Holidays in Ireland

16 Gorgeous Walks in Dublin For All Fitness Levels

Poolbeg lighthouse (1)

Mountain hikes, cliff walks, and city strolls, check out my top picks for easy walks in Dublin, and go explore!

With travel restrictions in place for most of 2020,  I spent a lot of time exploring my own county. There were walks in Dublin that I hadn’t done since I was a child, as well as new walks that I only discovered for the first time this year. We hiked the Dublin Mountains many times over the years but, I didn’t realise until recently how many beautiful cliff walks there are in Dublin. 


I have filled this post with relatively easy walks in Dublin, that are suitable for most fitness levels. There are longer trails and more difficult hikes available, but that’s for another post. In the meantime why not work your way through this list and re-discover your own county with Dublin walks like these.



1. Howth Cliff Walk


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When I visit Howth I always feel like I’m visiting a different county, and on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the South of France. In my opinion, The Howth Cliff Walk is Dublin’s most spectacular cliff walk. Unfortunately many people agree with me, so it can be extremely busy, especially on a sunny day. However, there a few different trails you can take. 

howth cliff walk is one of the most popular walks in Dublin

We took the main 5km Loop Walk up to The Summit Pub. Alternatively you can extend the walk to a 10km loop, by walking towards the Lighthouse, for even more spectacular views. You also take time to visit the secret beach – yes there is one in Howth! It is accessed via slippery steps close on the path towards the lighthouse. See more information here.


Howth is renowned for its sea-food, so don’t miss the opportunity to reward yourself with the catch of the day afterwards. If you don’t want to dine inside, it is also quite common to grab a take-away and dine on the grass!

30 Church Street, Howth

30 Church Street has a varied menu if you don’t fancy fish – although the scallops and chorizo pasta is delicious. The wood-fired pizza is also a great choice. There is small outdoor dining area, but don’t worry if you can’t secure one of these, the marina views from inside the restaurant are great too – ask for a table upstairs by the window.

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2. Hell Fire Club

Dublin mountain walks

I recall being told as a child, that if I ran around the Hell Fire Club ten times, the devil would appear. Looking back I think it was probably a genius way to get me to go for a walk with my parents! There are many similar myths, one relating to a card game, another to a large black cat, and the devil appears in all.


I have taken this walk many times, and as much as I enjoy the hill walk, there is something spooky about the ruin at the top of the hill. I imagine if you are there at night time, you may start to believe in the legends…

dublin mountain walks - hell fire club

Despite all these scary stories, it is one of the most popular walks in Dublin. It is not too difficult, but it can be quite steep in parts. It should take about 90 minutes in total, including time at the top to explore the Hell Fire Club. It is an easy sell to kids too, once you tell them about the legends, they will automatically be intrigued.

There is a car park at the bottom of Montpellier Hill, but I advise you to get there early to ensure you get a parking space, and perhaps skip a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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3. Loughshinny Cliff Walk


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Loughshinny is a small village located between Skerries and Rush in North County Dublin, and has a delightful coastal walk. As much as I love the Howth Cliff Walk, it can get quite crowded. The beauty of the cliff walk in Loughshinny, is that not many people know about it. In fact we were there on a sunny Sunday and it was virtually empty.


You can park in the small car park beside the beach. There is a staircase leading up from the beach which brings you along the cliff path. The path is very narrow and can be a little briary in parts, so I would suggest wearing good boots and long pants. That being said, it is an easy walk, and can be as short or as long as you wish. 

Martello Tower at Lough Shinny Cliff Walk

We just walked as far as the Martello Tower (approximately 15 minutes one way), and let the kids search for crabs in the rock pools. If, however, you are feeling more energetic, you can walk along the cliff all the way into Rush. This would be approximately two hours round trip. 

Restaurant near Lough Shinny cliff walk

We popped into the Gourmet Food Parlour in Skerries afterwards – it is located about 10 minutes drive from Loughshinny. The heated outdoor terrace was very welcome and we loved the wide selection of cuisine for adults and children.

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4. Massy’s Wood

forest walks in Dublin mountains

Massy’s Wood is beautiful forest walk in the Dublin mountains. Located opposite the Hell Fire Club car park, we often choose this walk or the Hell Fire Club, depending on the weather. It is a forest walk, so it is much more sheltered than the Hell Fire Club, but there are also plenty of ruins here to explore. 


