Dublin offers the best of both worlds — just minutes from the vibrant and bustling city centre are miles of stunning coastline. Dotted along the coast is a string of picturesque swimming spots nestled in charming villages and fishing harbours, which offer a calmer and relaxing alternative to the busy city streets. So, take your swim gear and your flip flops for a dip in Dublin’s ocean — here are a few of our must-sees beside the sea.
Known as the ‘Velvet Strand’, Portmarnock Beach in north County Dublin is the perfect spot to while away a sunny afternoon, just 25 minutes from the city centre. Served by the northbound DART, Dublin’s train service, it’s also home to a world-class golf club if you fancy donning your plus-fours and getting a game in while you’re there. You’ll be in good company: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington have all played this beautiful course that is regarded as one of the best in the world. Having worked up an appetite, you’ll want a hearty meal, and luckily, Portmarnock is home to some amazing restaurants. For pizza with a seafront view, check out Italian eatery Lali’s or catch an early-bird menu at Oscar Taylor’s.
Look out onto Dublin Bay from the northside and you’ll be greeted by Bull Island. Home to miles of gorgeous, sandy beach, the island is also an impressive nature reserve complete with interpretive centre — perfect for wildlife-watching. Or, if you and your friends fancy a more adventurous activity, why not take a group kite-surfing lesson on the beach before taking a dip? And don’t worry about the tide — the island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Just jump on a northbound DART to Clontarf to find it, a quick 10-minute journey.
The Great South Wall
On the southside of the city, you’ll find one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets — the Great South Wall. Running for four miles from Ringsend into Dublin Bay, a stroll out along the wall offers stunning views of where the city meets the sea. Whether you opt for a dip in the ocean, or simply decide to relax and take in the sights — ships coming in to port, and of course, the iconic Poolbeg Chimneys — the South Wall is undoubtedly one of the city’s most enticing spots. Get there on foot (it’s about an hour’s walk from the city-centre), or on the red line of Dublin’s tram service, the Luas, getting off at Point Village.
A 15-minute southbound ride on the Dart will take you to Seapoint, a picturesque seaside location famed for its idyllic bathing area. Paddleboarding and kitesurfing are on offer too.
Five minutes on foot is Monkstown where you can visit jewellery maker Vivien Walsh, and Irish food store Avoca. Local tip: be sure to check out Café Journal’s schedule where you might catch a candle-lit gig by Glenn Hansard or Irish singer Mark Geary.
For a vintage experience, it’s a leisurely 15-minute walk to the nearby Blackrock Market, where you can buy some vinyl, second-hand books, or even visit a tarot reader. We think a trip to Seapoint is on the cards…
Feeling adventurous? Then get thee to the 40 Foot in Sandycove. Once a gentleman’s bathing area (the sign is still there, but pay no heed ladies), this spot on the southernmost tip of Dublin Bay is perfect for a refreshing leap into the sea – something Dubliners have been doing for hundreds of years. Birthday suits acceptable, but not essential!
And whether you’re a diehard literature fan or not, be sure to check out the iconic Martello Tower, as featured in Ulysses (now home to the James Joyce Museum). Fact fans: The tower was built in 1804 as a defence against an invasion by Napoleon. Today, you’ll find a collection of letters, photographs and other Joyce memorabilia.
Head out to Dalkey on the southbound Dart line for a soothing sojourn by the sea, just 30 minutes from the city. If you’re looking for a relaxing dip, you can’t beat the Vico. It can be tricky to find but follow the signs and here you’ll find handrails and a ladder leading into the water, and an adjoining seawater pool if the sea gets too choppy. What’s more, you might make some friendly new swimming friends, as the sea here is home to dolphins, porpoises and seals. After your dip, there are plenty of things to do in Dalkey: you can take a tour at its castle and heritage centre. And look out for Bono! He lives nearby…