If you’re in search of the best beaches in Dublin, you’ve landed in the right place.
The weather in Ireland is a bit mental, but when the sun’s out, one of the best things to do in Dublin is to head for the sea.
There are heaps of swimming spots in Dublin, from beaches near Dublin City, like Seapoint, to the hidden gem that is Red Rock in Howth, there’s plenty to choose from.
Below, you’ll find Dublin beaches that are great for a paddle and others that have no-swim notices, but that are perfect for strolling along.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting any beaches in Dublin
Sadly, many water-based tragedies have taken place over the years across Ireland. And several have occurred on Dublin beaches in 2021.
Before visiting any of the swimming spots in Dublin mentioned below, take a moment to read the following info.
1. Great looking water doesn’t mean safe
There are a number of beaches in Dublin that look incredible, but that aren’t safe to swim at. Never take it for granted that, just because there are others in the water, it’s safe to do so. Check for signs or ask locally to be sure.
2. Always check local news before swimming
Every year several Dublin beaches get hit with no-swim notices, usually due to some form of contamination. Before hopping in, Google the name of the beach and the word ‘news’ for the latest info.
3. Understanding water safety is crucial
Our favourite Dublin beaches
The first section of this guide is packed with what we think are the best beaches in Dublin – these are places that one or more of the Irish Road Trip Team have been to and loved.
Below, you’ll find everything from Seapoint Beach and Portrane Beach to the brilliant Burrow Beach and more below.
1. Burrow Beach
Burrow Beach in Sutton is, in my opinion, the best beach in Dublin. It’s secluded, rarely overrun (except on those often-rare hot days) and the views are glorious.
Burrow Beach is around 1.2 km in length and it’s a popular spot for a dip. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to some fine views of Ireland’s Eye.
The only downside is the parking situation, as there’s no car park next to it. You can, however, park at nearby Sutton Cross Station (paid).
2. Portrane Beach
There’s two beaches in Portrane; there’s the small cove known as Tower Bay and there’s the much bigger Portrane Beach that stretches for 2km.
The beaches here tend to pretty quiet compared to many other sandy beaches in Dublin, even on a hot day when people flock to it.
Portrane Beach is nice and sandy and it takes a while for it to get deep, while Tower Bay is stoney and it goes from shallow to deep very quickly.
Also, in all the years I’ve been going here (15+), I’ve never had hassle getting a bit of space on the main beach in Portrane – even when it’s busy (you couldn’t say this for many Dublin beaches!).
3. Seapoint Beach
Seapoint Beach is nestled between Blackrock and Monkstown. It’s a great choice for a post-work swim not far from the city with steps leading straight into the water at high tide.
The beach’s iconic feature is the old Martello Tower at its northern end. You need to be careful here at low tide though, with submerged rocks hidden away below the surface.
Still, it’s widely regarded as one of the best swimming spots in Dublin and it’s just a 20-minute drive from the city centre and easily reachable by DART.
4. Killiney Beach
Offering stunning views toward the Wicklow Mountains, Killiney Beach is a great destination for a paddle or for a ramble with a coffee.
It’s a recent recepitent of the coveted Blue Flag award, it’s one of the more popular beaches for swimming in Dublin, even if it is stoney!
With its gentle inward curve and the dramatic peaks of both Great and Little Sugarloaf and the mass of Bray Head visible in the distance, Killiney Bay is hard to beat.
There’s also a coffee truck (Fred and Nancy’s) on the beach where you can grab a pre or post-swim coffee.
More very popular beaches in Dublin
Now that we have what we think are the best beaches in Dublin out of the way, it’s time to see what other sandy spots the capital has to offer.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Howth Beach and Donabate Beach to Skerries Beach and much, much more.
1. Portmarnock Beach
Affectionately known as ‘Velvet Strand’ for its smooth golden sand, Portmarnock Beach stretches for almost five kilometres north of the city.
It offers beautiful views back towards Howth Peninsula and out towards Ireland’s Eye. It’s one of the more frequented Dublin beaches and it’s popular amongst swimmers and walkers.
It’s also well set up with toilets blocks and lifeguards on duty in the summer months. You can also bring your dog with you but it must be on a lead. It’s within half an hour on the DART from Dublin city or a 20-minute drive.
2. Sandycove Beach
The beach here is a small inlet, and it’s strewn with fine sand. You can take a dip in the sea off the pier area above the cove or choose to walk out to the water from the beach itself.
There’s some great views here, too and they were referred to as “the awakening mountains” in the opening scene of Ulysses.
This is one of several Dublin beaches with no dedicated parking, however, you can park in nearby Windsor Terrace (21-minute walk) or Eden Park (22-minute walk)
3. Donabate Beach
Donabate Beach is a 2.5km stretch of sand in North County Dublin that’s a stone’s throw from the previously mentioned Portrane Beach.
The clean beach is very popular with families with plenty of free parking and toilet facilities within close proximity.
