While you’d normally picture more tropical climes for a beach holiday, there is much to admire about the rugged coastline that fringes Dublin. Proving that Ireland’s capital isn’t just the ideal place for a city break or a wild stag do, the bounty of beaches to the north and south of the centre are full of character, mostly untouched by commercialism, and each offer up some breath-taking views of the Irish landscape.
From secluded rocky coves and stretches of glorious sand to surfer’s paradises and swimmer’s havens, there’s a beach to suit everyone whether you want to cool off in the height of summer or enjoy a brisk walk in the chillier months. All easily reachable from Dublin’s centre, take your pick of these brilliant beaches on the Irish East Coast.
More of a spot for swimming than strolling, this small picturesque cove at Dun Laoghaire, south of the city, is a magnet for those wishing to plunge into the refreshing Irish Sea from the popular 40 Foot ridge. While it was once restricted for women to enjoy this activity, anyone is now welcome to jump in and it’s traditional among Dubliners to do just this on Christmas Day each year. Known also as the site where James Joyce wrote the opening of Ulysses, the iconic Martello Tower at Sandycove now houses a museum in his name in case you wanted to indulge in a spot of literary culture before or after your swim. Don’t forget to sample a classic 99p flake at Teddy’s Ice Cream too.
Burrow Beach, Sutton
This 1.2km stretch of beach is just north of the city centre and offers up amazing views of Howth Head and the Ireland Eye nature conservation reserve. Perfect for swimming in fair weather, this beach has won the Green Coast Award for water quality and features lovely golden sand for those who prefer the safety of the shore. If you can’t get enough of this charming spot, you could opt to spend the night in the recently renovated rustic Martello Tower which overlooks the beach.
A little further north of the city centre lies the village of Portmarnock, home to the smooth sandy peninsula known locally as The Velvet Strand. As well as stunning views of Howth Harbour and the Dublin Mountains, this 5km long stretch is a Blue Flag beach and overlooked by a world class golf course. Also known as the take-off site of two pioneering flights in 1930 and 1932 respectively, Portmarnock stays true to its flying roots by being a popular spot for kite and wind surfing. Stroll along the silky sands, try your hand at wind sports and then relax at one of the great restaurants overlooking the sea.
If you’re after a safe swimming spot that all the family can enjoy, South Beach, at the seaside town of Skerries, is the ultimate location. Popular with locals braving the cool water temperatures, this picturesque beach stretches over 2km and is fringed with greenery. It’s a little further out of the city but makes the perfect location for a day trip if you’ve got a car or want to hop on the direct train service from Tara Street Station. When you’re not swimming, admire the view out to sea of the islands just off shore or see if you can spot the Rockabill Lighthouse along the coast. There are also plenty of other attractions here for kids, such as natural rock pools and play areas, while parents can walk the short distance to Skerries Harbour to enjoy a pint and a sunset view.
If you’re after a wilder beach that you can enjoy a refreshing walk along, head to Killiney resort about an hour south of Dublin. Stretching for several kilometres and providing breath-taking views of Bray Head, Dalkey Head and the Sugar Loaf Mountains, this stony beach has it all in terms of setting and scope for activity. At high tide you can enjoy a dip in the sea, or if you’re after a more secluded area to soak up some sunshine, White Rock beach at the north end is a beautiful spot. The town of Killiney itself offers plenty of eating options plus a few charming hotels if you fancy extending your visit.