8 brilliant beaches within an hour of Dublin...
Make a break for one of these beauties
Dublin mightn't strike you as a beach city, but there are several strips of paradise within a short drive of O'Connell Bridge. Here's how to make the most of the city coast...
Killiney Beach, Dublin
Bono’s back yard (pictured above) kept its Blue Flag last year, and little wonder – the sweeping strand has been compared to the Bay of Naples. The hidden gem here is White Rock, stashed away at the northern end of the Bay. At low water, this sandy niche appears a mere appendage to the bigger beach, but at high tide it really comes into its own. Cut off from the rest of the beach, the rest of the world, it turns into a retreat for body and soul. The sound of rushing water, of stones rattling in the waves like ‘bones in a bag’, blots out all but the passing of an occasional DART overhead. Limited parking is available along Vico Road - RLV & POC
Distance from O’Connell Street: 16km
Travel time: 35 mins (GMaps)
North and South Beach, Skerries
Few places along the North Dublin coast can match Skerries for pure swimming variety. South Beach is good for paddling out to your depth, but if an onshore breeze whips it to a frenzy, the more sheltered North Beach proves tame enough in almost all wind conditions. Amusements, rock pools, promenade walks, play areas, islands, sunsets over the harbour and views out to the majestic black-and-white striped lighthouse on Rockabill – there is little of Irish beach life that Skerries doesn’t have. Local lifeguards swear by ‘Stoops’ for North Dublin’s best prawns and crab, and Joe Mays for a nice pint - Rick Le Vert
Distance from O'Connell Street: 30km (via M1)
Travel time: 38 mins (GMaps)
Silver Strand, Co. Wicklow
When the clouds clear, blue breaks through and sunshine spills over the cove, Silver Strand looks like the cover of Condé Nast Traveller. This is a private beach, which you pay €8-€10 per car to access through Wolohan’s Camping & Caravan Park on the R750 south of Wicklow town - but it could be the best money you'll spend this summer. Descending the steep concrete steps towards the cove, you'll find caramel sands, electric green water and splashes of ivy, grass and honeysuckle tumbling down the cliffs. Amazingly, Silver Strand doubled as the Cote d'Azur in the Count of Monte Cristo (2002)... it really is that beautiful - Pól Ó Conghaile
Distance from O'Connell Street: 53km
Travel time: 60 mins (GMaps)
Ladies’ Cove, Greystones
If Bray brings a blast of Blackpool to the east coast, Greystones offers a little piece of Padstow. A prim town that first blossomed with the arrival of its 19th-century railway station, day-trippers are more likely to suck up smoothies and seafood chowder here than sticks of rock or candyfloss. The town is home to two sweeping beaches, north and south, but the real gem is sandwiched in-between. Ladies' Cove offers rocks to jump off, sand for the kids, and lots of beachcombing and anemones at low tide. Afterwards, pop up to The Happy Pear or Cafe Grey for sustenance - Pól Ó Conghaile
Distance from O'Connell Street: 31km
Travel time: 46 mins (GMaps)
Tower Bay, Portrane
On a clear day, the views from the bluff overlooking tiny Tower Bay sweep from Rockabill and its lighthouse in the north to Wicklow and its Sugarloaf in the south. In between are countless features to catch the eye: seabirds winging over Lambay Island; sailboats near Ireland’s Eye; and the candy-striped towers of the Pigeon House rising from Poolbeg. Portrane beach nabbed a Blue Flag in the recent awards, and though it measures some 2km in total, this little cove is its prettiest spot - RLV & POC
Distance from O'Connell Street: 24km
Travel time: 35 mins (GMaps)
Bettystown & Laytown, Co. Meath
Bettystown has its Dr. Jekyll, and it has its Mr Hyde. Depending on when you visit, you might find a deluge of day-trippers, cars crowding the beach and crows eyeing your bag of chips - or a slicker, almost cosmopolitan gateway to Meath’s gold coast. Grassy dune walks stretch all the way to the River Boyne, and the annual Laytown Races take place on the beach (pictured above) in September. Macari’s is pick of the chippers, and locals will tell you they do a pretty good pizza too - Pól Ó Conghaile
Distance from O’Connell Street: 43km (via M1)
Travel time: 40mins (GMaps)
Loughshinney, Co. Dublin
Not only is it a legitimate beach activity, but doing nothing may actually be one of the most pleasurable. And few places are better for doing it than the wonderfully sleepy fishing village of Loughshinny, with its sheltered bay and sandy half-moon beach. Watch how the changing light illuminates the grassy-green fields atop the sea cliffs leading out to the Martello Tower opposite Loughshinny’s beach. Admire the picturesque balance of the bay framing nearby Lambay Island. Dive into stories of smugglers, murders, air crashes and shipwrecks on the Loughshinny Millennium Walk. This pocket of beach solitude is between Rush and Skerries, just follow the Trá sign from the coast road - Rick Le Vert
Distance from O’Connell Bridge: 30km
Travel time: 40 mins (GMaps)
Velvet Strand, Portmarnock
Velvet Strand’s vast expanses of smooth sand make it the perfect play surface, whatever your beach pastime of choice. When you’re tired of the games, tuck into a picnic spot with superb views of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island. Parking at the more heavily visited North Beach can be difficult in summer so on peak days, try the South Beach car park. From here, the sand is a five-minute walk on a designated pathway through the dunes. Or take the 32B or the 42 bus from Dublin City Centre to North Beach - Rick Le Vert
Distance from O'Connell Street: 14km
Travel time: 30 mins (GMaps)
Now it's your turn...
In the beginning, we thought it would be hard to find eight great beaches within striking distance of Dublin. In the end, we're surprised at how many we've had to leave out. Would you include Dollymount, for instance? What about the southside beaches of Sandycove or Sandymount?
Let us know your thoughts on Twitter (@indo_travel_), Facebook (click here) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
NB: This article was originally published in 2014 and updated on May 14, 2016.
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