Hidden in Dublin’s suburbs, the charming little coastal town of Howth is mostly ignored by the tourists. A village atmosphere, a little fishing harbour, fish & chips à volonté, majestic cliffs, nice pubs and restaurants, a creepy graveyard, seals greeting passerby’s… All of this and more is waiting for you in Howth. And personally, that’s all I’m asking for of a few days-escape in Ireland.
I had found the perfect gift for Karl’s birthday: a photography tour of Dublin with Pete from Hecktic Travels and Brendan Van Son (am I not the best girlfriend ever???) and this gave me the perfect opportunity to arrange a perfect gift for me: spend a few days in one of my favorite countries in the world. Two birds, one stone. 😉
But for once, I wouldn’t take the road and explore the island. I wanted to find a « home base », a place in Dublin I could make my home for a few days and from where I would venture at will while Karl would try to capture the essence of the city with lenses and filters. I longed for a quiet stay, but not without some craic*. I had already visited Dublin twice but I wanted to stroll its streets again and explore the places I had missed. I also longed for fresh air. I found the ideal home stay on Airbnb: a small cottage owned by Winnie, one of the best hosts I’ve ever had (if you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, read my article to learn how it works)!
Postcard Ireland 15 km from Dublin
Howth is situated 15 km away from Dublin city center and is easily reachable by DART (or Dublin Area Rapid Transit), a train linking Dublin to its suburbs.
Stepping out of the train, you find yourselves by the sea, in a small harbor. In the morning, fishermen clean their nets, under the eye of greedy seals. Further away, a small park along the marina is crowded with families on sunny days. A beautiful lighthouse stands at the end of the peer. Looking at the horizon, you can spot a small island, Ireland’s Eye, a natural reserve you can visit (if the sea allows it!). If you walk further away, you reach a coastal path along the cliffs which makes a great stroll.
Along the main streets, you find plenty of restaurants, fish & chips and pubs. Then the road winds up-hill to a church and colored cottages.
In Howth, you breathe and enjoy the atmosphere and landscape. It looked to me like people were always smiling – the butcher waved at us the first time we passed its shop window. For me, it’s Ireland’s atmosphere at its best. And still, for a lot of people, Dublin isn’t really Ireland.
During the week I spent in Howth, I took the DART a few times with the commuters to spend a couple of hours in Dublin.
The rest of the time I walked around, wrote for my blog and… booked an excursion in the beautiful natural reserve of Wicklow Mountains, another place I had no idea existed and I really need to properly explore one day.
Writing this article, I realize Ireland is always the place I longed for when I need time for myself and I’m trying to find peace. To this day, I know no better medicine.
On the road back to the airport, our taxi driver asked us a couple of questions about our trip. « Which parts of Ireland have you visited? ». « Only Dublin », we answered. « What a shame! » he exclaimed. I didn’t agree but I kept silent and smiled instead.
Howth is situated 16 km away from Dublin Airport. The simplest way to get to Howth from the airport is to take a cab (this should cost you around 25 €) or find yourselves an amazing Airbnb host who comes fetching you at the airport, even if your plane is late!
From Dublin, you can take the DART from Connolly, Tara or Pearse stations. It takes around 20 minutes. There are trains all day long every 15 minutes. Good to know: there are no DARTS late in the evening (the last DART for Howth departs around 10 pm from Dublin I think). So if you’re planning to party in the city, you’ll have to take the bus (31 or 31B near O’Connell Street) or a cab.
In terms of food, we particularly enjoyed those places:
- The Dog House Blues Tea Room: next to the station, with a great decoration and a nice atmosphere. Try their pizzas and spicy chicken quesadilla. You won’t regret it!
- The Bloody Stream: the kind of irish pub I love with an open fire (just under the station) 🙂
- Beshoffs Bros: perfect for a fish and chips on the peer
- On the weekend, don’t miss the Howth Market where you’ll find local and organic products as well as delicious cupcakes!