The beautiful little town of Dalkey is the perfect spot for an afternoon by the sea.
And, while it’s unlikely you’ll bump into notable residents such as Van Morrison or various members of U2, a trip to Dalkey in leafy south Dublin will at least give an idea of why the rich and famous choose to live here!
The town is gorgeous, there’s lots of great places to eat (and drink!) and there’s plenty of things to do in Dalkey and nearby, as you’ll discover in the guide below.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Dalkey in Dublin
Although a visit to Dalkey in Dublin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Sitting around 15 km southeast of Dublin, the twin coastal neighbourhoods of Dalkey and Killiney have been compared to the Italian Amalfi Coast thanks to the spectacular cliffs and gently curving shoreline (the less said about the weather the better!). Dalkey is easily reached from Dublin via the DART and the 7D, 59 and 111 Dublin Bus services.
2. Famous folks that call it ‘home’
As one of Dublin’s most affluent areas, it’s no surprise that famous and wealthy folks have decided to plant roots in Dalkey. From the music world alone you’ll find Bono, The Edge, Van Morrison, Chris de Burgh and Enya. Adding some international stardust, actor Matt Damon and his family lived in Dalkey for a period in 2020.
3. A scenic spot to explore from
If you’re going to call yourself the ‘Amalfi Coast of Ireland’, then you’d better be pretty scenic! Thankfully, Dalkey’s plenty of lovely spots to explore and viewpoints that offer some deadly views along its famous coast. The vistas from Sorrento Park alone are worth the trip down to Dalkey!
4. Plenty to see, do and eat
But it’s not all about the views. There’s a ton of history (the 600-year-old Dalkey Castle and nearby Dalkey Island, for example) and loads of cracking places to eat and drink. From fabulous French bistros to charming old pubs like Finnegan’s of Dalkey, you won’t be short of fine hospitality down here!
While Dalkey is now home to the rich and famous, it has something of a gruesome distant past as it was once a Viking settlement and, according to chronicler John Clyn, it was one of the ports through which the plague entered Ireland in the mid-14th century.
Dalkey was also once home to seven 15th-16th century castles, but sadly by the 19th-century there was little left of them since four had been destroyed and the other three dismantled and put to use elsewhere (one was turned into a carpenters shop).
These days Dalkey is an affluent place where, even if your pockets aren’t bulging, there’s still loads to do and see. Vibrant Castle Street is Dalkeys vibrant centre and is full of great pubs and restaurants, while if you want a taste of the coast then head down Sorrento Road and take in some of the spectacular views from Sorrento Park.
Things to do in Dalkey (and nearby)
One of the reasons why a visit to Dalkey is one of the most popular day trips from Dublin is due to the sheer volume of things there is to see and do.
Below, you’ll find heaps of things to do in Dalkey, from kayak tours over to the uninhabited Dalkey Island to boat tours, the castle and more.
1. Take a cruise to Dalkey Island
The easiest way of checking out this unique place is by jumping on one of the local ferries leaving from Dún Laoghaire. Taking around 75 minutes, the cruise takes in the James Joyce Martello Tower, the famous Forty Foot, Bullock harbour, Dalkey Island and Collimore Harbour, Sorrento point, Killiney Bay before arriving back at Dún Laoghaire.
2. Or take the scenic route on a kayak
But for those of you with a more active disposition, why not make the journey to the island via kayak? Kayaking.ie offer daily award-winning guided kayak tours in the Dalkey area and are suitable for anyone to try.
They’ll provide all the gear and equipment so all you need to do is learn the ropes and then you’ll be away and kayaking among the waves and seals! It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s a unique view of Dalkey Island and one you won’t forget in a hurry.
3. Spend a rainy afternoon at Dalkey Castle
If your plans are scuppered by the weather, then you could do a lot worse than spending an afternoon at the 15th-century Dalkey Castle. While it isn’t as imposing from the outside as some of Ireland’s larger castles, it’s still in good nick and looks pretty cool as part of the street.
Jump on one of their interactive group tours and hear from various characters from the Middle Ages about life back then. You’ll also be able to check out an early Christian church and graveyard as well as explore the castle’s original features such as the Murder Hole(!) and Battlements.
4. And a sunny one at the Vico Baths
When the weather is playing ball, however, definitely try to get down to the cool and quirky Vico Baths. Around a 15-minute walk south of central Dalkey, they’re a popular spot that shouldn’t be missed.
Secluded and only accessible through a small gap in a wall on Vico Road, the Vico Baths are one of Dublin’s hidden gems (sorry for using such a clichéd phrase, but it’s true!). Follow the signs and handrails down to a dreamy little perch where you can jump and plunge into the swirling pools below.
5. Catch the sun rise from Killiney Hill
For some gorgeous coastal views (especially at sunrise) after an easy little ramble, walks don’t come much better than the Killiney Hill Walk. Killiney Hill Park itself is just a short walk south of central Dalkey so you won’t be too tired by the time you get there!
And taking just 20 minutes from the car park to the summit, you get some serious bang for your buck as you’ll be treated to stunning views out over Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains on one side and of Dublin city on the other.
6. Soak up the views from Sorrento Park
Another quietly great spot for views is Sorrento Park, just north of the Vico Baths. Though it’s less of a park and more of a small hill, you won’t really be thinking about trivial details like that when you sit on one of the benches and take in the gorgeous views out to Dalkey Island and the Wicklow Mountains.
