Whether you are visiting Dublin and want to use a day of your holiday to see more of Ireland, or perhaps you live here and want some day trip inspiration, you are in luck.
Dublin is a diverse and lively city, but sometimes we crave the peace and serenity of the quieter areas of Ireland.
Dublin is on the Eastern coast of the Republic of Ireland, and it is the perfect base camp for many spectacular day trips that will take your breath away.
Dublin’s transport system is pretty damn extensive and can take you to almost every corner of the country – except for Donegal. For some reason, they got as far as Sligo with the train services and thought that was more than enough.
Keep reading to discover how the trains work in Dublin and where you can visit for a glorious day trip, no matter what atmosphere or sights you desire.
How Do The Trains In Dublin Work?
The Dublin public transport system is so extensive that it can get confusing. There are a few different systems you need to know and which one you need to use will depend on where you want to go.
Firstly you have the LUAS tram system and it is used for Dublin City travel. The Red Line runs from East to West and includes stops such as Abbey Street, where you can find the Spire of Dublin.
Then there is the Green Line, which runs from North to South. When travelling this line you can stop off in places such as the famous St Stephens Green Park.
Trams arrive at designated tram stops every few minutes and you do not need to pre-book tickets. There are ticket machines at every stop that take both cash and card payments.
The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) & Commuter Services
The DART train system services the entirety of county Dublin, as well as some popular tourist destinations just over the Dublin border, and is the train most visitors use when they want to enjoy a quick and easy day trip that is not too far out of the city.
These trains operate every 10 minutes, so you will never be short for a train to hop on, and there are several ticket types you can purchase that are all incredibly affordable.
Alternatively, you can use the commuter train services which are very similar to the DART and were designed to make work commutes quick and easy between Dublin and other major towns and cities, such as Portlaoise, Dundalk, and Longford.
Tickets for the DART and Commuter services can’t be prebooked online but you can purchase them directly at the station.
Irish rail is the national train network.
Almost every destination in Ireland is pretty accessible using Irish rail except for County Donegal.
There are three main train stations in Dublin. Connolly, Heuston, and Pearse. You can access Irish rail services here, as well as the DART and Commuter services.
With Irish Rail, you can pre-book your desired seats for your journey online using the Irish Rail website.
If you are planning to use the public travel systems a lot during your visit you can purchase a Leap Visitor Card which gives you unlimited usage of public transport for 1, 3, or 7 days and saves a lot of money.
8 Day Trips From Dublin By Train
If you have your walking boots handy, you must visit the lively seaside village of Howth.
A ticket to Howth costs just €5 via the DART and there are plenty of free or low-cost activities if you are looking for a cheap yet exciting day trip.
You can walk to the lighthouse along the stunning pier, where you can listen to the many buskers. A walk to Blascadden Bay Beach is easy to find and accessed by some stairs but if you are feeling a little adventurous you can search for the Tiny Hidden Beach – yes, that is its name.
Still, have some energy? Don’t forget to take in the dramatic views along the Howth Head cliff walk.
Once you get a bit peckish you can nip to the Howth Market where you will be spoilt for choice. You can find crafts, jewellery, and fashion stalls as well as different food vendors.
This coastal suburban area of Dublin is one of Dublin’s day trip secrets. You can reach it by taking the DART to Raheny.
Take a picnic with you and meander through St Annes Park. With over 240 acres to explore, you could spend an entire day in this park alone. Here you can enjoy a Chinese garden, the rose garden, clocktower ruins, lakes, and much more.
Once you have had your fill of St Annes, you can resume your walk towards Bull Island.
A national nature reserve, Bull Island has been an oasis for walkers and bird watchers for decades. However, just because it is an island does not mean you need to get on a boat.
Bull Island is connected to the mainland by the causeway road and a wooden bridge that are both easily walked across. Once across, you can explore the salt marshes, dunes, and the expansive stretch that is Dollymount Beach.
Full of medieval architecture, lively pubs, and award-winning breweries, Kilkenny has a lot to offer day-trippers.
You will need to hop on the Irish rail service and settle back for the 1.5-hour journey but it is well worth the extra time.
You should always wander through the oldest part of Kilkenny, the Medieval Mile. You can take part in a walking tour or meander at your own pace.
If you want to immerse yourself in even more of Kilkenny’s history, you should visit Rothe House, St. Canices Cathedral, or the famous Kilkenny Castle.
You could even enjoy a tipple or two in one of Ireland’s most famous breweries, Smithwicks. Kilkenny is also one of the best places to enjoy a real Irish pub experience with good drinks, great music, and even better craic.
