If you’ve got a free day to spare and aren’t sure what to do with it, a wonderful option is to spend a day on the Dublin rail system, the DART. The train travels up and down the Dublin coast, with great views along the way and some lovely villages to stroll through.
Start your day by traveling up to Howth, a beautiful peaceful village. The pier is a lovely place to go for a walk, and in good weather you can get a stunning look at Ireland’s Eye from the harbour. Be sure to look for the friendly seal who lives there too – he often swims by to say hello! Howth has beautiful walking trails around the area. There are gentle strolls that go up through the town and walk along the sea wall, or if you’re a more avid hiker, you can go right up along the challenging cliff path for stunning views. The local bus also takes you right up to the summit, where you can look out over the bay and get a great view of the lighthouse in the distance. After your hike, a great way to take a rest is by taking the fishing boat out of the harbour around Ireland’s Eye. The short, 30 minute tour goes right round the island and back to the harbour, and is a wonderful way to get out on the water and see some new sights.
After spending the morning at Howth, take the train out to Malahide. Malahide is also north of Dublin, and is a cosy little town with a beautiful Norman castle. The castle dates back to 1175 and is situated on a beautiful 260 acres of land. Most of the land has been divided into gardens, and on a sunny day this is a great place to stroll around and look at the flowers. As you stroll around the gardens, look out for the peacocks who live there. They like to hang around near the entrance to the café in case some kind-hearted visitor feels like sharing his lunch! You can book a tour of the castle as well, and hear how the Talbot family owned the castle for over 800 years! While you wait for a tour, you can stop in for morning tea at the beautiful café in the castle visitor’s centre. The café also has a beautiful gift shop to look around after you’ve enjoyed your cake.
The afternoon is a wonderful time to get back on the DART and head south. First, stop off in Dun Laoghaire to walk along the pier. At the end of the pier is a lighthouse you can visit, or if you prefer, pick up a 9
9 at the famous Teddy’s ice cream and enjoy it as you watch the yachts sail around the bay.
When you’re ready, get back on the DART and head further south to Dalkey. Dalkey is a small town where many artists live. Bono, Enya, and Van Morrison all have homes in Dalkey, and are known to be spotted in the pubs. You can head up the hill to walk by some of these homes, or you can stay in the village and visit Dalkey Castle, an old Anglo-Norman castle and visitor’s centre. Finally, stop into a local pub for dinner—you never know, you might catch a glimpse of Bono!
End your day by taking the train further south to Bray to catch the sunset. The train runs right along the waterfront from Dalkey to Bray, giving some gorgeous views out over the bay. If you like, you can take an evening stroll along the water and enjoy the last of the light. Otherwise head on back home to Ariel House for a cup of tea and bed!
Next week I’ll be writing about the Wicklow Mountains, a nearby national park with some great opportunities for getting outdoors and going for a hike or two. See you then!