The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk (One Of Dublin’s Most Underrated Walks)

donabate to portrane cliff walk

Unbelievable views, a soothing sense of calm, and craggy cliffs are just some of the many things that the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk has to offer.

Nestled away in north County Dublin, the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. When people think of hillside strolls in the area, the Howth usually comes to their mind. There’s never really a mention of the Donabate to Portrane.

This little gem of a stroll is one that locals tend to take on. It’s very rare that you’ll see tourists out that way because it’s just not that well known. Aren’t you a lucky one getting filled in on one of Dublin’s little secrets?

In this post, we’re going to give you a total breakdown of the Donabate to Portrane Cliff walk and show you why it’s hands down one of the best walks in Dublin.


Where Is The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk?

donabate to portrane cliff walk

The Donabate to Portrane coastal walk is about 30–35 minutes away from Dublin’s city centre, depending on which entrance you decide to start at.

There are two entrances that lead to the cliff walk. The first is at Donabate beach, and the second is at Portrane beach. They’re around a 10-minute drive from each other.


How To Get To The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk

Photo Provided By Jdbourke1 – Instagram

Getting to the trail, thankfully, isn’t too difficult. It can be accessed in the following ways:

  • Train: Irish Rail offers a route that goes to Drogheda, which stops in the town of Donabate. You can get it from multiple stops throughout Dublin.

Note: you’ll be dropped in Donabate town. From there, the cliff walk is a half-hour walk.

donabate to portrane cliff walk
Photo Provided By Andrew Mcmillan – “Midwinter Surf On Portrane Beach (135532911).jpeg” – Licensed Under CC BY 3.0.
  • Bus: Dublin Bus has a couple of routes that stop in Donabate and Portrane. The routes are 1. the 33D and 2. the 534 route.

Our advice would be to get off at Portrane because it leaves you quite close to the entrance of the beach walk, whereas if you get off at Donabate, you’ll have a little more walking to do before you arrive at the entrance.

  • Drive: If you’re a car owner, the drive to the Donabate/Portrane walk should only take 30–35 minutes.


How Long Is The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk?

donabate to portrane cliff walk
Photo Provided By Andrew Mcmillan – “Seagulls And Surf On Portrane Coast (135532919).jpeg” – Licensed Under CC BY 3.0.

From the Donabate side to the Portrane side, it’s 2km in distance (the same visa versa), so it’s 4km in total over and back. Without factoring in time to take in some of the sensational views, it should take 1 hour to complete. That’s, of course, once you don’t stop.


A Little Bit About The Walk Itself

Photo Provided By Andrew Mcmillan – “Portrane To Donabate Walk (135532913).jpeg” – Licensed Under CC BY 3.0.

For this, we’re going to stick to what the walk would be like if you were to travel from the Donabate side since it’s the most popular.


Starting Point

To begin with, you’re going to have to head to the Shoreline Hotel. This is the easiest place to access the trail since there’s an entrance right beside the hotel, and it saves you from having to climb up from the beach.

Heading Off

Photo Provided By jaqian – “DSC00848” – Licensed Under CC BY 2.0.

Once on the pathway, you’ll encounter some steep dune-like hills that will bring you along Ladies Beach, where you’ll have the option to take a detour and walk along the sand, or you can stick to the trail. It’s up to you.

At the end of Ladies Beach, you’ll be able to join back on to the trail that leads to Portrane.


Walking Along The Cliffs

After breaking off from Ladies Beach, the captivating walk across the sea cliffs begins. Stroll slowly whilst taking in the sounds of the crashing waves, slowly eroding what’s left of the land.

As you look out across the Irish Sea, you should be able to see Lambay Island. You’ve probably never even heard of this mysterious little piece of land, but in fact, it’s actually the largest island off the east coast of Ireland. Home to plenty of wildlife and a major player in the Irish whiskey game, the interesting island has plenty to offer and can be accessed for a day trip as long as you book well in advance.

