6-day Itinerary Around Dublin Without a Car

An itinerary for people who would like to explore Dublin and its surrounding without a car and at a relaxed pace. An accord of a personal travel experience.

6-day Itinerary Around Dublin Without a Car

I quit my job at a tech start-up company. And what better way to "celebrate" the parting from a workplace than in a new country? But really, I just needed to clear my head.

Being "between jobs" I came to travel on a budget and for the whole duration of my stay in Ireland travelled by public transport, excluding one weekend where I joined my dad on a trip with his friends. So, if you're interested in a more budget friendy travel itinerary around Dublin look no further.

Day 1: Dublin - Parks and The Little Museum of Dublin

My top priority in this trip was to look at the shades of green that Ireland is famous for and soak up the cool air and sunny weather. I made my first destination the parks in Dublin city center. The first one was of-course:

Stephen's Green:

Stephen's Green park with multiple shades of green 
A perfect little brick house in the park

I spent my time slowing down, and enjoying the colors, and flowers. The park is not crowded and there are many benches and grass planes to relax on. There is a shopping center, and a street with many shops, and museums, all within walking distance from the park. So, if you like to travel in a relaxing rhythm it's a great place to take a stop after shopping or museum visiting.

Another great park is:

Iveagh Gardens

It is small compared to Stephen's Green but has a different atmosphere and boasts a beautiful man-made waterfall. I spent my time there reading a bit.

Old brick wall with ivy growth

The Little Museum of Dublin

This is a colorful museum right across the street from the northen entrance to Stephen's green. This museum offers a tour of their assorted collection of items from Dublin's history, the tour itself is a performance that incorporates dramatics, and humour. A good level of English is recommended to follow along the storytelling of the tour guide.

It's a pretty short tour of about 20 minutes, after the tour you're free to explore the collection. Although this is not a very budget friendly option, it helped to kickstart my trip on the right foot. The people there are just so friendly, and the tour is entertaining. If you're traveling alone like I was I especially recommend it just to meet some friendly people, have a chat and get a sense of the history, the place, and the people.

A display of butterfiles

Day 2: Malahide - Castle, gardens and grounds

To reach Malahide, take a train from one of the DART stations, the stop is a short walking distance from the entrance.

Malahide castle belonged to the Talbot family since the 12th century until Dublin City Council acquired it, not long ago in 1976. The castle and it's grounds are like entering another world, the place is serene and so "historical" that I felt like an Edwardian lady must appear on one of the paths at any moment with a perfect gentleman by her side.

At Malahide you have the option to buy a ticket to see the gardens and West Lawn and/or an entrance and tour for the castle itself. I opted for the outdoors entrance-only as the weather was practicaly singing to me.

Malahide Castle from the West Lawn
a Weeping Copper Beech tree
Plantain lilies at Malahide Castle Garden

I had the West Lawn all to myself and stayed there until the end of operating hours, it's magical and there's a fairy path to prove it.

Day 3: More Dublin - Archeological museum, Christ Church Cathedral, and an Old Library

A day for culture!

Archeology: National Museum of Ireland

Ok, if you're anything like me you get easily overwhelmed by museums. Usually I only visit one museum per trip and later feel like the museum was half of the whole trip (Ehm, Vienna Natural History Museum, I'm looking at you.). But, this museum is everything a curious, but untrained history enthusiast can ask for: First of all it's free, which already warms the heart. Second, this museum is nicely spaced out and not overwhelmingly big. I felt like it was planned to allow me to actually learn and retain some knowledge, I was impressed. My top exhibitions were:

1) The Bog People - not sure that that is the official name, but the information about the bog and to look at the actual people that were found in there, along with some items - was an eery and atmospheric experience.

2) The log boat, a ginormous 15-meter tree log that was cut out from the inside to resemble a boat from 5000 years ago. Just one question in my head to our ancestors: Why the tallest tree around?

An ancient logboat in Dublin's Archeological Museum

3) The heaps of gold from Ireland's bronze period, it's a lot of gold and some of the creations are quite beautiful. Some reminded me of how the egyptian wore their gold.

Gold creations from Dublin's Archeological Museum

The Christ Church Cathedral

Have you read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet?

This cathedral is a mesmerizing view if you're not from around parts of the world where they have cathedrals (Israeli here 🙋🏻‍♀️) and, if you've loved the book "The Pillars of the Earth". No, this is not the same cathedral of course, not the same country even, but it might as well have been - the flying buttresses and all.

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

I sat there and replayed the plot of the book in my mind, it's a lovely area with many people relaxing, reading, and chatting. Jack Jack's son, you did a magnificent job.

Marsh's Library

This is a small historic library, where a number of famous authors came to read thorughout history. It is very well preserved and they have a changing exhibition on display as well as a fun scavenger hunt style game for kids (the kids-at-heart all engaged as well).

