the best beaches in Ireland

The Best Beaches In Ireland And Places to Stay Nearby

From hidden coves that are only accesible by hiking, to wide open beaches that you can drive on to – I’ve got the best beaches in Ireland in this post, and some places to stay nearby.


I asked on my social media channels what you thought were the best beaches in Ireland, and I was overwhelmed with the response. I received over 600 comments and messages, so a big thanks to you all for your contributions! As promised, I have compiled a list of your favourites, along with some of my own into one long post.




I have broken the list down by county, which will hopefully make it easier for you to search through, and I have also listed a hotel and Airbnb close by, should you wish to plan a trip there soon. If you are not planning a trip right now, why not bookmark or Pin this post for future reference.

some of the best beaches in Ireland are in Achill







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The Blue Flag Whiterocks Beach in Portrush proved the most popular beach in Antrim, and I’m looking forward to checking it out myself next weekend. Located just off the Causeway Coastal Route, with limestone cliffs, dramatic headlands and a labyrinth of caves and arches, you could easily spend the day there. 

Other favourites include The Strand at Portstewart and White Park Bay in Ballintoy.



Where to stay near the beach in Antrim?

This three-bedroom villa near the beach in Portrush should tick all boxes. If you are looking for a hotel, the Golflinks in Portrush has a great beachfront location, while Bushmills Hotel, near the Giants Causeway, is renowned for its great hospitality and delicious food. I visited Bushmills and the Causeway Coast a few years ago, you can read what I got up to here:

Read: A magical few days on the Causeway Coast

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I was surprised that more of Clare’s beaches didn’t feature in your comments. The well known holiday hotspots of Spanish Point, Kilkee and Lahinch were all mentioned, but Fanore beach was the most popular. The long sandy beach at Fanore is attractive to walkers and swimmers, but it also happens to have sheltered areas, which are appreciated if the weather is not in your favour. Kids will love the many rock pools in Fanore Beach and the backdrop of The Burren makes it one of Clare’s most attractive beaches too.

White strand in Miltown Malbay, and Doughmore Beach near Doonbeg were also mentioned.



Where to stay near the beach in Clare?

This gorgeous two-bedroom stone cottage in Fanore is a great find, as is this modern Airbnb that was feaured in the TV show, Smother. There are many great hotel options too, including the Armada Hotel and Red Cliff Lodge in Spanish Point, or the Falls Hotel which is located close to Lahinch.

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Cork is the largest county in Ireland and it certainly has its fair share of cracking beaches. My brother lives in Cork and I have been fortunate to visit Cork many times. However, I was surprised to see that Inchydoney Beach, which is often described as one of the best beaches in Ireland, was not your favourite. Inchydoney is a stunning beach. The 6.5km loop walk is a great way to appreciate the Wild Atlantic Way and there is a surf school there if you feel that way inclined.


However, the beautiful Barleycove near Schull was the clear winner from your comments! I remember visiting Barleycove when my children were small and loving it. Barleycove is backed by sand dunes, which are designated special areas of conservation, it also offers safe bathing for children in the stream that flows down to the sea. 


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Another one of my own personal favourites is Silver Strand beach on Sherkin Island, I recall wild camping there many years ago. Catch the boat from Baltimore and spend the day exploring the island – you won’t regret it. 

Other favourites include the beaches at Mizen Head, Warren Strand, Cantys Cove, Dunmore and Dunworley Beach. Garnish beach near Dursey head was also highlighted, particularly for the colour of the sea.



Where to stay near the beach in Cork?

This cottage overlooking Inchydoney beach is ideal if you are looking for a holiday home, but if you feel like being pampered then it is hard to beat the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa Hotel.

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Derry may not be famous for great beaches, but did you know that it is home to Benone beach, one of Ireland’s longest beaches? This is a Blue Flag beach that offers views of the Causeway Coast, Donegal and even Scotland, put it on your list if visiting Derry.



Where to stay near the beach in Derry?

This beachfront Airbnb is hard to beat. It is located below Mussenden Temple, and overlooks eight miles of sandy beach. Game of Thrones fans will love to hear that it was filmed on the beach in front of this house.

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Donegal’s coastline stretches for 772 miles and is home to 12 Blue Flag beaches, so I think its safe to say that some of the best beaches in Ireland are in Donegal.


It seems Murder Hole beach is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets – apologies if I am going to spoil that now!  You can not go by car, you must hike from Melmore near Downings to find this secret beach, but it is currently closed to visitors. The only way to view it is if you hike the headland from nearby Tra na Rosann beach. 


