Paraphrasing a line from a popular song, Dublin is not Ireland. Yes, it’s stunning and adorable, but the Emerald Isle is much bigger and culturally diverse than its capital. On the bright side, you can explore most of the island in a few day trips and weekend getaways that start in Dublin.
Last updated: January 20, 2023
10 Excellent Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from Dublin, Ireland
Ireland is made for adventures and road trips. Everything in this country screams for your attention. While you enjoy famous pubs and bustling streets of the capital, ancient ruins, stunning cliffs, picturesque hills and pastures allure you to explore Ireland’s countryside over the course of a few day trips or weekend getaways that start in Dublin.
Like the majority of visitors of the island, I stayed in Dublin and planned a few day adventures to different regions of the country. Direct international flights, great food and accommodation options, plenty of things to do and see – there is no better place to start your Ireland trip.
But the main reason that prompted me to stay in the capital was a wide range of opportunities to explore most of the Emerald Isle during a few days trips from the city. As a solo traveler, I couldn’t say no to this. Now using my experiences and recommendations by some locals I met in Ireland, I’ve compiled the list of the best day trips and weekend getaways from Dublin.
THE 10 BEST DAY TRIPS AND WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM DUBLIN TO ADD TO YOUR IRELAND ITINERARY
Located about 2.5 hours from Dublin, Galway is one of the best day trips and weekend getaways to immerse in traditional Irish folk music. Moreover, the place unveils secrets behind Irish craic, letting you experience famous pub culture and festivals of the country. And where there is a pub, there is alway traditional dancing and music. No wonder, the city is known as the Cultural Heart of Ireland.
Buskers along with a rainbow of colors in Galway’s Latin Quarters further define the unique and entertaining nature of the city. At the same time, The Long Walk, a row of colorful houses facing Galway Bay, welcomes you to experience a quieter side of the city.
How to Visit: You can visit Galway on a day trip from Dublin by bus or train. Many guided tours combine a trip to Galway with other Irish attractions, such as the Cliffs of Moher.
TIP: Yet if you have enough time, be sure to take two separate day trips from Dublin and explore these places individually. Each of them needs more than one hour you will otherwise get on a full-day guided tour from the capital of Ireland.
2. The Cliffs of Moher and Doolin
The Cliffs of Moher is one of the mandatory day trips from Dublin for nature lovers. The famous landmark on the west coast of the country lets you experience gorgeous, yet proud and temperamental Ireland. Strong winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean never once let you forget how powerful and forceful nature can be.
And yet, the stunning surroundings along with its scenic hiking trails dare to challenge you and inspire to take one of the most unforgettable day trips you ever go on from Dublin.
During their adventures at the Cliffs of Moher, the roadtrippers often visit Doolin. Famous for its colorful houses, authentic pubs, and green pastures surrounding it, the village adds a rural vibe to your day trips from Dublin.
How to Visit: As with Galway, many tourist offices offer full-day trips from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher with a quick stop for lunch in Doolin. Public transport isn’t the best option to get here as there are no direct busses or trains. Due to required transfers, such day trips from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher can take up to 5 hours as opposed to 3 hours by car.
If you’re interested in guided excursions, here are some of the tours I took or considered taking while exploring Ireland.
3. Day Trips to the Burren
Many guided day trips from Dublin to the west coast also include a drive through the Burren, a unique lunar-like landscape of barren grey limestone. If the weather is favorable, your tour guide may let you get out of the bus for a quick 10-15-minute walk in the area.
TIP: A short stop is definitely not enough for one of the most beautiful and diverse in plants and animals places in Ireland. Thus, renting a car allows for the more fulfilling day trips or even weekend getaways from Dublin to see the natural wonders of the Burren.
4. Glendalough and Laragh
With just a little bit over one hour drive away, Glendalough is one of the closest day trips from Dublin. This glacier valley in County Wicklow entices with an Early Medieval monastic settlement and two picturesque lakes nearby.
How to Visit: Direct busses from Dublin reach the place in a little bit over one hour. Half- and full-day tours are also available.
TIP: But if you want to make this visit one of your best day trips from Dublin, be sure to get a car. There are ample other places to see in County Wicklow, such as the village of Laragh, Poulanass Waterfall, and Powerscourt Waterfall.
5. The Wicklow Mountains
You can certainly combine a drive through the Wicklow Mountains with your visit to Glendalough. However, if you’re aching for more impactful travel experiences, devote a full day for your trip from Dublin to the mountains. On the other hand, with such epic hikes as the Wicklow Way and the St. Kevin’s Way, even a weekend may not be enough.
6. Day Trips from Dublin to Belfast
Northern Ireland needs at least a few long day trips or weekend getaways from Dublin to present its natural and cultural highlights. While it’s technically a different country, you can still travel here if you have a UK visa or a passport that allows you to do it freely.
The best place to start your day trips from Dublin through Northern Ireland is undoubtably Belfast. Known for its history and troubled past, the city has grown to a popular weekend destination with bustling farmer’s markets and award-winning restaurants. The most popular attraction still remains Titanic Belfast. The ill-fated ship was built in Belfast in 1911-1912, after all.
7. The Giant’s Causeway
Another beautiful destination in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is regarded by the Irish as the 8th Wonder of the World. With about 40,000 stone pillars cutting out of the cliff faces, it’s quite an attraction to see during one of your long day trips.
8. Day Trips from Dublin to Baltinglass
The travelers rarely spend the whole day in Baltinglass, often combining it with other day-trip destinations. Do whatever it feels right to you. Yet apart from its famous 12th-century Baltinglass Abbey, the place boasts other historical buildings and ancient ruins that can occupy your entire day.
TIP: Moreover, its convenient location (the place can be reached by public transportation or car) makes Baltinglass one of the easiest and most underrated trips from Dublin.
County Kerry is the longest day trip from the capital of Ireland. Again, a rental or your own car helps you cover this distance in the fastest and most time efficient manner.
But leaving all these logistic matters behind, the place astounds with its remarkable scenery, sandy beaches, and rugged coastline. Furthermore, you can hit all the highlights of the area on the Ring of Kerry, a 179-kilometer (111-mile) scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula.
10. Short Day Trips from Dublin to Keadeen Mountain Farms
Two things define Ireland: the awe-inspiring landscapes and green pastures spread across rolling hills of the island. While farming is one of the most profitable fields of economy, it’s also a significant part of Irish culture.
Irish farmers, recognizing their important role in the cultural heritage and looking for ways to make extra money, open their doors for the short day excursions from Dublin. So for example, it takes a few hours to visit Keadeen Mountain Farms, meet its animal residents, and learn about production and benefits of hemp seeds.
TIP: Be sure to ask for a private tour in advance or join one of a few guided day tours.