How About Howth?
Dublin is a great city. It's moody, historic, fun-loving, intellectual, and a tad gritty - all-in-all, it's delightful. But - and perhaps it was the challenges posed by the historic snowstorm during our visit, perhaps it was the particularly ineffectual heater in our AirBnB - I was ready to get out of the city after a couple of days.
When staying outside of a major city, it seems like there's always some sort of drawback. It's surrounded by nature - but it's way too difficult to get back to the city or airport. Its solitude makes for great homebody nights - but there's nowhere to get a late-night pizza or early-morning coffee when you really need it (because #pizzaemergencies are real).
I hesitate to call a place perfect, but in terms of convenience, balance, and comfort, the little hamlet of Howth is darn near perfect.
About 20 minutes from both Dublin city and the Dublin Airport (closer to 30-50min during rush hour), Howth is on a penninsula jutting out into the Muir Éireann. Quiet compared to Dublin, Howth is a thriving suburb in its own right (i.e. don't drive through at rush hour) with an impressive history with a healthy dose of pirates, Norse vikings, civil wars, and ruins and structures you can still visit today.
Fun fact: Sing Street, aka my new favorite movie to get eat ice cream and dance in my jammies while watching, was partially filmed in Howth. You'll know the scenes because you'll tear up a tiny bit.
Where to Sleep
As you'd expect from a thriving seaside town, Howth is full of charming B&Bs and AirBnBs alike. We chose the King Sitric for its affordable rates, onsite seafood restaurant, free parking, and mostly for the fact that the ocean is literally 10 yards away. This quirky, compact inn is super comfortable and friendly.
Where to Nosh
Staying at King Sitric, we loved the convenience of having the East Cafe right next door, a casual corner bar with world-class seafood. The waterfront is packed with quality eats, though. Try out the tapas at Octopussys (this does not link to porn, I promise); Beshoffs for fish and chips, and Il Panorama for wine, cheese, and and coffee (the three true necessities in this world).
What to Do
I visited in the winter, and alternating walking trips of the neighborhood and pier with an Irish coffee in a warm bar was enough to keep me happy. In the summer, this place is a go-to destination for boating, fishing, hiking, and ice cream-enjoying. Also notable is the Hurdy Gurdy Museum, which, yes, I was interested in for name alone. The Kitchen in the Castle, true to name, offers cooking classes in Howth Castle - about the only situation under which you would find me voluntarily cooking.