I loved Tra na Rosann beach, and I’m told nearby Downings is also beautiful, while Ballymastocker / Port Salon was named one of the best beaches in the world.  


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The horseshoe bay at Silver Strand in Malin Beg is one of Donegal’s most photographed beaches. There’s 200 steps down to it and it is nestled between two cliffs, and now this is another one of Donegal’s beaches that I feel compelled to visit!

The Inisowen Peninsula is also home to some of Ireland’s best beaches. Doagh Strand, Culdaff,  Leenan and Tullagh Bay are all classed as hidden gems, but my personal favourite is Kinnagoe Bay.


Kinnagoe Bay should definitely rival Keem Bay as Ireland’s best beach. You drive over the headland and think you are going up into the mountains, only to drive back down the other side to a stunning almost hidden beach. It reminded me of beaches in Malaysia or Bali – golden sand, with a lush green backdrop. We were the only people on it, however, I was told that in July and August it can be difficult to get down the narrow road.


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Narin/ Portnoo Beach was another one of your favourites. The panoramic views of the Atlantic from this Blue Flag beach are spectacular, and if you happen to visit during low tide, you can walk from Narin out to an island where you will find the remains of two churches. This white sandy beach, backed by sand dunes which are designated a Natural Heritage Area, make it known as of the best beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way.


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Dunfanaghy is another popular choice. I received many recommendations to visit Killahoey Strand and Marble Hill, both are located near each other, so they could easily be visited in one day.


Maghergallon beach in Gweedore should not be overlooked either. Famous for having ‘Bad Eddie’ a large shipwreck in the centre of the sand, it is also a popular beach with walkers. One reader mentioned that when you walk past the rocks it is like being in the Seychelles on a good day! 

Other favourites include Maghera Beach & Caves, Fintra beach, Derrybeg, Rossnowlagh Beach and the beaches in Tory Island, located just nine miles off the coast of Donegal.



Where to stay near the beach in Donegal?

This gorgeous holiday home offers stunning sea views on the Inishowen Peninsula. I’m also a fan of Portsalon’s luxury glamping yurts, but it if you want a beach front hotel, then check out the 4-star Sandhouse Hotel that overlooks Rossnowlagh Beach – note this beach will be very busy with families during school holidays.

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Murlough beach is the clear winner in county Down. The 6km Blue Flag wide sandy beach is backed by sand dunes, which also happens to be a National Nature Reserve. Its location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains makes it popular with walkers and nature lovers.

Notable mentions: Newcastle, Kilclief, Ballyhornan and Helen’s Bay.



Where to stay near the beach in Down ?

This log cabin by the sea might suit those looking for self-catering accommodation but if you are looking for a fabulous beachfront hotel, then it has to be the 5-star Slieve Donard in Newcastle – I stayed here myself a few times and loved it.

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So who knew there was a secret beach in Howth? I certainly didn’t, and I hope by posting this I’m not going to ruin it for the rest of you… Many of you commented about a hidden beach that is accessed from the Howth Cliff Walk towards the lighthouse. After conducting some more research I am told that it does exist! It can be tricky to get to – with slippery narrow steps, but I’m sure that’s is all part of the experience. See more information from here.


If you are looking for something a little larger, Velvet Strand in Portmarnock, or Sutton’s Burrow Beach have been awarded Blue Flag status, and are popular choices for sandy beach days in Dublin.



Where to stay near the beach in Dublin?

The Shorline Hotel in Donabate or the Portmarnock Hotel are good options if you want to be close to the beach in Dublin, but first check out this charming cottage in Howth that overlooks the harbour and Ireland’s Eye.

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Connemara is home to some of the best beaches in Ireland, and it seems that Dogs Bay is the one to beat. This was by far the most recommended beach by my readers, and I can’t wait to visit! Located in Roundstone, this horseshoe shaped bay is blessed with a white sandy mile long beach.


Dogs Bay, together with Gurteen Bay form a tombolo, whose sand is made from fragments of seashells which give it a pure white colour. Sand dunes separate both beaches, but it is clear that the whole area is one of great beauty, with swimming possibilities available on three sides. 

Connemara has certainly some of the best beaches in Ireland, with Clifden, Glassilaun, Renvyle, Eyrephort and Moyrus also recommended by my readers. However, the islands should not be overlooked…


Inishbofin and Mweenish Island off the coast of Connemara have some stunning beaches, and the Aran Islands’ Inis Oirr beach along with the Blue Flag Kilmurvey Beach on Inis Mór, should not be missed if visiting Galway.



