Day Trips From Dublin: 15 Dublin Day Trips Worth Doing In 2020

best day trips from dublin
Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re in search of the best day trips from Dublin, you’ve landed in the right place.

If you want to venture outside of Dublin on a day trip, you’ll be pleased to hear that sleepy fishing villages, historic castles, and miles of pristine landscape are just a stone’s throw from Ireland’s capital.

In the guide below, you’ll discover some of the best Dublin day trips that are well worth doing at any time of the year.

The best day trips from Dublin

Now, before we tackle the best Dublin day trips, there are a few disclaimers that we need to get out of the way. Firstly, this guide tackles self-guided day trips from Dublin.

I.e. you’ll need a car to get around. Now, there are tour providers offering Dublin day tours to the likes of Meath and Wicklow, but we’ll cover them in a later guide.

Secondly, keep in mind that some of these day trips from Dublin range hugely in terms of distance, from handy 30-minute spins to lengthy, although entirely doable, 3-hour drives.

If you’re looking for places to visit in Dublin, make sure to hop into our guide to what to do in Dublin (it includes everything from hidden gems to tourist favourites!).

Dublin day trips that don’t require much driving

Our first section tackles day trips from Dublin that are a handy drive away from the capital and that don’t require much time on the road.

Below, you’ll find everything from historic sites and scenic cycle routes to museums, monuments, castles near Dublin and plenty more. 

1. Wicklow

things to do in wicklow
Photos via Shutterstock

Also known as the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow is located under an hour’s drive from Dublin. Well-known for its natural beauty, the county is blessed with glittering lakes and monastic villages and ruins.

My favourite of the many things to do in Wicklow is to head for a cycle along the Sally Gap, which is one of the most scenic destinations in Wicklow.

Highlights of this driving/cycling route include Lough Tay (aka Guinness Lake) and Glenmacnass Waterfall. Stop by the 6th-century medieval site of Glendalough where remains of a round tower and a monastic village can be found.

There are also many walks in Glendalough that are well worth taking some time to complete.

2. Meath

things to do in meath
Photo left: Brian Morrison. Right: Tony Pleavin (via Ireland’s Content Pool)

County Meath makes for an excellent day trip from Dublin. It will take you about 45 minutes by car to reach and there’s an endless number of things to do in Meath to keep you busy.

First, check out the Hill of Tara, one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. This magnificent hilltop monument is home to many tombs and secret passages worth exploring.

Another not to be missed site is Newgrange, a prehistoric passage tomb located just a short drive from the town of Drogheda. Guided tours of this 5,200-year-old monument are available from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre.

There is also Trim Castle, the best-preserved of the many Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland. Are you a fan of “Braveheart”? The site was used as a shooting location for this popular film.

3. Louth (one of the best day trips from Dublin)

things to do in drogheda
Photo left: David Soanes (Shutterstock). Right: Ireland’s Content Pool

A trip to the mighty little county of Louth is another of our favourite Dublin day trips, as there’s a crazy amount to see and do spread right across the county.

Although it’s the smallest county in Ireland, Louth houses some of Ireland’s greatest historical treasures. Kick-off your trip to Louth with a visit to the ancient town of Drogheda where you will find everything from impressive medieval ruins to tourist attractions like the Millmount Museum and Beaulieu House and Gardens.

Here’s a guide to the best things to do in Drogheda if you want to see what else the town has to offer.

No visit to Louth is complete without checking out the gorgeous little fishing village of Carlingford, a spectacular landscape full of Irish mythology.

There are heaps of things to do in Carlingford, from a greenway to cycle along and plenty of pubs, to walking trails and great places to eat.

4. Kilkenny

kilkenny castle ireland
Photo by Finn Richards

Although many of those heading off on day trips from Dublin tend to favour Meath and Wicklow, there’s plenty to explore in nearby Kilkenny.

Located a 90-minute drive from Dublin, Kilkenny is famed for its medieval vibe. The Marble City, as some like to call it, is not short on amazing attractions to explore.

If you hope into our guide to the best things to do in Kilkenny, you’ll see that there’s everything from the historic Medieval Mile to the Dunmore Cave to explore.