Sorrento Park is around a 15-minute walk from central Dalkey and the main entrance is on the corner of Coliemore Road.
7. Take the short spin to Sandycove
Wedged in between Dalkey and Dún Laoghaire, Sandycove’s a cool little spot with plenty to do and heaps of places to eat. While its small beach is popular with visiting families and locals alike, Sandycove is probably best known for the Forty Foot – a rocky promontory that used to be exclusively a gentleman’s bathing place but thankfully is open and hugely popular with pretty much everyone!
Once you’re all freshened up, head over to the lively Glasthule Road and get stuck into one of its many pubs and food joints. Sandycove Beach is also well worth checking out.
8. Or the slightly longer one to Dún Laoghaire
Not much further beyond Sandycove is Dún Laoghaire, a handsome coastal town that was the original terminus of Ireland’s first railway. The harbour is notable for its two large granite piers that look from above like a couple of skinny crab pincers and if you walk them you’ll get some cool views of the town, Dublin city and the distant mountains.
As well as having plenty of places to eat, other things to do in Dún Laoghaire include the James Joyce Tower & Museum and National Maritime Museum of Ireland.
Places to eat in Dalkey
Although we go into the best places to eat in detail in our Dalkey restaurants guide, we’ll give you a few of our favourites below.
Opened on Castle Street in 2012 by brother and sister David and Kim O’Driscoll, DeVille’s serves traditional French bistro fare seven nights a week. Despite the seemingly French name, DeVille’s is apparently named after the O’Driscoll’s great-grandmother. Appetizers include a French onion soup and a raft of locally caught oysters, while mains feature a beef bourguignon, pan-fried dover sole and a choice of 28-day dry-aged steaks.
2. Ragazzi Gastro Market
Located on Coliemore Road and slightly away from the main bustle of Castle Street, Ragazzi Gastro Market is a no-nonsense but supremely tasty Italian that serves up Italy’s culinary greatest hits with aplomb. They’ll also sort you out with a range of specials and they also do a deadly selection of paninis. You won’t break the bank either, as all their food comes in at exceptional value.
3. JAIPUR DALKEY
Something of an institution that’s been in Dalkey for 20 years now, Jaipur’s Indian food must be hitting the right notes as some of Dalkey’s rich and famous can sometimes be seen enjoying their fiery cuisine. But regardless of what type of curry Bono orders, you’re bound to have a good time in this smart restaurant where they combine Irish produce with traditional Indian techniques.
Pubs in Dalkey
There are some brilliant pubs in Dalkey that are perfect for a post-walk (or post-kayak) pint and a bite to eat. Here are our favourites.
1. Finnegan’s of Dalkey
A family institution that’s been a part of life in Dalkey since 1970, Finnegan’s of Dalkey is located at the southern end of Castle Street and is a fine spot for a pint at any time of year (or day!). As well as a fine whiskey and gin selection, Finnegan’s also has a hearty dinner menu that goes exceptionally well with a pint of the black stuff.
2. The Kings Inn
Slap bang in the middle of Castle Street is The Kings Inn, a place to visit if you’re coming for a pint and nothing but a pint. In fact, the staff here are rather proud of being the only pub in Dalkey that doesn’t serve food (crisps and nuts don’t count!). So sit down, settle in, order a beer and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
3. The Dalkey Duck
If you want a pub that’s all about the food, however, then get over to the Dalkey Duck at the top of Castle Street. While the menu isn’t big, the food that is on offer is exceptionally well-prepared and their hake fish ‘n’ chips is one of Dalkey’s finest feeds. But it’s a great spot for a pint too and their beer garden is deadly during the summer months.
Dalkey hotels and B&Bs
Now, there are no hotels in Dalkey town, however, there are plenty a short distance away, as you’ll discover below.
Note: if you book a stay 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. Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel
Nestled in next to Killiney Hill Park, the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel is an 18th-century 4-star luxury hotel that looks as impressive as it sounds. There are 113 ornately decorated rooms to choose from and if you’re really ready to push the boat out then check out the opulent original 18th-century Castle Suites.
2. Haddington House
A collection of lovingly restored Victorian townhouses looking out over Dún Laoghaire harbour, Haddington House is only a 10-minute drive from Dalkey is a cracking place to base yourself during your stay in Dublin. The 45 rooms here are smart and contemporary and they also offer an award-winning neighbourhood restaurant overlooking the sea.
3. Royal Marine Hotel
On a much grander scale in Dún Laoghaire is the Royal Marine Hotel, a 228-room 4-star luxury hotel that dates back to 1863. Previous guests include Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin so you’re in good company! With many of its original features still intact, the Royal Marine is a gorgeous place to stay and only a short drive from Dalkey.
FAQs about visiting Dalkey in Dublin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the most unique things to do in Dalkey?’ to ‘Is it really worth visiting?’.
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 things to do in Dalkey?
I’d argue that the ferry to Dalkey Island, Sorrento Park and the castle are the best things to do in Dalkey.
Is Dalkey worth visiting?
Yes – this is a stunning corner of Dublin and you’ll feel like you’ve left the city far behind you if you take a trip here.