With so much action within the walls of the capital's city center, it is no wonder that travellers would not leave Dublin’s heart when exploring this country. The usual trend would be to treat Dublin like any other European city break:Race around the town square, and when the time is right for something slower with less noise and mayhem, travel out west to places like Galway or Clare for the scenery. Although getting outside of Dublin is key to a perfect vacation in Ireland, spending time in the coastal towns in South Dublin is a liberating experience and well worth the train fare.
Dun Laoghaire, pronounced ‘Dun Leery,’ is one of these places. Nestled beside the Irish Sea, this town would be popular among locals for both lazy days strolling the streets and exciting evenings with fine dining and entertainment. With regular buses and trains going back to the city, it offers a great break for visitors staying centrally and wanting a day at the coast.
The harbours here allow long walks out to sea, with the east pier hovering out to Dublin Bay for around 2km before you reach the tip. It’s a peaceful place to be, as you walk across the flat concrete that's flanked with waves that crash either side. The bandstand, around halfway into the route, would often be manned by buskers and musicians playing a backdrop to your day as you stare out to the ocean. The harbour can’t be fully enjoyed without a ’99 ice cream from Teddy’s, a household name in these parts serving vanilla cones since the 1950s. You’d be doing a fair bit of walking, so don’t hold back on the raspberry sauce.
If the sight of the sea isn’t enough, then a short walk along the beach will bring you to ‘Forty Foot,’ a swimming site where locals have been jumping in for over 250 years. At sunset, stepping down the ladders while watching the sun sink will give you life you didn’t know you needed. If you’re lucky enough to be here in December, you’ll see dozens of Father Christmas’s and 'Snowmen' jump into the freezing waters on Christmas Day as part of a local tradition that brings the community together.
Heading inland after your walk, it's time to take care of yourself within the soul-healing retreat of the Royal Marine Hotel. The 4-star venue would present itself as the go-to place to rest for the night in Dun Laoghaire, but it’s beneath the rooms where time is best spent here. The architecture and design of Sansana Spa, lined with marble and mosaics, is luxurious and impressive. The retreat offers an array of treatments, with all of them getting you access to the pool area of the hotel, which is no ordinary area. A jacuzzi, steam room and sauna circle a beautiful 18-meter island-shaped pool. The ceiling boasts an electric blue skyline that reflects in the water, with the high ceilings and pillars reminiscent of ancient Greece. Not just a regular pool, believe me.
Once toweled off, especially if it’s a Sunday, the grounds of Peoples Park is where the town comes alive. The park is flush with greenery and flowers that run between two Victorian fountains and a classic bandstand. The Sunday farmers market attracts hundreds of visitors to taste delicacies from around the world, all served by local businesses. Aside from global cuisine, the market also has pop-up bookstores and boutique clothes stalls that all operate within a zero-plastic policy — a great place for a unique purchase.
Once shopped out, the town would be well revered for its' restaurant scene. Weather permitting, the Italian restaurant Oliveto, is a great place to end the day. Once pasta and wine is taken with glee, the outside terrace garden has beach chairs and a decking area to put your feet up and face out to the water having fully embraced Dun Laoghaire for the coastal heaven it is.
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