It’s a great spot for paddling out in the water with lifeguards on duty during the warmer months. It doesn’t get too deep unless you head out far enough so it’s better for a quick dip after work rather than a serious ocean swim.
You’ll often here this reffered to as one of the best beaches in Dublin, and for good reason! Just hop on a DART to Donabate and then take the 25-minute walk to the sand.
4. Dollymount Strand
So, there are two fine places to go for a swim out near Clontarf and both are within a stone’s throw of each other. If you fancy a beach, head out to Dollymount Strand.
If you fancy stepping down in the water and dodging the sand, aim for the steps at Bull Island (you can’t miss them!).
It’s roughly 5km long and 800m wide and is home to a couple of golf courses and a long sandy beach spanning the eastern side.
It’s popular for water sports like kitesurfing but it also makes for a great post-work swim if you’re in looking for sandy beaches in Dublin close to the city centre.
5. Skerries Beach
Next up is another of the nicest beaches in Dublin and it’s one that tends to get slept on by those visiting (and by those living in) the capital. Skerries is a coastal town and popular seaside getaway from Dublin.
It’s the furthest swimming spot from the city centre on this list but it’s still just over 45-minutes drive from the centre of Dublin meaning you could easily reach it for a post-work dip if you’re keen.
There are stretches of sandy beach on both sides of the town. If you’re after a serious ocean swim after work, then popular spots are The Springers and The Captains, on the southern side of the harbour peninsula.
6. Malahide Beach
Malahide Beach is one of a few Dublin Beaches that flies a Red Flag all year round, which means that under no circumstances should you hop in the water here.
However, it’s a nice spot for a stroll, offering views over to Donabate Beach and Ireland’s Eye. There’s a big car park next to it and you can combine a visit here with a visit to Malahide Castle or the marina.
Or, if you fancy a good walk, the coastal walk out to Portmarnock Beach offers great views and a pretty flat path.
7. Howth beach
When you hear someone referring to Howth Beach, they’re generally referring to one of three: Balscadden Bay Beach, Red Rock, Claremont Beach.
Both Claremont Beach and Balscadden Bay Beach are handy to get to, while Red Rock is slightly off-the-beaten-path on the Sutton side of Howth Hill.
If you’re visiting any of these, just beware that Howth gets insanely busy at the weekends, so try and arrive early. You can also team up a swim with the Howth Cliff Walk.
A couple of years back, Balscadden was voted the best beach in Dublin by overseas tourists, however, I prefer Claremont, personally.
Unique swimming spots in Dublin
If you don’t fancy hitting up one of the Dublin beaches, there’s several other swimming spots that you can head to.
Below, you’ll find info on what are arguably two of the most famous places to go swimming in Dublin – the Forty Foot and the Vico Baths.
1. The Forty Foot
OK, so the Forty Foot doesn’t really fit in with the beaches in Dublin above, but it’s a great spot for a swim, so we’ve chucked it into this guide.
Just around the southern side of Dublin Bay, you’ll find this iconic promontory known as the Forty Foot. It’s often considered one of the best places for ocean swimming around Dublin with people jumping into the waters here year-round.
It’s further along from the more family-friendly Sandycove beach and is famed for its dedicated ocean swimmers who show up every day of the year.
You’ll find concrete steps on the tip of the promontory that take you straight into the water. You can reach Sandycove and the Forty Foot swimming spot within a 30-minute drive of Dublin city.
2. The Vico Baths
If you’ve never been here before, follow the signs off Vico Road that lead down to the sets of steps and handrails that head into the sea.
For hardcore ocean swimmers, you can jump straight into the water from higher up, or for newbies, you can cautiously climb in on the steps provided.
This place could go toe-to-toe with the best beaches in Dublin, especially if you arrive for sunrise.
The best beaches near Dublin
If you want to escape the capital for a while and you’re in search of the best beaches near Dublin, you’re in luck – there are plenty a stone’s throw away.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Greystones Beach and Silver Strand to a couple of secret beaches you might have never come across.
- Greystones Beach (45-minute drive)
- Silver Strand in Wicklow (50-minute drive)
- Bray Beach (55-minute drive)
- Bettystown Beach (50-minute drive)
The best swimming spots in Dublin: Where have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Dublin beaches for swimming and strolling in the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best Dublin beaches.
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Are there any secret swimming spots in Dublin’ to which is the closest beach to Dublin City.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best beaches in Dublin for swimming?
In our opinion, the best swimming spots Dublin has to offer are Portrane Beach, Seapoint, Portmarnock Beach and the Forty Foot.
What beaches in Dublin are the most beautiful?
You could argue that, when its comes to uniqueness, Red Rock, Seapoint and Killiney are the best beaches in Dublin.
What are the most popular swimming spots in Dublin?
The Vico Baths and The Forty Foot are two of the most popular spots for sea swimming in Dublin.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.