The beauty of Ireland is that, even when you are staying in a city and you miss nature, in half an hour ride you can easily reach the most inspiring landscapes, have a walk, take a deep breath and be inspired again.
In Dublin, if you wish to get away from the cityscape, you have plenty of options to choose from - and you can do so by taking the DART.
DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is an electric rail system which runs along the Irish sea coast from Malahide or Howth towards the southern areas like Greystones (County Wicklow). This is how I would go to class downtown when I was based in the suburb of Kilbarrack, back in my high school years, when I used to spend my summers in Ireland, studying English and falling in love with the Emerald island.
Among the most renowned destinations for your day trip are:
Bray: I had the chance to visit it back in the day, a charming Victorian seaside resort with beautiful beaches and astonishing landscapes
Malahide: mostly known for its XII century Castle, where you can find a room totally encarved in oak and a beautiful 22-hectare garden
Sandycove: the Martello tower is where Ulysses begins, and here is now situated a little museum dedicated to James Joyce. From the top of the tower, you can stare at the Dublin bay
What we chose to visit this time, though, was the Howth peninsula.
Not too touristy, it will charm you with its fascinating fishing-village vibe and its stunning Cliff Path: Howth is definitely the place to go.
If you exit the train station and turn right, walk straight until you reach - on the left side of the street - Howth castle.
Legends say that in 1576, pirate “Queen” Gráinne O'Malley wanted to pay visit to Baron Howth, but she was turned away as the family was having dinner, and the castle gates had to remain closed. Due to this affront, O'Malley abducted the Baron’s grandson and heir, and the condition upon release was that the castle gates were to be open to unexpected visitors at all times and that an extra place should be set at every meal. It is also said that the occupants of the castle still honor this practice even today.
Walking back towards the station, you must pay a visit to the harbor, and one of its mice little joints will warm you up before making your way up along the cliffs - maybe with a mid-morning hot chocolate ;)
Now that you are back on track, start your way up to the promontory. The path is rather easy and accessible, and you will have the chance to walk along astonishing panoramas from the cliffs, with grass under your feet, wind in your hair, and sea in your eyes. You may even want to walk your way even further until you are able to see the lighthouse from the cliff top.
Now, let’s talk food. Howth is a harbour village so you should definitely try and eat fish. The restaurant we picked turned out to be a great choice: Wright’s Findlater Restaurant. Particularly, I was lucky enough to choose a sea bass dish with mashed potatoes, green beans and potato wedges: the fish was soft and delicate on point, and the mashed potatoes were heavenly buttery and creamy - I almost could not believe it. Definitely the best meal I had during the holiday. And finally, I treated myself with my very first Irish coffee.
To sum up: only half an hour ride from the city; delicious fish; few tourists and enchanting landscapes. You simply cannot skip this trip the next time you go to Dublin.