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Wondering about the best day trips from Dublin by train? You’re in luck; I studied abroad in Dublin and relied heavily on public transportation to get around the country. So, I’ve rounded up all of the best ones for you!
Dublin is a well-connected city with excellent rail links to the rest of the country. Ireland’s rail network is straightforward to use and very reasonably priced – particularly if you book in advance. This makes it easy to escape the chaos of the city for a day and explore more of the magical country of Ireland.
There is an endless supply of incredible day trips from Dublin by train, and Ireland certainly has no shortage of amazing things to see and do.
Whether you fancy taking an adventurous hike or are more interested in discovering Ireland’s ancient history, these fantastic Dublin day trips mean you can make the most of your time in the enchanting city.
Dublin Day Trips By Train at a Glance
|35 – 50 minutes, depending on service
|Howth (my #1 recommendation)
|2 hours and 15 minutes
|1 hour and 30 minutes
|2 hours and 30 minutes
|2 hours and 45 minutes
From Dublin, you can easily reach the cities of Cork, Belfast, and Galway in just a few hours. You can also find beautiful coastal towns, rolling hills, and quaint villages all a short journey away.
With the right itinerary, you can experience the best of Ireland in just one day.
Day Trips from Dublin by Train
🚂 Distance: 35 – 50 minutes, depending on service
🧭 How to get there: DART trains to Bray depart from Dublin Connolly station. Services are operated by Irish Rail and depart every 10 minutes. It’s a direct service, so hop off when you reach Bray Daly Station.
The quaint seaside town of Bray is one of the best Dublin day trips if you’re craving a taste of salty sea air. The town has a pretty seafront Victorian promenade, excellent for a leisurely stroll and a scoop or two of delicious local ice cream.
Just a short train ride away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin, Bray makes for a relaxing seaside escape.
The rugged coastline surrounding Bray provides some brilliant walking routes. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is a 4.4-mile route around the crumbling clifftops, boasting some of Ireland’s most scenic views.
It’s short enough to complete in the morning or afternoon, making it an excellent short day trip from Dublin.
Read More: How to Take a Day Trip From Dublin to Bray, Ireland 🚉
If you’re craving an adventure, Bray is an excellent spot. There’s a whole host of watersports on offer in Bray – that is if you’re daring enough to brave the chilly Irish Sea.
You can spend a thrilling afternoon doing a coasteering session – a combination of rock climbing, caving, sea swimming, and cliff diving.
If that’s not your thing, you could opt for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding instead – whatever activity you choose, there are plenty of ways to make the most of Bray’s wild and beautiful coastline.
🚂 Distance: 30 minutes
🧭 How to get there: This is a popular commuter route, so there are a few different train options, all leaving regularly from Dublin Connolly Station. Take either the DART heading to Bray Daly or Greystones or the InterCity to Rosslare Europort (the InterCity is the route with the least stops). Disembark at Dún Laoghaire Mallin Station.
The lively little harbor village of Dún Laoghaire is one of the best day trips from Dublin by train, and the journey to get there is quick and easy. Tourists and locals alike love to escape to Dún Laoghaire for a fun-filled afternoon.
Dún Laoghaire’s People’s Park is home to one of Dublin’s best markets. The market takes place every Sunday and hosts over 50 vendors selling everything from delicious homemade food to carefully handcrafted jewelry.
You can easily spend a few hours browsing all the stalls and filling up on tasty artisan produce.
The town has a buzzing drinking scene and is home to some excellent pubs, all of which have a far more local feel than anything you might find in Dublin’s city center.
Dún Laoghaire is the perfect place to experience Ireland’s famous pub culture, and you won’t struggle to find a cozy retreat from the blustery sea breeze.
🚂 Distance: 30 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Take the DART train from Dublin Connolly Station to Howth Station. Make sure to get off at Howth rather than Howth Junction, which is three stops before Howth and is a completely different area!
Located just 9 miles from the center of Dublin, Howth has maintained a completely separate identity and way of life from the city.
As you exit the train and enter the village, you’ll find it hard to believe how close you are to the city – Howth feels as if it’s located in a far-flung corner of rural Ireland.
It’s a picturesque harbor village home to the largest yacht club in the country and an abundance of beautiful walking routes.
Read More: How to Take a Day Trip to Howth from Dublin 🌊
For something different to do, you could visit the Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio. The museum is a curation of old music memorabilia and broadcast equipment, lovingly curated over the years by its founder, Pat Herbert.
The museum is located in a Martello Tower at the top of a steep hill and contains an incredible collection of vintage finds – it’s a perfect activity for music lovers.