The remains of a mansion and walled gardens are still visible, and there is wonderful 1.5km nature trail that is suitable for all fitness levels. You will find ancient trees, a variety of wildlife and plenty of picnic sites. This is one of the most popular family mountain walks in Dublin.

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5. Killiney Hill Walk


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I’m a big fan of the Killiney Hill Walk, its a walk I have taken many times. The views of Killiney and Dalkey from the top are stunning on a clear day, and it is a nice short walk that is suitable for all fitness levels. In fact if I had one complaint, I would say I think it is a little too short.


There is an obelisk at the top and plenty of places to explore, so although the walk itself is only about 20 minutes, you will probably spend about an hour pottering around and taking in the views. 


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There is a great playground near the car park, so if you are walking with kids they will love it.  You can’t leave without visiting The Tower Tea Rooms, where you will find freshly ground coffee, hot chocolates and tasty pastries. The Killiney Cliff Walk is very popular with families and dog walkers.

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6. War Memorial Gardens


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When we visited The War Memorial Gardens recently, I was surprised by the number of people who didn’t even know it existed. The War Memorial Gardens pay tribute to the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the WWI and are one of the most famous memorial gardens in Europe.

The names of all the soldiers are contained in the illustrated Harry Clarke manuscripts in the granite book rooms, and guided tours are available upon request. There are free OPW guided tours every Wednesday at 2.00pm from the 25th of April to the end of October.


If you are unable to see the manuscripts, (I haven’t seen them yet),  you will still really enjoy walking around the gardens. There are so many different areas to explore. Located along the canal, with plenty of wide open spaces, a sunken rose garden and a host of monuments, it is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets.

Broyage Bistro near War Memorial Gardens

The War Memorial Gardens are located in Islandbridge, close to Kilmainham, in fact we visited after a tour of Kilmainham Gaol – a place I believe we should all visit. I can recommend some post-walk dining in Broyage Bar & Bistro at the Hilton Kilmainham. If you are looking for a full daycation in Dublin, this is a great combination.

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7. Phoenix Park 


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The Phoenix Park is no stranger to anyone, but did you know it is the largest public park in any capital city in Europe? There are so many different places to explore, but one of our favourites is to get close to the herd of fallow deer that have frequented the park for hundreds of years.

They are used to Dubliners getting close to them, (obviously don’t try to touch them), and are even happy to pose for pictures. There is something majestic about watching a stag at sunrise. I recommend an early visit for the best views, and to escape the crowds.


Of course The Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin, and Victorian flower gardens. Don’t miss some hearty pub-grub in Europe’s longest pub afterwards – The Hole in the Wall. We make this an annual visit over Christmas as the pub is superbly decorated for the festive season.

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8. Bohernabreena Reservoir

Bohernabreena Resevoir is a easy walk in Dublin for all the family

Located just a few miles from my home, this is a walk that we take regularly. This loop walk at the foothills of the Dublin mountains has a number of options. You can walk the full 9km trail around the lake, or turn back when you get to the lake for a shorter walk. You will spot plenty of sheep, cows and horses, and the lakeshore is an idyllic spot for a picnic.


It is also buggy friendly so it is one of the more popular walks in Dublin for families. The only downside is the car park, it is tiny. Get there early, and avoid sunny Sunday afternoons.

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9. Poolbeg Lighthouse, Great South Wall Walk


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This is one of my favourite walks in Dublin, especially on a sunny day. It is the perfect length, with gorgeous sea views, and an iconic lighthouse at the end, what’s not to love? It is a 4km walk to the lighthouse, so 8km round trip, but it is flat so it should only take about 70 minutes. 


Its almost like a promenade, so its buggy friendly, and you can even pick up a drink from the coffee-van at the end. As well as panoramic sea views, you will also spot some sea bathers. Instagrammers will love the colourful lighthouse too.

