5 Easy Road Trips from Dublin

There’s little doubt that Dublin is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Its architecture, culture, and nightlife make it stand out from its mainland peers. However, an entire country of castles, seacoasts, and green, rolling hills lies beyond its borders.

You don’t have much time to spare – just one day for a quick trip outside city limits. Fortunately, many of Ireland’s historical and natural wonders lie within easy driving distance if you’re renting a car in Dublin.

In this post, we’ll highlight five destinations you can visit on a leisurely road trip from Dublin.

(1) Kilkenny/Wicklow Mountain National Park

Lying within a 90-minute drive from Dublin, Kilkenny is a blend of the modern and the ancient. Today, it is a small, white-collar city known for its nightlife. However, it traces its origins to the 6th century AD – as such, attractions like Kilkenny Castle stand out. Other highlights include the Black Abbey, the Medieval Mile Museum, and Smithwick’s, home to one of Ireland’s famed beers.

On the way back, pay a visit to Wicklow Mountain National Park. In addition to its mountains, lakes, and forests, it is also home to ruins. Once a monastic settlement in medieval times, crumbling buildings, a round tower, and a graveyard is all that remains. 

(2) Galway

Up for a slightly longer day trip? Drive across the island to Galway. Considered Ireland’s centre of music and culture, those looking for a toe-tapping time won’t be disappointed. When you aren’t taking in a quick show at a pub, take a trip over to Galway Cathedral.

Formerly the city gaol (jail in Irish), Catholic officials converted it into an impressive cathedral in 1958. Don’t forget to take a walk through Galway’s Latin Quarter either. Paved with cobblestones and lined with shops and restaurants, you’ll find great meals, souvenirs, and photo ops here. 

(3) Clonmacnoise

Want to take in a timeless, sacred spot within easy commuting distance of Central Dublin? Make plans to head out to Clonmacnoise. Established in the mid-6th century AD, this site dates back to the early days of the church.

As you walk through the site, you’ll see Celtic crosses, and the ruins of round towers, churches, and other buildings. Despite its destruction at the hands of the British more than 450 years ago, an aura of holiness still pervades this place.  

(4) Boyne Valley Scenic Loop

Circle routes are a favourite of road trippers, as you don’t have to see the same places twice. In the Dublin area, the Boyne Valley Scenic Loop will fill your day with scenery and things to do.

The entire route measures 190 kilometres in length. As such, you can take three hours to a whole day to enjoy its castles and towns. Trim Castle played a role in Braveheart, while Newgrange, an ancient Celt tomb built in 3,000 BC, will take your breath away.

(5) Belfast

Want to take in another intriguing city on your Irish holiday? Head north to Belfast. An hour and 45 minutes will get you to a town with a complicated past. Named the capital of Northern Ireland since its partition in the early 1900s, its streets have seen strife ever since.

In recent years, the signing of a peace agreement means it is safe for tourists to visit. On a Black Cab tour, you can view politically-charged murals, and see sights of clashes during The Troubles.

After that, check out the Titanic Belfast museum. Here, you’ll learn about the history of the doomed cruise ship, from construction to its untimely demise. 

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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