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Bray, Ireland is a hip little beach town offering fun in the sun! Full of character and scenic landscapes, the seaside resort town sits just 12 miles (20km) south of Dublin – making it a fantastic day trip destination for both visitors and locals. A perfect getaway from Dublin City Centre – especially on sunny days – we are highlighting the best things to do in Bray, Ireland.
Bray, Ireland FAQs
Before we jump into our list of what to see in Bray, Ireland on a day trip from Dublin, we want to cover a few of the most frequently asked questions.
Where is Bray in Ireland?
The first question that needs to be answered is Where is Bray, Ireland? The town is south of Dublin on the eastern coastline in County Wicklow. You can see the exact location on the map of Bray, Co Wicklow that we include at the end of the post.
What is the History of Bray?
Bray history extends back to the 1800s. The waterfront resort town was developed as a city escape for Dubliners. A crucial moment in Bray, Ireland history is when the Dublin-and-Kingstown Railway opened in 1854, conveniently connecting Dublin to Bray.
However, in the 1900s, when international travel was on the rise, the appeal of visiting Bray for a long seaside vacation waned. Day trips to Bray from Dublin became more popular – as they are still today.
Why Visit Bray, Ireland?
First, Bray is incredibly easy to get to and we will cover the options next. Second, the beach in Bray is one of the best on the east coast of Ireland. Third, the Bray Coastal Walk and Bray Head Hike are incredible!
Are There Good Restaurants in Bray, Ireland?
Absolutely! Bray has a solid restaurant scene with a range of eateries featuring local fare and international eats. Plus, the pubs in Bray are a great time, with a mix of locals and tourists.
We share our top picks for the best Bray restaurants in our list of What To Do in Bray, Ireland below.
Is One Day in Bray Enough?
Travelers visiting Bray often wonder if a day trip from Dublin is long enough to experience the town. We certainly contemplated if a day was long enough…and ended up staying in Bray for 2 nights.
While we extended our stay, the best Bray activities – which are outdoors along the coastline – can certainly be seen in one day.
That said, Bray is an ideal place to be based for further regional discovery. Visitors who want to stay longer have a choice of hotels in Bray (and we highlight the top picks for you at the end the article).
Planning a Day Trip to Bray from Dublin, Ireland
To help fellow travelers plan a Dublin day trip to Bray, we are covering the need-to-know details – like how to get there, what to do and what to bring. We cover everything so that you can plan your perfect trip to Bray!
Pro Tip: Visitors can also use our guide for How To Spend 3 Days in Dublin!
How To Get to Bray, County Wicklow on a Day Trip from Dublin
When it comes to how to get from Dublin to Bray, Ireland, visitors have a few options to choose from. We are detailing the Bray, Ireland to Dublin routes via Train, Bus and Car.
Train from Dublin to Bray, Ireland
We think the best way to visit Bray, Ireland is by DART train. The Dublin – Bray DART train departs every 10 to 20 minutes depending on time of day (check the Bray DART timetable).
The ride takes about 45 minutes from Dublin City Center. The DART train costs less than 5 euros one-way; tickets can be purchased for single rides or return trip (for a nominal savings) from ticket machines at most stations. An affordable day pass is also available for travelers interested in making additional stops along the Dublin to Bray route.
Travelers with a LEAP card (either the top-up LEAP card or unlimited Visitor LEAP card) can use it to ride the DART train to Bray. The fares are reduced when using either type of LEAP card.
Where is the Bray Train Station?
The Bray Railway Station is conveniently located right in the heart of town, just one block from the beach. (The station is noted on our Bray Map.)
Bray – Dublin Bus
The bus is another way to get from Bray to Dublin and vice versa. Both the 145 and 155 Dublin Buses transport passengers from Dublin City Centre to Bray Station.
The bus ride takes about an hour (sometimes longer in traffic). Tickets for the bus cost less than 5 euros a ride. Single ticket rides can be purchased from the driver with exact change. The LEAP card can also be used to pay for the bus fare (and it’s a better value than buying a single ticket).
Where is the Bray Bus Station?
The main Bray bus stop is located in front of the train station, just a short walk from the waterfront Sea Life Bray Aquarium. (The location is also marked on our Bray, Ireland Map.) There are additional bus stops along The Strand that may be more convenient for your trip.
Car to Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
It is, of course, also possible to drive to Bray. The distance from Dublin to Bray Town Centre is 20km (12 miles). Realistically – depending on your starting location and route – the distance will be closer to 30km (18.5 miles) and expect the journey to take approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
Travelers without a car can get an Uber or request a taxi via the FreeNow app. The ride will cost between 30 to 40 euros.
