Long, peaceful and picturesque, it’s easy to see why Donabate Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Dublin.
And with cracking views out to nearby Lambay Island and Howth, it’s an fine place to head for a stroll or a swim.
And, while it’s a popular spot with locals in the Fingal area, the beach tends to be missed by many that visit the capital.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from where to grab a coffee at Balcarrick Beach to where to park (potentially a pain) to what to do nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows about Donabate Beach
Although a visit to the beach in Donabate is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Located in North County Dublin and just east of the popular Newbridge House and Farm, Donabate Beach is about a 40-minute drive from Dublin City. The train up to Donabate is handy enough but you’ll then be faced with a 30-minute walk to the beach.
You’ll find the Donabate Beach Public Car Park on the north side of the beach just next door to the Shoreline Hotel. Note: on a warm day, this car park fills up quickly, so aim to get here early when the sun’s shining.
The water’s going to be pretty cold at all times of the year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out for a swim if the weather’s decent. The water quality is excellent and the beach is patrolled by lifeguards throughout the summer months.
There are public toilets located just to the left of the beach’s north entrance. Look out for the small cream-coloured building with a flat roof.
About Donabate Beach
At 3km, the sandy arcing beach is pretty long and means you can spend plenty of time just strolling and admiring the landscape.
One thing you might notice on your way into the beach from its north entrance is the rather incongruous presence of a Martello tower.
One of many that were placed along the Irish coast during the early 19th century by British forces, these thick round towers were part of a network of fortresses to protect England and Ireland from potential invasion from Revolutionary France (and Napoleon).
If you need a break from all that golden sand, then head up to the Shoreline Bar and Bistro on the north end of the beach. Part of the Shoreline Hotel, it’s got a great beer garden with plenty of benches where you can enjoy stunning views along with a cold pint and a hearty feed.
Things to do at Donabate Beach
There’s a handful of things to do at Balcarrick Beachn that make it a great destination for a mornings’ ramble.
Below, you’ll find info on where to grab coffee (or a tasty treat!) along with what to see and do nearby.
1. Grab a coffee to-go
If you want to wrap your hands around something warm while strolling along the beach, then make a pitstop at Fonte – the coffee truck at Donabate Beach.
Offering a range of takeaways, there are few better things in life than rambling down the beach on a wind-whipped morning with stunning views and a warm coffee in your hands.
And as well as tea and coffee, it also sells a range of sandwiches and toasties if you’re feeling a little peckish.
2. Then head for a saunter along the sand
As we mentioned before, there’s a full 3km of sandy coast for you to enjoy so it might be worth grabbing a couple of coffees! Along the way there are some deadly views to Lambay Island and down to the Howth Peninsula for you to take in during your saunter.
I’m not usually a huge fan of golf courses, but this beach benefits from having one right behind it, making Donabate particularly peaceful thanks to the lack of road traffic.
3. Or do the Donabate to Portrane coastal walk
Portrane is next door to Donabate and you can do a coastal walk if you’re in the mood for a somewhat longer ramble.
While the full loop stretches for 12km and takes in lots of inland areas, the coastal section of the loop up to Portrane is a stunning cliff walk that’s pretty dramatic in places.
Best of all are the spectacular views from Portrane over to Lambay Island which are much closer than the ones you’ll have if you just stay at Donabate Beach.
Update: The cliff walk was closed by the council over safety worries in January 2020. People still walk it, but there are signs up telling you not to.
4. Or brave the chilly water and head for a dip
As we all know, these waters aren’t the Mediterranean! But on a summer’s day, the invigorating experience of a dip in the Irish Sea will still be one to remember. The waters here are clear and there are lifeguards patrolling close by should anything happen to you.
The rolling waves here present opportunities for various water sports and the long coast means there’s loads of room to swim once you become acclimated to the temperature.
Places to visit near Donabate Beach
Donabate Beach is a short spin from many of the best places to visit in Dublin, from food and castles to hikes and more.
Below, you’ll find info on where to eat near Balcarrick Beach to where to soak up a bit of local history.
Not only is Newbridge a lovely old Georgian mansion, but it also boasts one of County Dublin’s finest parks. And within its vast 370 acres of leafy green space, you’ll find woodland walks, wildflower meadows, a traditional working farm, the ruins of Lanistown Castle and a deer park.
2. Portrane Beach
As I mentioned earlier, Portrane has some cracking views over to Lambay Island but it also has a beach too. In fact, Portrane Beach is a great spot to rest your legs after the coastal walk and there’s even a fish and chips shop and pub located at the south end of the beach!
3. Ardgillan Castle and Demesne
Lying just a little further to the north of Newbridge House, Ardgillan Castle and Demesne date back almost 300 years and have been open to the public for the last 30 years. Within Ardgillan Demesne’s vast 200-acre expanse is a walled herb garden, a rose garden, a Victorian conservatory (or glasshouse), tea rooms, a children’s playground and an ice house.
A short hop across the Malahide Estuary is indeed Malahide! Designated as a national heritage town, there’s loads to do if you want to spend an afternoon or a day here. From Malahide Castle and Gardens to the colourful shops and bars spreading out from its handsome centre, Malahide’s a great spot across the way from Donabate Beach.
FAQs about Donabate Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from is Donabate a Blue Flag beach to where are the toilets.
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.
Can you swim in Donabate?
Yes, you can. But keep in mind that lifeguards are only on duty at certain times during the summer months.
Is there much parking at Donabate Beach?
There’s parking right next to it, but this fills up very quickly during the summer. There’s also an overflow car park before you reach the hotel.