Photo Provided By Joseph Mischyshyn – “Lambay Island – Reachrainn – – 1350641.jpg” – Licensed Under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Arriving In Portrane

You’re eventually going to finish up in Portrane car park, where you’ll have the option to either turn back towards Donabate or you can head down to the lovely little beach of Portrane.

Those looking to make the trip to the beach at Portrane beach, walk straight through the carpark as if you were still following the direction of the trail. You’ll soon come to a downhill slope that winds right. Follow that and you’ll soon catch sight of the sand (that’s, of course, if the tide is out).

Portrane Beach – Photo Provided By Jaqian – “DSCF3000” – Licensed Under CC BY 2.0.

Things To Do Along The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk

1. Have A Look At The Martello Towers

Martello Tower – Photo Provided By Jaqian – “Get A Grip… And Don’t Let Go!” – Licensed Under CC BY 2.0.

The Martello Towers can be found on the Donabate and Portrane sides of the walk. The main one is on the Portrane side and was built in 1805 by the British because of their extreme paranoia thinking that the French were going to invade Ireland.

These weren’t the first Martello Towers to pop up. Forms of defence like this were common in places that Britain colonised, as they were seen in other countries such as South Africa, India, and many more.

Sometimes there are guided tours available of the Martello Tower. Keep an eye out on the Heritage Week website to see if any times get released.

2. Take A Dip In The Irish Sea

Photo Provided By Grissgray – Instagram

It’s very rare that the Irish Sea is warm, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a dip. It’s quite popular among locals to swim around where the beaches are. I wouldn’t advise you to get involved in cliff diving around the area. There are still quite a few large boulders of rock hidden away below the water that can easily cause an accident.

3. Explore Newbridge House & Gardens

While it’s not exactly near the cliff walk, Newbridge House and Gardens could be a brilliant area to explore on your way home.

The park comprises 370 acres of dense forests and lush green gardens, along with the remains of Lanistown Castle and, of course, Newbridge House, all of which are just waiting to be explored.

Before being owned by Fingal County Council, the owners were Charles Cobbe and his family, who purchased land all over the Donabate area at the time. This is significant because members of the Cobbe family still live there and some artefacts from the past are still inside as part of an agreement between the family and Fingal County Council.

Tours can be taken throughout the day by booking in advance.

4. Grab A Coffee At Cheddarella In Donabate 

Photo Provided By Alina Vytiaz

What better way to finish off a day by the sea than by gulping down a warm roasted cup of coffee from the Donabate’s very own coffee van?

Cheddarella is a good aul local favourite in Donabate that offers some of the tastiest java around, with options ranging from chilled iced americanos to creamy cappuccinos with a hint of chocolate powder on top. After taking on the cliff walk, you’re surely deserving of a shneaky cheese toastie.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Donabate To Portrane Cliff Walk

Is There Car Parking At the Cliff Walk?

donabate to portrane cliff walk
Photo Provided By – Instagram

Car parking is available at both ends of the cliff walk.

From the Donabate side, you can park outside the Shoreline Hotel, or there’s a field beside the hotel that stays open during the day where a lot of people will also leave their cars. Both of which are free of charge.

If you want to begin at the Portrane side, there’s a car park there too. To find it, just type in Portrane Beach into Google Maps. It’s small enough, so get there early if it’s a sunny day.

Our advice would be to park at the Donabate end as there are more parking spaces available.

Is The Water Safe To Swim In?

Photo Provided By Andrew Mcmillan – “Midwinter Surf On Portrane Beach (135532939).jpeg” – Licensed Under CC BY 3.0.

The water is perfectly safe to swim in from both ends of the walk. Make sure you stick to the beaches rather than the cliffs, as it’s a lot more dangerous around the cliffs.

Can The Cliff Walk Be Accessed At Night?

Yes, you can access the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk at night. It’s a pretty peaceful place for a night-time walk if that’s your thing. You won’t see many people, and you’ll have an astonishing view of the moon on a clear night.