Balscadden Bay is a real hidden gem in Howth. This little shingle beach is located close to Howth Harbour, and is popular with outdoor swimmers thanks to its generous tide times and beautiful scenery.
The bay is home to a large resident seal population, and if you take a dip in its enlivening waters, you’re likely to see a few heads popping up… sometimes as close as 100 meters away.
The Howth Cliff Walk is an absolute must-do activity and is arguably one of the best walks in the Dublin area. There is a trail for every ability level, offering incredible panoramic views over the heather-carpeted hills and sparkling Irish sea.
After a few hours of rambling in invigorating seaside air, there are plenty of brilliant post-walk pint spots in the village before heading back to the city.
🚂 Distance: 2 hours and 15 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Catch the InterCity train from Dublin Connolly to Belfast. This is a direct service leaving every two hours and only makes four stops between the two cities, so it is a comfortable journey. Pre-booking this route is recommended to get the best price.
Belfast is the birthplace of the Titanic, and a visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Titanic Museum. It’s located about a ten-minute drive from the city center and is connected by excellent bus links.
The museum transports you on a journey through time to discover what life aboard the ill-fated ship was like, and you’ll learn all about its conception and creation. It’s a fantastic interactive experience that perfectly captures the ship’s life story.
Northern Ireland has had a very turbulent political history, and the city has faced a lot of bloodshed in the not-too-distant past.
A great way of learning about the city’s history is by doing a black cab tour, which takes you through the neighborhoods at the heart of the violence.
During the tour, a guide who lived during the troubles explains life during the political conflict. The tour also normally includes a stop at the Peace Wall, a structure constructed to separate Nationalist and Loyalist neighborhoods.
Since the end of the conflict, local artists have transformed the wall into a gallery of powerful murals commemorating the country’s history and promoting peace and tolerance.
🚂 Distance: 20 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Take the DART train to Malahide from Dublin Connolly Station, disembarking at Portmarnock.
The suburban coastal village of Portmarnock makes for an excellent day trip from Dublin by train, thanks to the short and easy journey to get there.
Portmarnock Beach is one of Dublin’s best beaches and is an excellent place to spend a sizzling summer’s day.
If you aren’t lucky enough to visit during one of Ireland’s rare heatwaves, fear not – rain or shine, this beautiful beach is a great walking spot where you can traverse the 5-mile strand through the dunes and enjoy picturesque views of Howth and Ireland’s Eye.
🚂 Distance: 20-30 minutes
🧭 How to get there: There are two services running the route to Malahide, both departing from Dublin Connolly Station. The commuter train to Drogheda Macbride is shorter but leaves less frequently than the DART line to Malahide. Both services offer a direct route, so hop off at Malahide Station.
Malahide is a brilliant short day trip from Dublin, as it’s located very near to the city and is packed with things to do.
Malahide Castle boasts an impressive 800-year heritage and offers a glimpse into Ireland’s medieval history.
A guided tour around the castle is a brilliant way to discover its vital role in Ireland’s political and social life, and you could spend hours admiring the ancient architecture and beautiful gardens.
The colorful village is home to a bustling Marina packed with food trucks – Picnic Park is a foodies heaven! Spend an afternoon here eating and drinking your way through the gourmet offerings of each vendor, with everything from fiery Mexican food to freshly baked pastries on offer.
🚂 Distance: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
🧭 How to get there: Take an InterCity train from Dublin Heuston Station heading to Waterford Plunkett and get off at Kilkenny Macdonagh.
Known locally as ‘The Marble City,’ Kilkenny is a charming ancient city with cobbled streets and incredible medieval architecture.
A trip to this city is one of the best day trips from Dublin by train for history lovers, as it allows you to delve into Ireland’s ancient past.
The Medieval Mile is a discovery trail running through the city, linking its most interesting historical sites.
Start at the Medieval Mile Museum and discover 800 years of history under one roof. The museum contains remarkably preserved relics from Ireland’s past and offers many exhibitions, best appreciated through the guided tour.
After the museum, follow the signposts and walk the Medieval Mile, stopping at whichever sites take your fancy along the way.
Don’t be fooled into thinking all Kilkenny has to offer is history – these days, it’s considered one of Ireland’s most buzzing and cosmopolitan cities.
Head to the Butler Gallery to admire some of the country’s most incredible contemporary artwork, or visit the design center, which showcases the artwork of talented local emerging craftsmen.
🚂 Distance: 35 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Take the DART train heading to Bray Daly, departing from Dublin Connolly Station. Get off at Dalkey Station.
