Dublin is great and all, but sometimes you just need to ditch the hubbub and head out on a hike. Fortunately, the city is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and coastlines, so there are dozens of wonderful walks just a stone’s throw away. We’ve found eight excellent routes that are less than an hour from Dublin, either by car or public transport.
1. Bray Head Cliff Walk
County Wicklow is full of gorgeous trails, many of which feature on this list. But we’ve chosen to start with the Bray Head Cliff Walk as it’s just been named Ireland’s ‘Favourite Local Attraction’ in the 2020 Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards. The popular coastal route takes you all the way from Bray to Greystones along winding paths, with stunning views out to the Irish sea. For bonus vistas, climb to the top of Bray Head where you can look out over Dublin and the Wicklow mountains.
🚶 The coastal path between Bray and Greystones is about 7km long. You can expect it to take around two hours to complete.
🚂 45 minutes by train from Dublin to Bray. Both Bray and Greystones are on the DART line, so it’s very simple to get in and out of the city from both the start and ending points of this route.
2. Howth Cliff Walk
Howth Cliff Walk snatched second place at the Independent Reader Travel Awards, so naturally it’s next on our list. Howth is a lovely coastal town just north of Dublin, and it’s an absolute treat for hikers. The Howth Cliff Walk is a loop, conveniently starting and finishing at Howth station.
This walk has it all: rugged cliffs, incredible views, a lighthouse, secret beaches and plenty of rocky coastlines. And what’s more, Howth is crowded with lovely cafés and restaurants to reward yourself when you’re done. (I recommend The Brass Monkey, home to the most incredible seafood curry you’ll ever try.)
🚶 The Howth Cliff Walk is about 7km long (with optional longer routes), and you can expect it to take around three hours to complete.
🚂 25 minutes by train from Dublin to Howth, or less than 30 minutes by car.
3. Glendalough Spinc Trail
Although all of these walks are beautiful in their own way, the dramatic view over Glendalough Upper Lake will stay with you the longest. You’ll walk up mountains, through forests and a glacial valley, and right through a Miners’ village that dates back to the 1800s.
It’s no easy feat, so you’ll need to be prepared with u̶g̶l̶y̶ comfy boots, plenty of water, and an appropriate number of layers (Ireland might be freezing, but you’ll be sweating at top of this mountain, let me tell you).
🚶 From start to end, the Spinc is 9km long and will take around three/four hours to finish.
🚗 A hour’s drive from Dublin city centre.
The Dublin Mountains Way is renowned for its stunning walks, but the entire trail is over 42km in length, so we’ve chosen two of our favourite routes. First up is the Ticknock loop, which passes the highest point of the Dublin Mountains: the summit of Two Rock Mountain. Here you’ll discover the famed Fairy Castle ruins and some seriously good views. If you continue along the trail, you’ll also find stunning views of Dublin from the top of the neighbouring Three Rock Mountain.
🚶 The Fairy Castle loop is somewhere between 5-9km, depending where you start.
🚗 Half an hour from Dublin by car.
5. The Hellfire Club
This next section of the Dublin Mountains Way boasts some wonderful vistas that are seriously worth the climb. Not to mention the fact that you’ll get to see Dublin’s notorious Hellfire Club! You may well have heard a story or two about this infamous location, and chances are it spooked you a little. Dating back to 1725, The Hellfire Club is rumoured to have been used for satanic rituals and sacrifices to the Devil. Whatever you’ve heard, it’s a truly fascinating place to visit.
🚶 There are various routes you can take, but leave yourself at least a couple of hours.
🚗 A half an hour drive from Dublin to the Hellfire Club carpark on Killakee Road.
6. The Great South Wall Walk
Built in the 18th Century, the Great South Wall remains one of Europe’s longest sea walls. Follow the wall out into Dublin Bay for about four kilometres and you’ll reach the iconic Poolbeg Lighthouse, which is worth the visit alone. However, when you get there, spin around to admire panoramic views of Dublin Bay, the Wicklow and Dublin mountains, Howth Head and, of course, the lovely Irish sea.
🚶 This walk is around 8km, assuming you want to get back again.
🚗 A 15 minute drive or a short bus ride from Dublin city centre to Irishtown.
7. The Sugar Loaf Trail
This trail is slightly shorter than the rest, but don’t be fooled – it gets extremely tough when you reach the final ascent. It’s all worth it for the stunning 360°C views over County Wicklow though, especially on a clear day.
🚶 This hike is only around 2.5km long, so it shouldn’t take more than about an hour to complete. However, it’s worth packing a lunch and spending some time at the top to take in the views.
🚗 A 40 minute drive from Dublin city centre.
8. Killiney Hill Park
Killiney Hill Park is lovingly referred to in my family as ‘Thousand Dog Park’, and I’ll let you guess why. Found just south of Dublin, this lovely park is full of relatively easy walks, each with hugely rewarding views of Dublin Bay and neighbouring villages. It’s also probably worth noting that there’s a cosy little café at the bottom of the hill that does a nice sarnie if you’re looking for some sustenance.
🚶 There are a few routes, but they don’t tend to exceed 2km. You won’t need longer than about an hour, unless you have a habit of talking to every dog you see. (Guilty.)
🚗 30/40 minutes from Dublin by car.