In Dublin’s surroundings you can find many beatuiful historic places, gardens and castles. These tourist attractions are usually open all year around and well worth taking the time to visit them. There are two ways to get there, either you book a coach day trip or you rent a car.
Renting a car is great because it gives you the freedom and independence to come and go. You are not tied to strict times and that means you can start and finish your day whenever you please. It is always possible to pick your rental car up and drop it off in Dublin City Centre or at Dublin Airport.
Explore these wonderful places on your own time.
Here are four day trip destinations that you would definitely enjoy.
Powerscourt House and Gardens
Powerscourt is one of Ireland’s most famous estates and gardens; it is about 20km from Dublin City Centre. Powerscourt House was designed by Richard Castle around 1730, and was burned down accidentally in 1974.
An exhibition called "Bloody O’Tooles, Rebels and Royalty, Fame and Fire" and an audio visual presentation tell the story of this magnificent and elegant mansion. Ballroom and Garden Rooms open Sundays 9:30-1:30 all year, Mondays 9:30-1:30 from May to September. When the weather is nice, you can enjoy a nice cup of tee or coffee on the terrace of Powerscourt House.
Further down is the arboretum with its splendid collection of trees, including a Sitka Spruce Ireland’s tallest tree. Other important features of the garden are the Walled Garden with its colourful rose beds, the Dolphin Pond, The Pet’s Cemetery and the Japanese Garden from 1908.
Powerscourt Estate also contains the highest waterfall - 90 metres - in Ireland. It is called Powerscourt Waterfall and is surrounded by woods. You can picnic there or go for a long refreshing walk.
Malahide Castle is situated south-west from the small seaside resort Malahide, set on 250 acres of park land. It is really unique because it was inhabited continuously by the Talbot family from 1185 until 1976. You can find many beautiful period furniture in this medieval castle and a large collection of Irish portrait paintings.
The Castle has its own ghosts too, not only one but five: Lord Galtrim, Lady Maud Plunkett, Chief Justice, Miles Corbett and last but not least Puck. Be prepared, you will definitely feel their presence amongst the ancient walls.
Guided audio tours run every 15 minutes; duration of the tour is about 35 minutes. Malahide Castle’s restaurant is famous for its tasty meal, so why not have a nice lunch after your tour.
It is also worthwhile taking a day trip to Howth which is a fishing and yachting port, popular suburban resort. You can start your walk in the harbour where Howth Lighthouse can also be found. It is the best place to spot sea lions in the sea.
There is also a 12th century Abbey and graveyard in the heart of the town with beautiful view of the harbour. To the west of the harbour are Howth Castle and demesne, seat of the St. Lawrence Family. The demesne is famous for its rhododendrons - over 2000 varieties - and azaelas.
Beside the castle is the National Transport Museum containing old double-decker buses, horse-drawn fire engine, tractors and the rustic Hill of Howth Tram.
There are plenty of nice restaurants with mouthwatering fresh seafood dishes in Howth, although it is advisable to book your table in advance because they can be rather busy at weekends.
Loughcrew Historic Gardens
Loughcrew Historic Gardens are situated in the heart of County Meath, 85km from Dublin. It belonged to the Plunkett family, Ireland’s most recent saint - St. Oliver Plunkett - was born and raised there. The Plunketts’ church still stands in Loughcrew.
The Loughcrew estate also contains The Temple of the Rains, which was the Entrance Portico of the Loughcrew House. It was built by Welsh buliders and named after the constant Irish rain that fell during the building process. The gardens and the woodlands are dotted with ’fairies’, beautiful contemporary sculptures made by Ann Meldon Hugh.
If you visit Lougcrew during the summer months and you like music, buy ticket for the annual Rhythm and Blues Festival. The Opera a la Carte Company will entertain the opera lovers on 27-28th of June.
Loughcrew Cairns are about 3 km from Loughcrew Gardens, these prehistoric passage graves are the oldest feature of this extraordinary area. Visit them in the winter or midweek because it can be quite crowded.
You can enjoy these day trips to the full by car. Even if your holiday focuses only on Dublin, you would be still able to visit one of these beautiful places. Several car hire companies offer car rental in Dublin City or you can rent a car at Dublin Airport When you book your car online in advance, you can save time and get a good car rental deal for your money.
Keep left on the road and have a safe driving holiday in Dublin’s surroundings.