Dublin is an intimate yet friendly city and a favorite Irish destination among tourists worldwide. It has a rich history and boasts numerous ancient buildings (don't miss Dublin Castle), natural attractions, shops, restaurants, and multiple pubs to keep you busy night and day. You can easily spend your days visiting the beautiful galleries, admiring the architecture, and exploring the best museums in Dublin.
However, there’s also a lot more of Northern Ireland you can only discover by venturing out of the city limits. Perhaps, you want to tackle some great hikes nearby, visit Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney stone, or see impressive natural wonders like the Giant’s Causeway and Cliffs of Moher. You might be looking to explore iconic places such as Powerscourt Estate, House & Gardens, or the historical treats in the Boyne Valley. Regardless of your travel goal, the best day trips from Dublin offer unforgettable experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
If you can’t afford long travel hours for your first day trip, this guide covers several destinations within an hour to a one-and-a-half hour drive from the Irish capital. You can leave your bags with Bounce luggage storage in Dublin and just bring the essentials along.
How to get out of Dublin
Dublin has an efficient public transport network, so you can get around the city center and travel from the capital to the neighboring towns and villages even without a car. You can take the Dublin Bus, which operates over 100 routes around the city and beyond.
You can also take advantage of the DART, an electric train system that runs along the coast, from Howth and Malahide to Greystones. Passengers are allowed to take their bikes on board during off-peak travel times. It’s a wonderful opportunity to stop at scenic sights and bike along the trails.
Trains operate every ten to twenty minutes, every Monday to Sunday, between 6 AM and midnight. Regional and national services run from several stations in the city center, including Conolly, Pearse, and Heuston stations.
If you plan to take Dublin’s public transport system, it’s best to get a Leap card. It’s the most cost-efficient and effective way to avail of the transport service. You can use the card on the tram, train, bus, or when rending a Dublin Bike.
Many of these Dublin day trips can be undertaken with the city’s reliable public transport. But it’s best to rent a car, especially for those who want more independence and flexibility during their adventure. Joining a tour is also a good option, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost on your journey. However, if you’re only staying in the capital of Ireland, check out our guide on how to get around Dublin.
From Dublin to Wicklow Mountains National Park
Nestled south of Dublin is the picturesque Wicklow Mountains National Park, just a little over an hour’s drive from the city. It covers over 20,480 hectares, making it the largest of the country’s six National Parks. Besides conserving the landscape and biodiversity, the Park is an invaluable recreational area for visitors and locals, receiving over a million visits each year.
The most famous location in the Wicklow National Park is the legendary Glendalough valley. It is visited for its historical treasures, abundant wildlife, and spectacular scenery. It’s the ideal escape from the city’s bustle and offers the best way to experience and enjoy Ireland. It’s a remarkable travel destination, home to one of the country’s most important monastic sites. Founded in the sixth century, this early Christian settlement was founded by Saint Kevin.
You can find the main monastery near the entrance to the valley. The gatehouse toward the monastery is the only surviving monastic gate built in Ireland’s early medieval period.
How to get to Wicklow Mountains National Park
Unfortunately, there’s a limited public transport option for accessing the Park. The best way to get there during your day trip from Dublin is using private tour buses with tours to the Wicklow Mountains. Alternatively, you can take the St. Kevin’s private bus service, which travels from the city center.
From Dublin to Howth Village
A short train ride from Dublin city will take you to a small fishing village called Howth. With its glorious beaches and flower-covered sea cliff, Howth is a relaxing getaway after a busy week. It will take you closer to nature and offer outdoor activities to keep your adrenaline pumping.
You can follow the path to the hiking trails and explore the cliffs, islands, and caves. Book a ferry ride and see the island nearby or take your friends and family to the best seafood restaurants.
There’s no limit to what you can do in the Howth village. And the fact that it’s only under 30 minutes from Dublin makes the day trip even more worthwhile. Whatever you want to do or however you wish to spend your day here, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.
How to get to Howth Village
Traveling by train from Dublin to Howth will only take around 25 to 30 minutes, making it an ideal spot to see outside the city center during your visit to the country. Catch a train from Connolly station in central Dublin and get off at Howth Train station.
From Dublin to Brú na Bóinne
Also known as the Boyne Valley or the Bend of the Boyne, Brú na Bóinne has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. It is an internationally recognized site and the country’s richest archaeological landscape situated in a bend of the idyllic River Boyne. It is protected and renowned for the incredible prehistoric passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, built sometime around 3,300 BC.
The ceremonial structures are some of the world’s most essential Neolithic sites. They also contain Western Europe’s largest megalithic art collection. A visit to the area will allow you to explore the unique landscape, monuments, and Neolithic culture of Brú na Bóinne.
You must pass through the Brú na Bóinne visitor center to visit Knowth and Newgrange. It is open every day, offering exhibitions on the history of the ancient two passage tombs. Visits here can last up to one hour and 45 minutes.
