If you are planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, there are dozens of travel sites that will point you to the best tourist destinations. From the Cliffs of Moher to Giant’s Causeway, there is plenty to do.
But there is one Irish spot still relatively undiscovered by the tourist masses — and I’m going to let you in on the secret!
Since Proud America Traveler isn’t your typical travel website, I’m not going to wax poetic about all the already well-known tourist destinations in Ireland.
The truth is, it’s simple to find the most popular spots and they’re usually easy to get to. Which means that, although beautiful or fun in their own right, they will be overcrowded and that’s bound to take away some of the ambiance.
When traveling, I prefer finding the places less traveled, less commercialized by the tourist industry, and not overly expensive.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to Ireland to discover the small coastal village of Howth.
If you need a break from the loud and busy streets of Dublin, Howth is just a 25-minute train ride from Connolly Station, and only costs €6.25 for a return ticket.
After spending several days in Dublin, I can tell you that the fresh air and picturesque scenery of Howth was a refreshing change of pace.
Smell the Fresh Air
My wife and I had wanted to enjoy more of the Irish countryside during our trip, but were limited due to a sick toddler (a situation that deserves an article on its own), so having such a wonderful destination so close to Dublin breathed new life into our adventure.
The village of Howth is considered to be an outer suburb of Dublin, meaning there are a ton of people from Howth who commute to Dublin for work.
There are several departure times per hour to get to Howth from Connolly Station, providing maximum flexibility for a tourist unsure of when he wants to arrive or leave.
There is nothing worse than finding a fun place to visit, but learning there is only one train that leaves at the crack of dawn and if you miss it, you’re out of luck.
Or, on the opposite end, having only one train to get you back to your hotel and realizing it left the station 15 minutes ago.
If you arrive around lunch or dinner, there are plenty of good restaurants to choose from, especially if you enjoy seafood. Howth is home to a busy commercial fishing port, meaning there is plenty of fresh seafood at the local restaurants.
We grabbed lunch at Crabby Jo’s, which is right next to the harbor. After ordering a pint of Guinness, I perused the menu that was flush with delicious seafood options.
Guinness is just better in Ireland
This is a bit of a side note, but one that must be addressed. Guinness absolutely tastes better in Ireland. I normally don’t order it in the States, especially not with several better craft beer options available.
But in Ireland, I found myself not only enjoying it, but even preferring it over other beers. If they ever figure out how to keep the flavor when shipping it to the States, perhaps I’ll have a new go-to beer. Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy it in Ireland.
For lunch, I decided on Crabby Jo’s Jumbo Crab Cake, made with Kilmore Quay Crab and chunks of fresh White Fish. This was by far the best crab cake I’ve ever had.
We timed our lunch perfectly as a heavy downpour passed through while we were eating, but once the rain let up we headed back out to explore.
Yes, it rains a lot in Ireland
Oh, in case you didn’t know, it rains Ireland. A lot. So come prepared for the very real possibility that you will get rained on at some point.
As one local told us, that’s why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle—all that rain keeps the countryside green. So don’t be one of those tourists whining about all the rain. Get a raincoat and an umbrella and enjoy it.
Like I said earlier, the scenery around Howth is beautiful and there are several different hiking trails to explore. Or simply stroll around the downtown area, the harbor, and the ruins of the old Abbey. It’s all beautiful.
And should you feel like getting out on the water, there are several companies that will take you on a boat tour around Howth Head and Ireland’s Eye, an island just off the coast from Howth.
And although we didn’t see any during our time in Howth, there are seals in the area that will swim up to the harbor. News stories from 2017 report of one particular seal that would wave at visitors who gave him fish. How delightful is that?
In summary, Howth is a charming town just a quick jaunt from the city center of Dublin and a great way to get a taste of the Irish coast.