When the sun comes out during the summer months, Dubliners head to the beach. Being a coastal city, Dublin has miles of beaches to enjoy on sunny days. However, not all of them are the sandy type, and instead present a sweep of stones or pebbles. While perfect for a bracing walk along the sea on a windy day, these stoney beaches are not quite as welcoming to sun-starved visitors looking to lie down and relax during a warm spell of weather.
Thankfully, Dublin has several excellent sandy beaches that would fit right in on the Mediterranean coastline.
In this post we share the best sandy beaches in Dublin.
Map of Locations
The following map shows the location of every sandy beach highlighted in this post:
Velvet Strand, Portmarnock
You can tell from the name alone that the Velvet Strand at Portmarnock in North Dublin is packing a serious stretch of golden sand. The 5 kilometre long beach is one of the most popular destinations on those occasions that Dublin is blessed with a sunny day during the summer months. Backed by dunes, the beach is both wide enough and long enough to accommodate all visitors during peak periods. The views of the Howth peninsula, Lambay Island, and Ireland’s Eye are not half bad either.
While the sandy beach is a perfect spot for a long stroll at any time of year, it really comes into its own during the summer, when there are lifeguards on duty and ice cream vans on hand to cool you down after some sunbathing. There are also toilets nearby that are open year-round.
For the classic sandy beach experience by the sea on a hot day, look no further than the Velvet Strand at Portmarnock.
Tower Bay Beach, Portrane
Tucked away to the south of the more well-known Portrane Beach is Tower Bay Beach, a short stretch of golden sand guarded by the imposing Martello tower of Portrane. This hidden gem is the perfect spot for sunbathing on a hot day, as it’s sheltered from the wind by cliffs on all sides, and the water is clear and inviting for a refreshing dip to cool off.
The views from the beach stretch to nearby Lambay Island and beyond to the Howth peninsula. The cove is also an excellent spot to do some bird-watching, as the area north of the beach is home to colonies of migrating birds in winter, including Brent geese.
Burrow Beach, Sutton
Burrow Beach is located on the north side of Sutton, the quiet North Dublin neighbourhood located on the thin sliver of land connecting the Howth peninsula to the mainland. This 1 kilometre stretch of sand is relatively hidden away, set back from the nearest main road and only accessible by a narrow lane.
The beach is an amazing spot for sunbathing, with the wide sweep of sand sheltered from the worst of the wind by the surrounding terrain. The views are spectacular, with Ireland’s Eye sitting in the sea nearby and Lambay Island in the distance.
Whiterock Beach, Killiney
While Killiney Strand is famously a stoney pebble beach, and probably more suited to long beach walks or sea swimming than sunbathing, there is a beach in Killiney for those looking to get their fix of sand between their toes. Located to the north of Killiney Strand is Whiterock Beach, a small sandy beach at the foot of a cliff.
The spot is popular with Dublin surfers looking to catch a few waves when conditions are right. For sunbathers, there are few better spots to soak up some rays, with beautiful views of nearby Dalkey Island, stunning cliff scenery, and the peace and quiet that comes with getting away from the beaten path. Although it can be tricky to negotiate the stone steps that lead down to the beach, it’s more than worth the effort.
South Beach, Skerries
The seaside village of Skerries in North Dublin is home to not one, but two sandy beaches, christened North Beach and South Beach. While it’s close, our pick of the two is the South Beach, thanks in part to the presence of lifeguards during the summer months to keep an eye on the swimmers that flock to the beach whenever the weather is fine.
As the beach backs directly onto Skerries village, there’s no shortage of amenities, including public toilets.
Just south of Tower Bay Beach is the much longer and accessible Donabate Beach (also called Balcarrick Beach). While not quite as picturesque as its smaller cousin at Tower Bay, the 3 kilometre long beach is perfect for those looking for the classic beach experience, with room to spread out and sprawl.
As the beach is exposed to the elements, it is most suitable for sunbathing on days when the wind is at a minimum.
Dollymount Strand, Clontarf
Being the closest beach to the city centre, Dollymount Strand in the North Dublin neighbourhood of Clontarf is a venerable Dublin institution. The beach stretches along the coast of North Bull Island, the man-made island that juts into Dublin Bay as a result of silt build-up over hundreds of years. Beloved of walkers during the colder months, the beach really comes into its own whenever sunny days strike and the city descends en masse to soak up the sun.
The strand is also popular with kite-surfers who take advantage of the often stiff breezes that ruffle the beach, as well as paddle boarders who surf the waves from the regular ferries that travel between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales.