The historic Vico Baths in Dalkey are one of the most popular places to go swimming in Dublin.
Fast-forward to 2023 and sea swimming is more popular than ever, with many flocking to the Vico Baths for a sunrise swim each morning.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from where to grab parking (a potential head-ace) to how to get to the baths.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Vico Baths
Although a visit to the Vico Baths in Dalkey is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The Vico Baths are around a 15-minute walk south of central Dalkey and are only accessible through a small gap in a wall on Vico Road, after which you’ll need to follow the signs and handrails down to the famous spot (you’ll probably hear the crashing of the waves before you make it all the way down!).
While the cliff-hugging Vico Road is beautiful and riviera-esque, it’s also narrow, so there’s no parking here. You can sometimes nab a place here, on Sorrento Road, however, the hassle free Vico Baths car park is the one in Dalkey Train Station (13-minute walk from there).
3. Swimming + safety
As you can imagine, there are no lifeguards here, so you do take your safety into your own hands, so understanding water safety is crucial. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips!
4. A chilly tradition
Average sea temperatures in Ireland range from 8.8⁰C to 14.9⁰C, so jumping into the Vico Baths for a dip isn’t for the fainthearted! And, while people head for a dip here throughout the year, it’s the traditional Christmas morning swim that it’s arguably best known for.
5. Famous faces
On June 22nd, 2022, Harry Styles from One Direction fame was spotted swimming at the baths. A year or so previous, photos of Matt Damon fresh out of a dip went viral.
About the Vico Baths in Dublin
So why do it? The health benefits of an ice-cold dip have long been touted so that could be why you’ll find people diving into these chilly south Dublin waters all year round.
From boosting your immune system to improving your circulation, there are a ton of reasons for taking the plunge. It also can’t be bad for dealing with a hangover!
The early days
But when Vico Road was first built in 1889, the Victorians probably knew the tiny cove would be popular simply because the landscape around these parts is so stunning.
There are actually a few bathing spots around these parts (the Forty Foot, Sandycove Beach, Killiney Beach and Seapoint Beach, to name but a few), but none have the breathtaking views that Vico commands (especially at sunrise – one of the most popular times of day to visit).
It was once ‘gentlemen only’
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to enjoy the waters and views back in those days as, like many other bathing spots in Dublin, Vico was for gentlemen only.
Such were the importance of the segregated bathing rules, there were penalties for women who broke them. Thankfully, those days are well past us.
The Eire sign
Another interesting curiosity you may notice on your walk down to the Vico Baths in Dalkey is the enormous ‘7 EIRE’ sign on the right-hand side.
If you’re confused, it’s because it’s actually a relic of the Second World War and was constructed due to Ireland’s neutrality.
Between 1942 and 1943 large signs – visible from above – were placed across the coast to act as navigational devices for planes, such as American bombers, crossing over the country.
Things to do near the Vico Baths
One of the reasons that a visit to the Vico Baths in Dalkey is one of the more popular day trips from Dublin City is due to the sheer volume of things to do nearby.
Below, you’ll find some brilliant walks, hikes and great places to eat a stone’s throw from the Vico Baths.
1. Sorrento Park (5-minute walk)
A cracking spot for views is Sorrento Park, just a 5-minute walk north of the Vico Baths. Though it’s less of a park and more of a small hill, you won’t really be thinking about trivial details like that when you head up to its grassy summit and take in the gorgeous views of the coast stretching out in front with the Wicklow Mountains behind. Nearby Dillon’s Park is also excellent.
2. Killiney Hill (5-minute drive)
For nearby views from a higher elevation, make the 5-minute drive and tackle the Killiney Hill Walk. The walk up the hill is an easy little ramble and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views towards Dublin city from the Obelisk, and vistas of the curving coast and Wicklow Mountains from the Viewpoint located just a short walk south.
3. Killiney Beach (15-minute drive)
When the sun comes out, how about drying off from your Vico Baths dip down at Killiney Beach? It’s a 15-minute drive through Killiney’s winding roads and, stony though it may be, it’s got some of Dublin’s cleanest water (multiple Blue Flag winner) and has some lovely views of the mountains.
4. Dalkey Island
Lying just a few hundred metres off the ragged Dalkey coastline, Dalkey Island is visible from the Vico Baths peeking out just beyond Sorrento Point. Though uninhabited, it’s full of ancient history and is reachable by boat (see our Dublin Bay Cruises guide) and (if you’re made of sterner stuff) kayak.
FAQs about visiting the Vico Baths in Dublin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how to find info on the Vico Baths tide times to where to park.
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 at the Vico Baths?
If you understand water safety and you’re a capable swimmer, then yes. Make sure to 1, avoid the water during bad weather and 2, read the water safety tips above.
Where do you park for the Vico Baths?
The nearest place to park is along Sorrento Road, but this is street parking that can be tricky to get. Park at Dalkey Train Station and it’s less than a 15-minute walk away.