The pretty coastal town of Bray, County Wicklow is a one hour drive south of Dublin city centre and around 45 minutes by DART train. Bray is a fun day trip for families and provides a welcome break from the bustle of Dublin city. There are lots of things to do in Bray and the seaside town should be added to a list of things to do in Dublin with kids.
Things To Do In Bray
Bray Head is an imposing headland jutting into the Irish Sea between Bray and the neighbouring town of Greystones. The headland is 218 metres tall and is easily recognisable due to the enormous stone cross on the top of the headland. It dominates the seafront skyline.
The walk to the top of Bray Head is one of the most popular Bray attractions. It is an easy walk to do with kids though be prepared that there are no fences or barriers at the top.
The Bray Head Cliff walk starts at the end of the seafront promenade and gently winds its way around the headland. The path then splits into two; take the right-hand path to the top of Bray Head. If you choose to drive to Bray, there is a car park located here.
It will take between 30 – 60 minutes to reach the top of the headland from here. There are no facilities on the route.
The path becomes narrow and rocky underfoot with a few steep sections. With appropriate footwear, the walk is achievable even with very young children but it is not suitable for pushchairs.
It is a scenic walk through vivid yellow gorse and bracken, with some lovely wooded sections. Gaps in the vegetation hint at the wonderful views to come.
When you reach the 1950s concrete cross at the top of Bray Head, you are rewarded with magnificent 360-degree views. On a sunny day, you can see for miles.
On one side the town of Bray is laid out beneath you with views stretching to Dalkey and into Dublin itself.
On the other side is Greystones and the continuing, dramatic coastline of County Wicklow.
Behind you are stunning views of the Wicklow Mountains and the iconic Great Sugar Loaf and Little Sugar Loaf peaks.
The rewards of this walk far outweigh its short duration and lack of difficulty!
Alternatively, a slightly longer but less steep option is to walk to Bray Head from the path near Bray Golf Club. This gently ascending, rocky route hugs the coastline rather than climbing the headland and gives wonderful views of the Irish Sea. This path is exposed and can be very windy!
Bray -Greystones Walk
Returning to the point where the path from Bray seafront splits into two, choosing the left-hand path will lead you around the headland into the neighbouring town of Greystones.
This cliff-hugging, coastal walk is known as the Bray-Greystones Walk.
The scenic path hugs the hillside adjacent to the DART line and kids will love spotting the trains entering and leaving the hill tunnels. This railway line was designed by the 19th-century engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. However, the line has earned the nickname ‘Brunel’s Folly’ due to the enormous costs involved in its construction and ongoing maintenance.
The rugged path is generally flat but can be narrow in places with steep drops.
The walk is around 7 kilometres and takes around 2 1/2 – 3 hours to complete. The popular path gets very busy on weekends and holidays. From Greystones, you can catch the DART to return to Bray or Dublin.
Sea Life Bray
The National Sea Life Centre in Bray is a very popular family friendly attraction in Ireland. The friendly aquarium is located on the seafront and is always busy, particularly during school holidays (and on rainy days)!
There are marine animals from both Irish and foreign waters ranging from sharks to sea horses. Different zones will keep inquisitive kids engaged including the excellent Great Barrier Reef section and our favourite, the ethereal jellyfish zone.
There are several talks and feeding demonstrations daily – check the website in advance of your visit.
Tickets cost 13.50 Euro for adults and 10.50 Euro for children but significant savings can be made by booking online in advance.
We go to Bray several times a year and visit Bray seafront almost daily! It is popular with walkers, joggers and people watchers, both tourists and locals alike.
The Victorian esplanade stretches for one mile from Bray Head to Bray Harbour. It is a wide, paved promenade next to the pebbly Bray beach. There are a couple of cafes and restaurants on the seafront, a small arcade, several shops, a small gym/workout area and a great little enclosed playground for younger children. So adults and kids alike can work up an appetite for a delicious ice cream from the family-owned Gelateria!
There is a pretty Victorian bandstand which hosts live bands on Sundays in the summer months. Furthermore, in July and August, the seafront plays host to a hugely popular funfair. The seafront is packed with spectators during the Bray Airshow, usually held on the last weekend in July.
The pebbly beach is rocky but clean. The sea is ideal for a paddle or even a swim for those who are brave enough! There is a small, sandy portion of the beach for building sand castles in front of the Martello Terrace near the Harbour.
There are toilets at two locations on the seafront.
Kilruddery House and Gardens
Kilruddery House has been home to the Earls of Meath since the early 17th century. Guided tours are available inside the house but families may be asked to leave a pushchair at the entrance.
You can also do a self-guided audio tour of the beautifully landscaped gardens which grow in their original 18th-century layout. In addition, there is a free to enter Farmers Market every Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm.
There are regular and one-off family-friendly events throughout the year. The house is still a private home so in addition to seasonal closures, the estate is sporadically closed to the public.
Check the website before visiting. Unfortunately, entry to both house and gardens is not cheap for a family at 15.50 Euro for an adult and 5.50 Euro for a child over 4.
Places to eat in Bray
You will be spoilt for choice for places to eat in Bray, whether in the town centre or on the esplanade.
The seafront has a range of cafes, pubs, takeaways and restaurants. We have eaten several times in The Martello. Children are made very welcome and the food is generously sized, delicious and reasonably priced. The nearby Porterhouse brews its own beers and stouts.
One establishment not to miss in Bray is the wonderful Harbour Bar. It was voted Best Bar In The World by the Lonely Planet in 2010!
The white facade 19th-century pub is opposite Bray harbour. (You will pass Martello terrace, the childhood home of author James Joyce to reach the bar).
The Harbour Bar is a quirky, historic pub retaining a rare, old world charm. The two storey, stone-floor pub is packed with memorabilia and regularly hosts live music (including traditional music sessions) and other events.
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a pint – or a cup of tea!- in ‘The Good Room’, a rear snug section of the bar complete with a sofa, open fire and a cat! It will remind you of your Irish granny’s living room!
How to get to Bray
Bray can be included in any Ireland itinerary as it is an easy, direct one hour drive on the N11 from Dublin to Bray. Fee-paying parking is available in the town centre and at either end of the seafront esplanade.
The DART departs approximately every 15 minutes from Connelly Station (stopping at other Dublin city stations en route) and arrives in Bray (Daly) around 45 minutes later. Timetables vary.
Day return tickets cost 6.75 Euro for adults and 3.20 Euro for children.
Have you been to Bray? What were your highlights?