When you hear people talking about Portrane Beach, they’re referring to one of two (whether they know it or not).
This little North Dublin village is home to the 2km Portrane Beach (marked with an ‘A’ in the image below) and Tower Bay (marked with a ‘B’).
Portrane Beach is nice and big and perfect for a stroll or a swim while Tower Bay is tiny and comes with a couple of warnings.
Below, you’ll find info on where to park for both beaches, swim info and where to grab a post-swim feed nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows about Portrane Beach and Tower Bay
Although a visit to Portrane Beach and Tower Bay is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
1. Two beaches
As we mentioned above, you’ve Portrane Beach (a big sandy one with plenty of room!) and Tower Bay Beach (a small stoney beach which goes from shallow to deep very quickly).
Portrane Beach is the best choice if you want to go swimming, as it gradually deepens and there are not many stones (although the right side is stoney in places). Tower Bay is much stonier and gets deep very quickly, so should only be tried by experienced swimmers.
5. Father Ted link
Yes, a scene from Father Ted was shot at Portrane Beach. Remember the episode where the fun fair took place, supposedly in a field?! The field was in fact an area near Tower Bay.
Differences between the two beaches in Portrane
There are heaps of beaches in Dublin, and I’d argue that the ones in Portrane are two of the most overlooked in the county.
Here’s some quick info on both of the beaches (keep in mind that it’s around a 15 – 20 minute walk between the two).
If you’re looking for a more secluded swim, and you’ve good sea swimming experience under your belt (or togs…), Tower Bay is well worth checking out.
Tower Bay gets its name from the nearby Martello tower that was built in the early 1800s and that overlooks the beach and is a common feature along the coast in this part of the world.
It’s a short walk from the car park down to the beach and there’s some toilets here, too. Just keep in mind that there are lots of stones here.
The larger of the two beaches is flanked by long sandy dunes, with the village and a number of houses just behind them.
You’re best off visiting this beach when the tide is in, otherwise you’ll have to walk out for 10 – 15 minutes until the water gets past waist high.
It’s nice and sandy and, even on a busy summer day, you’ll have no hassle finding some space.
Things to do around Portrane Beach
There’s plenty of things to see and do in and around Portrane, regardless of what time of the year you visit.
Below, you’ll find info on where to eat near Portrane Beach to where to soak up a bit of local history.
1. Park along the coast road and then head for a saunter along the sand
If you fancy a nice ramble, you can park next to the beach and take a stroll along sand. As you walk with Portrane village to the back of you, you’ll see where coastal erosion is hitting the beach hard.
2. Or bring your swimming togs and hit the sea
The bathing season in this part of the world is from June to mid-September – old hands often say September is the best time as the sea has been warmed through the months of June, July and August. Bear in mind that jellyfish often frequent these parts.
3. Round off your visit with a pizza from Dough Box
What’s the best way to round off a visit to the beach, especially if you’ve been for a swim? A wood-fired pizza, of course! Dough Box, Beside The Brook pub, claims to combine the very best of Ireland and Italy – a sourdough base made with Italian flour and a sauce of San Marzano tomatoes topped with local ingredients.
Things to do near Portrane Beach
Portrane is a short spin from many of the best things to do in Dublin, from scenic drives and big public parks to castles, hikes and more.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Donabate Beach and Newbridge House to Ardgillan Castle and more.
1. Donabate Beach
As this is a coastal part of the world, there are other beaches a-plenty to explore, including Donabate Beach, which can be found in North County Dublin and is a popular place for walking and canoeing. From the beach, you can see jaw-dropping views of Lambay Island, the Howth Peninsula and Malahide Estuary.
2. Newbridge House and Gardens
Newbridge House is Ireland’s only intact Georgian mansion. It was built in 1747 for the then Archbishop of Dublin, Charles Cobbe, and passed down generations of the family. However, it’s the surrounding grounds that has us coming back time and time again.
3. Ardgillan Castle
Although it’s called a castle, Ardgillan is really a large country-styled house with castellated embellishment that was built in the early 18th century and added to in the late 19th. It has now been fully restored and you can visit for a guided tour.
Swords is the county town of Fingal, reportedly founded in the 6th century. There’s a medieval castle and a shopping centre, and plenty of places to eat and drink, from traditional Irish cuisine to Nepalese, spice grills and American-style steak houses.
FAQs about Portrane Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from can you swim on Portrane Beach to where to park nearby.
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 it safe to swim in Portrane?
Yes, once you use proper caution. Both Portrane and Tower Bay Beach are popular with swimmers all year round.
Where do you park for the two beaches in Portrane?
For Tower Bay Beach, you can park in the big car park right next to it. For Portrane Beach, there’s space just to the right of it.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.