Make sure to visit the 12th century Kilkenny Castle and its lovely rose garden, as well as other notable attractions in Kilkenny like the Kells Priory, Rothe House, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and the Kilkenny Way hurling experience.

Dublin day tours: places to visit less than 2 hours away

The second of this guide is for those of you that aren’t afraid of getting up and hitting the road early, as you know that it’ll mean a solid day of adventure.

This section takes a look at day trips from Dublin that’ll take you under 2 hours to get to. Below, you’ll find everything from bustling cities to quiet little towns and villages.

1. Belfast

things to do in belfast
Photo left: Ester Lo Feudo. Right: Joe Carberry (Shutterstock)

A visit to Belfast is one of the best Dublin day trips. Just a 2-hour drive away, there are heaps of brilliant things to do in Belfast City.

Whether you wish to hop on a Black Taxi tour and learn about the city’s troubled past, visit the world-renowned Titanic Experience museum, or snap a photo in front of the Belfast Peace Fall, there is plenty to do and see in this magnificent city.

To mingle with the locals, I suggest spending an afternoon eating your way around St. George’s Market while history buffs will want to stop by the Belfast Castle. In the evening, have a pint at one of the traditional pubs in Belfast like the Kelly’s Cellar or Whites Tavern.

2. County Down

Strangford lough
Photo by Bernie Brown vi Tourism Ireland

Located a 2-hour drive from Dublin, County Down is one of the most popular weekend destinations for Belfast locals. The county’s Mourne Mountains and its impressive landscapes are a sight to behold.

The most popular hike here is Slieve Donard. This relatively easy 4km route takes you past thick forests and from the summit, the views of Isle of Man in the Irish Sea are majestic.

Nature lovers can look forward to visiting the Tollymore Forest Park that is located at the foot of the mountains and offers plenty of activities ranging from horse riding and camping to a variety of sporting events.

3. Cavan (one of the most overlooked day trips from Dublin)

one of the most overlooked day trips from Dublin ireland
Photo by Tom Archer

It will take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Cavan, a place well-known for its thriving lakes and the magnificent Cavan Burren National Park.

Explore the Shannon-Erne waterway where you can go kayaking or try local food delicacies at the famous MacNean House in the village of Blacklion. If visiting castles is your thing, I recommend checking out the ruined circular castle of Cloughoughter.

Killykeen Forest Park is nestled on the shores of Lough Oughter and is an ideal destination for travellers interested in fishing.

The Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff is a great place to learn more about the history of the County. Discover more places to visit in our guide to the best things to do in Cavan.

4. Wexford

Wells House and Gardens
Photo by Brian Morrison Photography via Ireland’s Content Pool

The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Wexford are spectacular beaches and idyllic towns.

A popular destination for holidaymakers looking to escape from all the hustle and bustle of Dublin, Wexford is home to the oldest operating lighthouse in Ireland, the famous Hook Lighthouse.

Explore the grounds of the Kennedy Homestead, the birthplace of John F. Kennedy’s grandfather, or enjoy go-karting and pet animals at the Kia Ora Mini Farm.

One of my favourite places in Wexford is the Loftus Hall, the most haunted house in Ireland. Adult-only night tour of this mansion is simply a must! It will take you approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Wexford from Dublin by car.

5. Waterford

Ardmore Town
Photo by Liam Murphy via Failte Ireland

Waterford is another brilliant Dublin day trip destination. This beautiful county is a 2-hour drive from Dublin and its city was founded by the Vikings in the 10th century.

Waterford City’s streets are dotted by lovely 18th-century Georgian buildings, including the famous Bishop’s Palace, that now houses a museum.

If you wish to learn more about medieval times in Ireland, make your way to the city’s Medieval Museum. The tour of the House of Waterford Crystal is also something you should consider when exploring Waterford city. 

For those of you that are fond of a cycle, the Waterford Greenway is a great way to spend an active morning or afternoon.

6. Tipperary

Tone of our favourite day trips from dublin
Photo by Frost Anna/shutterstock.com

Located a 2-hour drive from Dublin, Tipperary is located in the Munster province and it makes for an ideal weekend trip from the capital.

