Discover the stops on the Dublin Coastal Trail
A city by the sea, Dublin’s long coastline is dotted with unexpected experiences and outdoor activities.
The Dublin Coastal Trail highlights these hidden gems, running from Skerries to the north of the city down to Killiney in the south. By navigating the DART rail line to the Trail’s featured spots, it’s easy for explorers to find castles, beaches, heritage and more.
Have an adventure and enjoy one of the world’s most scenic train trips as you follow the Trail. From incredible sea viewpoints and thrilling watersports to the freshest seafood, discover a sample of the adventures waiting on the Dublin Coastal Trail.
Once Ireland’s busiest fishing harbour, Skerries has a fascinating past. Visit Skerries Mills where flour has been made since the 12th century to try your hand at stone grinding. Watch the water wheel turn as it drives the machinery and go inside the five sail Great Windmill. The Skerries Heritage Trail also provides insights into the area’s history so be on the lookout for the Heritage Trail signs as you wander the town and coast.
You can work up an appetite kitesurfing or sea kayaking along a string of beaches, like Skerries South Strand, before choosing a restaurant. Satisfy a seafood craving at the Blue Bar with Grilled Lobster or Gambas Pil-Pil. At Fifty4 Restaurant & Pizzeria the Rockabill pizza (named after the local lighthouse) features cold-water prawns, mussels and anchovies, or choose a classic pepperoni Americana.
The village of Malahide has a character all its own with some magnificent architecture. Pay a visit to Malahide Castle and Gardens to hear about the lives of the Talbots who called it home for eight centuries. Once you’ve admired the ornate interiors, check out the extensive grounds and flit over to the Butterfly House. You can walk through gardens filled with over 5,000 varieties of plants or hire a bike to explore on two wheels.
Forest trails, coastal paths and hillside hikes all provide rambling opportunities from easy strolls to serious walks. Or stick to streets full of boutiques and restaurants, hit the shops, then sit back and watch the boats in the marina as you savour duck Chettinad or lamb biryani at Jaipur.
In the heart of the village, the four-star Grand Hotel provides the ideal retreat at the end of an eventful day.
Howth makes the most of its beautiful setting with incredible cliff walks and a charming seaside village. Take it all in with Howth Adventures or Hidden Howth Experiences and benefit from their expert local knowledge as you find prime viewpoints and spot elusive wildlife like fulmars, razorbills and dolphins.
Head to the harbour and venture to Ireland’s Eye with Dublin Bay Cruises or Ireland’s Eye Ferries. This haven for birds hosts species including guillemots and puffins as well as a seal colony. Or visit the flower and sculpture garden at Ardán, where a variety of habitats have earned Ardán recognition as a part of the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere.
Raheny and North Bull Island
Just north of the city centre, Raheny is a gateway to two of Dublin’s finest recreational amenities at St Anne’s Park and Bull Island. While St Anne’s Park features well tended paths, an arboretum, rose gardens, playing pitches, tennis courts and a food market, North Bull Island is a nature reserve of international importance.
At the core of the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere, North Bull Island is vital for its birdlife and rare plant species. It’s also a paradise for walkers and swimmers, so worth seeking out the island’s 5km beach for a dip or a stroll. If you’re planning to go kitesurfing or try a WingSurfing lesson, Pure Magic Watersports caters to kiters from absolute beginners to advanced.
Grand Canal Dock
At Dublin’s Docklands past and future collide in a place rich in history and buzzing with modern industry. Start by delving into Irish heritage at EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum. You can get involved through interactive exhibits in the atmospheric former vaults and storehouses of the CHQ Building. Keeping to the theme, hop aboard the neighbouring Jeanie Johnston tall ship to trace the journey of those fleeing the Famine.
There’s plenty here for active types too. Wriggle into a wetsuit at Surfdock Watersports School for surfing, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding at Grand Canal Dock.
With outstanding views of the iconic Poolbeg Chimneys, Dún Laoghaire and Irishtown Nature Reserve Park, Sandymount Strand gives you the perfect vantage point to soak up the scenery. A popular walking spot, if you’re up for a longer trek you can follow the path all the way to the Poolbeg Lighthouse at the end of the Great South Wall walk and back again.
The village also has distinctive boutiques and eateries from classical Italian to gourmet burgers. For a handy place to stay, the Sandymount Hotel is ideally located by the Aviva Stadium.
Salthill and Monkstown
Salthill and Monkstown make a big impression thanks to well preserved Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian architecture. Admire the period details of the houses on Eaton Square and Seapoint Avenue or go to the top of The Hill to peep at the grand residences behind the gates. This part of the coastline is great for a swim too, so grab a towel and nip to the Blue Flag Seapoint Beach. Head for Martello Tower to find slipways and steps with handrails leading into the water.
Having swum up an appetite, you’re in good hands as the village has everything from authentic Italian to contemporary Indian. But if the local sea air has you seeking seafood, at Lobstar the selection changes based on what's seasonally available and freshest at the market.
The seaside resort of Dún Laoghaire welcomes you with green spaces and palm trees. Once a quiet fishing village, now it’s a busy port town known for activities on the water. Join Dublin Under Sail to visit the actual spot where Brian Ború took on the Vikings, or enjoy epic views and wildlife watching with Dublin Bay Cruises. You can learn more about Dún Laoghaire’s oceangoing history at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland and marvel at the artefacts. The standout is an impressive ten tonne optic, a giant light formerly in use at the Baily Lighthouse in Howth.
The two harbour piers are perfect for a stroll with an ice cream in hand. For places to stay nearby on the seafront, try Haddington House or the Royal Marine Hotel. Open a window at bedtime and let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep.
Sandycove and Glasthule
One of the most famous coastal destinations in Dublin beckons at the Forty Foot. Wild swimmers visit the rocky shoreline year round, while adjoining Sandycove Beach provides a gentler experience. After a dip, head to quaint Glasthule and Caviston’s Seafood Restaurant for treats like garlicky shrimp and barely seared king scallops.
This is also the unlikely birthplace of literary revolutions. Visitors can follow the Sandycove Heritage Trail and step into the setting made famous in the first chapter of Ulysses when they visit the James Joyce Museum’s Martello Tower.
Dublin’s principal port in medieval times, if history had turned out differently Dalkey may have become Ireland’s capital. These days, boating, kayaking, swimming and ﬁshing are an essential part of the Dalkey experience. Take a trip from sheltered Coliemore Harbour to Dalkey Island and say hello to the resident seals and wild goats.
Notable writers like George Bernard Shaw, Maeve Binchy and Flann O’Brien have lived in or have been inspired by Dalkey. Stop by the Writer’s Gallery in Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre to find out more about the area’s literary connections. Having topped up on culture lose yourself in the natural beauty of Mornington Garden with its mixture of trees, shrubs, herbaceous borders and water features, you may even meet a chicken or two.
With its Blue Flag beach and iconic spots like White Rock and the Vico Baths, Killiney is great for swimmers. While for hill walkers Killiney Hill is ideal with its sweeping views of Dublin to the north, the Irish Sea and mountains of Wales on a clear day to the east, and Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains to the south.
Many famous faces from global music stars (including not just one, but two members of U2) to Formula 1 drivers call Killiney home. But you can become a short term resident yourself by staying in celebrity luxury at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, the perfect finishing touch to days filled with adventures.
Experience the Dublin Coastal Trail
With unforgettable experiences to enjoy up and down the Dublin coast, all that’s left to do now is decide where to start your Dublin Coastal Trail journey.
Browse the list below and begin exploring the city's coastline.