This place has a Hogwarts-like atmosphere, and the books that they chose for the exhibition at my time of visit were intricate, and inspiring to the imagination.

Naive fascinations:

1) One of the books on the exhibition was a travel guide from 1486 that was written by a man that has sinned during his adolscense and has set out on a pilgrimage to the holy land to atone for his sins. He travelled with his friend and on their way they wrote a travel guide for anyone considering such a journey. It is a hefty 2 tome guide with intricate illustrations of the cities they visited on their way.

GIF of a travel guide from 15th century 

2) The "Manicules" collection is absolutely hilarious. Look at how the different readers chose to mark certain passages:

3) Just how pretty some of them are:

Day 4: Brú na Bóinne

Brú na Bóinne MUST be booked in advance, all slots were sold-out 2 weeks ahead. In addition, if you're travelling by public transport your only option is to hire a tour that starts from Dublin. But, if you make the effort to book in advance and visit this place you will not be disappointed.

Brú na Bóinne, which translates to: Valley of the Boyne, Boyne is the name of the river that surrounds the land and creates a unique feeling of this land being separate from the mainland, almost as if it's an island. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's a serene, isolated piece of land that contains impressive passage tombs from small to huge, stone-age art (this is what the UNESCO World Heritage status is given this site for), and some later historical altars and monuments.

The river Boyne
Stone-age period art
Passage tombs at Dowth

Naive Fascinations:

1) One interesting theory about why so many important monuments were erected on this specific piece of land all through out history is how isolated it appears to be. It looks and feels special, so the people who lived there built their most accomplished and sacred structures on it.

2) NewGrange is the biggest passage tomb on the site and it's the one that can be entered on the tour. It dates back to around 3200 B.C. - so older than the pyramids. It remained water tight until this very day, and the whole structure was built by layering stones of all sizes on top of each other. NewGrange has a box opening that was placed at the exact angle to allow the sen rays to enter the tomb on the winter solstice and illuminate the corridor and main altar with golden light.

Winter solstice ray of light (after Stout & Stout, 2008, fig. 29)

3) The stones at the site were brought up from the surrounding area, sometimes even from 40 km away from the Wicklow area. The way some of the stones and rocks were transported was by the way of the sea and Boyne river on log boats, such as the one that is on display at the archeology museum 🤓

Day 5: Glendalough - light hiking and relaxing

Glendalough is a valley located in Wicklow just about 45 min driving from Dublin city center. To reach Glendalough by public transport I used St. Kevin's Bus Services that depart once a day from the entrance to Stephen's Green park at 11:30 (https://www.glendaloughbus.com) and arrive to Glendalough near 13:00. The bus sets out back to Dublin at 16:30, it doesn't leave all that much time to explore many places at Glendalough. Thus, I recommend coming prepared with knowledge of the many paths that are surrounding the area and how much time they would take you to complete.

I didn't come prepared and realized that 3 hours wasn't a lot at all so to be safe I set out on an easy walk on the Miner's Road Walk, it's a one way stroll with enough time for the round trip and for relaxing stops by the lake.

A nice spot along the Miner's Road Walk
Monastery at Glendalough
Miner's Road Walk at Glendalough

Day 6: Howth - hiking

To reach Howth, take a train from one of the DART stations, the start of the trail is a short walking distance from the station with signs pointing towards it through town. Howth is a very popular destination for the picturesque town, and of course the cliffs 🌊

There are 5 main routes in Howth varying in length. The day before travelling to Howth I finally recovered from an unexpected stomach bug I caught somewhere in Dublin, somewhere where they serve raw oysters. So, when I felt better I decided to go for the longest one, obviously - The Bog of Frogs Loop. Check out the other main routes at https://www.theirishroadtrip.com/howth-cliff-walk/. The map for The Bog of Frogs Loop is embedded below:

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I went on this hike on my last day and ended up spending the whole day there. By this time on my trip I was pretty much obssesed with bogs and was over-the-top excited to see the "Bog of Frogs", and I saw it... But, it was such a hot sunny day, in fact it was a sunburn level sunny day, that the bog of frogs didn't seem all "boggy" like I imagined it to be.

Howth Cliff Walk
Bog of Frogs - Heavily edited to add a little bit of the "boggy" atmosphere
Howth Harbour

I also ended up meeting some awesome people on the trail and joining them for lunch back at the town. What a wholesome way to end this wonderful trip.

Summary:

  • Day 1: Dublin - Parks and The Little Museum of Dublin
  • Day 2: Malahide - Castle, gardens and grounds
  • Day 3: More Dublin - Archeological museum, Christ Church Cathedral, and an Old Library
  • Day 4: Brú na Bóinne
  • Day 5: Glendalough - light hiking and relaxing
  • Day 6: Howth - hiking

Public Transport Summary: