10 Best Day Trips from Dublin Worth Taking

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Founded by Celts in the 7th century, Dublin is historically a mix of Christian contemplation, Viking settlements, Norman invasion, and English domination.

Today the capital of the Republic of Ireland is the place to go to for museums, Victorian architecture, and of course to sample a pint of Guinness in its world-famous traditional pubs.

But there are many things to explore outside of Dublin, most of which are within easy reach, day trips from Dublin are a great way to see what this beautiful island nation has to offer.

And the open border with Northern Ireland means the dramatic landscapes used on hit HBO series Game of Thrones is within reach. It’s a country steeped in history and rugged nature, ready to be explored.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)

10 Best Day Trips from Dublin

1. Blarney Castle

best day trips from Dublin - Blarney Castle

Stunning examples of medieval history are never too far away in Ireland, and the Blarney Castle, near the southern city of Cork, is one such medieval monument.

The castle as it is known dates back to 1446, but was in fact originally constructed in 1200, making this site well over 800 years old! But more famous than the castle is just one small part of it: The Blarney Stone.

This is one of the most well-known attractions of Ireland and is steeped in centuries-old superstition. According to legend, if you kiss the stone you will be bestowed with ‘the gift of the gab’.

Said to mean that you become more eloquent, or some may take this as the ability to deceive without offending! As such, this unique landmark attracts thousands of visitors all over the world wanting to increase their skill in conversation.

Our recommended tours to experience Blarney Castle:

2. Malahide Castle and Talbot Botanic Gardens

Malahide castle in Ireland

Set over 260 acres of parkland, the Malahide Castle is one of the earliest castles in the country, dating back to at least the 12th century. It originally began life in 1175 when a knight by the name of Richard Talbot was granted “lands and the harbor of Malahide” by Norman king Henry II.

From that point, it became the home of the Talbot family for 791 years: that’s 1175 to 1971! Guided tours can be taken of this historic building, which was still lived-in within living memory, taking in the famous gothic Great Hall.

Located on the castle grounds are the 1.6 hectare Talbot Botanic Gardens, including seven glasshouses, one of which being a Victorian conservatory with plants from mainly the southern hemisphere, notably Chile and Australia.

The lush grounds of Malahide Castle are extensive, with multiple woodland walks, soccer, and cricket pitches. And all this is only 9 miles north of Dublin.

Top tours for Malahide Castle:

3. Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry in Ireland

This 111-mile circular route is located in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland, and though quite a distance from the capital, it is, in fact, doable as one of the most extensive day trips from Dublin.

Located on this famous tourist route are monuments like the 15th-century Ross Castle, the dramatic 18th-century Derrynane House, and the ancient Dunloe Ogham Stones, thought to be carved in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Beautiful scenery is all around too, with the dramatic Rossbeigh Beach, Torc Waterfall, some 70 to 80 feet high, and the breathtaking Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass with the glassy Auger Lake located in its center.

Driving around this circular route is a great way to take in the rugged western Irish scenery in one trip.

Recommended Ring of Kerry day trips from Dublin:

4. Boyne Valley

View of the famous ruins at Trim Castle Yellow Steeple Great Hall Mint Sheep's Gate

This is the place to come if you want to discover Ireland’s ancient east, with some of the most ancient sites in all of Ireland, integral to Irish history and culture, to be found in the Boyne Valley.

There are 6,000-year-old carvings in the passage tombs at Loughcrew, plus the ancient site of the Hill of Tara. Known as the spot from where Irish kings ruled the country.

Near the town of valley town, Drogheda is the incredible Neolithic site of Newgrange; this prehistoric monument was built around 3200 BC, which makes it easily older than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

This fascinating slice of not only Irish human history is located under an hour’s drive northwest of the capital, making it an easy day trip from Dublin and one that is frankly amazing.

Best Boyne Valley Tours:

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5. Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

These picturesque cliffs are one of Ireland’s top attractions, and it’s not hard to see why: at their highest, these sheer, stark cliffs tower 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

These beautiful, rugged cliffs look almost as if they’ve been sliced by a giant knife, and looking out at the dramatic view of the sea is simply incredible.

They’re named after a fort called Mothar or Moher, which used to stand at the Hag’s Head, the southernmost portion of the cliff 390 feet above sea level.

The fort is no longer present,  but the ruins of the 18th century Tower of Moher is situated nearby to where it’s thought this ancient promontory fort would have stood.

Though one of the most stunning day-trips from Dublin, it is around a three-hour car ride away from the Irish capital so make sure to plan your day accordingly.

