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Lonely Planet names Ireland’s 10 best beaches

Lonely Planet has released it’s list of what it thinks are Ireland’s 10 best beaches. The list includes beaches from County Kerry , County Donegal and County Mayo- all three west coast counties feature two beaches each on the list.

The east coast of Ireland features just once on the Lonely Planet list, represented by County Dublin’s Killiney Beach.

The list has gathered a huge amount of attention (in Ireland and abroad) and has been shared thousands of times across social media- proof that people are preparing for a summer of staycations and Irish holidays closer to home.

1. Killiney Beach, County Dublin

There aren’t a huge number of capital cities around the world who can boast a beach… but Dubliners have easy access to a number of beaches. Killiney Beach has been recognised in Lonely Planet’s list of Irelands best beaches and here’s why.

The sheltered bay, just 30 minutes from Dublin city centre on the DART, is a popular spot with swimmers. Killiney beach offers beautiful views of the surrounding rocky Dublin coastline including Dalkey Island and Sorrento Terrace to the north, and Bray Head to the south.

It’s no wonder Killiney is the home to so many celebrities- who get to enjoy their uninterrupted views of the coast from their exclusive addresses just above the beach.

Killiney Beach in County Dublin, Ireland. Instagram: Denzil Lacey @irishtravelphotos

2. Ballymastocker Bay, County Donegal

This mile long beach on the western shores of Lough Swilly has long been celebrated for it’s expansive views (especially from on top of the hill) and it’s unspoilt dunes and golden sand.

This Blue Flag awarded Donegal beach is a must visit, along with the nearby harbour town of Portsalon.

Ballymastocker Bay in Donegal, Ireland. Instagram: Peter Duffy @donegalpeter

3. Ballyquin Beach, Ardmore, County Waterford

Ballyquin Beach is just a few miles north of Ardmore, which has it’s own popular beach. But unlike it’s southern neighbour, this County Waterford beach enjoys far more peace and quiet.

This beautiful white sand beach is popular with locals for walking, early morning swims and late night surf fishing.

4. Trawmore Bay, Achill Island, County Mayo

Trawmore Bay is an expansive, 4km long sand and shingle beach which stretches itself across the western side of Achill Island.

This Blue Flag beach doesn’t quite get the same attention as it’s neighbouring beach in Keem Bay does (also featured in Lonely Planet’s list of Ireland’s best beaches) but this is a very popular spot for bodyboarding and surfing- which is becoming a big draw for tourism on Achill Island. Swimmers should exercise caution on Trawmore Bay as the currents can be very strong here.

Trawmore Bay on Achill Island, Ireland. Instagram: Alastair Timothy @at__photo_

5. Banna Strand, County Kerry

Banna Strand stretches for almost 10km along Kerry’s Atlantic Ocean facing coastline.

The Blue Flag beach is popular with walkers, horse riders, families, surfers, kite surfers and swimmers- but the beach always feels big enough to accommodate everyone! Banna Strand is protected by an independent lifeboat service and seasonal lifeguards.

From the 12m+ high sand dunes you’ll have glorious and unspoilt views south towards Mount Brandon and the Dingle hills.

6. Inch Strand, County Kerry

This is arguably Ireland’s most famous beach spot and it’s no wonder it’s made it’s way onto Lonely Planet’s list of Ireland’s best beaches. The 5km long sand spit extends into Dingle Bay and has starred in at least 3 blockbusters: Ryan’s Daughter (1970), Excalibur (1981) and Far And Away (1992).

The west facing Blue Flag beach is popular with surfers and there are a number of surf schools in the area now to help newbies onto the water during summer.

Inch Strand, County Kerry on Ireland’s west coast. Instagram: @otherjourneys

7. Streedagh Strand, County Sligo

County Sligo has an envious number of beaches to visit. But Lonely Planet has this to say about Streedagh Strand, “Strandhill and Mullaghmore  – the county’s better-known spots – are fine for surfing, but Streedagh’s sheltered location in a semi-protected, calm bay makes it the swimmer’s choice.”

On a clear day and from the sand dunes, you’ll have unobstructed views north of the magnificent mountains of County Donegal.

Streedagh Strand in County Sligo, Ireland. Instagram: Liam Flannery @flnry

8. Keem Bay, Achill Island, County Mayo

Keem Bay steals all the limelight from it’s beach neighbour on Achill Island off the coast of County Mayo.

The tiny white sand beach slopes into turquoise Atlantic Ocean water. It’s no wonder, no list of “best beaches” whether it’s a list of Irish beaches, European beaches or even beaches from around the world… features Keem Bay.

The Achill Island beach was once a busy bay where islanders would leave to hunt basking sharks. Nowadays the only sign of human activity is an old abandoned coastguard building.

9. Trá Mór, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal

If you’re not one for sharing, and you don’t mind a 15 minute trek across sand dunes, you’ll find peace away from the crowds at Trá Mór on County Donegal’s west coast.

Lonely Planet says, “In Irish, ‘trá mór’ (or Tramore) just means ‘big beach,’ and while the country has more than a handful of them bearing the name, this secluded gem in the shadow of the Horn Head peninsula is arguably the prettiest.”

10. Dog’s Bay/ Gurteen Bay, County Galway

The unspoilt coastline of Connemara in County Galway is famed for it’s beaches. Errisbeg Peninsula, about 3km west of Roundstone, gives you two such beaches for the price of one- with a dazzling white sandy beach on either side.

The sands on these Connemara beaches are created by crushed seashells (as opposed to the more common rock formed beaches) which give them an otherworldly feel.

The beaches at Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay in County Galway, Ireland

It’s a great list of Irish beaches by Lonely Planet. Although we’re surprised not to see West Cork featured… in truth, Ireland is probably deserving of “100 best beaches in Ireland”. There are plenty to choose from here.

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