Dublin’s 10 best beaches
From sheltered little coves in Howth to the sweeping stretches of sand in Portmarnock, there’s a beach in Dublin to suit every mood.
The best part? They’re only a short hop from the city centre, be it a quick drive or a train ride on the DART.
Whether you want to leap into the sea or just enjoy a long amble along the shore, it’s easy to find a great beach in Dublin.
Balscadden Bay Beach, Howth
While there are a few excellent beaches in Howth, Balscadden Bay is one of the finest. From the sea cliffs lining the edge of the cove to the bay’s crystal clear waters, this sheltered beach is as pretty as a postcard. The Howth cliff walk starts just a few steps away, making it the perfect spot for a post-hike dip on a sunny day. In the village itself there are plenty of places for a bite to eat, from fish and chips in the nearby King Sitric to the coffee and crêpe trucks in Howth Market, held every weekend.
There’s a reason the Killiney coast is known as Ireland’s Bay of Naples. With a sweeping bay and green hills rising from behind the shore, this curved stretch of coastline is one of the prettiest spots in Dublin. While the Blue Flag Killiney Beach is mostly pebbled, at the north end of the bay you’ll find the striking White Rock, a sandy cove punctuated with boulders and surrounded by heather and wildflowers. Walk a couple of minutes further north and you’ll find the Vico Bathing Place, a spot that’s been popular with swimmers for decades and is also one of the few nude beaches in Dublin.
The wide sandy beach at Dollymount Strand makes it a popular spot with walkers, especially those who have a four legged friend by their side. If you fancy a longer stroll, you can wander along the full length of Bull Island and back, with views of Howth on the way out and the Poolbeg chimneys on your return. For something a little more adventurous, pop into Pure Magic to try your hand at kite surfing or stand-up paddle boarding, both of which are popular in these waters. Right at the start of the beach, Happy Out café serves top notch coffee and delicious breakfast baps for an al fresco brunch.
Whether you’re after a long walk on the sand or a spot of rock pooling, the long beach at Donabate is a great shout. At 3.5 kilometres long, you can take a lengthy stroll along the shore, with rolling sand dunes to one side and the breaking waves on the other. You’ll also get stand out views of Lambay Island and Malahide along the way. If you’re feeling peckish, you can pick up a coffee and a cheese toastie from the vintage style Fonté truck outside the Shoreline Hotel, which is open all year round.
Not only is it one of Dublin’s three Blue Flag beaches, but Portmarnock is also the recipient of a prestigious Green Coast Award, which recognises beaches of high environmental quality. Walk over the dunes between the car park and the sea and you’ll find a glorious beach with calm and shallow waters, ideal for kids to paddle in. The younger ones also love Fireman Sands, a decommissioned fire engine parked up at the northern tip of the Velvet Strand, which serves up decadent ice cream sundaes and warm chocolate brownies.
The closest beach to the city centre, Sandymount Strand is a great spot for a seaside ramble, whether you want to walk on the beach itself or along the promenade. The prom runs all the way down the coast road to the Merrion Gates, with beautiful views north to the Poolbeg Lighthouse and Howth as well as Dun Laoghaire to the south. If you’re feeling peckish, the numerous restaurants of Sandymount Green are only a five-minute walk away, including local favourites like gourmet burger joint Bujo.
James Joyce may have said it best when he described the waters of Sandycove as a “snotgreen… scrotumtightening sea”. But that doesn’t stop the legions of sea swimmers who flock to Sandycove’s bathing spot the Forty Foot every day, whatever the weather is doing. People of all ages head down for quick dips and long swims alike, before heading back to shore to warm up. A great place to do so is the nearby Sandycove Store & Yard, an artsy collective of food trucks where you can get a flat white and a black pudding sausage roll.
The third Blue Flag beach in Dublin, Seapoint is another popular swimming spot, thanks to the slipways and steps that make accessing the water a breeze. While the swimming is best at high tide, when the sea rolls back out the rock pooling is top notch. The distinctive Martello Tower stands at the north end of the beach, built to defend Dublin from Napoleonic invasion in the 1800s. For a health kick after your dip, grab an acai bowl from Roots food truck at the Salthill DART station.
There are two great beaches to choose from in the fishing village of Skerries, one to either side of Red Island. While South Beach is perfect for swimming, North Beach is popular with families thanks to its more sheltered waters and the children’s playground nearby. Both are just a couple of minutes’ stroll away from the town’s selection of restaurants, or you can stick around the harbour for some exceptional seafood.
On the strip of land that links Howth Head to the mainland, Burrow Beach has a wide expanse of sand, which means there’s more than enough space for everyone to spread out. A popular spot on sunny days, the beach also has gorgeous views out to Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island as well as the picturesque headlands of Howth. It’s also a good option for those using public transport, with Sutton DART station less than a 15 minute walk from the beach.
Fancy exploring more of the nature spots in Dublin? There are plenty of great walking and cycling routes all around the city.