If you want to travel just outside of Dublin, then Bray in County Wicklow is easily reached using the DART and only takes 45 minutes.
This seaside town is nestled right beside a stony beach and is full of incredible restaurants, bars, and cafes.
If the weather is on your side you can walk up towards Bray’s head for the incredible views or, if you feel a little more adventurous, you can take the 6.4-mile walk from Bray to Greystones.
Alternatively, you can take a quick trip to Kilruddy House and Gardens and, if you are here on a Saturday, you will find a farmers market here.
Bray is also home to a sea life aquarium, perfect for escaping the crowds during the summer.
A mere 30 minutes away from Dublin City centre, this small village feels like it is in a completely different universe. It is also become a place regularly visited by some famous names, such as Matt Damon, Bono, and Van Morrison.
Soak in the scenery by walking towards Killiney Hill or visit Dalkey Castle, where you can enjoy guided tours and experience the special events and festivals that run throughout the year here.
A visit to Dalkey is not complete unless you hop on a boat, or take a kayak, and nip over to Dalkey Island. Here you will find a plethora of ancient ruins and you can also meet the only inhabitants of this island – Goats!
You might think Galway is too far for a day trip considering it is on the opposite side of the country. However, there is a direct train from Dublin to Galway City taking around 2.5 hours.
Galway City is loved by visitors for its quaint charm, live music, and bohemian culture.
It is the perfect day trip for foodies, music lovers, or anyone who wants to soak up the Latin Quarter atmosphere as they sip on a pint.
However, if it is exploration you have in mind, you can seek out the many historical sights there are to see. Such as the Galway Cathedral, The Spanish Arch, and The Galway City Museum.
Shop Street is another place to visit if you want souvenirs or gifts crafted by local independent artists. You will cross paths with buskers, artists painting the streets and architecture that wows as you walk along the cobbled street.
A mere 20 minutes from Dublin City Centre, Malahide has much to offer day trippers.
From the majestic Malahide Castle, which boasts the only butterfly house in Ireland where you can marvel at the rare species that flutter above you to several incredible walks. Such as the coastal route that takes you to Portmarnock or the Robswall Park Hillside hike.
The streets of Malahide look like they have been stuck in time with their vintage charm and you can find plenty of good food and drink along the main street.
The Malahide Marina is a fantastic spot that is now home to a variety of delicious food trucks if you don’t fancy sitting indoors for your meal.
Sandycove Beach may arguably be the smallest beach in Ireland but, if you happen to visit when there are not many people around, you’ll find yourself in heaven.
If you love ocean swimming and rock diving, the petite sandy Cove beach delivers all, but that is not the only reason to visit Sandycove.
You can experience the James Joyce Tower and Museum or visit the Martello Tower, where James Joyce himself stayed for a week. You can go swimming at the 40 Foot and enjoy the many walks surrounding this beautiful area.
There are plenty of gourmet restaurants to fill your belly after an exhausting swim, including many seafood options if you want to enjoy local, fresh cuisine.
Can You Take A Day Trip To Belfast From Dublin?
Yes, you can easily plan a day trip to Belfast from Dublin. There are eight direct journeys from Dublin Connelly station to Belfast every day. It only takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to Belfast and it costs as little as €14.99 per person going one way.
Are The Trains In Ireland Expensive?
Trains in Ireland are not the most budget-friendly traveling option. If you are traveling in and around Dublin, it won’t cost you more than €5-€6 per trip, but if you are traveling further and looking to spend as little as possible, then buses are a far more budget-friendly option.
Remember that trains travel faster than buses, which can affect how much time you have to spend exploring during your day trip.
Can I See The Cliffs Of Moher In One Day?
Yes, you can visit the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin in one day. You can join an organized tour that takes all of the planning and stress out of the trip for you.
If you want to organize the travel yourself, the best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is to take a train to Galway city, change to a connecting train that takes you to Ennis, and then take a bus from Ennis to the Cliffs or you can take a bus directly from Galway station to the Cliffs.
Where Do I Purchase Train Tickets In Ireland?
It will depend on what train service you want to access and where you can buy your train tickets.
Tickets for the DART and Commuter services can be purchased at all of the stops along these routes. They can’t be prebooked online.
If you want to use the Irish Rail services, you can pre-book these tickets online at Irish Rail.
You can also find a variety of tickets that can help minimize your traveling budget.
I am a British-born copywriter who moved to Ireland over a decade ago and have been captivated by Irish culture, landscape and folklore. I enjoy sharing my passion for Ireland through my writing as a freelancer.