14 Best Things To Do in Bray, Ireland
Now that you know how to get there, let’s talk about what to do in Bray once you arrive! We are featuring the top activities in Bray that are right in the town center or easily accessible for day trippers exploring on foot.
#1 Bray Head Walk
Bray Head, Ireland is the most striking feature of the seaside town. The hill sits on the south end of Bray, rising to a height of 791 feet (241m). One of the best Bray things to do is to follow a trail to the top of the hill.
Although it does take some effort to make it to the summit of Bray Hill, trekkers are rewarded with unparalleled 360-degree views of the coastline and surrounding mountains.
Several trails commence at the base of Bray Head – follow the promenade to the small parking lot and make your way up (there are multiple routes, and as far as we could tell they all lead to the peak). The intersecting trails wind up the hillside through a forest and across meadows to a white cross at the top of the hill. The roundtrip hike to the top of Bray Head takes about an hour.
#2 Bray Cliff Walk
The scenic Bray Walk along the cliff’s edge is another excellent walking route on Bray Head – and as it is relatively flat, it is less strenuous than the hike to the top of the hill. The path on the cliff, which runs parallel the train tracks below, offers phenomenal vistas out to sea.
The Bray walk along the coast begins at the same place as the hilltop hike, but it follows the shoreline south toward Greystones. In fact, there is a Bray to Greystones Trail that connects the two cities. However, due to erosion and landslides, the middle section of the walk has been deemed unsafe for walkers.
BONUS: Bray Cliff Loop Walk to Summit
Hikers who want to experience both the Bray Cliff Trail and the Bray Hill Summit can complete the Bray Loop Trail.
We recommend starting on the Bray Cliff Walk Path, traveling south toward Greystones. At the headland with the Eire 8 Stone Sign, take the trail on the right that goes up the steep hillside towards Gorse Hill Centre.
Go through the gate and enter the meadow (where farm animals graze) and continue north on the trail to the next gate and on to the Bray Head Cross. Complete the loop by taking a trail down through the forest, back to the parking lot towards the Bray Promenade.
The total distance of the Bray Head Loop Walk is about 5.5km (3.4 miles) and it should take about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace.
#3 Bray Bay Beach
Between the Bray Harbor and Bray Head is a long stretch of pebbly beach – and it’s a prime place for a dip in the sea. As a matter of fact, swimming at the beach is one of the top things to do in Bray.
The beach in Bray, Ireland extends for more than 1km (nearly a mile) and there are lifeguards on duty during summer days.
Before diving in, however, there are a few things to bear in mind. First, strong currents – especially on the north end of the beach – can be dangerous. The best place for a Bray swim is in the middle of the beach or toward the south end, which is much more protected. We also recommend looking at a Bray tide chart – as the tides can swing dramatically. And yes, the water is always chilly!
#4 Bray Promenade
Following the shoreline of Bray’s Beach is the paved Promenade. The path was developed in the 19th century and is still one of the top Bray tourist attractions today.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll on the walkway, admiring the views and savoring the sea breeze. Of course, the walk is best enjoyed with an ice cream cone in hand…and the ever-popular Gino’s Gelato is conveniently located right on the Bray path.
The grassy Seafront Park that runs parallel to the Promenade is home to a playground, the Bandstand and a few coffee shops and restaurants – and is an ideal place for an afternoon picnic.
#5 See the Swans at Bray Harbour
The Bray Harbour at the north end of the beach marks the mouth of the Dargle River. Although it is a rather small harbor, in addition to hosting a number of boats, it is also a Swan Sanctuary.
More than 60 Mute Swans shelter in the harbor – and they are a beautiful sight! The swans are used to humans, but they are still wild, so it’s best to keep a good distance and admire them from afar (and never feed them).
#6 Sea Life Aquarium Bray
One of the best places to visit in Bray, Ireland for families is the aquarium. The Bray Sea Life Aquarium abounds with marine animals and experiences. While it is not a big aquarium, it does pack a lot in with the excellent shark tank being a highlight for visitors. The starfish, stingrays and octopus are other favorites.
Friendly staff is on hand to enhance the visit. They provide information about the marine life in an enthusiastic way that helps kids (and adults!) learn more about the creatures on display.
Pro Tip: Visiting the Bray Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Bray, Co Wicklow on a rainy day!
#7 Eat and Drink: Best Bray Restaurants and Pubs
For a town its size, there are an incredible number of Bray, Ireland Restaurants! The food in Bray naturally leans toward fresh seafood, but features international and innovative fare, as well. The bars and pubs in Bray, Ireland range from classic to classy – and we were very pleased to find so many places offering local craft beer (we recommend anything brewed by Wicklow Wolf!).