Recommended Cliffs of Moher Day Tours:

6. Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway Ireland

These enigmatic, hexagonal stepping stones have been a mystery for centuries. Though everyone now knows that these geometric delights were created by the movement of the earth, this site of the interlocking towers of basalt is still incredible.

According to legend, these are the remains of a causeway built by a giant (hence the name), and it’s not hard to see why someone all those years ago might have thought that.

It’s still difficult to believe that nature itself can be as perfect and precise as these man-made looking stones, like something that an unknown civilization would have crafted.

This popular destination, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Northern Ireland but is still one of the most interesting day trips from Dublin despite being the other side of the Irish border.

Our top recommendations for visiting the Giant’s Causeway:

7. Waterford

Waterford Ireland

Founded by the Vikings in 914 AD, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, as evidenced by the fact that some of its ancient city walls still survive to this day.

The Norse impact on Ireland is not to be understated: they were the originators and rulers of the Kingdom of Dublin from around this point to 1171, when the last King of Dublin was killed by the Norman invaders.

Today, Waterford is bubbling over with history and is a great place to come to explore for the day. It’s located just over two hours away by car, or closer to three if you go by the scenic, coastal route.

Sights around the city include the 11th-century Reginald’s Tower, where you’ll find the Waterford Museum of Treasures displaying local archaeological finds, and the historical area in which the tower is located, the ‘Viking Triangle’.

Best tours of the Viking Triangle:

8. Glendalough

Glendalough, Ireland

Just over an hour south of Dublin by car is the ancient monastic village of Glendalough. The ruins of various religious buildings in this secluded valley point to an idyllic past enjoyed by a monastic settlement founded here by St Kevin in the 6th century AD.

Naturally, the place is teeming with monuments, making for a perfect day of exploration: there’s the Gateway, the Round Tower, and various churches and priests’ houses besides, all many centuries old.

And to get between them are walking trails of varying difficulty around the upper and lower lakes of the valley. Easily reached as a day trip from Dublin, a peaceful time can be spent here, walking through the ancient stone settlements in a tranquil cradle of the natural world.

Top recommended tours to Glendalough:

9. Powerscourt Estate and Waterfall

Majestic water cascade of Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland.

Located just on the boundary of the National Park is the 18th-century manor house of the Powerscourt Estate. Originally the site of a 13th-century castle, the exquisite house which now occupies the land comes highly rated.

Lonely Planet voted it one of the best houses in the world in 2011, and National Geographic cited its gardens as Number 3 on its list of the world’s best gardens in 2014. Neither the house nor the beautifully sculpted gardens disappoint.

You can see why it’s worth a day trip in itself since you could get lost in the house alone. And what’s more, from here you can walk to the Powerscourt Waterfall, which at almost 400 feet tall is Ireland’s highest waterfall.

The area around the falls is perfect for a lunchtime picnic; in summer when the weather is at its best, and there’s not a cloud in the sky, this almost feels like paradise.

Tours to experience the Powerscourt Estate:

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)

10. Wicklow Mountains

best day trips from Dublin - Wicklow Mountains

Though ancient site Glendalough is within the Wicklow Mountains area, there’s just too much to do in this stunning park – so it definitely deserves its own separate trip.

There are many trails through the 20,000 hectares of brooding landscape, and as such hill walking is a popular activity here. Though many roads cross through the park, so simply getting to your destination by car is an incredible experience in itself – the scenery is just amazing.

Some may recognize the Sally’s Gap, located at the southern end of this conservation area, as a filming location from Braveheart. Others will be enthralled by the romantic stone bridge from PS. I Love You.

Either way, nature lovers and movie buffs alike will find the spectacular scenery of the Wicklow Mountains – called the ‘Garden of Ireland’ – simply captivating. Easily one of the best day-trips from Dublin.

Our top recommended tours to experience the Wicklow Mountains:

Recommended Multi-Day Tours of Ireland

G Adventures Ireland Explorer 13 days, Belfast to Dublin

  • Visit the Giant’s Causeway
  • Guided tour of Old Bushmills Distillery
  • Guided historical walking tour of Derry
  • Cliffs of Moher visit
  • Walk along the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Ring of Kerry Excursion
  • Cork orientation walk
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

G Adventures Highlights of Ireland 9 days, Dublin to Dublin

  • Cliffs of Moher visit
  • Walk along the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Ring of Kerry Excursion
  • Cork orientation walk
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Recommended Tours
Ireland Adventure Tour Ireland Adventure Tour Ireland Adventure Travel
Ireland TourIreland Tour
Highlights of Ireland
9 Days
Dublin to Belfast
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10-12 People
Iconic Ireland
9 Days
Dublin to Dublin
Small Group
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Discover Northern Ireland
3 Days
Dublin to Dublin
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More on Ireland:

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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