The Irish capital as a beach destination? You heard right! From stretches of velvety sand, Blue Flag labelled beaches, seal spotting opportunities and paddleboarding possibilities, you’re really spoilt for choice for seaside spots in Dublin’s outskirts. Here’s our pick of the best – all accessible from the capital via local transport.
The Forty Foot and Sandycove beach
This Dublin institution sits south of the Irish capital and is accessible via a quick ride on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train. Strictly speaking, this isn’t a beach but a bathing pool to be enjoyed by flinging oneself from the rocky promontory above. Overlooked by the Martello Tower, this spot is the opening setting for Dubliner James Joyce’s classic Ulysses, in which he vividly describes the water’s refreshingly chilly temperatures as “scrotumtightening”! After snorkelling around and exploring the rocks, just a 20-metre walk away lies Sandycove beach. The name says it all and this family-friendly sandy bay has shallow waters and spectacular views.
Bullock Harbour and Dalkey Island
Staying in the southeast coast of Dublin Bay, Bullock Harbour is a calmer alternative to the Forty Feet and lies a little further down the road. This small picturesque working harbour also has some equally thrill-seeking jumping points and a scuba diving school to boot. From here, you can even paddle across to Dalkey island, spotting seals, jellyfish and rare birds along the way – and maybe even dolphins too if you’re lucky! Why not try your hand at kayaking and explore the island by sea.
Killiney Beach, White Rock and Vico Baths
Killiney is home to a long stretch of Blue Flag stony beach, stunning views and good water depths for water sports. The northern end of the stretch is home to White Rock Beach, a secret sandy spot with its own microclimate that truly comes into its own at high tide. A little further north you’ll also find the gorgeous Vico Baths, a small rocky seawater pool that’s rather well hidden. Killiney beach is bordered by Killiney Hills, a steep granite rising with a number of walking trails which offer breathtaking panoramic views that take in the island-dotted sea, the Wicklow Mountains and the Victorian houses on Sorrento Terrace millionaires’ row. As you roam the hills, make sure to check out the Obelisk which sits 170 metres above sea level. Constructed in 1742 to commemorate the forgotten famine which took place during the two years earlier, it was built as a famine-relief project to help provide employment for those affected in the area.
Luxair offers daily flights to Dublin from €129 return including taxes, services included for no extra cost.