with some wildlife, such as the red deer, Ireland’s only native deer species.
There are many access points for anybody wishing to visit the national park. One of the most popular would be at the famous Glendalough, a massive glacial valley home to an early medieval settlement founded in the 6th century.
Entrance to the park is free, but if you want to park your car, you have two options. The first is parking at Glendalough, where the parking is two euros, but the gates close at 8 o’clock. The second option is to find a public parking space in the little village of Laragh. Be careful not to park illegally, as you can be fined if you’re not careful.
9. Giants Causeway, Co. Antrim
Located on the very edge of Antrim, the Giants Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland.
Those looking to escape the bedlam of Dublin City for a day can venture up north to discover the remains of an area that was affected by an ancient volcanic eruption. Over 50 to 60 million years ago, the eruption left behind polygon-shaped basalt columns in different shapes and sizes. There are about 40.000 columns still there to this day.
There have been some myths floating around for dozens of years that suggest that the creation of the Giants’ Causeway was at the hands of giants, particularly the famous giant Finn MacCumhaill.
Visitors can take the Giants Causeway experience tour, where you’ll be taken through an exhibition to learn about the history and geology of the site through an audio guide. Every hour, guided tours leave the exhibition area down to the landform. If that’s not your thing, you can get access to the landform free of charge, you just won’t be able to do the exhibition.
10. Fota Wildlife, Co. Cork
Animal lovers, this one is for you. Fota Wildlife is a zoo with a twist. The 100-acre park aims to allow its animals to roam freely in an environment where they’re comfortable and not locked in cages like in a normal zoo while interacting with other animals and human beings. The animals decide what they want to do and when they want to do it.
The unique attraction has plenty of animals on show, from giddy monkeys jumping from tree to tree to baby cubs following their mother like leeches. Don’t be frightened; animals that may seem a little more dangerous than others are placed in more secure settings, but nothing that would make them claustrophobic. Fota wildlife park is two and a half-hour drive from Dublin, so a visit for the whole day is doable.
Ireland is a spectacular country with so much to see and experience. This list of day trips from Dublin will give you a taste of this vast island with the hopes that one day you return to explore again.
Adam is the owner & writer of the Where In Dublin travel blog. The blog focuses on providing visitors with a tool where they can find every bit of travel information they need before visiting Dublin. Adam is obsessed with travel and constantly seeking out his next adventure. In his spare time, he ventures out to just about anywhere with his camera in a hope of catching some forms of humanity to show his followers. Adam currently resides in Ireland and is planning to hit the road full time this coming August where he’ll travel to South East Asia with his girlfriend to focus on his blogging and travelling.