The island of Ireland is surrounded by over 1,450km (901mi) of coastline. Counties all across Ireland and Northern Ireland are home to breathtaking views. Whether you’re looking for a city break, a country escape or a combination of both, Here are the best coastal destinations on the island.
Fortunately, there are also many wonderful places to stay in Ireland’s most beautiful coastal destinations. When you’ve settled on your perfect seaside spot, we’re sure you’ll find something in our top picks of Airbnbs across the country.
Curracloe Strand is the longest beach in Ireland. Complete with golden sand, it lies just northeast of the town of Wexford, Ireland. Curracloe Strand and nearby Ballinesker Beach were used in the filming of Saving Private Ryan, due to their similarities to the sandy beaches of Normandy, France. Curracloe Strand is an ideal family getaway, with the perfect landscape for sandcastle building and walks along the shore.
Located in the north of County Wicklow, Bray is a busy seaside town with something to do for people of all ages. The coastal town is easy to access via the DART commuter train running from Dublin city. The town of Bray is filled with cafés and seafood restaurants and is home to National Sea Life Bray, an adorable aquarium containing sharks and tropical and native fish. For those feeling more adventurous, the cliff walk leading to Bray Head is pleasant on a nice sunny day.
Perhaps the most famous beach in Ireland, Inch Beach stretches along 5km (3mi) of coastline in the West of Ireland. Accessible by public transport via the 276 bus from Bus Eirreann, Inch Beach is a quiet coastal getaway located near popular tourist destination the Ring of Kerry. On clear warm days, surfers enjoy the swells, while dolphins and sea otters bask in the bay. Sammy’s Café, right at the beach, is the ideal place to finish the day with a sweet treat.
The famed Cliffs of Moher are perhaps the most photographed coastal region of Ireland. With beautiful vistas overlooking the sea and rugged cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher are a hotspot for anyone visiting Ireland. Easily accessible from Dublin and Galway, the Cliffs of Moher provide the ultimate solo or family destination.
Journey up north to Sligo, Ireland, and you’ll find the charming village of Rosses Point and its surrounding peninsula. Rosses Point has a lovely walk along the cliffs that is easily accessible and a flat hike appropriate for walkers of all ages. Sligo was home to author William Butler Yeats, who spent his summers at Rosses Point and whose gravestone is a close drive from the pleasant beaches. Rosses Point is also home to the Sligo Yacht Club and the County Sligo Golf Club, which hosts the annual West of Ireland championship.
The largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore is a perfect getaway from the bustle of Dublin or Galway, with beaches and charming B&Bs. The island itself is a Gaeltacht area, meaning the residents are loyal to speaking the Irish language. Popular tourist destinations include the ruins of the Seven Churches and the Aran Sweater Market, for those looking to do some shopping for traditional Irish wools. The island is serviced by Aran Ferries from Rossaveal and Doolin, near Galway city, and from Inishmore Aerodome to Connemara Airport.
Situated directly on Galway Bay, Galway city is a quaint Irish getaway with all the excitement of a small city. Walk along the beautiful coastline out to Galway Harbour Lighthouse, and get a lovely view of the ocean and the coastline on a sunny day. Galway also has excellent pubs in the city centre, such as the King’s Head Pub that serves up some delicious fish and chips. Walk even further along the coast and you’ll find Salthill, home to Leisureland, an amusement centre open all year round.
Drive up the east coast to enter the separate nation of Northern Ireland, and you’ll find the majestic Giant’s Causeway. The causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as its hexagonal columns and rocks originated from a booming volcanic eruption. Legend states that giant Finn MacCool built the causeway in order to connect the North Channel, to defeat another giant who challenged Gaelic territory.
Located just a short drive from the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is located in County Antrim near Ballantoy. Aside from the stunning cliffs and ocean views, the main attraction is the 20m-long (66ft) rope bridge over the clear blue waters and rocks 30m (98ft) below. Travellers can get a certificate of their crossing at the conclusion of their stay.
The Ring of Kerry is a major circular tourist route in County Kerry, boasting a large number of popular destinations along the southwestern Irish coast, such as Killarney National Park, the Gap of Dunloe and Torc Waterfall. There’s also Skellig Michael, where the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed. Access to the Ring of Kerry is provided by Bus Eireann via route 280.
A seaside town in County Waterford, Tramore is located only 13km (8mi) away from Waterford city. Tramore is situated on the northwest corner of Tramore Bay, and has fairgrounds, ice cream shops and a popular promenade along the sand. Tramore also has well-known sand dunes that stretch for 5km (3mi) and overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Tramore is also renowned for being a prime surfing location in Ireland.
Located in magnificent County Kerry, the town of Dingle is the quintessential Irish seaside town. Dingle is the perfect romantic getaway or family vacation, with activities and sights for people of all ages. Families and couples alike will love the ferry out to Dingle Bay to see Fungie the dolphin. Fungie is the bay’s only inhabiting bottlenose dolphin, and he enjoys swimming alongside the boats. Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium also has an impressive assortment of sharks, penguins, reptiles and more.