The 7 Best Day Trips from Dublin Ireland (2024)

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Cobh Ireland Day Trip from Dublin

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Inside: The top full-day tours from Dublin to explore the best of the Emerald Isle (without driving yourself!).

So you’re visiting Dublin and having a fabulous time (because Dublin is, of course, a fabulous city!).

But you’re ready to venture out and see more of the incredible Emerald Isle. With its lush landscapes, historic castles, and charming towns, Ireland is brimming with sights that are a feast for the eyes and soul.

But, and this is a big but, you’re nervous about renting a car and driving yourself around Ireland.

I get it, believe me. Driving in Ireland is not for everyone.

Narrow country lanes, speeding lorries (that’s Irish-speak for big trucks), and driving on a side of the road that will probably make you feel like you’re learning to drive all over again.

With that said, it’s entirely possible to do all of the tours I’m going to list here on your own with a rental car, a bit of planning, and nerves of steel (just kidding, sort of).

Don’t have time to read the whole post? My favorite day trip from Dublin is the Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin. It’s the perfect overview of the Irish countryside and a great bang for your buck.

Exploring Ireland with a Rental Car

Renting a car in Ireland gives you unmatched freedom to explore at your own pace. Traveling along Ireland’s winding country lanes, you’ll discover quaint villages that are not always included on the top guided tours of Ireland. 

Self-guided tours also allow you to linger at spots that capture your interest without feeling rushed. Bonus: You can stop as often as you like for impromptu fish and chips at a pub or photo opportunities with all the sheep. So. Many. Sheep.

However, with this freedom comes the responsibility of navigation and route planning. It also comes with the challenge of locating parking spaces at popular sights and towns, which can be tough during the peak summer season. 

If you do choose to rent a car and explore the Irish countryside on your own, read this first:

How to Survive Driving in Ireland (and Actually Enjoy It!)

Then, if you’re still game, my favorite site for booking car rentals in Ireland is DiscoverCars.com

Tip: Get ALL the insurance. Whatever they will sell you.

MY Pick
Scotland Road Trip Car

Discover Cars

My favorite rental car booking site to use all over the world. No hidden costs, free cancellation, and 24/7 customer support.

Now, before I dive into the best day trips from Dublin, let’s briefly cover the top things to see on a trip to Ireland.

Top Sights to See in Ireland

If this is your first visit to Ireland, here are some of the best sights to see:

  • Cliffs of Moher: Towering 214 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, these dramatic cliffs offer breathtaking views and are Ireland’s must-see natural wonder.
  • Ring of Kerry: This scenic drive takes you through picturesque landscapes, coastal scenery, and charming small towns.
  • Giant’s Causeway: Located in Northern Ireland, this seaside area of nearly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns is the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.
  • Killarney National Park: Home to the stunning Lakes of Killarney, ancient forests, and the historic Muckross House and Gardens.
  • Galway: Known as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” Galway is famous for its vibrant arts scene, lively pubs, and the Galway Arts Festival.
  • Skellig Michael: A remote, rocky island home to an ancient monastic settlement and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Blarney Castle: Kiss the Blarney Stone atop the castle to get the gift of eloquence, or so the legend says.
  • The Burren: A unique landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations, and archaeological sites.
  • Connemara National Park: Offers rugged beauty, diverse landscapes, and opportunities for hiking and seeing wildlife.

Some of these like the Cliffs of Moher, Northern Ireland, Blarney Castle, and Galway are easy day trips from Dublin. Others, like Connemara National Park and the Ring of Kerry, are tougher due to the distance involved.

How to Choose Your Day Trip from Dublin

So, you’re itching to escape the hustle and bustle of Dublin city center, but how do you choose the best day trip?

  • Consider Your Interests: Are you a history buff eager to dive into Ireland’s medieval past at Kilkenny Castle, or are you more inclined towards the natural beauty of the Wicklow Mountains? Maybe the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway is calling your name. If you only have one day to devote to a day trip, focus on what’s most important to you.
  • Travel Time: How much of your day are you willing to spend traveling? Destinations like the Cliffs of Moher (a 3-hour drive from Dublin) require a longer bus ride, while the scenic beauty of Howth Head is just an hour’s drive away. Decide how much of your time you want to spend on the road versus exploring. 

The 7 Best Day Trips from Dublin 🍀

With that said, let’s get to it! Here are my favorite day trips from Dublin:

1. Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City

Cliffs of Moher Ireland Road Trip
Cliffs of Moher – Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Duration: 13 hours

What’s Included: Professional guide, guided walking tour of Galway, entrance fees for all attractions.

🚫What’s Not Included: Food and drinks.

Ireland’s most scenic drive, the Wild Atlantic Way, is a must-see and the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most popular spot for breathtaking panoramic views. This day trip includes a lengthy stop at the Cliffs of Moher followed by a scenic drive through the lunar landscape of Burren National Park.

By mid-afternoon, the tour arrives in Galway where you’ll be treated to a guided walking tour of colorful Galway. After the tour, there’s still plenty of time to explore the shops on your own or grab a bite to eat.

It’s the perfect day trip to blend the great natural beauty of the Emerald Isle with the lively charm of one of its best cities. 

2. Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway

Giants Causeway Northern Ireland Tour
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

Duration: 13 hours

What’s Included: Professional guide and black cab transport in Belfast.

🚫What’s Not Included: Food and drinks.

This jam-packed tour is the best way to see the top three sights in Northern Ireland – Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, and Dunluce Castle – in a single day.

Belfast is the first stop of the day where you’re treated to a black cab tour of the city with a local driver who provides context and history of the troubled region. After that, you’re given the option to visit the Titanic Experience or do another “political” black taxi tour.

