As you wander the streets of Dublin, you’ll soon realise it’s no sprawling metropolis despite being the capital of Ireland. You can get from one end of the city centre to the other in less than 15 minutes on foot. Most of the city’s top attractions are within walking distance of each other and, while you may need to meander your way through the crowds on certain streets, Dublin is nowhere near as busy as other European capitals.
As well as having a vibrant city centre, Dublin also has lots of small villages that are all just a short journey away and perfect for exploring the more off-the-beaten-track places. Here are five of our favourites.
Often seen as ‘Dublin’s original village’, Ranelagh (pronounced Ran-ih-lah) has a really friendly local atmosphere. Its main street is lined with cafes where friends catch up over their cappuccinos, and others simply watch the world go by with nobody to accompany them only themselves and a good book.
There’s no bad time to visit Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Dun-Leery). This waterfront suburb, which is easily accessible thanks to Dublin’s light rail network called the ‘DART’ and is home to the best and most popular pier for a leisurely stroll in the city.
Arrive at 8 am, and you’ll avoid the crowds, or head here at lunchtime, and you’ll see that it’s a favourite spot for the locals and visitors. The nearby People's Park has a great weekend market, and the ice-cream cones from the neighbouring Teddy's ice-cream shop are legendary in the city.
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The best time to visit Dún Laoghaire, however, is just before the sun goes down. If the weather is on your side, it’s hard to think of a better place in Ireland to catch the sunset. Once it does descend, head up to the restaurants along Queen's Road and finish off the day with a drink and a bite to eat. The views from the terrace of The Haddington Hotel here are not to be missed and their restaurant, Oliveto does a decent roast too.
Getting there: Take the 46A bus from D’Olier St or the DART (southbound) from Connolly, Tara or Pearse Stations.
Malahide is on Dublin’s north side and is famous for many things including its beautiful village, coastal walk and green spaces. In more recent times, it has been home to regular summer concerts, while many people travel there to visit Malahide Castle that dates back to the 12th century.
If it’s a coffee and Sunday morning stroll you’re looking for, this is the perfect place to go thanks to a host of cafés and a marina with yachts of all shapes and sizes docked in it. The beaches in this part of Dublin are also some of the best in the city, and while the currents in this part can be treacherous, it's a family favourite for a splash around.
Getting there: Take the 42 bus from Eden Quay or the DART (northbound, bound for Malahide) from Connolly, Tara or Pearse Stations.
The word ‘quaint’ is almost a cliché when it comes to describing destinations in written format, but Dalkey Village really is a quaint little place. The main thoroughfare here is Castle Street, where you’ll encounter Italian and Indian restaurants, local businesses, cafés, convenience stores and even the odd pub or two (our vote goes to Finnegan’s).
It’s got bags of character, and it will come as no surprise after visiting to discover that it’s this corner of Dublin that Bono calls home. As odd as it might sound, Dalkey’s best attribute is the road leaving it. Follow Castle Street east until it meets Sorrento Road and then the famous Vico Road to be treated to one of most stunning coastal walks in the world. Not to be missed.
Getting there: Take the 8 bus from Nassau Street or the DART (southbound) from Connolly, Tara or Pearse Stations.
Lastly, my favourite. Howth is a village on the north side of the Irish capital where people come to walk along the pier or walk the cliff path. Howth is still an actual fishing village, unlike the others mentioned above and home to many tasty seafood restaurants. Make sure you visit Howth Castle home to a transport museum. If you've still some energy left walk up to Deerpark Golf Club for best view down into Howth village. There is also a climb up through Rhodendron plants where you get another stunning view back into Dublin city.
View of Howth Castle from Deerpark Golf Club
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The harbour here is filled with mainly fishing trawlers and not yachts, while you might even see some friendly faces swimming as there is a host of seals here who relish the opportunity to say Hi to passers by. If you’re cooking for yourself, pick up some fish in one of the many fishmongers. If you’re not, try a bowl of chowder or some fresh fish and chips from Beshoff's before you go – Howth is famous for its seafood.
Getting there: Take the 31 bus from Lower Abbey Street or the DART (northbound, bound for Howth) from Connolly, Tara or Pearse Stations.
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