Visit Dublin’s seaside fishing village of Howth for some Irish charm

Visit Dublin’s seaside fishing village of Howth for some Irish charm

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Considered a suburb of Dublin and located on the Howth Head peninsula, the seaside village of Howth is a perfect day trip destination for those wanting to explore more of Ireland’s treasures. Situated on the northern part of Dublin Bay, this fishing village makes you feel as if you’re living right on the sea, with a main street looking out onto the harbor occupied by oodles of fishing boats, cawing seagulls and the smell of fresh fish.

Howth’s landscape is picturesque with lots of hills and craggy coastline covered in wildflowers and shrubbery, making it perfect for hiking and catching beautiful views of the sea with mountains and other islands in the distance. Located only 16 kilometers from Dublin’s city center, you can get to Howth easily via train, bus or even car.

In prehistoric times Howth was actually its own island, but it became a peninsula when a 300-meter strip of land connected it to the mainland. As a key trading port, the town’s history includes Norse Viking invasions documented in the 8th century, beginning a centuries-long conflict over control of the area. The Normans also made their mark, arriving in Howth in 1177, which introduced English control for the next several centuries. Up until the 17th century, Howth was the primary and most important port for Dublin, serving as both a hub for fishing and an entry and exit point for shipping.

Howth pier. | Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas.

For modern day travelers, start your day in Howth with a filling Irish breakfast of crusty, nutty brown bread with golden scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, blood sausage and coffee or tea. Personally, I have a strict tea-drinking policy whenever I am in Ireland, they just make it better! Then take a jaunt along the pier, where you will smell all the fresh seafood for sale. You can continue to walk around the harbor, down the pier and to the lighthouse. Depending on the time of year, it can be windy and chilly, so bundle up!

Seafood and fish and chips are the name of the game here, and it is not difficult to find a cozy restaurant or pub that looks out on the sea, ready to welcome you in.

If you wander through town and down the main street, you may find yourself on the Howth Cliff Path Loop, a 6-kilometer loop around the edge of the peninsula with gorgeous views of the sea. Without any railings or fencing to obstruct the view, the experience is both a little precarious and thrilling! You can either continue your hike all the way to Baily Lighthouse or take my recommendation and detour from the trail to the first neighborhood pub for a pint of Guinness or Bulmer’s Cider.

For a few other ideas to take in all of Howth’s charm:

Take a boat trip to Ireland’s Eye for another perspective on Howth as well as to get more acquainted with the local birds and seaside dwellers. If museums are more your cup of tea, Howth has its own National Transport Museum and the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio.

Howth Castle sits only a 10-minute walk from the train station and is a great spot for views while taking in some of Howth’s history. St. Mary’s Abbey is also open to wander the abbey grounds although the abbey itself is no longer open. Depending on when you visit, you might even be able to catch the Howth Market to pick up some local produce, meat, fish, preserves and other goodies.

A visit to Howth is one of the easiest and most relaxing day trips you can take while visiting Ireland’s capital city. It is a nice escape from the bustle of big-city Dublin and envelops you in the gorgeous coastal landscapes and warm Irish hospitality.

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