Jess Buchan

As the capital city of Ireland, Dublin is usually the first stop on one’s trip to the green isle. While Dublin offers some of Ireland’s must-do activities, such as visiting the Guinness Factory, strolling through the Dublin Castle and enjoying some craic in Temple Bar, there is a plethora of things to do and see within an hour of Dublin and all accessible by the speedy rail system, the DART.

What is the DART?

DART stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transit and is an accurate way to describe this efficient system. With trains running every 15 minutes, you can travel from the centre of Dublin out to the quiet and delightful seaside towns within 45 minutes.

exploring wicklow

North of Dublin

Escape the hustle and bustle of Dublin City and discover a part of Ireland that most tourists skip over. North of Dublin is the seaside port town of Howth where you will discover Howth Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest occupied buildings. If you’re looking for somewhere to stretch your legs, take a stroll out to the Howth Lighthouse or hike the six-kilometre Cliff Path Loop, which conveniently begins and ends at the DART station!

Still north of Dublin is the medieval seaside village of Malahide. The biggest drawcard to this charming town is the Malahide Castle, where you can take guided tours complete with chilling ghost stories. Wander thought the chic clothing boutiques and finish your afternoon with a pint and some traditional Irish music at Gibney’s Pub.

howth lighthouse ireland

Image from Flickr user John O’Beirne.

Dublin’s South

South of Dublin is the busy but inviting town of Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leery). Slightly bigger than the other towns along the DART line, Dún Laoghaire still holds the Irish charm of a small village. I recommend heading down to the marina and strolling along the pier where you will find a spectacular view of the Irish Sea and south Dublin coastline. Don’t be shocked to see people swimming in the chilly waters, even on the coldest days you will spot someone exercising in the icy water! Stop in at the James Joyce Museum for a bit of Irish history and more stunning views. Wrap your afternoon up with an ice cream at the infamous Teddy’s ice-cream parlour!

teddy's ice-cream

Ireland’s Bay of Naples

Beyond Dún Laoghaire are the tiny villages of Dalkey and Killiney. Visit Biddy’s Cottage in Dalkey to experience the magic of traditional Irish story telling. Take a boat out to Dalkey Island and explore the small but historic island – you might even spot some seals lazing around. Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner at Magpie Inn and have a pint of two at Finnegan’s, where Michelle Obama and her daughters dined in 2013.

irish pub

Killiney is one of Dublin’s most exclusive residential areas with some of their most notable residents being U2 members Bono and The Edge as well as singer Enya. The Killiney coastline is favourably compared to the Bay of Naples in Italy so make sure you make the effort to hike around Killiney Hill Park that boasts beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Fresh Food and Sea Views

If you’re visiting Ireland during the summer, definitely add Bray to your list of places to visit. This seaside village comes alive in the summer with the seafront promenade filled with festivals, vibrant restaurants and bars along with family friendly activities. Take a hike up to Bray Hill for a stunning view of the coastline and then enjoy fish and chips by the beach, followed by a pint at the gastro pub Butler & Barry that boasts the best sea-view in town!

The final stop on the DART is the charismatic village of Greystones. Here you will find the cult health food café that even Jamie Oliver loves. The Happy Pear will be sure to fill your stomach with nourishing homemade food and you can even take some of their goodies home! If you’re feeling energetic, skip the short DART ride and walk the popular ‘Cliff Walk’ between Bray and Greystones. The six-kilometre jaunt that parallels the coastline is easy and will help you work up an appetite. 

bray head ireland

Image from Flickr user Mr.FF9900

If you are planning a trip to Ireland then add an extra few days in and around Dublin and explore the beautiful east coast. You won’t be disappointed and you might find yourself recommending friends to visit one of these enchanting Irish towns!

Things to Know:

  • If you’re planning to use public transport a lot around Dublin, invest in a Leap Card. These cards are easy to reload and will save you about 25% on tickets
  • For live departure times, download the free DART Times app for your smartphone
  • If you have ample time, make an effort to visit Powerscourt Gardens, Johnnie Foxes Pub and Glendalough. These require a car to get to but are definitely worth a visit!


Jess Buchan is an Aussie travel blogger who has lived in Europe and loves to share her travel stories on her blog, Instagram @ablondeandherpassport and Twitter @ablondeandher.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.