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Dublin is a charming city bursting with creativity and culture. It has a beautiful setting surrounded by hills and by the sea.
Famous the world over for its lively pub culture and friendly locals, Dublin is a city that leaves a lasting impression. Dublin is steeped in history, and its Viking past can be seen all around. This makes for an intriguing contrast with its vibrant contemporary culture.
Although Dublin itself isn’t a big city, it is a great idea to rent a car in Dublin to explore beyond the city centre. Renting a car allows you to explore the coastline, hike the hills and take day trips to other counties. Dublin is an ideal base if you want to see more of Ireland by car. There are plenty of options for day trips as well as itineraries for extended trips. Looking for destination inspiration for your vacation? Here are some of the best road trips that you can take from Dublin.
Navigating Dublin’s often busy roads can be intimidating, but be aware of any differences to what you’re used to and you’ll be just fine. Here’s some important tips for renting a car and driving in Dublin.
1. You can pick up your rental car at Dublin airport or a city centre location. The airport is usually cheaper.
2. Many of the on-street parking spaces in Dublin require you to parallel park. A smaller car makes this easier.
3. Fuel is expensive in Ireland so rent a car with a good economy rating.
4. The number of emergency services in Dublin is 999.
Explore the coastline on this 36km road trip from Dublin City centre to Bray in County Wicklow. As you make your way south, you’ll pass through some pretty places including Seapoint, Dún Laoghaire, Dalkey, Killiney and Bray.
As you drive through the Viking town of Dalkey, keep your eyes peeled for its famous residents including Bono, Van Morrison and Neil Jordan.
There are plenty of places along the way to stop for a dip in the sea – Killiney beach is a lovely spot. If you are travelling with kids, make a pit stop in Bray so they can play on the promenade and at the amusements. When you arrive in Greystones, treat yourself to some tasty local food in its many restaurants.
As the song goes, “If you are fond of sand dunes and salty air” then this 60km road trip covering the north coast of Dublin is for you.
Along this route, you’ll visit the beautiful areas of Howth, Malahide, Rush and Skerries. You’ll even get a chance to visit North Bull Island, a National Nature reserve. This island in Dublin Bay is a paradise for wildlife lovers and birdwatchers. En route, you can stop off and enjoy a tour of Malahide Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest medieval castles and you can partake in the local tradition of eating fish and chips in Howth Harbour.
When you reach Skerries, there is plenty to do in this picturesque seaside town. There are loads of great places to eat, and there’s a long sandy beach with low dunes and a safe swimming area.
You can’t come to Ireland and not visit at least some of its castles. If you are looking for a day trip from Dublin to see some Irish castles, this 27km route is perfect for you.
Leixlip village is about a 30-minute drive from Dublin. The village was established by the Vikings, so has plenty of history to uncover. In the heart of the village lies Leixlip Castle, which dates back to the 11th-century. Visitors can roam from room to room learning all about the castle’s occupants and history, and there is a lovely garden to visit too.
Just 15-minutes from Leixlip Castle you’ll find Maynooth Castle. This 13th-century stone castle lies in ruin, but you can get a guided tour of the Keep. When it was built originally, this Keep was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. There is also an exhibition in the Keep on the history of the castle.
Located in Ireland’s Ancient East, the historic Boyne Valley is full of heritage hotspots and bucolic landscapes. The 82km Boyne Valley drive passes through the counties of Meath and Louth. En route are the Hill of Tara, Newgrange, Oldbridge and Drogheda.
The Hill of Tara is an important ancient site. It once was the residence of the High King of Ireland. From this vantage point, the views of the rolling countryside seem never-ending. On top of the hill is the Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny). Legend has it that when the rightful king places his feet on it, the stone will let out a roar of joy. Go on, give it a try.
Next up is Newgrange, a passage tomb built around 3,000BC. It is older than the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge.
Oldbridge is where the Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. There is an interpretive centre here where you can learn all about this significant battle. Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland. You can uncover its history with a stroll around its centre to see the ancient gates, walls and other sites of importance.
Glendalough Valley in County Wicklow is one of the most scenic attractions in Ireland. Located 53km from Dublin, it is nestled in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. At Glendalough, you’ll find an ancient monastery with a church and striking round tower. There are two glacial lakes in the valley, the Lower and Upper, and there are plenty of walks and trails from which to explore the area.
Looking for the best views? Park the car at the Upper Lake car park and follow the Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk (White Route). At the top of this 9km strenuous hike are breathtaking views of the whole valley and the Wicklow Uplands.
Looking for a city full of crafts, culture and craic? Pack the car and take a road trip to Kilkenny. Kilkenny is a medieval city with well-preserved examples of Ireland’s ancient past.
If you want to learn more about Kilkenny’s fascinating history, follow the ‘Medieval Mile’ walking trail. This trail takes in the city’s many visitor attractions and sites of importance. At night, let your hair down in the fun-filled city centre where there are plenty of places to soak up Ireland’s pub culture and warm hospitality.
Kilkenny is 130km from Dublin by car. The drive is straightforward, just follow the M9 motorway.
Want to feel like you have stepped back in time? Then take a road trip to Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. Wander the medieval city centre and uncover its Viking Past. Spend hours within the city walls and the Viking Triangle visiting its many museums and attractions, ruins and relics.
Beyond the city centre, you can drive to the sweeping sandy beach at Tramore and take a spin out to Dunmore East for a walk along the sea cliffs and down to a secluded cove. This is the perfect place for a picnic and a dip.