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10. Dun Laoghaire Pier,  Sandycove and The Forty Foot

Dun Laoghaire Pier is a buggy friendly walk in Dublin

I have walked Dun Laoghaire Pier countless times, but it is rare I walk down as far as The Forty Foot. I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often, because the promenade stretches all along the sea shore and it is a gorgeous walk suitable for all fitness levels. The Dun Laoghaire Pier is practically an institution if you live on the South Side, as well as getting an ice-cream cone from Teddy’s once you reach the end.


I love watching the sail boats, and listening to the buskers playing, but I also enjoy watching the sea swimmers dive into the sea at The Forty Foot. The next time you are walking Dun Laoghaire Pier, go a step further and walk along the promenade to Sea Point beach and onwards to the Forty Foot. If you don’t gather up the courage to jump in, you will enjoy watching the brave souls all the same.

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11. Portmarnock to Malahide Walk


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The Portmarnock to Malahide walk is one of the most popular walks in North County Dublin. It has wide paths that are suitable for buggies and roller bladers, and it is a popular spot with joggers too. You you can choose to walk one-way (4km) and catch the Dart (train) back, or walk round trip for a full day out.


The walk takes in one of the best beaches in Dublin, otherwise known as Velvet Strand, and if you fancy some post-walk dining, the choice are endless in Malahide.

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12. Tibradden Wood  

walks in Dublin mountains

Tibradden Wood, or The Pine Forest, which is what I called it as a child, is a beautiful wood in the Dublin Mountains.  At the highest point you will be rewarded with gorgeous views, as well an open cairn and kist burial site. You may also spot some wildlife, as Sika deer, foxes and badgers are commonly seen here. The Tibradden Mountain Trail is only 2.4km, so it is suitable for all fitness levels. 

The Zipit Adventure centre is also located here, so if you are walking with kids, you may want to allow extra time for a visit. 

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13. Bull Island Walk


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Bull Island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located at Dollymount in North County Dublin. Not only is it a lovely spot for a coastal walk, but it is also ideal for bird watchers or wildlife enthusiasts. The walk itself is a 5km looped walk, but you may wish to spend some additional time on the sandy Dollymount Beach, and watch the kitesurfers that regularly frequent the area.


Parking is restricted to a small area next to the Bull Wall, so if you are planning a visit during a sunny afternoon, you might be best to walk, cycle, or take public transport.

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14. Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk

cliff walks in Dublin

Dublin’s northside clearly has the best choice of coastal walks, and the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk is another walk that you should put on your list. This is one of the few walks in Dublin that I have yet to experience, but it has been recommended to me many times. I’m told it is an easy 3km walk (6km round trip), that is suitable for all fitness levels. The best place to start is at Donabate Beach, you can walk along the cliff edge to the Martello Tower at Portrane.

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15. Dublin Canal Walk


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If you fancy a city walk, the Dublin Canal Walk is a good choice. The full route runs from the Grand Canal Dock to Adamstown and is about 15km in total. I like to start in Rathmines and walk along the canal through Portobello, and on to Grand Canal Harbour, this is approx 3.5km in total.


There is a pathway along most of the canal, so although you are in the city centre, it doesn’t always feel like it, as you are very close to the waters edge. You will pass pretty locks and river boats, as well as the statue and famous seat of Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. 

Marker Hotel rooftop bar

When you reach the Grand Canal Harbour, or Silicon Docks as it is commonly known, you will see a hive of activity. There is a wake park located here, so you can expect to see wake-boarders on the water, regardless of weather.

You will also find countless dining options, including many al fresco bars and restaurants. If the weather is in your favour, try the rooftop bar in the Marker Hotel. The all-day menu is light and reasonably priced, and you won’t find better city views anywhere.

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16. Ticknock to Fairy Castle Loop Walk

easy walks in Dublin mountains

A popular hike on Dublin’s south side, this is located close to Rathfarnham and Sandyford, on the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. You can park at the Ticknock Forest Carpark, but it can get very busy, especially on sunny mornings. The full loop walk to the Fairy Castle is 5.5km, although you can choose to just hike to the view point, which is only 1.5km (3km return). This part has tarmac so although its a steep hill walk, it is buggy friendly.  


Don’t be fooled though, the Fairy Castle, is not as it sounds – it is a pre-historic passage tomb, which is the highest point of the Dublin Mountains. However, you can expect to find superb panoramic views over the city and the Wicklow Mountains. 

