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Set sail for Malahide, north Dublin’s popular day trip destination

Neighbourhood series: Situated on one of the most scenic stretches of the north Dublin coastline, Malahide has top-class food, water sports, great shopping and historic sites for all the family to explore

As a tourist destination, Malahide really does have it all. Situated on one of the most scenic stretches of Dublin’s coastline, it boasts a heritage village, the internationally renowned Malahide Castle, a marina, and a selection of top-class restaurants, cafes, pubs, accommodation and sporting facilities to meet just about every taste and interest. And that’s not even mentioning the beautiful sandy beaches.

“I feel beyond blessed to be living in Malahide – a gorgeous coastal village, with a castle that anchors the Fingal heritage trail and attracts visitors from all over the world,” says Pauline Matijasevich, marketing communications manager with Malahide Castle and the Model Railway Museum. “There is a real community spirit here and there is so much to offer in terms of what to see, do and eat.”

Malahide is very much a modern village but with a traditional feel. Cobbled streets and hand-painted shopfronts with hanging baskets add to that feeling. But there is nothing old world about its retail and dining offerings.

“It is acknowledged as the gourmet capital of the Dublin region,” says Sharon Joyce, sales manager with the Grand Hotel Malahide. “There is a vast selection of high-quality and award-winning restaurants for people to choose from. That’s one of the things that draws our clientele to Malahide. They also love the shopping. There are so many amazing standalone privately owned boutiques with clothes you won’t find anywhere else.”


“The restaurants and the bars in the village are legendary,” Matijasevich adds. “Gibney’s celebrates the spirit of the Irish pub – with DJs and live music a couple of nights a week. It’s warm, welcoming and serious craic. Old Street is a modern restaurant housed in one of the oldest buildings in Malahide. Its seasonal menus are always memorable, and the cocktails are pretty spectacular. Harry’s restaurant in the village is a sexy wine bar bistro with a to-die-for tapas menu.”

Visitors also flock to the Oliver Dunne-owned Bon Appétit, one of the few restaurants anywhere in the world to hand back a Michelin star. Other favourite dining spots include the Seabank Bistro on the Coast Road, Sale e Pepe on Main Street, and the Greedy Goose on Townyard Lane which has gained a reputation as the village’s most innovative restaurant with its very interesting tasting menus.

For lighter bites during the day, the Seomra Tae cafe on Main Street with its all-day breakfast and selection of delicious home-baked cakes and snacks is well worth a visit. As is Café Provence on Church Road.

And just a 10-minute walk from the village is the 170-seater Avoca café at Malahide Castle which overlooks the walled garden.

“To have a castle on your doorstep that anchors the Fingal heritage trail and the village surrounded by water is pretty unique,” says Matijasevich. “Excellent connectivity to the city centre and the airport within a 15-minute drive make for easy getaways if you do ever want to leave Malahide.”

According to Matijasevich, visitor numbers to the castle are back to pre-Covid levels with more than 180,000 people welcomed through its gates during 2022 alone. “Visitors are coming back in droves,” she says. “We have lots of coach groups booked in and we are back on the luxury cruise ship passenger itineraries with numbers all going in the right direction.”

“To have a castle on your doorstep that anchors the Fingal heritage trail and the village surrounded by water is pretty unique”

—  Pauline Matijasevich, marketing communications manager with Malahide Castle and the Model Railway Museum

The castle dates back to 1185 and offers plenty for young and old alike beginning with tours of the castle itself followed by the famed Lord Milo Talbot walled botanical garden. “The castle interiors have been carefully restored to their original 19th-century glory, and with ornate furniture and exquisite art rehung, this illustrious space looks spectacular and really elevates the visitor experience and is a huge draw for tourists,” says Matijasevich.

For nature lovers, the exotic Butterfly House is a must see with more than 20 species of butterfly flying among tropical plants. For small and big kids, there is the fairy trail and the Casino Model Railway Museum housed in the original hunting lodge opposite the village gates to the castle.

And if that isn’t enough, you can always while away the day exploring the 200-acre lush green demesne surrounding the castle.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Malahide there is a great choice of excellent B&Bs and hotels in the area. The 203-bed Grand Hotel is ideally located at the Portmarnock end of the village.

“The building dates back to 1835 and has gone through many, many changes since then,” says Joyce. “The Ryan family has owned it since the 1970s. We are very lucky to have a family-owned and run hotel here. That’s quite unusual now in the Dublin area. It has that genuine family feel and the staff have been here for a long time. Customer service is very important to them and, because of that, we have guests coming back to us again and again.”

The hotel has a symbiotic relationship with Malahide village. “The local restaurants, bars and boutiques get lots of business from our guests and we get business as a result of them attracting visitors to Malahide. We complement each other. We sell Malahide first as a destination when we are marketing the hotel. You can stay in hotels all over the world and you’ll get a certain standard of service, but it’s Malahide itself that draws people in.

“If we found a place like Malahide in Spain or Portugal, we’d rave about it. We are so lucky to have it here. When you walk through the village, even though it’s quite a sophisticated, modern place, it still has that warm and friendly feeling to it. Our international guests love it. The overall experience offered by Malahide; you’d pay a lot more for it anywhere else in the world.”

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times