Destination Guides

Dublin: a cultural gateway to Ireland's incredible landscapes

Ireland’s landscapes are renowned all over the world. Lush rolling hills, dramatic craggy cliffs, serene fairytale forests. There is so much to discover, and you don’t even need to travel far from Dublin to see it. The vibrant capital, famous for its literary heritage and rich history, is not only a fantastic cultural hub. It’s also the perfect gateway to explore the gorgeous landscapes that earned the “Emerald Isle” its nickname. These are some of the best of Ireland’s landscapes that you can unlock on a day trip from Dublin.

Glendalough and Wicklow

Glendalough valley, a landscape shot of the lush emerald trees and rolling hills in the background

Only 15.5 miles (25km) from the south border of County Dublin, Glendalough is a glacial valley tucked away in Wicklow Mountains National Park. Otherworldly, epic, stunning: this is one of Ireland’s landscapes you simply can’t skip. Two gorgeous lakes sit in a valley carved by a glacier all the way back in the Ice Age. At the mouth of the glen lie the ruins of a monastic site, still well-preserved, founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Take a wander through the cathedral, or the crumbling remains of the graveyard, with the valley watching on around you. You’ll feel a sense of profound stillness that you just can’t get in the city.

Glendalough is in County Wicklow, nicknamed ‘The Garden of Ireland’. It’s a truly beautiful region, full of incredible discoveries, and one of our favorites is only a short drive away.

An autumnal shot of a winding road in Wicklow's forested area

Beyond the Trees is a world-class nature resort that opened only last year in Ireland’s Ancient East. This modern marvel offers the longest treetop walk in the British Isles, where you’ll skip along the forest canopy for 1.4km all the way to the incredible Viewing Tower.

Here, you’ll get unbelievable 360 degree panoramic views of the Wicklow Mountains, the Avonmore River, and the Vale of Avoca. Get a thrill, if you dare, by taking the gigantic 90m spiral slide down. On the forest floor, you’ll get to wander through ancient woodlands that whisper rich tales of the Irish past. Then, you should definitely visit the walled garden and the seed cafe. This is undoubtedly one of the most joyful places to take in Ireland’s landscapes.

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Howth Cliff Walk

The best of Ireland's landscapes: a lighthouse on the end of a small peninsula jutting out into the ocean.

Only 8.7 miles (14km) from Dublin city center, Howth is a gorgeous harbor village sitting just by the city. Get ready for dramatic coastal views on the cliff walk, as well as a 12th century castle which is open to the public during the summer. Explore the picturesque fishing village on the weekend or a Bank Holiday Monday to discover Howth Market, where you’ll find everything from artisan food to unique Irish handcrafts. This’ll add a touch of charm to your nature-filled adventure.

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City Kayaking on River Liffey

POV view of sitting in a kayak in Dublin on the river, with a horizontal row of other kayakers sitting in front. The sky is crimson and the city looks gorgeous

If you don’t feel like traveling out, then head down to the River Liffey for a touch of Irish nature in the city. See Dublin from a unique perspective by going City Kayaking along the river. Float along the heart of the city, paddling under its most famous bridges and spotting its iconic landmarks along the way. The River Liffey is the beating heart of Dublin, so it’s only right that you experience the city from its perspective. This urban water adventure is the perfect blend of city life mixed with nature -ideal if you don’t fancy the day trip out.

Tibradden

A view above the trees in Tibradden

Tibradden is a beautiful mountain and woodland just south of Dublin, between the Cruagh and Kilmashogue mountains. Filled with Scots pine (some over 100 years old), as well as a blend of many other trees, this is a wonderful spot for long, peaceful walks in nature. The whole region is something of a small mountain, with granite boulders strewn across the southern slopes giving it a wild, rugged look. If you’re up for it, try aim for the summit!

If you do so, there’s a lovely reward waiting for you. An incredible archaeological site with an open cairn and kist, dating back to the Bronze Age, which is a registered National Monument. And backdropping this prehistoric wonder are beautiful vistas of rolling hills and emerald valleys. The view is worth the hike!

Closeup of a stone in Tibradden with ancient rune symbols carved into it.

Zipit adventures

If you’re in Tibradden, make sure to stop by Zipit Forest Adventures to add a bit of thrill to your day out. Here you’ll soar along the treetops on zip lines, climb up poles, balance on rope bridges, and even ride a BMX across a treetop bridge. Don’t worry if you’re not the adventurous type, you have professional experts guiding you the whole way. So it’s perfect for both beginners and seasoned adrenaline junkies. Spice up your day out to Tibradden with this amazing gem hidden in the forest.

Bray Head Cliff Walk

An aerial view of Bray Head Cliff Walk, the water is turquoise, the fields are green, and the most lush of Ireland's landscapes stretch out into the background.

Fancy more dramatic cliff views? Head south along the coast to Bray Head for a 4.4 mile (7.1km) coastal clifftop hike to Greystones. This is the best of the Irish coast: Atlantic salt in the air, howling wind in your hair, and the droning hush of waves setting the soundtrack to your adventure. Make sure to look out for black harbor porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks, kestrel falcons, and Ireland’s only reptile – the viviparous lizard. If you’re up for it, finish your hike with a dip in Greystones, a popular spot for a swim – it’ll certainly help you cool down!

Dublin is the perfect place to base out from to discover Ireland’s landscapes. The city itself is amazing in its own right, but you can also get out into nature with ease. With coastal cliff walks, glacial valleys, and forested mountain ranges, you’re truly spoilt for choice. So unlock Ireland’s landscapes from Dublin and discover the Emerald Isle at its very best.

Unlock the best of Ireland’s landscapes with Trafalgar

Made in collaboration with Tourism Ireland

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