Though Dublin is full of an extensive number of museums and places to explore, my weekends are full of touristy trips to other popular cities and towns nearby. It’s been a lot of craic (super fun in Irish :))
In the past five weeks, here is a little snapshot of five of the day trips I have experienced, through use of the easy, cheap Irish public transportation systems.
Just a 30-minute train ride on the DART, Howth is an Irish village along the shore, east of Dublin. As I first arrived in Howth, a local tour guide advised me that I would definitely be back multiple times on my semester here because Howth becomes a “peaceful sanctuary” for Dublin students on free weekends. And he was completely correct! By being so close to Dublin, this shore town is full of seafood restaurants along the port, with multiple levels of cliff walks with breathtaking landscape views of Ireland’s Eye and sea cliffs. This charming town is the perfect escape whether you are looking for a walk along the pier to the lighthouse, a challenging hike up Howth Head, or a dip in the Balscadden Bay Beach.
Another town along the DART train line down the eastern coast of Ireland, Bray is the largest town in Wicklow Country. This seaside town provides picturesque views of the Irish Sea with a simple walk along the Bray Promenade. Bray Head provides a surprisingly challenging uphill hike. But the view of the entire Bray town, shoreline, and suburban spread is completely worth is! Nearby is the Killruddery House and Gardens, with 800 acres of sustainable, biodiverse farm with beautiful woodlands. The Saturday quaint Farmer’s Market with apple pressing really set the mood for the start of the autumn season.
As one of Ireland’s most famous cities, Galway lies on the west of Ireland and draws tourists from everywhere for its natural beauty and landscapes. My weekend trip to Galway consisted of an early 2.5-hour bus ride to the Galway city centre, followed by a tour to the Cliffs of Mohor with towering heights, crashing waves, and abundant flora and fauna. Staying in a hostel overnight in Galway was an opportunity to experience the much talked about Galway nightlife. Galway is famous for being the festival capital of Ireland, with traditional Irish pubs showcasing Irish folk music during the lively nights along Eyre Square.
As the second largest city in Ireland, Cork is located in the south-west of Ireland and is easily accessible from Dublin with a 3-hour bus ride. Cork is a peaceful city with vibrant galleries, traditional markets, and an outstanding history. The Blarney Castle and Gardens is a 30-minute bus ride from the city center, and I was thoroughly amazed with the beautiful fairy-tale like atmosphere. By visiting the home of the Blarney Stone, you have a chance to be blessed with the gift of eloquence, which, based on ancient Irish folklore, is bestowed upon those who kiss this stone.
As the capital of Northern Ireland, this city is technically outside of Ireland and part of the UK. However, Irish rails make the easy two-hour journeys daily. Though my passport was not checked during this trip, it is handy to have with you in this neighboring country. My daytrip to Belfast was a very educational experience, with walks near the Peace Walls highlighting the not-so-long ago history of The Troubles. The Ulster Museum and Botanical Gardens are must-see attractions, along with the St. George’s Market being an amazing place to try a traditional Belfast Bap.
Overall, these are just some of the cities I have been fortunate to visit in the past month of my semester abroad, each with their own unique attractions and attributes!