Where to stay near the beach in Galway?

There many great places to stay in Connemara, but this holiday home overlooking Mannin Bay is pretty special. Located just six miles from the stunning Dogs Bay beach and the bustling town of Clifden – this one is hard to beat!


There are many great hotels in Connemara too, including the 4-star Connemara Sands Hotel, Ballynahinch Castle, Abbeyglen Castle Hotel or Renvyle House Hotel. The Carna Bay and Roundstone House Hotel are good value 3-star options.

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There are no surprises for guessing what your favourite beach in Kerry is – it’s Inch beach! The 5km long sandy beach is situated on the Dingle Peninsula. You can enjoy fabulous walks, try a host of water sports or simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.


In fact the Dingle Peninsula is home to some of the best beaches in Ireland. The Maharees, Ventry and Coumeenoole Beach are definitely worth a visit, and if possible take the boat over to the Great Blasket Island, I’m told that Trá Bán (White Beach) is spectacular.


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Derrynane Beach and Rossbeigh also deserve a special mention, and if you want to try beach horse riding, Rossbeigh is the place to do it. 

Other favourites include Kells Bay near Killarney, Banna, Poulgorm and Barrow Beach near Tralee and the beaches in Ballinskelligs. Fermoyle Strand, which stretches for 14 kilometres make it the largest beach in Ireland. 


Another recommendation that might be worth checking out is the tiny coral beach beside Gleesk Pier outside Sneem. This is one of two Irish coral beaches, which are rare geological gems – the other beach is near Carraroe in Galway. The dried algae is different from the coral that you find in a tropical island, but a nice spot if you like sea shells. The pier is also a popular spot for children, who like to jump into the sea below.



Where to stay near the beach in Kerry?

This unique beach cottage in Inch might be hard to beat, but there are also plenty of hotel options in Kerry too. The Seafront Inn on Inch Beach, the Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville, and the Derrynane Hotel are firm favourites, if you want to stay close to the beach in Kerry. 

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The sheltered Templetown beach on the Cooley Peninsula is Louth’s best beach, according to my readers. It has a Blue Flag status and is ideal for families and water sports enthusiasts. Clogherhead and Seapoint are other popular choices.



Where to stay near the beach in Louth?

Roseanne’s Seaside Cottage is located right on the beach and just 5km from Carlingford, however if you are looking for a hotel stay, Templetown House or the Whistledown Hotel are probably your best bet.

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Many of you many know that I’m just back from a fabulous few days in Mayo, and I was blown away by its stunning beaches. In fact the reason I decided to compile a list of the best beaches in Ireland was because I was so surprised that I hadn’t even heard of some of the beaches I discovered there.


I am delighted to say that you all agreed with my top recommendation, as Keem beach in Achill was the clear winner! I remember catching a glimpse of Keem beach while driving the Achill coastal route and having to pull in to see it properly. It really was hard to believe we were in Ireland when we gazed at it from this viewpoint. Believe it or not, it got even better when we got to the beach. The while sandy cove with turquoise coloured water really gave me Caribbean vibes. Don’t miss the hike up behind the beach for the best views.


I also loved Keel beach in Achill. It is a larger wide sandy beach, that is popular with families and water sports enthusiasts. I’m told Annagh and Dugort are also unmissable, but I guess I’ll have to go back to Achill to verify that. 

Read: 3 beaches in Achill you have to visit

It’s not only Achill in Mayo that is blessed with stunning beaches. Silver Strand beach near Louisburg stole a little piece of my heart – it also won a Green Coast Award in recognition of the beach’s clean environment, water quality and natural beauty. We only enjoyed a short visit as we stopped on our way home, so I’m thinking I might have to pay a return visit.

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Other favourites include Mulranney, Old Head, and Rinroe beach, as well as the more unspoilt beaches of Belmullet – Elly Beach and Claggan Island were amongst the favourites.



Where to stay near the beach in Mayo?

You only have to look at this house in Achill, with its own private beach access to know that this is a dream house for a staycation! However, the Achill Cliff House Hotel is a great option if you are looking for a hotel stay in Achill, while the 4-star Mulranny Park Hotel and the Talbot Hotel in Belmullet are very popular hotels that are close to the beach in Mayo.

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Sligo was the only county where I received the the equal number of recommendations for three beaches, Mullaghmore, Enniscrone and Streedagh Beach.