From Belfast, the tour continues along the scenic Antrim Coast Road to the cluster of hexagonal basalt columns known as the Giant’s Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a geological wonder that’s steeped in mythology. Legend has it, that these intriguing formations are the remnants of a causeway built by the giant Finn McCool, enabling him to cross the sea and battle his Scottish rival.

The last stop of the day is Dunluce Castle. Dating back more than 500 years, the ruins of this seaside castle have been featured in many movies and TV shows, most recently “Game of Thrones.”

If a visit to Northern Ireland is on your wish list, this tour is the top choice to see the best of this historic region.

3. Kilkenny, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, & Sheep Dog Trials Day Trip

Kilkenny Castle Day Tour from Dublin
Kilkenny Castle

Duration: 10 hours

What’s Included: Walking tours of Kilkenny Medieval City and Glendalough Monastic Site, Irish sheep farm visit with sheepdog demonstration, stop at Wicklow Gap glacial valley, all fees and taxes.

🚫What’s Not Included: Food and drinks.

This tour is the perfect way to see the highlights of south-eastern Ireland including Kilkenny Castle, Wicklow Mountain National Park, and Glendalough’s medieval monastic settlement. The visit to Kilkenny Castle includes ample time to explore on your own or take advantage of the free guided walking tour. And the stunning Wicklow Mountains are one of Ireland’s most beautiful spots.

But my favorite part of this tour is the stop in Laragh to visit a working Irish sheep farm. Watching the sheepdogs at work is a highlight of the day and the opportunity to mingle with them and the sheep after the demonstration is the icing on the cake.

4. Blarney Castle & Rock of Cashel Day Trip from Dublin

Rock of Cashel Ireland
Rock of Cashel, Ireland

Duration: 12 hours

What’s Included: Driver, guide, and all entrance fees.

🚫What’s Not Included: Lunch

If kissing the Blarney Stone is on your Bucket List, this is the perfect Dublin day trip for you! This full-day motorcoach tour passes through the rolling hills of County Tipperary before arriving in County Kildare for a visit to three of Ireland’s most famous castles, the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, and Cahir Castle.

The extended 3-hour stop at Blarney Castle provides plenty of time for the full “Kissing the Blarney Stone” experience. The stop at Cahir Castle includes a guided tour and the Rock of Cashel was one of my favorite stops on our last driving tour of Ireland. The day’s relaxed itinerary includes plenty of breaks on the longer drives and opportunities for purchasing snacks and meals.

5. Small-Group Celtic History Tour from Dublin: Newgrange, Knowth

Newgrange Celtic History Day Trip from Dublin
Newgrange Monument

Duration: 8 hours

What’s Included: Transportation in a small minibus, a qualified guide, and all entrance fees.

🚫What’s Not Included: Food and drinks.

If you’re a history buff and large group tours aren’t your thing, this is the perfect day trip from Dublin for you. This small group tour explores Ireland’s rich Celtic heritage with a visit to the Boyne Valley, site of the Battle of the Boyne, a defining event in Irish history.

The tour visits the prehistoric monuments at Knowth and Newgrange and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bru Na Boinne.

6. Ring of Kerry Rail Trip from Dublin

Dingle Bay Ring of Kerry
Dingle Bay, Ring of Kerry

Duration: 15.5 hours

What’s Included: All travel by rail and coach including reserved seats on the train and a guide on the train and coach.

🚫What’s Not Included: Food and drinks.

I’ll be honest, this lengthy day trip from Dublin is not the best way to see the spectacular Ring of Kerry. But if you only have one day to devote to this part of Ireland, this whirlwind train and bus tour is your best bet.

The day begins with a train ride from Dublin to Killarney where you’ll meet your guide and transfer to a coach. From there, it’s a Railtours Coach for the ride around the scenic Ring of Kerry.

The route includes scenery like Ireland’s highest mountains, mountain passes and valleys, and the shores of Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay. There are frequent stops for photos along the way but not much time for sightseeing on your own. I’d also recommend bringing a few snacks along as there’s not much time built in for food stops on this busy itinerary.

Tip: If you have time to spend a night in Cork, the Ring of Kerry Day Tour from Cork: Including Killarney National Park allows for much more time in this lovely region of the Irish countryside.

7. Dublin Coastal Hike with Pints & Puppies

Howth Lighthouse Coastal Hike Day Trip from Dublin
Howth Lighthouse

Duration: 3-4 hours

What’s Included: Local guide, alcoholic beverages, and a video memento of your hike.

🚫What’s Not Included: Hotel pick-up or drop-off.

If you’re not up for a 12-hour day trip on a motorcoach but ARE up for a gorgeous coastal hike, this is the Dublin day trip for you! Especially if you love adorable dogs. Local guide Mark and his scene-stealing dog Missy lead this 5-mile coastal hike that ends with a well-earned pint in a local pub.

Along the way, you’ll learn about the history and folklore of Howth and visit the Howth Lighthouse, the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, the Baily Lighthouse, and more. This tour starts from the Howth train station, an easy train trip from central Dublin. Wear good shoes and bring layers, it can be chilly and breezy along this terrific coastal trail.

Wrapping Up the Best Day Trips from Dublin

And there you have it! My top picks for the best day trips from Dublin. Ireland’s beauty is as diverse as it is captivating and these tours will help you discover the Emerald Isle’s best sights.

Whether you’re exploring the ancient streets of Dublin or standing on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher with the wind in your hair, Ireland is a remarkable country to visit. These Dublin day trips are the perfect way to explore Ireland’s rich history, stunning natural beauty, and the warmth of Irish hospitality.

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