Howaya. So, there are LOADS of things to do in Howth, Ireland. From hikes and walks to fine food and cosy pubs, there’s a little bit of something to tickle EVERY fancy.
I was out in Howth last night for some food and a ramble.
The village is a handy spin from where I live (near the airport) and it boasts an abundance of get-yer-heart-rate-up and chilled activities to dive into.
There’s also a HEAP of great pubs and restaurants.
Over the years, I’ve walked, cycled, swam, eaten and drank my way around Howth, so it’s about time we whacked out a detailed guide!
Below, I’ll be taking you through 12 of the best things to do in Howth at any time of the year.
The Best Things to do in Howth, Ireland
If you’re not familiar with Howth, it’s a lovely little fishing village in North County Dublin.
The fact that it’s a handy 25-minute train journey from Dublin City makes it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital, and it’ll add a breath of fresh air to your time spent exploring Dublin.
Here are the best things to do in Howth for lovers of scenery, food and pints.
1 – Kick-start your visit with the best breakfast in Howth
A couple of mates and I tend to head for breakfast in Howth and then do the Cliff Walk (more on this in a sec) at least once a month.
Now, I’m by no means a foodie, but I can tell now that the breakfast (and coffee) from the Marie Louise Tea Rooms in Howth is sensational.
This is a tiny little cafe across from the harbour where you’ll get:
- Ridiculously good service
- Deadly poached eggs
- A fine sip of coffee
It’s also grand and cosy. Perfect for a pre or post-walk/hike feed.
2 – Then walk it off with a ramble along Howth Harbour and pier
If you’re looking for walks in Dublin that are in no way strenuous and that offer some decent views throughout, the one along Howth Harbour and down to the pier is well worth a bash.
Now, obviously the photo that I took above was at sunset (if you can visit at sunset, do!), but the harbour and pier are great spots for clearing the cobwebs.
Translation: it gets seriously damn windy here.
The walk along the pier is short (you could do it easily enough in 20 minutes). However, if you walk down to the end of the pier, there’s a nice lookout point out towards Ireland’s Eye.
You’ll often see people fishing to the left of this point. On occassion, you’ll walk up here and find that there’s a lad with a fiddle (or an entire band) playing away.
3 – Grab a post-walk fish and chips in Howth’s Leo Burdocks (or Beshoff’s)
Two of the most popular fish and chip shops in Howth (or are they cafes..?!) are Leo Burdocks and Beshoff’s.
Now, although that’s a Burdock’s that you can see plonked on my legs above, I’d normally nip into Beshoff’s.
I’ve been eating chips from Beshoff’s in Howth village for as long as I can remember (Cod pieces, chips and LOADS of vinegar, in case you’re curious…)
You’ll find both chippers (what we call the places that sell chips in Ireland) a stone’s throw from the train station.
If you visit one a sunny day, get your food to-go (there’s seating in Burdocks, there isn’t in Beshoff’s) and eat it while chilling on the grass.
4 – Head off on the Howth Cliff Walk
We have a detailed guide to the Howth Cliff Walk if you fancy giving it a bash.
In a nutshell, the cliff walk is easily one of the best things to do in Howth, if not Dublin, in my opinion.
I’ve been doing this walk since I was a kid and it’s as good in summer as it is in winter.
Now, you’ll need some level of fitness for this walk as there are plenty of inclines, a lot of rough path, and the walk itself can last up to 4 hours (depending on the loop you take).
The best advice that I can give you is to get up early, make your way to Howth Summit, and get stuck into the walk before the hoards of tourists and walkers arrive from 9 – 10 onwards.
5 – Take a ferry from Howth to Ireland’s eye
As you explore Dublin, you’ll notice several different islands off the coast. I can never remember which is which…
No matter how many times I’m told…
Ireland’s Eye is a little island off the coast of Howth (I’ll potentially remember this time…). It’s uninhabited and can be accessed by boat.
There are a couple of tours that you can do:
A trip around Ireland’s Eye
This trip takes visitors around the island. It takes in the Stack, where the boat stops to see a variety of seabirds, like Gannets, Guillemots, Cormorants, Kittiwakes, and Sea Gulls.
It also goes by the cave, the Martello Tower, and (hopefully) a colony of seals.
This is pretty decent value at €10 for adults, €8 for teens and €5 for children under 12 (book via the link above).
A trip onto Ireland’s Eye
The second option will take you onto Ireland’s Eye. Visitors can soak up stunning views from the top of the island and admire its many sandy beaches.
You can also get close to the stack for an unbeatable view of the large bird colonies that nest here.
The trip to the island takes a short 15 minutes. This option costs €15 for adults, €10 for teens and €5 for children under 12.
