Monday, January 12, 2015

A day at the coast: Howth

Overall I'm quite satisfied with my short stay in Dublin but if there's one thing I regret about having left so unexpectedly early is not having seen more of Ireland. I know six months is not that much time but looking back I always have the feeling that I could have done and seen more. Anyway, that's life and I wasn't feeling my best during the last three months I spent in Dublin, so I often preferred to take a quiet stroll around good ol' Dublin or simply to stay at home. But even then, I still ventured outside Dublin for a couple of weekends and still have a couple of stories to tell you.

Howth Ireland

One sunny Sunday morning back in September I decided to explore the north coast of Dublin a bit. Howth is probably one of the most popular coastal towns in County Dublin. Located on the peninsula of the same name, the town goes upwards steep streets that culminate in Howth Summit, a hill with superb views over the ocean and the Irish coast. Beneath, by the harbour, the pier promenade is mostly taken by tourists during the summer weekends and fish eateries and fishmonger's abound, offering the best fish in the city, according to some locals.

I took a bus on the city centre and though it wasn't too late, the bus was already crammed with tourists looking forward to a summery day by the sea. The ride was rather long but the last part was specially rewarding as the bus drove along the sea and the sand stretches of North Bull Island. Even from the distance it was easy to distinguish many birds that were on the island. The bus got to Howth and made it through the busy Harbour Road and then continued up to Howth Summit. I stepped off the bus and made my way to the summit.

Howth Ireland

Howth Ireland

Howth Ireland

Howth Ireland

Howth Summit is crisscrossed by many walking paths and on a beautiful day like that it is full of families stretching their legs while enjoying the sunshine and the views and adventurous people taking the most risky ways along the coastline (not for the faint-hearted!). I walked a bit up and then down and got as close to the edgy paths as I dared. Mind you, I was wearing ballet flats and not proper walking shoes so needless to say I didn't get far but enough to breathe in the sea breeze and take a closer look at the stunning Irish coast with the lonely Baily Lighthouse owning the sea.

I retreated my steps and walked down the hill until I got back to the village. I passed by some picturesque streets lined with traditional pubs and shops and eventually got to the crowded Harbour Road. Many people were already queueing for a fish and chips and even more people were roaming at the local Farmer's Market. Tucked in an inner yard, the Farmer's Market is rather unassuming, despite the signals advertising it. On a busy day like that, it was difficult to find the way in those narrow alleys. The market has a lovely variety of produce and also some craft goods and some of the eateries looked really appetising. But I had only one thing on my mind. Fish and chips.

Howth Summit

Howth Baily Lighthouse

Howth Ireland

Howth Lighthouse

The rest of the day was rather quite, just walking along the piers and enjoying the sunshine sitting on the grass. If you wonder why so many people boast about this little coastal town north of Dublin, here are three great reasons to take the bus or the DART and head to Howth if you have some spare time and nice-looking weather.

The views from Howth summit. As I wrote before, the views from the top of this hill on a clear day are simply stunning. Howth Summit is a gorgeous scape to the nature only 16 Km away from Dublin and it offers many hiking and biking possibilities.

Howth Baily Lighthouse

Eye of Ireland

The best fish and chips in Dublin. Beshoff Bros has several brands in Dublin but everyone agrees that the finest fish and chips is that served in Howth. I had a generous portion of hake with chips and it was indeed delicious.

Beshoff Bros Dublin
This photo was actually taken at the Beshoff Bros in O'Connell St but it was just as delicious as the one in Howth

The sea lions that hang around the harbour. During the warm summer months a colony of sea lions make the pier of Howth their home and entertain children and adults alike when they show off among the small boats and yachts.

Howth sea lions

Howth sea lions

How to get there:

Take buses 31 or 31A from Lower Abbey St or take the DART to Howth Station.

Where to eat:

Beshoff Bros - 12 Harbour Road, Howth

Aqua Restaurant - 1 West Pier, Howth  
(I ate here once during my first visit to Dublin a year ago and I can only recommend it. Dishes were very tasty and prices quite affordable. I had an open crab sandwich with a carrot soup all for €9.95 and even treated myself to a dessert and went for an Eton Mess. Delicious!)

Have a lovely week!

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