One of Dublin’s northeastern suburbs, Clontarf is on the doorstep of many of Dublin’s top attractions.
And, as it was the site of The Battle of Clontarf, the area is home to an absolute wealth of history that you can dive into.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Clontarf to where to stay and where to grab a bite to eat.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Clontarf in Dublin
Although a visit to Clontarf is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Situated 6.5kms, or a quick 20-minute drive from Dublin City, Clontarf is an affluent northeastern suburb of Dublin with a stunning coastline. Just offshore, the area is banked by Bull Island, famed for long beaches, migrating birds, and wildlife.
2. The Battle of Clontarf
It doesn’t come much more legendary than this; two opposing Kings battling it out from sunrise to sunset, with the outcome helping to shape the nation. The need-to-know; Brian Boru, the Irish High-King, and Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin, the battle took place in 1014, in Clontarf, and Brian Boru won!
3. A lovely base to explore Dublin
Whether you’re flying into Dublin or cruising in on a ship, Clontarf is an ideal spot to make your base whilst visiting. Just 6kms into Dublin city, it’s an easy commute for sightseeing. Don’t worry if you don’t have a car, there are regular trains from Clontarf Road Station and buses, too.
Historically, Clontarf is the modern edition of two much older villages; Clontarf Sheds, and an area now known as Vernon Avenue.
But, what thrust Clontarf into the historic headlines was the battle in 1014, where the High King of Ireland, one Brian Boru, ousted the Viking King of Dublin and brought about the end of the Irish-Viking wars of the era.
With the battle fought and won, Clontarf settled into relative peace for a period. It became famous for its castle, Clontarf Castle, a manor and church were also built and held by the Templars and Hospitallers over the ages.
In more modern times, Clontarf became known for its fishing, oyster-catching, and farming along with fish-curing at the Sheds. So beautiful a spot, Clontarf became a domestic holiday destination in the 1800s and has remained popular ever since.
Now, it’s an affluent suburb with stunning parks, island wildlife reserve, and breathtaking beaches.
Things to do in Clontarf (and nearby)
There’s plenty of things to do in Clontarf itself, but there’s endless things to see and do nearby, too, as you’ll discover below.
From one of the finest parks in Dublin to plenty of walks, beaches and historical sites, there’s lots to explore in and around Clontarf.
1. St. Anne’s Park
Shared with neighbouring Raheny, St Anne’s Park is a 240 acre oasis and the second largest park in Dublin. It’s named after the nearby small holy well, which can be visited – although the well is now dry.
With a small river, the Naniken, running through it features a man-made pond and several follies. If you’re looking for a nice walk, the park has several that weave their way through the botanic collection of trees, a rose garden, and of course an arboretum with a cafe and facilities.
2. Bull Island
At 5kms long, and 8oo metres wide, Bull Island is rightfully considered a wonderful destination for a day out!
With long sandy beaches facing the open Irish Sea, and more salt marsh on the landward coast, it’s ideal habitat for a wide range of birds and wildlife.
The island is home to a nature reserve, an island interpretive centre, and even a golf course in the north. It is accessible by the Wooden Bridge, which leads directly onto the Bull Wall, one of the two sea walls that protect Dublin’s harbour.
3. Dollymount Strand
Taking its name from the famous wooden bridge that connects Bull Island to Clontarf, Dollymount Strand is the 5km long beach that stretches from the north to the southern end of the island.
‘Dollyer’, as Dubliners know it, faces east, so it can bear the brunt of storms from the Irish Sea, but more often it’s covered in holidaymakers, day-trippers, and wildlife.
It’s an ideal spot for hiking and nature watching, or of course catching some rays in the summer season.
A visit to Howth will keep you busy for hours, so plan accordingly. There’s the centuries-old castle and grounds, the harbour and its many cafes and restaurants, the Howth Market which is a foodie mecca, and of course the cliffs for walking enthusiasts.
5. Burrow Beach
Who says you have to go abroad for wide sandy beaches? Burrow Beach, just as you cross over onto the peninsula, is just that; clean and wide, with superb views to the sea and to the small island, ‘Ireland’s Eye’, and is perfect for taking a day to unwind and recharge.
Burrow Beach is also accessible via the train station at Sutton, or park on nearby Burrow or Claremont roads. The beach does not currently have any amenities, but there are several nearby shops and cafes.
6. Endless attractions in the city
Once you’ve ticked off the various things to do in Clontarf, it’s time to head towards the city, where you’ll find many of the most interesting places to visit in Dublin.
Places to eat in Clontarf
There’s heaps of excellent places to eat in Clontarf, regardless of whether you’re after some fine dining or a casual bite.
In this guide, you’ll find 9 restaurants in Clontarf that’ll make your belly very happy altogether.
A family seafood restaurant nestled in the village, Hemmingways is well-loved and appreciated by locals and visitors alike. Offering a seasonal menu, with generous portions, and a warm and cosy atmosphere. Enjoy the classic ‘Surf and Turf’, or some fresh Irish mussels, and a glass of your favourite drop.
An award-winning partnership has produced outstanding Pakistani cuisine, served in an inviting and relaxed setting. Kinara offers spectacular views of Bull Island, and of the nearby wooden bridge. The menu is truly tempting with dishes like Champ Kandhari, Malai Tikka, and of course seafood!
3. Picasso Restaurant
The best of Italian food and hospitality is what you can expect at Picasso. Using fresh locally grown ingredients, the food is prepared by chefs with years of experience in authentic Italian cuisine. Try their Gamberi Piccanti, featuring Dublin bay prawns, or their Tortino di Granchio, pan-fried baby crab cakes, you won’t be disappointed!
Pubs in Clontarf
There’s some mighty pubs in Clontarf. In fact, it’s home to one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, the brilliant Harry Byrnes. Here are our favourites.
1. Harry Byrnes
Harry Byrnes is the kind of pub where you stop for a cheeky pint and end up talking an afternoon away. Lively and welcoming offers a range of drinks and has a convenient snack-style menu. Their wood-fired pizzas are great, especially the #1!
2. Grainger’s Pebble Beach
Situated a short walk from Clontarf Road, and the seaside walk near Pebble Beach, this pub is one of Clontarf’s best-kept secrets. Pop in to quench your thirst, or linger and chat with friends. This isn’t a foodie pub; it’s where you come to flex your elbow.
3. Connolly’s – The Sheds
An historic pub, first licensed in 1845, The Sheds has seen much over its lifetime. It’s steeped in Clontarf history; the people and the area are its lifeblood. Stop in on your way ‘home’, get talking with the locals, and time is bound to fly by.
Accommodation in Clontarf (and nearby)
So, there aren’t many hotels in Clontarf. In fact, there’s only the one. However, there are several places to stay nearby.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Clontarf Castle
Ever dreamt of staying in a real castle? Clontarf Castle is bound to impress! With the original castle buildings dating back to 1172, it’s now a luxurious hotel. The rooms all benefit from flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and some suites even have 4-poster beds! It’s a short walk to the nearby station or Pebble Beach.
2. Marine Hotel (Sutton)
On the edge of Dublin Bay, this hotel dates from the late Victorian era. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of Sutton railway station, and also to Burrow Beach. There are Standard and Superior rooms, with both being well-appointed and comfortable. The hotel also boasts a 12-metre pool, steam room, and sauna.
3. The Croke Park Hotel
Located a fraction closer to Dublin, Croke Park Hotel sits on the edge of Phibsborough and Drumcondra. This more modern 4-star hotel offers Classic, Deluxe, and Family rooms, all of which are comfortable and cosy, with plush bedding and a warming atmosphere. Direct bookings benefit from a complimentary breakfast.
FAQs about visiting Clontarf in Dublin
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Dublin that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Clontarf in Dublin.
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.
Is Clontarf worth visiting?
Yes! Clontarf is a lovely coastal town that’s home to plenty of walks, great restaurants and stunning scenery.
What are the best things to do in Clontarf?
You can spend a morning exploring St Anne’s Park, an afternoon walking around Bull Island and an evening in one of the many pubs or restaurants.
What are the best places to stay in Clontarf?
There’s only the one hotel in Clontarf – Clontarf Castle. There is, however, a handful of places to stay nearby.
Katherine is an food and travel writer with family-roots in Ireland. She enjoys hitting the road at every given opportunity, and can often be found with an atlas and notebook to hand planning the next big trip.