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I hope this post on easy walks in Dublin will help you get out exploring. It is important to note that the above walks are my personal suggestions, but some of the facilities / activities listed may change or may not be suitable for everyone. 


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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


ContributorsTravel News and Reviews

Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems


City Staycation: Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems


If you visit on the weekend, Dublin is teeming with overseas tourists looking for a good time. They queue outside the Guinness Storehouse (and rightly so, it’s a fascinating experience), they fill the pubs in Temple Bar, and then leave on a Monday morning, having had a great weekend of revelry in Ireland’s capital. This leaves the rest of the week free for locals to discover, and those of us who can take a midweek trip to explore Dublin’s hidden gems. From dawn to dusk, here’s your local guide of what to do in Dublin.


With a big day ahead of you, you’ll want to find somewhere to start your day with a cup of tea. Whilst Dublin’s artisan coffee shops are seemingly growing faster than any other business in the city, there’s nothing like an auld cup of Rosie Lee to start the day. Head to the Queen of Tarts for a cosy, quaint cuppa and a slice of cake for a little sustenance, before heading to the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art). The tourists tend to head for the National Gallery, but the IMMA is home to some incredible pieces of contemporary art.


With lots of choice for lunch in Dublin, you’ll soon feel quite overwhelmed as you try to pick where to eat. In keeping with this local list of little gems, try the Beshoff Bros for Fish and Chips. Opened in 1939 and having gained a reputation for being the best chip shop in Dublin, Beshoff Bros serve up fresh Atlantic haddock, north Atlantic cod, smoked haddock and scrumptious scampi, handing you be the sustenance you need before you head out again for the afternoon. Lovers of quality, the fish is all caught in clean water, and the potatoes are farmed organically. There is even the option of gluten free batter, so even the coeliacs don’t have to miss out!

The Afternoon

You’ll probably want to walk off the fish and chips, and afternoons were designed for lazy meandering. There is plenty of space to do this in Iveagh Gardens. The gardens were designed in the mid 1800s but have a history dating back more than 300 years. Originally designed as a garden for a modest Earl in the 1860s, they were redesigned to boast the many features you see now. Get lost in the yew maze or take a wander around the rosary garden for a lazy afternoon. If the weather isn’t in your favour, duck into the Long Library at Trinity College where you can marvel at the high ceilings and take a wander around the library’s literary exhibitions.

The Evening

To truly round off a day packed with culture, you’ll have to take a visit to The Gate Theatre. The historic building is home to some of Ireland’s finest creative talent, and regularly hosts touring theatre and ballet. The Gate’s smaller performance, the Gate Studio is an experimental space which hosts artists championed by the gate and often shows unique cross-disciplinary work. Settle into a cushioned seat as you reflect on your day of culture in the capital.

There’s so much more to be seen in Dublin than Temple Bar, and there are plenty of alternative ways to spend your trip. Head out and get lost a little bit, and you might just surprise yourself.


Like holidays in Ireland, see more here.



The Travel Expert


Family HolidaysTravel Tips

9 Dublin Airport Tips You Need To Know Before You Fly

dublin airport

For some people who are not used to travelling the airport can be very stressful. Read my top airport tips below and get your holiday off to a great start.


  1. Weigh your luggage before you go!
  2. Passports, visa and all the important stuff.
  3. Check terminals, car parking, roadworks.
  4. Get to the airport early.
  5. Use the fast track.
  6. Check-in.
  7. Security screening
  8. Executive Lounges
  9. Before you board.

1. Weigh your luggage before you go!

airport tips

Before you go you should make sure you weigh your luggage to ensure you are within the weight limits for the particular airline you are travelling with. You don’t want to be one of those people at the top of the queue taking clothes out of one bag and placing them in another.


You will also want to avoid any excess baggage charges, as not only are these exorbitant, but usually you have to queue up at the ticket desk to pay them and then re queue to check in. This can be very stressful if you are short on time and the security queue is very long.



2. Passports, visas and all the important stuff.

airport tips

I think it goes without saying to make sure that your passports are valid, but you will also need to check the regulations of the country that you are travelling to. Passenger locator forms, as well as proof of vaccination may be required, and  some destinations require that your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date.


