Howth Head Cliff Walk
Howth Head Cliff Walk

Dublin Coastal Trail: New for Visitors

A newly launched trail called the Dublin Coastal Trail outside of Ireland’s capital Dublin provides more access to the County Dublin coastline and will encourage tourists to explore places outside the usual tourist attractions in the city center area.

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The Dublin Coastal Trail stretches from the pretty harbor village of Skerries in the north to Killiney in the south.

Way-finding signs are displayed in six languages and highlight key attractions on the 40-mile (64 km) trek on the Dublin Bay coastline.

The trail, which takes in the communities of Skerries, Malahide, Howth, Sandymount, Salthill/Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove, Dalkey, and Killiney, is suitable for both walkers and cyclists.

Here is a look at some of the attractions along the way.

Grand Canal Dock

Visitors can actually start their Dublin Coastal Trail journey at the Grand Canal Dock and take a DART train from there to Skerries, a 50-minute ride.

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The Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. Photo: Courtesy Gareth McCormack, Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

Today, the area is known as “Silicon Dock,” referring to the high-tech companies that have located offices in this fashionable Docklands area of Dublin, but of course, like anything else, there is a history associated with the neighborhood.

While the docks were officially opened in 1796, the area during medieval times was associated with poverty and lepers, as was recorded in the nearby street names, Misery Hill and Lazer Lane.

In the 18th century, the Dublin Docks was the world’s largest, importing and exporting everything from sugar cane, flour, glass bottles, and coconuts.

a large tunnel Dublin Museum
The Emigration Museum in Dublin, an attraction that you get discounted tickets for through the Dublin Pass initiative. Photo: Ros Kavanagh, EPIC Ireland CHQ Limited.

In the 1960s, the area was almost completely derelict. Today, it has been restored.

Some of the popular attractions in this restored Dublin City neighborhood include the popular EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum as well as the Jeanie Johnston tall ship, which traces the journey of millions of Irish across the North Atlantic during the Great Famine.

 

Skerries

Once a fishing port and later a center of hand embroidery, Skerries is a popular seaside town bursting with cute cafes and lively pubs.

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The Skerries Mills, a popular attraction off the Dublin Coastal Trail. Photo: Courtesy Shannon Heritage DAC for Failte Ireland.

One of the main attractions along the Dublin Coastal Trail is the Skerries Mills, where flour has been milled since the 12th century.

The fully restored attraction includes a four-sail Great Windmill, a water mill, and a bakery from the 1800s.

There’s even a nearby field of barley, oats, and wheat, which are routinely sown, harvested, and threshed to make the fresh bread that can be sampled in the mill’s tearoom.

Visitors love to watch the water mill go around as its drives the machinery inside, with many trying their hand at stone grinding the way it was done long ago.

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Paddleboarding off the coast in Skerries, Co. Dublin. Photo: Courtesy Skerries Sunset Tours for Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

Other things to do in Skerries: go kitesurfing, paddleboarding, or sea kayaking on the Skerries South Strand, or take a boat tour to the Rockabill Lighthouse and Lambay Island with Skerries Sea Tours.

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Visitors walking along the beach in Skerries. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

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Malahide

The main tourist attraction on the Dublin Coastal Trail in Malahide is the Malahide Castle and Gardens, which includes over 260 acres of parkland.

The affluent coastal town is about 10 miles (16 km) from the city center.

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One of the stately rooms at Malahide Castle. Photo: Kent Wang, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kentwang/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Talbots, a family firmly associated with the town, lived in the castle from about 1185 to the 1970s, except for a time when Cromwellian soldiers seized the land surrounding the castle.

The estate was sold to the Irish government in 1975.

Guided tours of the house are available.

The Butterfly House is a favorite outdoor attraction on the estate.

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The Malahide marina. Photo: Johnny Banbury. Courtesy of Shannon Heritage DAC for Failte Ireland.

The town itself is a mix of boutiques and restaurants, and there’s also the marina to enjoy.

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Howth

Howth is another designated stop along the Dublin Coastal Trail.

two people on a trail near the ocean Dublin Coastal Trail
Walking in Howth. Photo courtesy Failte Ireland.

The Howth cliffs and surrounding scenery are just some of the delights that await in what was once a 14th-century trading port.

Visitors will find it hard to believe that they are just a mere 10 miles (16 km) from Dublin.

A popular attraction in the town is Howth Castle, which has been used in the past for various movies, including the 2021 Hallmark film, As Luck Would Have It.

a castle Dublin Coastal Trail
Howth Castle. Photo: O'Dea at Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73405857

To book a guided tour of the castle, you must enquire beforehand.

The grounds of the castle are free to explore, though.

Visitors who want to know more about the area can take a tour with Shane’s Howth Adventures or Hidden Howth Experiences.

Other Things to Do in Howth: Take a boat trip to Ireland’s Eye with Dublin Bay Cruises or Ireland’s Eye Ferries. The island is a haven for all kinds of birds and is also a seal colony.

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North Bull Island

From the trail, visitors can access North Bull Island, an area that is inhabited by birds and wildlife and popular with nature enthusiasts, and is a short distance from Howth.

two people walking on a path Dublin Coastal Trail
The North Bull Wall route, with the iconic statue of the Blessed Virgin. Photo: Antoinette Reilly, Tourism Ireland/Failte Ireland.

The wooden bridge or the Causeway Road to the island will take them there. A Star of the Sea statue, installed on the bridge in 1972, depicts the Blessed Virgin with a halo of 12 stars made of Waterford glass.

The island, which was created 200 years ago due to the construction of the North Bull Wall to Dublin Port, is part of the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere.

It is 5 kilometers long and 800 meters wide (3 miles by a half-mile).

Sandymount

From the Dublin Coastal Trail in Sandymount, visitors will get some of the best views of the iconic Poolbeg Chimneys (a common sight that you’ll see from the plane as you’re about to land at Dublin Airport).

a red lighthouse Dublin Coastal Trail
Poolbeg Lighthouse outside Dublin. Photo: Giuseppe Milo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A detour on the Great South Wall Walk, also known as the Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk, leads to the iconic lighthouse painted in bright red.

The sea wall is one of the longest in Europe.

The James Joyce Tower and Museum at Sandycove is a must for James Joyce fans, while the National Maritime Museum of Ireland offers a fascinating insight into Ireland’s seafaring history.

Dalkey

Home to celebrities like Bono and Enya, Dalkey is one of more upscale villages along the Dublin Coastal Trail.

You'll find narrow streets here that wind through hillsides that are dotted with mansions, similar to what you might find in Hollywood, Calif.

castle in the seaside village of Dalkey
Dalkey Castle. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

A popular attraction in the village is Dalkey Castle, which was built around 1390.

It was one of seven castles constructed in the area to house goods that were off-loaded at the port during the Middle Ages.

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A group kayaking at the Dalkey Islands. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

The castle is a popular tourist attraction and is known for its excellent Living History Experience, complete with costumed actors.

Visitors who want to explore the sea life around Dalkey should head to Colimore Harbour and kayak with the seals around Dalkey Island.

Killiney

The final stop on the Dublin Coastal Trail is Killiney. This village is also home to its fair share of the rich and famous, and it's easy to see why.

two men with bicycles Dublin coastal trail
Cyclists om top of Killiney Hill. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

To get the best views on the trail, visitors should climb to Killiney Hill, where they will see the twinkling lights of Dublin city, if it's near dark, views of Wales to the east on a clear, sunny day, as well as Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains to the south.

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