In Ireland, a wealth of excitement awaits you, whether you’re planning to explore the whole island or just make a couple of side trips. Here are a few excursions worth considering that are close to Dublin and accessible by local transportation.
Close to Dublin
- Howth and Malahide Both of these picturesque villages grew around imposing castles that are among the oldest in Ireland; Malahide is also open to the public: a single family lived here for more than 800 years!
- Dalkey and Killiney These lovely, upscale seaside communities (home to many Irish celebrities) feature great views, pubs, good shopping and a welcoming, historic vibe.
- Glendalough Set in the “Valley of the Two Lakes” this beautiful site -- among the best in eastern Ireland -- boasts of mountains, lakes, rugged wilderness and a historic early Medieval monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.
- Enniskerry and Powerscourt Estate You’ll be charmed by Enniskerry -- considered among the prettiest historic villages in Ireland -- and wowed by the grand 18th century mansion and its glorious gardens.
Do try to see the western coast, even for just a few days. It’s home to some of the best known sites in all of Ireland. It may seem far away on a map, but remember, Ireland isn’t very big (by American standards.) Even a trip from Dublin to Galway, clear across on the other side of the country, can be an affordable outing over a long weekend. Among the recommended places to visit -- in no particular order:
- Cliffs of Moher The iconic cliffs are a must-see if you’re in western Ireland
- Galway Think cobblestone streets, an artsy vibe, pubs galore, and the gateway to the Aran Islands and Connemara
- The Rock of Cashel Actually, it’s a group of spectacular medieval buildings around a 12th century tower; perhaps the most important archeological site in Ireland
- The Dingle Peninsula For many visitors, it’s their favorite area of Ireland
- Kilkenny When you’re done exploring the medieval city and the castle, hit the pubs and restaurants of this nightlife-happy city
- Blarney Castle Join the crowds of tourists at this spectacular castle waiting to kiss the Blarney Stone for a “gift of the gab”
- Killarney National Park Lakes, waterfalls, Ireland’s tallest mountain range and wildlife galore: trust us, it will be an unforgettable journey
- Belfast This thriving, youthful city blends the old with the new, offering great architecture, wall art, the Titanic, Game of Throne studios and more -- along with nightlife and eateries galore
- Derry-Londonderry Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, famed for its old walled city
- Ulster American Folk Park This open-air museum is a must for anyone interested in Irish migration to the U.S.A.
- Giant’s Causeway A breathtaking natural wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge This famous rope bridge isn’t as scary as it looks, and the scenery alone make it worth seeking it out
Experienced travelers agree: the best way to experience the glories of the Irish countryside is on foot. Luckily for walkers, Ireland has established a nationwide system of long trails which take you to dramatic coastlines, forests, quaint villages, medieval monasteries, forests and castles. You can hike the entire length of each “Way” - or just a part of it, depending on your timetable and ability, privately or with an organized tour. Along the way, there are places to eat, sleep and chill in local pubs: the best of Ireland, literally at your feet. We encourage every ELI’er to walk at least a part of one “Way” during their stay!
- Wicklow Way - Just south of Dublin - perfect for a weekend outing
- Dingle Way - Western coves and beaches, one of the top-rated routes
- Beara Way - Walks along the stunning Beara Peninsula
- Kerry Way - One of the longest and most popular walks, beginning and ending in Killarney
- Aran Islands - Accessible by ferry from Galway
- Connenara - Unspoiled and remote: unforgettable sights and the “true” beauty of Ireland
- Sheeps Head Way (County Cork) - Rugged hills, a lighthouse and a wild coastline
- Burren Way - Includes the famous Cliffs of Moher, among Ireland’s most famous natural sites