Family road trips close to Dublin. The very best road trip adventures on some of Ireland’s most scenic routes and you will still be home for dinner.
Ireland has so many incredible scenic road trips to for us to enjoy. From the Wild Atlantic Way, with its winding coastal roads to awesome mountain passes and chilled lakeside routes, we have some of the most breath-taking drives in Europe. There are amazing views at every turn of the road and rural villages, olde world pubs, ancient history sites and mythological heritage to explore along the way. The vast majority of Irish people are opting for a summer staycation with only 15% of people heading for a holiday abroad. There is no doubt that the Irish motorist fell back in love with the Irish road trips during our enforced quarantine 5km, 10km and opening up for freedom. So, load up the car, get a banging singalong playlist and begin your adventure. Here are a few suggestions for fun driving trips close to Dublin City for a family outing packed with adventures.
County Louth is the smallest county in Ireland, but it packs way above its weight in terms of striking scenery and places of interest. Head North out of Dublin on the M1 and take the R173 for 15km to Carlingford. Or start at Dundalk on the N52 for the Hill of Faughart, then on to Proleek, then Cooley Distillery and Templetown Beach and making your way alongside Carlingford Lough to Carlingford town. This is an area of unrivalled coastal beauty with jaw-dropping views over the Lough. The spectacular glacial fjord forms part of the border between the North and South of the Country. It is gorgeous in good weather and even with a fine bit of summer mist. The Cooley Mountains stretch across the skyline and into the sea offering unrivalled beauty and some very accessible walks. It’s a driving time of 2 hours or so to complete the route, and there is plenty of opportunity for breaks to walk a trail, if you feel so inclined. Carlingford, is an interesting and beautiful medieval village at the heart of the peninsula with plenty of places to explore and find refreshments of one kind or another.
The garden of Ireland is so close to Dublin and yet, as you leave the urban streets behind, it is like a complete other world. Driving Wicklow Sally’s Gap is a perfect road trip with wonderful views of rolling green hills and valleys. The route is stunning and offers outstanding views of Lough Tay and Powerscourt waterfall and the Wicklow Mountains in all their glory. Once you get onto the M50, take exit 12 toward Firhouse and follow signs for Old Military Road, the R115. Following the Old Military Road will bring you right through the Sally Gap and south to the picturesque village of Laragh. Here you can turn off to the right for magical Glendalough. The gap itself is a crossroads and probably the least impressive marker on the trip. Driving on surprisingly narrow roads which bring you across scenes of beautiful blanket bog, mountain streams and fairy hawthorn trees. A wee car park on this loop drive will allow for a stop, some fresh air and a chance to Ooh and Ahh at the awesome of the Glenmacnass waterfall. The Sally’s Gap is one of the most popular drives for folk escaping Dublin City, so it might be best avoided at summer weekends or if you have left it a little late in the day to start out. Sally’s Gap is also the ideal expedition if you have a young family and don’t want to hear too much ‘Are we there yet? From the back of the car and when you do get the road to yourself, it is absolute heaven.
The Boyne Valley in Co Meath is a journey back in history. Motor along the M3 until you reach junction 6 and the R125 exit to Dunshaughlin/Trim. The Boyne Valley Drive can start from here, although you can join the loop anywhere along the way. It’s a 220km long driving treat that encompasses some of Ireland most famous megalithic and ancient UNESCO sites including Newgrange Passage Tombs and the Hill of Tara. The landscape is ancient, lush and steeped in history. Visit the 1690 Battle of The Boyne site and nearby the prehistoric passage tombs at the UNESCO World heritage site at Brú na Boinne. The drive takes you past some of the oldest manmade structures in the world, the Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth burial mounds were built over 5,000 years ago. Arrive early at the Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre to avoid queues and get the best views. For a road trip this little jaunt up the road from the Capitol has much to offer in terms of nature, beauty and history from Norman Castles to ancient Irish pagan mythology. All this and some nice stops on the way.
There are lots of other options for a scenic drive within reach of the capitol city. From Dalkey and Killiney to Slieve Bloom and the Kilkenny River route, Ireland has the best of road trips. Before you head out on the road don’t forget to check the car. Make sure you have oil and water. Ensure that the windscreen washer has fluid (a surprisingly annoying, if not potentially dangerous thing to be without). Check the tyres, the lights and if you have any niggling worries, give us a call at Sandyford Motor Centre and book a service to be on the safe side.
The resurgence of the great Irish road trip as an incarnation of the age-old Sunday drive will be hugely popular this summer. Pack up and let’s get on the road again.