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    Ireland’s Best Beaches

    Author: Sheilagh Larkin, Marketing & PR Assistant
    More by Sheilagh

    From Wild Waves to Tranquil Bays

    Join us as we journey across Ireland, uncovering the best beaches across 3,171 km/1,970 miles of coastline.

    As Ireland is an island, there is an abundance of seaside spots to choose from scattered throughout the country. Whether you seek a tranquil escape, thrilling water sports, or simply a place to bask in the sun, our curated list of the best beaches in Ireland will guide you to discover the most captivating coastal destinations Ireland has to offer.

    After a long day exploring the striking landscape around you, there’s no better way to relax than to dip in the sea and lie on the white sands. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to watch the sunset or a serene place for a stroll, Ireland’s shorelines deliver on all fronts.

    Remember always to exercise caution when swimming in the ocean. Although the beaches on this list are safe to swim in, some may not have lifeguards on duty during the off-season or at all.

    We have covered different beaches all over the Irish coastline, so wherever you are, you’ll find a hidden gem.

    Take me straight to:

    Silver Strand Beach - Donegal

    Coastal view of Slieve League Cliffs

    Donegal has over 100 beaches spread out over ​​1,235 km/ 767 miles of coastline, making it home to a plethora of gorgeous beaches. However, one of our favourites is Silver Strand Beach, situated on the Slieve League Peninsula. It’s located on the edge of the Slieve League cliffs, creating an impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean. You will step from the cliffs down to the beach via 174 steps. As you’re trodding down these stairs, the cliffs and the ocean scene improve with every stride. As you reach the sand and amble along the beach, the towering cliffs that encase the bay will embrace you. It is this unique coastal landscape that adds to the allure of Silver Strand, making it a popular destination not only for beachgoers but also for scuba divers who are drawn to its clear waters.

    Beyond its breathtaking scenery, Silver Strand Beach also serves as a gateway to tour the surrounding wonders of Donegal. It’s near the village of Glencolmcille, a small Irish-speaking village on the peninsula. Many walks in Glencolmcille allow you to immerse yourself in the village’s stunning scenery. If you’re a history lover, you can visit a folk village to get an authentic view of how Irish people lived in the past. Glencolmcille Folk Village is a collection of thatched cottages that represent life in Ireland during the 18th – 20th century in Ireland. 

    The region offers countless attractions, from dramatic cliffs and rugged landscapes to pleasant seaside villages and ancient ruins. 

     

    Dog’s Bay - Connemara

    two people walking on one of Ireland's best beaches, Dogs Bay in Connemara, Co. Galway

    The Connemara region on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Galway is renowned for its striking beauty, hiking trails, and scenic coastline. Connemara has many options if you’re looking for a refreshing swim. One of our preferred choices is Dog’s Bay, near the village of Roundstone and close to Clifden. 

    Dogs Bay is a horseshoe-shaped beach that boasts pristine white sands that stretch for miles, offering ample space for leisurely walks, play, and relaxation. Stepping foot on the beach feels like you’ve stumbled into another world. As the name suggests, it’s an enclosed bay which means it’s relatively sheltered from currents, so it is a great spot to cool off after a day spent in the nearby Connemara National Park. 

    Fanore - Clare

    Tucked away on the mesmerising coastline of Co. Clare, Fanore Beach offers a captivating blend of rugged charm and tranquillity. A hidden gem that only a few visitors know of. Fanore Beach is at the edge of the Burren, an impressive karst moon-like landscape home to unusual flora and geological formations. According to experts, over 75% of plant species in Ireland are found in the Burren, including 23 of Ireland’s 27 orchids.

    Whether you seek a peaceful retreat, coastal hikes, or simply a chance to brace the cold water of the Atlantic, a visit to Fanore Beach promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you wanting more.

     

    Image of an empty Fanore Beach in Co. Clare with dunes, sand and sea visible

    Rossbeigh Beach, Iveragh Peninsula - Kerry

    Sunset at Rossbeigh Beach, Co. Kerry

    If you’re looking to get off the beaten track, just a short 45-minute drive from Killarney, Co. Kerry, is Rossbeigh Beach. Although you’re spoiled for beach choices in Kerry, Rossbeigh Beach is a hidden treasure. The golden sanded beach stretches for about 7 kilometres. Swimming at the enclosed Rossbeigh Beach feels like being in your own world with glorious views of the Dingle mountains and the Ring of Kerry.

    Rossbeigh Beach is also a fantastic spot for activities and water sports like surfing, kayaking and even horse trekking. It has ample parking and is close to the small village of Glenbeigh if you need a cup of coffee after your sunrise dip.

    Barleycove Beach - West Cork

    Located just a short distance from the iconic Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point is Barleycove Beach—a large beach backed by dunes that are a European Special Area of Conservation. For flora lovers, the dunes are home to communities of plants that thrive in salty environments near coastlines, such as wild thyme, sea rocket, and sea holly, to name a few.

