Travel Insider: Jump on the DART, Dublin's coastal tourism express
Train of thought
With all there is to see in the world, it's easy to forget the gems on our doorstep. And for Dubliners, one of the most overlooked of all is the city coast.
From the grand sweep of Killiney Bay to the kites of Dollymount and cliffs of Howth, ours is a coastal capital to rival the best in Europe. Not only that, but Dublin Bay became a UNESCO biosphere reserve this summer, in recognition of its ecological habitat and biological diversity.
One of the best ways to experience the bay is also one of the cheapest - a ready-made tourism express commuters know as the DART.
With 31 stops skirting cliffs, beaches and city buildings, this 53km route is a hugely underrated attraction (its views beat the London Underground, anyway). Think of the elevated passage over the River Liffey and its bridges, the close shave with the Aviva Stadium (try it when there's a game on), super handy stop-offs like Malahide Castle and Dun Laoghaire's piers, or the hair-raising and tunnel-strewn final stretch from Bray to Greystones in Co. Wicklow.
To their credit, Fáilte Ireland and others have given Dublin's mountains and bay a big push in recent years, recognising the opportunity in our city by the sea. You can also pick up 'Dublin on the DART, one of the Best of Ireland guides produced by Southern, for free at official tourism offices and many attractions in Dublin, or on Issuu digital format via bestofirelandseries.wordpress.com.
Here's a taster: Top 10: Dublin from the Dart
Fancy a sea view in Dublin? Dun Laoghaire's Royal Marine (royalmarine.ie) has autumn room rates from €79, and Howth's King Sitric (kingsitric.ie) has B&B with dinner from €105pp - not bad for a Blue Book bolthole. Meanwhile, in Killiney, Fitzpatrick Castle (fitzpatrickcastle.com) has weekend doubles from €129 in September. Finally, the Martello Tower Sutton (martellotowersutton.com) is an 1820s coastal defence refurbished into a two-bed self-catering getaway. It's priced from €420 for two nights midweek, or from €799 at weekends, and is also on airbnb.ie.
Speaking of suburban getaways, Dublin's Concorde Travel (concordetravel.ie) has a fantastic 5-star deal to the Lisbon Coast, based on two sharing a September 17 departure. It includes direct flights and seven nights' B&B at the 5-star Quinta da Marinha Resort (quintadamarinha.com) in Cascais, where you'll find a gorgeous seaside spread and a string of sandy beaches alongside epic sights like Sintra National Park. September should be nice and warm, but without the peak summer crowds.
NB: All prices subject to availability/change.