The main attraction here is the world-famous Rock of Cashel, a collection of medieval buildings including a Gothic cathedral, circular tower, and a Celtic Cross.

You can also explore the grounds of the Cahir Castle that is located in the Cahir town centre and is one of the oldest largest castles in the country. If you wish to explore the county on foot, I recommend the Lough Derg Way route.

Dublin day trips that’ll take you 2 hours+ to get to

The final section of this guide is for those of you in search of day trips from Dublin that aren’t afraid to spend a good chunk of time in the car.

Now, ideally, you’d spend a night in one of the counties listed below to save you from being stuck in the car, but if that isn’t possible, you can still get there and back in a day if you leave Dublin early.

1. The Causeway Coastal Route

Dunluce castle antrim
Photo by Chris Hill

Located a 3-hour drive from Dublin, the Causeway Coast is a popular destination in Northern Ireland that’s home to many different things to see and do.

Those that spin along this route can explore everywhere from Dunluce Castle and the Giants Causeway to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and more.

This is a long spin. A very long spin.

2. Sligo

Strandhill Beach
Photo by Christian Antoine (Shutterstock)

Welcome to Sligo, a county home to a rugged coastline, jagged mountain peaks, and cute villages like Easkey and Rosses Point.

If you’re into surfing, you’ll be pleased to hear that the beaches here in Sligo offer some of the best waves in Europe.

A boat tour around the Isle of Innisfree is a great way to spend the day. You can also visit Sligo Town and visit attractions such as the Model Gallery and the Yeats Building.

Fancy stretching the legs? Benbulben Forest Walk is a nice 7 km-long walking trail that’ss suitable for all levels of fitness.

It takes approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach Sligo from Dublin. Discover loads more places to visit in our guide to the best things to do in Sligo.

3. Clare

one of the best dublin day trips
Photo by Chris Hill

Most travellers visit Clare to see the world-renowned Cliffs of Moher. You can go on a short hike close to the visitor centre where the most impressive parts of the cliff can be found.

There is also the 18 mile-long trail that offers spectacular coastal views but is definitely recommended for experienced hikers.

Most tours of Cliffs of Moher include a visit to the nearby village of Doolin. Home of Ireland’s traditional music and folk scene, the village boasts dramatic landscapes and is a hub for art and local craft.

It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Clare County in western Ireland from Dublin.

4. Limerick City

king johns castle
Photo by Shannon Development

Wits its picturesque Georgian townhouses and art museums, Limerick, one of the oldest cities in Ireland is a great place to unwind and enjoy leisure activities like kayaking on the River Shannon.

Whether you wish to see historical landmarks such as the King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral, visit the Milk Market and purchase everything from artisan cheese and prime cuts of meat to fresh fish, organic fruits, or catch a rugby match at Thomond Park, there are plenty of attractions in Limerick to keep you entertained throughout the weekend.

Art lovers can spend the afternoon at the Frank McCourt Museum and Hunt Museum. It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get from Dublin to Limerick.

5. Fermanagh

cuilcagh mountain
Photo left: Irish Road Trip. Right: Joseph Molloy (shutterstock)

Expect to be stuck in a car for about 2 hours and 15 minutes before you reach County Fermanagh on a day trip from Dublin.

Covered in lakes and waterways, this county is an ideal destination for travellers who wish to enjoy activities like canoeing, kayaking, and boating.

The largest town, Enniskillen is well-known for its beautiful waterside setting. You can hop on a boat to Devenish Island, visit the pretty village of Belleek which is famous for its pottery business, or spend a night at the 5* Lough Erne resort.

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the scenic Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail or admire the beauty of natural limestone caves at Marble Arch.

Dublin day trips: Which ones have we missed?

I know that we’ll have unintentionally have missed out on some great day trips from Dublin in the guide above. If you have one to recommend, let me know below!

I also know that many of the day trips above will be waaaay too far away for some people, and that’s OK.

However, we tend to find that many people visiting Ireland, in particular those from the US and Australia, aren’t overly bothered by long drives.

If you’d rather a short day trip from Dublin, the likes of Meath, Wicklow and Louth are home to plenty of things to do to keep you amused.

A thirsty travel writer with a passion for weird street food, Aperol spritz, and tropical islands.

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