Dalkey is one of Dublin’s most affluent suburbs and is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. It’s a popular walking spot, and the Dalkey to Killiney Hill walk is one of Dublin’s best walks.
The trail weaves through the village before following the coastline up the hill, providing impressive views over the sea. Along the walk, you’ll spot some spectacular mansions home to some of Ireland’s most famous residents, including Bono and Van Morrison.
Adrenalin junkies love Dalkey Quarry, a popular spot to go rock climbing in the area, best for only experienced climbers. The exhilaration of reaching the top of your first outdoor rock climb is something special, and this is a fun Dublin day trip if you’re seeking some adventure.
For a fairly small village, Dalkey boasts an impressive food and drink scene. Sample some freshly caught seafood at The Dalkey Duck, pick up some gourmet homemade bread at Thyme Out, or enjoy locally produced gin at Finnegan’s of Dalkey.
You certainly won’t be short on choices of great food and an even better atmosphere in Dalkey.
🚂 Distance: 2 hours and 30 minutes
🧭 How to get there: The InterCity line departs from Dublin Heuston and runs directly to Galway Ceannt Station.
Galway is one of the best train trips from Dublin, as you’ll be treated to spectacular views of rolling green hills throughout the whole journey. The two-and-a-half-hour journey will fly by thanks to the dramatic scenery – just make sure to nab a window seat!
The beautiful city of Galway is famous for its vibrant atmosphere and magical charm.
Truth be told, you don’t need to plan too much to do in Galway – the best way to spend a day in the city is to wander along its cobbled pedestrian streets, admiring the brightly colored buildings and soaking up the sounds of the talented buskers.
The city has a world-renowned pub culture and is home to dozens of spectacular pubs, all of which offer different atmospheres and their own individual vibe.
Whichever pub you choose to visit, you’ll undoubtedly find a vibrant atmosphere and be welcomed warmly by friendly locals.
🚂 Distance: 2 hours and 45 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Head to Dublin Heuston Station and catch the InterCity train to Cork Kent Station. This is a direct service.
Cork is Ireland’s second-largest city, so it has plenty to offer on a Dublin day trip.
The iconic English Market is one of Europe’s oldest and best indoor markets and is an incredibly quaint spot to visit.
Wander around the stalls selling everything from freshly caught fish to locally produced holistic products, and soak up the hustle and bustle of market traders selling their produce.
The Cork City Gaol is a 19th-century prison that is open today as a museum. Here, visitors are transported back in time and can experience what life would have been like as a prisoner while listening to tales of some of the Gaol’s most notorious guests.
It’s a pretty eerie building – particularly if you choose the self-guided tour option and you visit on a quiet day!
Three miles east of the city sits Blackrock Castle – a 16th-century castle that was redeveloped in the early 2000s and is now used as an observatory. The observatory hosts an array of exhibitions and events, all of which aim to bring you on a journey to space.
Ireland is a country with a deep connection to the stars – many of its Stone Age monuments show evidence of sun tracking. The observatory is the perfect place to discover Ireland’s link to the stars, and the ever-changing exhibition schedule means there’s always something fascinating to explore.
Don’t forget to also make a stop at the Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. You could spend a whole day exploring the grounds here.
🚂 Distance: 40 minutes
🧭 How to get there: Catch the DART train from Dublin Connolly Station heading to Bray Daly and get off at Killiney.
Killiney Village is one of the best day trips from Dublin by public transport and is the perfect place to go if you need to swap the city smog for fresh air. The coastal suburb is home to wild natural beauty and is teeming with attractions.
Killiney Hill Park is an excellent walking spot, providing views all the way across the Irish Sea to Wales on a clear day.
Even in less fortunate weather conditions, you’ll still be treated to stunning vistas over the whole city of Dublin. Pack a blanket, grab a coffee and sandwich on your way from the train station, and enjoy a picnic in the park.
A popular thing to do for Killiney’s locals is to take a tip in Vico Bathing Place. It’s dubbed as the Amalfi Coast of Dublin, but don’t be fooled – its waters are freezing.
Locals believe that swimming in ice-cold water provides many health benefits, and the surrounding rugged cliffs mean the area has stunning views. If you don’t fancy braving the ice-cold waters, you can still enjoy the area’s scenic beauty.
Final Thoughts: Day Trips by Train from Dublin
There are so many incredible day trips from Dublin by train on offer that your time in the city would be wasted without taking advantage of at least one.
The country’s modern and comfortable rail network makes it easy to escape the city and discover just how much Ireland has to offer. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy – even if you only have a day to spare.
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