For a tiny place, there is certainly a lot to see in Ireland. You can generally do this one of two ways. Hire a car and drive around at leisure (two weeks is the ideal amount of time for a road trip through Ireland) or through a series of day trips from Dublin.
How is this possible? Well, the Republic of and Northern Ireland are quite small countries – you can drive from Dublin to the West Coast of the country in around 2.5hrs.
This makes it quite easy to see some of the best sights of the place whilst basing yourself within the capital. Even during a weekend break in Dublin, you could probably do a day trip out to at least one of these well-known and beautiful Irish sights.
And why wouldn’t you? Dublin is a wonderful city, but the countryside is really something else. They don’t call it the “Emerald Isle” for naught (it’s ’cause the grass is real green, you see?!).
Here are some of the best day trips from Dublin, including some of the most popular sights in Ireland, gorgeous vistas and journeys to some really lovely Irish cities.
The Best Day Trips From Dublin
Day Trips From Dublin 1: Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are touted as being Ireland’s most popular natural tourist attraction, which is sentiment that I’d most certainly agree with.
Regardless, they are certainly a very nice spectacle, no matter what the weather. I’ve been there twice, in spring and winter. During spring, we were blessed with a gorgeous clear day, where we were able to see the Aran Islands in the distance. Winter was blistering cold with a wind that whipped right through you, but it was the first time I’d seen them and there were less people about, at least!
If you want more information about their history, here’s a comprehensive overview of what to expect out of a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
The cliffs are rather conveniently located along a stretch of road known as the Wild Atlantic Way, which can take you on to many natural wonders of the Republic of Ireland. They’re also quite close to the city of Galway – one of the largest in the country, which can be great craic.
What can you expect from a day tour? Some gorgeous views along the way, a decent amount of time to check out the cliffs, lunch in a traditional Irish pub (where you should probably drink all the Guinness, particularly if you’re not driving) and some time to checkout Galway.
Don’t forget – it can be pretty cold along the Wild Atlantic Way, particularly in winter. Here’s a guide to what you should pack for Ireland, so you’re plenty prepared on your trip.
Book a day trip from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher
Day Trips From Dublin 2: Wicklow
If I were to get married in Ireland (I’ve admittedly spent many years considering at least taking my honeymoon there), Wicklow would be a top contender, quite simply because it is SO DARN PRETTY.
It’s also quite conveniently a stone’s throw away from the capital. If you’re making a day trip from Dublin there, you can certainly pack a lot of sights in.
Typical day tours include a visit to Sally Gap where you can take some pretty nice photographs and some time spent at Glendalough, one of the oldest monastic sights in Ireland. Also, isn’t monastic such a great word?
Plus – and you probably guessed it – an Irish pub meal. Grand!
Book a day trip from Dublin to beautiful Wicklow
Day Trips From Dublin 3: Giant’s Causeway
Giant’s Causeway is a geographical marvel, caused by volcanic eruptions in ancient times.
It’s basically a series of basalt columns that have interlocked in a way that resemble stepping stones.
What’s with the name? Well legend has it that the causeway was formed after an argument between two giants, Finn McCool and Benandonner. Apparently Benandonner and Finn McCool had a bit of a tiff, with one of the giant’s building a causeway from Scotland to Ireland to beat the other up.
The crafty Finn McCool pretended to be his own son, as a baby in a pram and when Benandonner saw how strong the “baby” was, decided it wasn’t getting into altercation with Finn after all. He fled across the sea back to Scotland, tearing up the causeway as he went.
I like this story. We don’t always need science to explain everything, particularly when the original tale is really fun.
A day trip out to Giant’s Causeway includes other fun things, such as the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which I’ve always been too wimpy to cross and the famous Dark Hedges beech trees.
Book a day trip from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway
Day Trips From Dublin 4: Connemara
It’s hard to pick a favourite spot, but Connemara probably has some of the most dramatic landscapes that you’ll bear witness to in Ireland.
Along with its stellar scenery, the region is known for having the largest community of Irish-speaking Gaeltacht in the country.
Connemara has many picturesque villages and a typical day trip from Dublin should at least include stops in Cong and Lough Corrib. Be sure to check out Cong Abbey, a monastic sight from the 7th century (although the current ruins date back to around the 13th).
Book a day trip from Dublin to Connemara and explore nearby Galway
Day Trips From Dublin 5: Blarney Castle and Cork
Blarney is probably the most well-known castle in Ireland, although it’s not the building itself that has the strongest claim to fame, oddly enough.
Rather, an eponymous stone is what the castle is best known for. It’s said that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will be granted “the gift of the gab” – eloquence.
And all visitors to the castle are given the opportunity to have their lips make contact with this stone. Although I’ve been twice and my lips have never made contact with it – what can I say, it’s not my thing.
The castle is also home to some very interesting gardens – the Poison Garden full of toxic plants and the Fern Garden (where I half expected fairies to appear out of nowhere) are my two favourites.
A full day tour will also take you to Cork, one of Ireland’s biggest cities and certainly one of the most colourful, to boot.
Book a day trip from Dublin to the Blarney Castle
So, it is wholly possible to see some of Ireland’s best known and prettiest sights during any of these day trips from Dublin. Pick which one appeals to you the most and make it happen!
Have you been to Ireland or done any of these day trips from Dublin? What are your favourite sights? Don’t forget to follow along on Facebook or sign up to the monthly newsletter for more content like this!