These 12 day trips that will allow you to explore the best of Ireland.
Dublin is a city full of history, interesting sites and attractions, and an endless number of pubs. However, as fantastic as Dublin is, there is more of Ireland that is worth exploring; much of which can be seen on a day trip. So, if you are only in town for a few days, here are 12 amazing day trips from Dublin that will allow you to see some of the best of Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction (and a popular filming location). Shrouded in myth and legend, the Cliffs of Moher are truly a must-see when in Ireland. Make sure to stop by the visitor center as well; there is an interesting 10-minute video showing the cliffs from a bird’s eye perspective.
INSIDER TIPMost visitors stay in the same area close to the visitor’s center, so for photos without the crowds, be sure to walk along the paths for a bit. You won’t have to go too far to find a quieter vantage point.
Galway is a lively city on Ireland’s west coast known for buskers, lively pubs, and genuine Irish “craic.” It’s a small town that’s easy to explore by foot. The local museum is free to visitors as is entry to the beautiful Galway Cathedral. A day trip to Galway city can be done with a tour, or on your own. The City Link bus runs direct between downtown Dublin and Galway and is only two and a half hours each way.
INSIDER TIPThe famous Irish Claddagh ring comes from Galway, so if you are looking for the perfect souvenir, head to Thomas Dillon and Sons, the oldest makers of this traditional ring.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Cork and Blarney Castle
Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and a great place to explore for a few hours. It’s a pedestrian-friendly city center with a well-known English Market and several historic attractions, though the main point of interest is the nearby Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney stone. According to legend, those brave enough to bend backward over the castle walls to kiss the Blarney Stone will receive the gift of gab.
INSIDER TIPIf you’d rather skip the tour, you can do this day trip on your own. The train will get you from Dublin to Cork in about two and half hours. Then, from Cork you can hop on a local bus to get to Blarney Castle. Just make sure to check train and bus times in advance.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most picturesque routes you can take in Ireland. Most people drive it on their own, using Killarney as their base, but there are a couple of tour companies that will take you from Dublin. Beautiful viewpoints, sandy beaches, quaint villages, and historic sites are a few of the things you will get to see and explore on this day trip.
INSIDER TIPIt’s only worth it if the weather its nice, so keep an eye on the forecast before booking.
Wicklow and Glendalough
Wicklow is known to be one of the most picturesque areas in Ireland. Many popular films including Braveheart and PS I Love You were filmed in the area. The biggest draw in Wicklow National Park is Glendalough, which is nicknamed ‘the valley of the two lakes’. Not only does it have spectacular scenery, but the remains of an ancient monastic city can be found here. Some day tours also include the medieval city of Kilkenny in their Wicklow and Glendalough tour; a great choice for travelers short on time.
Kilkenny is a beautiful Medieval city with an impressive castle and several religious buildings. While steeped in history, it’s also a very creative town with dozens of artisans and craft shops, making it a shopping paradise. Kilkenny is another day trip that you can easily to on your own. You can take either a bus or train from downtown Dublin and be in Kilkenny in about two hours’ time. Take a walk down the Medieval Mile, explore the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, and grab lunch at one of the many friendly pubs.
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The Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Averaging around 14 hours, this might be one of the busiest day trips from Dublin, but it’s also one of the best. The Giants Causeway is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. The massive basalt columns standing tall against the crashing ocean are a must-see. The drive along the Causeway coastal route is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland, and a walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which sits about 30m above the ocean, is a thrill.
INSIDER TIPAt the Giant’s Causeway, there are two routes you can take: to the left there is a large road down to the waterfront, or on the right you can do a bit of a hike along the cliffs before heading down. Take the path on the right for the best views and photo opportunities.
Howth is the easiest day trip from Dublin, and a great choice for travelers who would rather explore on their own time rather than with a scheduled tour. It’s easy to get to: a quick ride on the local Dublin DART or, weather permitting, you can take one of the Dublin Bay Cruises. Howth is a scenic fishing village with several paths and trails for all walking levels. The Howth market is perfect for a bit of shopping and Howth Castle makes a great photo-op.
INSIDER TIPSince Howth is a fishing village, it’s known for its seafood dishes. Try the Oar House or Aqua for a delicious seafood lunch or dinner.
Connemara National Park in western Ireland is rugged, wild, and absolutely beautiful. Mountains, lakes, colorful villages, and endless sheep provide inspiration for photographers of all levels. Many day trips to Connemara also include a couple of hours in Galway, allowing you to get the most out of your visit. Pick a tour that includes a stop at Kylemore Abbey, one of the most beautiful buildings on the island.
'Game of Thrones' Tour Through Northern Ireland
Any Game of Thrones fan will know that Northern Ireland is an important filming location in the hit television series. This day trip option from Dublin will allow you to visit and experience some of the most famous spots including the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, Larrybane, the Cushendun Caves, and the Ballintoy Harbour.
INSIDER TIPSome tours will also stop at the Giant’s Causeway, and even though it’s not a filming location, you should take advantage of the extra stop to see one of the most beautiful sites on the island.
Newgrange and Hill of Tara
Newgrange and the Hill of Tara are unique archaeological finds that have fascinated visitors and locals alike for hundreds of years. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument and tomb that is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, and the Hill of Tara is a large complex associated with the High Kings of Ireland. Both feature strongly in Irish myth and legend.
INSIDER TIPThe only way to access Newgrange is with a guide from the visitor center, so don’t bother booking a small/private tour, as it won’t make much of a difference in the end.
The capital of Northern Ireland is a great city to explore for a day. Belfast is steeped in history; from the Titanic to The Troubles, so there is no shortage of things to see and do here. The Titanic Experience, a historic black taxi cab tour, and the famous
INSIDER TIPPop into the Crown Liquor Saloon during your free time. This historic Belfast pub is famous for being one of the most beautiful Victorian Gin Palaces during its time. Today, it’s probably the most beautiful pub in all of Ireland.
Belfast murals are a few of the highlights you can experience.