We’ve given you general advice on how to navigate Dublin, where to stay, some top attractions, and where to eat like a local. But whether you are studying abroad in Dublin or just visiting for a weekend, another piece of advice is to get out of the city, visit a quaint village or two, and see some of that famous Irish countryside everyone raves about!
Given Ireland’s (relatively) reliable public transit, there are quite a few options for some day trips and even half- day trips based out of Dublin. With twenty-six different counties in the Republic of Ireland and six in the North, there is so much of Ireland, outside of Dublin, to explore. Here are our top picks based on ease of access to and the quality of the historical, cultural, and/or scenic interests.
Located within the Wicklow Mountains National Park in County Wicklow, Glendalough is a must-do day trip for anyone who desires that picturesque Irish lake in the valley view and doesn’t mind a hike in the mountains. Meaning “the valley of the two lakes”, Glendalough’s upper and lower lakes were formed in the last ice age by a glacier. Glendalough, like so many places in Ireland, is much more than just a pretty view, it has an incredible history dating back to the sixth century, as a Monastic City and center for learning for almost 900 years. There are at least nine different trails up the mountains and around the lake ranging from about two kilometers to eleven kilometers with varying degrees of difficulty and elevation. To efficiently get to the national park from Dublin and back, check out The Glendalough Bus website.
*Insider tip: Wear appropriate shoes and bring any hiking essentials you may need.
Kilkenny is located about two hours by bus from Dublin in County Kilkenny and is a great little town with lovely quirky shops, galleries, a great arts scene, and even a castle! Tour the castle’s restored interior and maybe even picnic on its charming grounds. Kilkenny is one of the craft and artisan centers of Ireland, so be on the lookout for some one-of-a-kind pieces. There is even a “Kilkenny Craft Trail” you can follow to meet the woodworkers, potters, glass blowers, and other crafts(wo)men, see their workspaces, and learn a little about their craft.
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Located in County Meath, Newgrange is a large ancient temple/ passage tomb built 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic or New Stone Age. Yes, that makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids! What is most remarkable about this structure is its connection to the Winter Solstice. On that day, every year, the light from the sun at dawn shines directly into the passageway of the tomb for exactly seventeen minutes. (Don’t worry if you aren’t in Newgrange around December 21st, they recreate the Winter Solstice light for each tour!)
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