This is becoming more and more common with some European countries applying this rule as well as the USA and many long haul destinations.


If travelling to the USA make sure you have your ESTA in place, it is compulsory for everyone travelling to America now. Log on to https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

I always recommend printing your documents, as well as keeping a digital copy, just incase they are mislaid.



3. Check terminals, car parking, roadworks

airport tips

You should check with AA road watch to ensure your planned journey is free of road works, sometimes the airport website will also have this mentioned in their news section.

Check which terminal you are departing from. As a general rule, Aer Lingus and long haul flights go from Terminal 2, and most other airlines from Terminal 1, but you need to check your travel documents to be sure.


Allow plenty of time if using the airport car parks, especially the long term ones, as some of these are 20 minutes from the airport terminal. The DAA airport website is very useful and have many top tips, details of airlines and their terminals,  plus the latest car park deals are available here.



4. Get to the airport early.

airport tips

There are many new restaurants open in our airports now now including Diep le Shaker, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the fantastic food market – Marquette. Depending on the time of your flight it might be an idea to go to the airport early. It will stop you worrying about traffic, queues etc and allow you some time to enjoy a nice meal before you depart, or check out the shops at The Loop.



5. Use the Fast Track

use the fast track to save time at the airport

If you are short on time or have a particularly early flight – use the Fast Track facility. It’s a fantastic service that caters for a variety of travellers. If you don’t want to queue at security you can pay from €7.99 – €12.99 to use the fast track service. You also get a voucher for a free coffee, which can be purchased in many outlets before you board.




6. Check-in.

airport tips

Where possible always check-in online. Even if you still need to check in a bag, it usually guarantees you a shorter queue and seats together on the aircraft. If  travelling with Aer Lingus use the dedicated self check-in kiosks to weigh your own bags.


If you are travelling within Europe, you should arrive at the airport two hours before your flight departs, irrespective of whether you have checked in online or at the airport.


If you are travelling long haul this is should be increased to three hours. If travelling to the USA you will need to go through emigration at Dublin or Shannon airport, and therefore check-in times are 3 hours before departure. Remember you will still need to go through security even if you have checked-in online and in busy periods these queues can be long.



7. Security screening.

airport tips

Security is where everyone’s stress levels increase! I think it goes without saying not to pack sharp implements, but even kids toy guns, razors etc should never be in your hand luggage. Ideally pack all liquids in your checked baggage, but if you need to have them in your hand luggage, make sure that there are no liquids over 100ml, as they will be confiscated.


Some things are evidently liquid, like drinks and perfume, others are less obvious, like gels, pastes, lotions, toothpastes, hair gels, face creams, liquid cosmetic, deodorants and shaving foam. Any liquids that you have not checked in, and are below the 100ml limit should be placed in one clear plastic bag and separated from your bag on the trays provided.


Medication is allowed, but you may have to demonstrate that it is for medical purposes – I recommend a note from your doctor stating this. Similarly with baby’s bottles – you may have to drink them to prove they are indeed what you say they are.

Remember to remove outer jackets, belts, shoes, laptops from cases when you reach the passenger security screening area as this will speed things up.




8. Enjoy the Executive Lounges and additional facilities available


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You can use the Executive Lounge in Terminal 1 for up to two hours (regardless of what class of ticket you have) with complimentary drinks, snacks and newspapers from only €20 if booked online. The luxurious 51st &Green Lounge in Terminal 2 is €30, or complimentary if travelling business class.


There are also other genie services where you can book a family care attendant or chaperones if someone is travelling alone and needs help. All of these are available to book on the Dublin Airport Website, www.dublinairport.com.



9. Before you board

my top picks for airport shopping online

When you make it through the screening area, check the flight information screens to see which gate your flight is departing from. Sometimes gates can change for operational reasons.


If shopping in Duty free on the way out, make sure to use Shop and Collect system – they take care of your purchases and you don’t need to worry about the extra weight in your luggage, you simply pick them up when you return.

Take advantage of the ‘honest’ airplane water stops that are scattered around the terminal. Put €1 in the box provided, so you will have water when you board and stay hydrated for your journey.


Bon voyage!


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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery



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