Hiking Howth

Northeast of Dublin, no more than thirty minutes on the DART, local train service, is the coastal village of Howth. The village isn’t one of those well-kept secrets we all hope to stumble upon in our travels; it was pretty crowded with tourists on the Saturday that I went. Still, if you want to get out of the city for a day, Howth is worth a visit. It’s an inexpensive one-day adventure with some fun shops and sights, and works well as a trip you can plan at the very last minute. All you need is to hop on a train.

Across the street from the train station in Howth is a small marketplace where vendors sell an assortment of food, art, jewelry, clothing, etc. For €6 I split a container of fried calamari with a friend while we wandered from tent to tent. It was delicious and piping hot- perfect for taking the edge off the cold. The fish and chips or seafood chowder are also great options if you can’t stomach squid.

Fried calamari and sauce from Howth Market. Photo by Alex Schlater.
Fried calamari and sauce from Howth Market. Photo by Alex Schlater.

Continuing down the road from the market, we found the harbor and the pier. Thanks to the sunshine I had some gorgeous photo opportunities of the harbor, the lighthouse, and “Ireland’s Eye”- the small island visible offshore. Howth definitely has that European coastal charm that makes you desperate to get on a plane any time you come across a photo online. There are brightly colored buildings winding their way up the hillside. There was a lot more walking around I could have done along the waterfront, but the group I was with was anxious to get a hike in before the sun went down (we had a late start and didn’t get on the DART until 1pm), so off we went.

Howth Harbor
Howth Harbor
Lighthouse at the end of the pier
Lighthouse at the end of the pier
“Ireland’s Eye,” visible from the end of the pier

To reach the hiking trails along the cliffs we had to climb a bit along a residential street. Once there, though, the trails held more of the views that Ireland is known for: dirt paths through rugged, green grass on a cliff side overlooking the sea. We wound our way single-file along the cliff’s edge, green hills spotted with yellow flowers to one side, and the murky blue-green ocean on the other. The views were breathtaking, though the trails were rather overrun with tourists.


In about an hour we wound our way around the peninsula of Howth Head to look out at Baily Lighthouse—which can be admired from a distance, but is on private property. Unfortunately, the wind had picked up and we didn’t have much daylight left to hang around and explore, so we had to cut back along the streets at the summit and walk back down to the harbor through some residential streets. We passed a gorgeous church- the Church of the Assumption—the top of which I had been able to make out earlier in our hike.

Church of the Assumption, Howth
Church of the Assumption, Howth

We arrived back down at the waterfront just as it was getting dark. Looking at a map, it seems as though we covered a lot of ground. There was so much to take in, though, that I hardly noticed the distance until we were on the street headed back toward the rail station. The cold was getting to me since the sun had gone, and my legs and feet were aching and tired. I was exhausted, but in a sort of triumphant way knowing I had made the most of the day. The best choice we made was to treat ourselves to a hot chocolate from Compulsion Café just before getting back on the DART to head home.

Kiera Magnetti
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Communications major
Class of 2016

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