6 – Nurse a pint by the fire in the Bloody Stream
If you’ve spent a wet and windy winters (or summers…) day in Howth, what better way to whittle away an evening than in front of a big ass fire?!
Pint in hand. Food en route. And the crackle of a real fire ringing in your ears. Magic.
You’ll find the Bloody Stream right next to the train station. They serve up a decent feed and the Guinness is reputed to be tasty, also!
7 – Or enjoy a tipple (or a tea) with a view in O’Connell’s
I’ve resisted the temptation to slip into O’Connell’s pub on many occasions.
It’s right across from the entrance to the pier (top right of the photo above) and it catches my eye every single time I’m walking back to my car after a ramble.
Several people that I’ve chatted to recently have raved about the food in O’Connell’s. Apparently the wings, in particular, are top-notch.
8 – Explore Howth with a local
I was searching for tours of Howth when I came across one called ‘Hidden Howth’, that sounds brilliant.
Here’s how the organisers describe it, ‘See Howth through the eyes of a local. Leave the city behind and discover the beauty of the Emerald Isle on this 3.5-hour Hidden Howth adventure. This experience will let you live, feel and breathe the real Ireland, as though you were a native.’
Over the course of this 3.5-hour tour you’ll:
- Hear tales of Viking and Norman invasions
- Learn about the history of Howth’s 700-year-old castle
- Be immersed in Irish culture as you ramble through the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey
- Meet the local colony of seals (if they’re to be found!)
- Take in the views of Lambay Island and Ireland’s Eye
- See Baily Lighthouse and Dublin Bay
The tour costs €35 per person and that includes the guided tour along with a complimentary pint of beer in one of the village’s pubs.
9 – Take in a traditional show at the historic Abbey Tavern
There has been a traditional Irish music and dance show taking place at the Abbey in Howth since way back in 1962.
The show has changed over the years, but the reviews have remained as good as ever.
If you don’t fancy taking in a traditional show, there’s also a heap of other live events that take place at this buzzy little pub.
10 – Drive to Howth Summit and walk down to Bailey Lighthouse
This is one of my favourite things to do in Howth when I don’t have the energy (or the time) to do the cliff walk.
If you fancy getting out for a handy walk that’ll treat you to some gorgeous coastal views, point your car, bike, or feet in the direction of Howth Summit.
When you pass beneath the metal frame that’s used to keep large campers and caravans out, you’ll see a little path to the right.
This’ll take you past a derelict house on your left and down through some thick bushes. If you keep walking, you’ll be treated to the view in the snap above.
Continue down towards the Bailey Lighthouse. You’ll get great views of the lighthouse, cliffs on both sides, and the Dublin skyline.
11 – Eat your way around Howth Market
Howth Market has been on the go for over 9 years.
Back in 2013, the market became a permanent fixture. Although the entire market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays (and on Bank Holiday Mondays) there are 4 permanent fixtures open throughout the week:
- Amore Gelato
- Howth Market Deli
- Unique Oak
- Gift from Howth
Inside the market, you’ll find everything from organic produce and freshly baked goods to jewelry, clothing, antiques and more.
12 – Explore Howth Castle
I’ve never been to Howth Castle but, after reading about its history, I’ve whacked it onto my to-visit-sharpish list.
Howth Castle dates back to the 1200s.
According to legend, Grace O’Malley, pirate queen of Connacht, visited the castle in 1575, apparently hoping to dine with Lord Howth.
It’s said that he turned her away, as the family was in the middle of having dinner…
Apparently, she kidnapped the Earl of Howth’s grandson as payback, and only let him go when it was agreed that no guest would be turned away from the castle ever again.
Those that arrange (note: you need to book in advance) a visit to the castle can:
- Hear the history of the castle first hand
- See Europe’s largest rhododendron gardens
- Explore the National Transport Museum of Ireland
- Discover a collapsed tomb that dates back to 2500BC.
How to get to Howth from Dublin City
Getting to Howth from Dublin City is easy. Here’s a couple of options for those of you looking to use public transport:
The train from Connolly Station in Dublin City to Howth will take you around 25 minutes.
You’ll be dropped off right in Howth Village and it’ll leabe you within walking distance of everything.
Getting from Dublin to Howth by bus is another reasonably handy way to get to Howth (take the train, if possible).
You can hop on the number 31 or 31a bus from Dublin City (there’s several different pick-up points).
There are several different stop off points in Howth, depending on what you want to see.
Any other recommendations on what to do in Howth?
The comments section below is open.
If you’ve eaten somewhere that you want to shout from the rooftops about or if you found a walk that hasn’t been covered above, let me know!