Four best family walks within an hour of Dublin
Feel like a bit of exploring? Pack a picnic, plan an adventure, head out for a breath of fresh air and get closer to nature on a family walk within just a hop of the city.
Whether you want spectacular sea views, cliff walks, a stroll near some good coffee shops or a harder hike through woodland it’s all there within easy access of Dublin. Here are 4 great family walks within an hour of Dublin:
1. Limber Up for the Lighthouse
A walk to the ‘red lighthouse’ will be an adventure for families with children of any age. Still a well-kept secret for some, the Poolbeg Lighthouse/South Wall walk offers some of the most exceptional views around Dublin Bay. The Great South Wall, which was completed back in 1795, starts at Sean Moore Park at Ringsend in Dublin 4 and extends over 4km out to the sea and was once the longest sea wall in the world and is now still the longest in Europe. For families with younger children, it’s best to drive down past Irishtown Nature Reserve and Shelley Banks beach where there’s free parking within easy access of the start of the walk to the lighthouse.
The walk takes around 40 minutes along a stony walkway surrounded on both sides by the sea. Half way out you’ll pass the Half Moon Club where you are likely to see swimmers jumping in. There’s a chance to wave at the ferries, get close to one of Dublin’s most famous landmarks, the ESB chimneys and marvel at how huge they look close up, plus watch birdlife and spot the occasional seal. The views at the end are breathtaking, as you can see out to Dun Laoghaire and Killiney and also over to Howth. This is a great walk for all weathers as it becomes even more dramatic on a windy day as the waves crash over and gets you close to the elements right by the city.
Highlight: The reward of racing to see who’s fastest to touch the lighthouse at the end!
2. Superb Scenery at the Cliff
Howth Head Cliff Walk is ideal for families as there are no major steep rises or falls but it still remains very varied. It starts from the East Pier in Howth – an ideal DART trip - and is a looped walk of around 6.5km. As it is a cliff walk, it is narrow in places so care needs to be taken and children need to be closely supervised. Depending on the ages of children, you can do the walk in stages and double back or tackle the entire walk.
There’s a Martello Tower, one of many built during the Napoleonic Wars to protect against French invasion and the views out to Ireland’s Eye, a bird sanctuary and site of an early Christian monastery are stunning. Lambay Island can be seen clearly and the walk goes past Balscadden House which was once the home of WB Yeats. As the walk progresses, the south coast of Wicklow can be seen and children will love the chance to see Bailey Lighthouse come in to view, in addition to the Howth Harbour Lighthouse. There are many sea birds to be observed so it’s a good idea to bring binoculars.
Highlight: Post-walk fish and chips or ice-cream in Howth Village. You’ve earned it!
3. Away with the Fairies for Forest Fun
The beautifully named Fairy Castle Loop at Ticknock Forest Recreation Area is perfect for younger families. Bring a picnic and stop off wherever you like for amazing views of Dublin City from the Dublin Mountains / Wicklow Way. This walk, which can be reached by car via the M50 through Lamb’s Cross and Lamb Doyles, starts at Ticknock Car Park. It’s best to park at the top for easier access.
You’ll get the freshest of air at 270 metres above sea level and walk through the stunning forests of Sitka spruce, Scots pine, Japanese larch, lodgepole pine and Monterey pine. The walk is well marked throughout with green signposts and is around 5.5km in length.
Highlight: Finding the Fairy castle, reaching the landmark masts at Three Rock and arriving at the mound at the summit!
4. Head to the Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall beach, also known as Burrow Beach is still one of the best kept secrets near Dublin city centre. This is one of the most magical walks and days out for families, as it’s close to town, easy to get to and feels as if you have stepped away to the countryside but with an easy journey home.
This beach is the most perfect spot for a walk with stunning views out across Ireland’s Eye. It’s right between Sutton Dart Station and Howth, stretching for about 1.5km and can be easily accessed by car or by DART. Depending on tides, the beach actually joins up with Claremont beach in Howth. The area is very popular with dog walkers, so if you have a family dog this is the perfect walk and is great for photographs with golden sands and dunes as a scenic backdrop.
Highlight: The big reveal: When you come through the narrow pathway and the wide sandy stretch appears!
Forget the cries of ‘are we there yet?’ You’ll get your fix of fresh air and be back before you know it. Get close to nature – right by the city!