    The beach’s remote location adds to its charm, allowing visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the serenity of the coastal landscape. After a day of wandering, the restaurant above the beach is an excellent refuelling spot.

    Aerial photo of Barleycove Beach in Co. Cork

    Kilmurvey Beach, Inis Mor - Aran Islands

    Group of people walking on Inis Mor, Aran Islands.

    The Aran Islands off the coast of Co. Galway are a strong Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region and also have some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland, such as the Dun Aengus Fort (Dún Aonghasa), which are believed to be thousands of years old. However, what’s distinctive about Inis Mor is its coastline, such as Kilmurvey Beach. On a sunny day, it can feel like paradise with its white sand and clear sea. Whether you want to unwind and sunbathe or dip in the refreshing water, Kilmurvey Beach is the spot to do it.

    Inis Mor is the island to visit if you’re looking for a truly authentic Irish experience. Arguably the most well-known and largest island groupings surrounding Ireland, the Aran Islands give you a real piece of old Ireland, from the traditional Irish music sessions in pubs to spoken language. Enjoy a cycle around the island to soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful place. 

    Whether you’re visiting the fascinating ruins, enjoying a leisurely beach walk, or simply soaking up the peaceful atmosphere, a visit to Kilmurvey Beach promises a genuinely enchanting experience that combines natural splendour and cultural intrigue in a way that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

    Greystones Beach - Wicklow

    View of Co. Wicklow coastline & Wicklow Mountains in the distance

    Greystones is probably one of the most well-known places on our list so far, as it’s a trendy seaside town that has become a haven for people living in Dublin city due to it being easily accessible from the city centre by public transport and is home to several beautiful coastal hikes, delicious cafes and restaurants, a golf club, beaches, and a modern marina. 

    After a long trek through the Wicklow mountains, exploring all there is to see of the Wicklow Way, there’s no better way to unwind than a dip in the ocean at Greystones Beach. With its expansive sandy shore, picturesque promenade, and stunning views of the Irish Sea, Greystones Beach provides an idyllic setting for a day of relaxation and enjoyment. 

    Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula - Kerry

    The Kerry coastline boasts a length of 684 km/ 425 miles, so it’s no wonder a couple of beaches from this county made it onto our list. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, Inch Beach is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Situated just a 30-minute drive from Dingle, Inch Beach has 3 miles of uninterrupted sandy beach. It has scored itself a solid reputation as a surfing hotspot and a pleasant place for swimming. Nearly stretching to the Iveragh Peninsula, Inch Beach offers excellent views of Dingle and the Ring of Kerry.

    If you’re a cinephile, the films Ryan’s Daughter and Playboy of the Western World had scenes shot at Inch Beach. 

     

    People playing in the sparkling Inch Beach sea.

    Ballycastle Beach - Causeway Coast

    View from Rathlin Island of the Causeway Coast cliffs & boat sailing on the ocean

    Nestled along the majestic Causeway Coast is Ballycastle Beach. The beach is about 1.2 kilometres long and runs from the pier at Ballycastle Marina down to Pans Rock – a stunning beach that’s great for swimming and surfing and close to Rathlin Island, a haven for bird watchers. Part of Rathlin is an acknowledged RSPB bird sanctuary that protects many seabird species. The observation decks allow keen bird watchers to watch the puffins, guillemots and razorbills as they dive around the waves. 

    Ballycastle Beach is in the town of Ballycastle. It’s a charming town boasting a vibrant promenade lined with shops, cafes, and seafood restaurants, where you can indulge in local delicacies and soak up the lively atmosphere. Ballycastle is also a popular starting point for taking in the mesmerising sights of the Causeway Coast, including the famous Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the enchanting Dark Hedges.

    Dumhach Beach - Inishbofin

    Group walking on Inishbofin Island with a coastal view

    Off the coast of Galway lies the island of Inishbofin. Inishbofin is known for its tranquillity, making it a perfect way to escape the crowds. Although a small island, Inishbofin is great for adventurers, history lovers and those looking for a relaxing getaway. Cromwell’s Barracks and the Inishbofin Heritage Museum are worth visiting for history enthusiasts. For the adventurers, Inishbofin is mostly flat terrain, making it a great place to explore on foot or by bike.

    What’s better after a pleasant stroll or cycle than cooling off with a dip on a pristine beach like Dumhach? Stretching across a rugged coastline, Dumhach Beach is a magical place for a paddle. As you swim, bask in the scenes of the wild landscape. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful getaway, an opportunity to connect with nature, or simply a place to unwind and soak up the scenic beauty, a visit to Dumhach Beach on Inishbofin Island promises an unforgettable and rejuvenating experience.

    Meet the Author: Sheilagh Larkin

    Growing up in a beautiful corner of Ireland meant my younger years were spent along stunning beaches, karst landscapes, and craggy hills. This deepened my appreciation of the outdoors and being in nature in any capacity.

    View profile More by Sheilagh

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