How to get to Brú na Bóinne
The fastest and easiest way to get to Brú na Bóinne from Dublin is by driving your own car or taking a taxi, which takes about 38 minutes. You can also take a commuter service at Connolly station in Dublin, get off at Drogheda, and catch a taxi to Brú na Bóinne visitor center.
From Dublin to Kilkenny Castle
If you want to venture further and see a historical castle about 120 kilometers southwest of Dublin, head to the majestic castle in Kilkenny. Established in the 12th century, Kilkenny Castle was the primary seat of the noble Butler family, marquesses, earls, and dukes of Ormond for nearly 600 years. It is set in an expansive parkland, featuring a beautiful rose garden and colorful playground.
The castle was founded after the Norman invasion of Ireland. It has been rebuilt, extended, refurbished, and adapted to suit different uses and circumstances over 800 years. The Irish State took over the castle in 1969, and it has since undergone numerous restoration works.
Today, Kilkenny Castle welcomes thousands and locals and tourists who marvel at the timeless beauty and grandeur of the palace. It features a library, nursery, drawing room, and bedrooms in the central block noted for its 1830s splendor. In the east wing is the Picture Gallery, with a fine painting collection of the powerful Butler Family.
How to get to Kilkenny Castle
There’s a direct train that will take you from Heuston station in Dublin to Kilkenny MacDonagh. The train operates daily, with services that depart every four hours. The travel time takes about an hour and 38 minutes.
From Dublin to Hill of Tara & Trim Castle
Trim Castle and the Hill of Tara are both within an hour from Dublin in County Meath, close to the Boyne River, so you can visit them on the same day during your Dublin day trip. The Hill of Tara isn’t any typical hill, as it’s been used as a place of assembly and burial for over 5000 years. It rose to fame in the Early Christian Period as the inauguration site of the High Kings of Ireland.
Although its palaces and halls no longer exist and you’ll only see earthworks in the area, the Hill of Tara remains one of the best day trip destinations from Dublin. Visitors can walk through interesting places that shape Ireland’s history and feel its magical aura
A short drive from the Hill of Tara is Trim Castle, the largest and best-preserved Anglo-Norman castle you’ll find in Ireland. It was built shortly after the Anglo-Norman’s arrival in the country in 1172. The castle looks like a place that pops out of a movie. No wonder it was chosen as the movie location for the classic Braveheart film.
How to get to Hill of Tara & Trim Castle
If you can’t drive or rent a car, the best way to get to these mystical Ireland locations is through a full-day bus tour from central Dublin. Not only will you explore the historical jewels of County Meath, but you’ll also be with a knowledgeable guide to explain their history and share interesting tales.
From Dublin to Greystones
Located on the picture-perfect Irish Seas, Greystone is a charming fishing village with lots of places to see and things to do for locals and visitors. Nature lovers will fall in love with its beaches and dramatic coastal scenery. There’s also a cliff-side walkway with plenty of photo opportunities, a cove, a harbor, and Blue flag beaches, which serve as a paradise among water sports enthusiasts.
Visitors are welcome to explore the National Garden Exhibition Center. It contains more than twenty permanent gardens designed by some of the country’s top landscapers and designers. If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids, swing by Zoom Adventure Play. It features spiral slides, a maze of tunnels, and fun obstacle courses for everyone of all ages.
How to get to Greystones
The quaint fishing town of Greystones is only a short train ride from Dublin. Take the DART train from Connolly train station to Greystones. The journey takes around 48 minutes.
From Dublin to Powerscourt Estate
There’s no shortage of activities to do and attractions to enjoy at Powerscourt Estate. You can explore the 47-acre gardens and get lost in the tranquility and beauty of nature and the magnificent landscape. Gather your friends and chill at the café and sample delightful treats or shop for some gift items, furniture, and clothing.
Voted by the Lonely Planet guide as one of the top houses and mansions in the world, Powerscourt House welcomes visitors to some of Ireland's best views, overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s a perfect escape from the stress of daily life and a gorgeous venue for weddings in the center of the Wicklow Mountains.
A short walk from the Main Estate is the highest waterfall in Ireland, where you can plan a picnic on a sunny afternoon. There are also short walking routes to take to experience life in the countryside.
How to get to Powerscourt Estate
Plenty of transportation options are available to get to the Estate, but we recommended booking a bus tour to maximize your adventure. Award-winning day trips leave from Dublin every day, and visitors can pick from different experiences.
Going Beyond the Capital of Ireland
There are endless places and magnificent sights to discover in Dublin. But there’s no doubt that day trips from the city will provide you with more opportunities to learn about Irish history and appreciate its outstanding natural beauty. You can join day tours with a guide or hop in the car and make the most of your trip with a self-guided adventure.
No matter your choice, the best day trips from Dublin are the ones that offer new experiences or show you something of the country that you can’t see in its capital city. It could be the vast countryside, the islands, the epic coastlines beyond Dublin, or a magical place beyond your imagination.