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A Guide To Portmarnock Beach (AKA Velvet Strand)

A Guide To Portmarnock Beach (AKA Velvet Strand)

The beautiful Portmarnock Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Dublin.

Also known as the Velvet Strand thanks to its silky smooth sand, Portmarnock Beach is a lovely beach for a stroll or a paddle.

The beach home to many dunes as well as holding a significant spot in aviation history! 

Below, you’ll find info on everything from where to grab parking near Portmarnock Beach (a potential pain!) to what to do nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows about Portmarnock Beach

Although a visit to Portmarnock Beach in Dublin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Situated just north of Howth, Portmarnock Beach is around 15 km from Dublin city centre. The simplest way to drive there is by taking the R107 although the area is also well served by buses and the DART. 

2. Parking (potential nightmare)

Parking around Velvet Strand isn’t great but there is a car park on Strand Road here. There’s also a tiny bit of space to park in front of the beach itself. It gets busy here on good days, so either arrive early or grab a bus or DART to avoid any hassle.

3. Swimming

Portmarnock Beach is popular with swimmers throughout the year, but there’s only a lifeguard on duty during summer. From time to time, there have been some no-swim notices popping up here due to bacterial issues, so make sure to Google ‘Velvet Strand news’ for the latest info.

4. Toilets

You’ll find the public toilets at the bottom of the steps on the north side of the beach (just across from the shops on the coast road). 

5. Safety warning

Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!

About Portmarnock Beach

Portmarnock Beach

Photo via lukian025 on shutterstock,com

The quality of the sand and surface here is well known (hence its name) and could be one reason why the nearby Portmarnock Golf Club links course is consistently rated as one of the finest in the country – take Tom Watson’s word for it!

Although perhaps of more historical importance is Portmarnock’s place in the aviation record books, namely serving as a makeshift runway for legendary Australian pilot Charles Kingsford Smith!

So smooth was the sand that Smithy brought his famous Southern Cross aeroplane to Portmarnock and then set off on the second westbound transatlantic flight on June 23, 1930. 

These days it’s one of the most popular beaches in the Dublin area, and you’ll even find people kitesurfing and windsurfing as well as swimming and strolling.   

Things to do at Portmarnock Beach

There’s a handful of things to do at Portmarnock Beach in Dublin that make it a solid destination for a morning’s ramble.

Below, you’ll find info on where to grab coffee (or ice cream!), along with what to see and do nearby.

1. Grab a coffee to go from nearby

Fireman Sands Coffee portmarnock beach

Photo via Fireman Sands Coffee

The world is your oyster when it comes to caffeine, as there are a few different spots along the Coast Road where you can pick up a coffee to go. Two of the best are the pun-tastic Fireman Sands coffee truck which you’ll find at the top of the beach, while a short walk down the Coast Road leads you to Beach Brew, with their cool wave facade and expertly brewed coffee. 

2. Then head for a saunter along the sand

Portmarnock Beach

Photo via Google Maps

Once you’ve sorted your caffeine fix then hit that famously soft sand and feel the breeze in your hair. Approximately 5 km in length, you’ll be treated to widescreen views of Ireland’s Eye and the Howth Peninsula as you make your way down the beach. 

Also, look out for the Eccentric Orbit sculpture at the northern end of the beach. Erected in 2002, the sculpture commemorates the epic flights of the Southern Cross and the Heart’s Content.

3. Or bring your togs and head for a dip

portmarnock beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Swimming in the Irish sea at any time of year isn’t for the faint-hearted, as you know for a fact that it’s going to be pretty freezing! But if you fancy a dip, then there’s 5 km worth of coastline to get stuck into and it’s lifeguarded all summer long. 

4. Followed by the coastal walk to Malahide

portmarnock coast walk

Photo by Eimantas Juskevicius (Shutterstock)

One of the easiest coastal walks in the region is the walk up to Malahide Beach along the Coast Road from Portmarnock Beach. The well-kept paths (good for families and buggies) and lack of hill climbs mean that it’s ideal for people of all ages and experiences to enjoy. 

Stretching 4 km from the north side of Portmarnock Beach all the way up to Malahide town centre, there are a few interest points along the way as well as some lovely coastal views toward Lambay Island.

Places to visit near Portmarnock Beach

Velvet Strand in Portmarnock is a stone’s throw from some of the best things to do in Dublin, from food and castles to hikes and more.

Below, you’ll find info on where to eat near Portmarnock Beach to where to soak up a bit of local history.

1. Food in Malahide

malahide restaurants

Photo left via Old Street Restaurant. Photo right via McGoverns Restaurant. (on Facebook)

After you’ve completed your coastal walk, there are a bunch of vibrant restaurants in Malahide! From fiery Thai food to juicy burgers, a range of hunger-smashing treats await you here and most can be found in the charming yet compact town centre. And, of course, don’t forget about the great pub food on offer here too. 

2. Malahide Castle

A view of Malahide Castle showing three turrets.

Photo by spectrumblue on

A handsome castle with parts that date back to the 12th century, Malahide Castle is probably the number one attraction in Malahide and, while it can get busy, it’s well worth a visit. There are regular exhibitions on and the surrounding demesne is gorgeous too. 

3. Dublin City

St Patrick's Cathedral

Photo left: SAKhanPhotography. Photo right: Sean Pavone (Shutterstock)

The handy DART links mean that it’s an easy ride back to the bright lights of Dublin or over to Howth’s charming peninsula. For Dublin, just head south from Portmarnock station where it’s a 25-minute ride to Connolly Station. If you’d prefer Howth, then simply change at Howth Junction and Donaghmede.

FAQs about Velvet Strand Beach in Portmarnock

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from is Portmarnock 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 Portmarnock Beach?

Yes, you can. However, from time to tom, there are no swim warnings for Velvet Strand, so check locally before you hop in.

Where do you park for Velvet Strand in Portmarnock?

Parking at Velvet Strand can be a nightmare. There’s a public car park on Strand Road, but this fills up fast. There’s also very limited parking in front of the beach.

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