Mullaghmore is a 3km long, wide, sandy beach, that is backed by sand dunes. There are plenty of water sports opportunities available, and on the far side of Mullaghmore Head you will find one of Ireland’s best surfing locations.


The Blue Flag Enniscrone beach is renowned as one of the safest beaches on Ireland’s west coast. Its golden sand stretches for 5km, making it popular with families and water sports enthusiasts – there is a surf school here if you fancy braving the sea on the Wild Atlantic Way. 


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Streedagh Strand is another beautiful long sandy beach in Sligo. It offers stunning views of Donegal and Ben Bulben, and there is a sandbar linking Streedagh point to Connor’s island, which makes it another ideal spot for surfing. 

Cliffoney beach was also mentioned, this relatively unspoilt beach is ideal if you want to escape the crowds, although swimming is not recommended.



Where to stay near the beach in Sligo?

If you are looking for a large family home, check out this three-bedroom house that is located right on the beach in Enniscrone.  However if you prefer a hotel stay, the 4-star Diamond Coast Hotel or the 3-star Ocean Sands Hotel are probably your best bet.

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According to my readers, there are many great beaches in Waterford to choose from. Tramore’s three-mile long sandy beach was always going to be a favourite, but Ardmore, Bunmahon Beach and Kilmurrin Cove were also popular – all of which I can whole heartedly agree with. I was lucky enough to try sea kayaking in Ardmore beach (above), while staying at the stunning Cliff House Hotel.


I also enjoyed exploring Bunmahon Beach and Kilmurrin Cove on the Copper Coast last year. My kids loved crab hunting in the the rock pools in Kilmurrin Cove, and its also a great place to forage for seaweed. 


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Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales


Other favourites included Kilfarrasy, Dunmore Beach and Goat Island, and older kids love diving from the cliffs at Guillamene Swimming Cove. I’m also told that there are lots of beautiful beaches located between Ring and Ardmore – perhaps beach hopping could be a thing in Waterford?



Where to stay near the beach in Waterford?

Granary Loft has direct access to Annestown Beach on Waterford’s Copper Coast and must be one of the best Airbnbs near the beach for couples. If you prefer a hotel stay, check out the Majestic Hotel in Tramore or the Strand Inn in Dunmore East. I am also a big fan of the Cliff House Hotel, so if you can stretch the budget, it’s worth it!

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Wexford has over 250 km of coastline with lots of wide sandy beaches to choose from. I have joint winners in Wexford, The seven mile long Curraloe (Ballinesker), made famous for its filming of Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private Ryan, is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Ireland, but the lesser known Dollar Bay was equally favoured by my readers.


I’m told Dollar Bay is somewhat of a hidden treasure. This small cove beach is located on the Hook Peninsula. Surrounded by high rocky cliffs and green fields, with turquoise coloured sea and golden sand – you may think you are in the Caribbean instead of Ireland.
Other favourites include Carne Beach, Cullenstown Beach past Duncormick Village, St. Helens and Baginbun.



Where to stay near the beach in Wexford?

If you are looking for a beach hotel in Wexford, look no further than Kellys Resort Hotel in Rosslare. I stayed here a few years ago and it reminded me of a hotel in the Mediterranean, it has a real ‘resort’ feel to it. It is quite family orientated though, so best to avoid it during school holidays if you are travelling without children.

Read: Is Kelly’s the best family hotel in Ireland?

Read: 5 things to do in Wexford with Kids


There are many other hotels close to the sea in Wexford to choose from. I took a shine to this thatched cottage near Curracloe beach – is an ideal choice if you are looking for an authentic Irish stay.

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I was delighted to see that Brittas Bay was your favourite beach in Wicklow, as it is mine too! I am a regular visitor and love its wide golden sandy beach, as well as the sand dunes that lay behind it – these act as a natural shelter if you want to sunbathe on a windy day.


Silver Strand beach is another favourite. Although much smaller in size, it is surrounded by dramatic cliffs on both sides and tends to escape the massive crowds that frequent Brittas Bay.

Where to stay near the beach in Wicklow?

Wicklow has some fabulous hotels including the 5-star Druids Glen Resort and Powerscort Hotel, however there is not a huge choice of options if you are looking for a beachfront hotel. Why not check out this Brittas Bay retreat on Airbnb instead?

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I hope this post on the best beaches in Ireland  will help you plan a staycation soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity and are subject to change.


Some of the hotels and holiday homes were searched on third-party websites. so when you make a booking you do so via the supplier listed. I may receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you. Read more in my privacy policy.



Like this post? You might like:

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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery




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