We are highlighting our top picks for the Best Restaurants in Bray, Ireland. For visitors on a day trip from Dublin, these are the best places to eat…and have a refreshing beverage!
Harbour Bar Bray, Ireland
Of all the Bray, Ireland pubs, Harbour Bar ranks as supreme. The traditional Irish pub is absolutely charming (but can also be wildly exuberant, depending on the time of day and if there’s live music). The Bray Harbour Bar Pub is a great spot to go for a pint of Guinness (or craft beer), live music and craic.
The on-site Fishbar restaurant offers a limited menu of fried fish fare (we suggest the Fish Burger) as well as toasties (the O’Toole Toastie with ham, tomato and onion is on point!).
We loved this bar so much that we included it in our list of Best Pubs in Dublin, Ireland!
Platform Pizza Restaurant Bray, Ireland
Searching for the best Bray pizza? Head to Platform Pizza Bar. The modern yet rustic atmosphere is ideal for date night, dinner with friends and family dining, as well.
In addition to their range of pizzas (try the Meaty), they offer a full menu of pastas, seafood and salads. Plus, they feature a full bar menu – including handcrafted cocktails, wine, spirits and excellent Irish craft beer on draft.
Pro Tip: We were tempted to eat at Burger Box – as it gets rave reviews…but we were just in the mood for pizza. They have a full menu of pub grub (burgers, nachos and wings) – and many vegan options, too.
Coffee and Breakfast in Bray
We love the coffee shops in Bray – especially the small coffee houses on the promenade facing the sea. For a local neighborhood spot, however, grab a flat white at Glovers, which is tucked away a block from the beach.
Dockyard #8 for Breakfast
Visitors spending a weekend in Bray will not want to miss breakfast at Dockyard #8. The dog-friendly spot makes a delicious eggs benedict!
More Things To Do in Bray, Wicklow, Ireland
We have highlighted our favorite Bray, Ireland things to do – especially for visitors staying just one day. However, there are a handful of nearby attractions that travelers staying longer (or with a car) to can add to their Bray trip itinerary.
#8 Killruddery House and Gardens
The Kilruddery House Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland is a magnificent historic mansion, which is also open for tours. The estate features elegant gardens, an outstanding market, a small shop and a lovely tearoom.
#9 Festina Lente Gardens
An equestrian center offering horseback riding, the Festina Lente Gardens is a fun family destination and one of the lesser-known Bray attractions. The walled garden (a bit of a hidden gem) is gorgeous – and is free to enter!
#10 Bray Shopping
Visitors who want to go shopping in Bray, Ireland need to tear themselves from the picturesque beach and head inland to the Bray Main Street. The street is lined with the best stores and shops in Bray – from thrift shops to dress stores to shoe outlets.
#11 Bray Air Show
Part of the Summer Bray Festival, the Air Show in Bray is an annual event that draws big crowds for 2 days of entertainment. In addition to the free Bray Air Display, the city hosts a Fun Fair, Food and Craft Village and helicopter flights.
#12 Bray Jazz Festival
A May Bank Holiday annual event, the Jazz Festival in Bray invites international artists to perform on various stages around town, including the city’s Mermaid Arts Centre, the Harbour Bar and the Whale Theatre.
#13 Bray Golf
There are two golf courses in Bray for visitors who want to play a round. The Bray Golf Club has a stunning course and is known for their friendly staff, while the scenic Old Conna Golf Club offers a challenging Par 72 course.
#14 Bray Casinos
Somewhat surprising to us, there are several casinos in Bray where visitors can place their bets and play the slots. Star Leisure & Casino at the south end of The Strand has table games and slot machines – as well as family-friendly Bray amusement, like arcades and carnival rides.
Things To Do Near Bray, Ireland
Visitors staying in Bray for a weekend or longer have plenty to explore in the nearby region. We are detailing a few of the top picks for nearby adventures.
Dalkey and Killiney
Just north of Bray (and easily accessible by DART train) are two posh and pretty neighboring towns, Dalkey and Killiney. Home to celebrities (like U2’s Bono) and offering sublime vistas, the area has been nicknamed the Amalfi Coast of Ireland. Top things to do are to climb Killiney Hill, experience the historic Dalkey Castle and take in the views from Sorrento Park.
Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leary) is another wonderful coastal town that is fun to discover on foot. Top attractions are the East Harbor Pier and Lighthouse, the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Dublin Bay Cruises and the historic town center that stretches from People’s Park to York Road along George’s Street.
Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park
Outdoor adventurers can trade seaside walks for mountain lake paths by heading to the Wicklow Mountains National Park and the old monastic town of Glendalough. Within the 40-minute drive from Bray to Glendalough, visitors can quickly be immersed in the supreme beauty of some of the best Irish nature.
Bray, Ireland Map
Use this link to Google Maps for an online, interactive Map of Bray, Ireland.
Bray, Ireland Travel Tips
Now that you know what to see and do in Bray, Ireland and the surrounding area, we have a few final tips about planning your day trip.
Bray Trip Planning Tips
Planning any trip – whether it’s a day trip or a 2-week adventure – takes some thought. Paying attention to the details is key, which is why we recommend using a Travel Planner. Our printable planner comes with more than 25 fun, travel planning resources!
Bray, Ireland Weather
The weather in Bray, Ireland varies by season (or hour!). Summers are warm when the sun shines, but the average high is in the upper 60s Fahrenheit (20C). Winters can be cold, but temperatures rarely dip below freezing but rain is possible year-round.
Before planning your trip, check the weather forecast in Bray, Ireland on Weather.com.
Where To Stay in Bray, Ireland
Travelers who decide to stay in Bray longer than a day have a few options. Accommodation in Bray, Ireland ranges from grand hotels to boutique stays to holiday rentals.
Pro Tip: For advice on finding the best cheap hotels in Bray, use our Guide to Booking the Best Hotels.
Hotels in Bray, Ireland
We think that Bray, Ireland hotels are the best option for guests staying just one or two nights in the seaside town. Of the handful of places to stay in Bray, Ireland, we are highlighting a few of the top-rated options.
The Strand Bray Beach Hotel
One of the unique Bray seafront hotels, The Strand Hotel is the former home of Oscar Wilde. The historic hotel has a location that can’t be beat and the rooms have been recently renovated for modern comfort. Check rates for your stay!
The Martello Hotel Bray
One of the highly-rated seafront hotels in Bray, The Martello Bray Hotel offers rooms and self-catering apartments. Rooms book up quickly, so you will need to book in advance! Check prices and availability!
40 Winks Hotel Bray
As we booked our stay at the last minute, the only available rooms were at the chic (but affordable) 40 Winks Bray Hotel. While there were some disappointments (like lack of communication, hidden entrance and an unfortunate fire alarm that went off at 3am), we loved the modern décor, the prime location and the included breakfast (coffee and pastry) at the Glovers café. Read the Reviews!
Offering a great value for money, Firefly is a modern concept hotel located on Bray Main Street. Some of the best features are the self check in, rainfall showers, air conditioning and comfy beds. If rooms were available, we likely would have stayed here for our Bray trip! Check availability!
The Royal Hotel Bray, Ireland
Also located on Main Street in Bray, the Royal Bray Hotel offers traditional (if not dated) rooms, and it gets mixed reviews from clients.
Note: Two once-popular hotels – the grand, red-brick Hotel Esplanade Bray, Ireland and the Bray Head Hotel on the seafront – are no longer operating as hotels.
Airbnb Bray, Ireland
Tourists staying in Bray longer than a weekend may want to find a vacation rental – offering a kitchen and more space than a hotel – for accommodations. Before making a booking, read our Tips for Airbnb Guests.
What To Pack for Bray
Our final travel tips for your day trip to Bray is what to bring with you! We share all of our packing advice on our Travel Packing Page.
Comfortable Travel Shoes
Travelers planning to visit Bray in a Day will need to wear the right shoes. The best travel shoes are lightweight and versatile – and that is oh-so-important on a trip to Bray…especially if you plan on hiking to the Bray Head summit and spending time on the beach.
Bray is incredibly photogenic! We recommend upgrading to a real camera for your trip. We use a DSLR Canon Rebel with an 18-135mm lens. The Rebel is a fantastic camera for budget travelers – as it is easy to use and comes with heaps of features.
Irish Weather Gear
The weather in Bray can be fickle – even in the summertime. It can be sunny and hot one minute and then windy and cool the next. It is best to be prepared for the elements by wearing clothes that are layered. A raincoat that is wind resistant is a good idea, too!
If you plan on spending time on the beach, don’t forget to bring a beach towel or blanket, as well.
A good day bag is necessary for a trip to the coast! You will need a bag that is big enough to hold all of your items – like your camera, jacket and beach towel. We use small Osprey backpacks, but cover the best options in our blog post, The Best Day Packs for Traveling.
Travel Insurance for Ireland
We Want To Know: What are your favorite Bray, Ireland things to do? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments!
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