Bray is one of my favourite places to go for a walk within a close distance from Dublin, it’s in easy reach thanks to the Dart (train). Bray is popular with tourists who want to be close to the countryside but is still a convenient commute to Dublin for day trips. Bray is fondly known as “The Gateway to the Garden of Ireland”. Overall, Bray has some great restaurants and walks.
I’ve been to a few of the well-known attractions in Bray, but noticed while I was busy researching it, there is a lot more to do than what I have seen so far!
The earliest history of settlements in Bray date back to the Bronze Age (2300BC – 1000BC) and visits from the Romans in roughly the 1st century. During the Norman times in Ireland in the 12th Century, the town of Bray was built around the de Riddlesford grounds which were granted by Strongbow. The grounds consisted of a castle, a church and a mill.
From the 17th Century, Bray was on the border of “The Pale”, the base of English rule in Ireland. Bray during this period was just a small fishing harbour settlement. It was only in 1854 when the railway was extended from Dublin to Bray that the seaside town established itself as a holiday resort, known as the “Brighton of Ireland”.
Today the town is reminiscent of the old seaside holiday town, where many locals choose to live and commute to Dublin each day instead of living closer to the city.
Things to do in Bray:
1. Bray Promenade walks
The promenade offers a mile long walk seaside walk from the harbour to Bray Head, giving visitors great views of the nearby Wicklow Mountains, The Sugarloaf (conical shaped mountain) and Bray Head.
Teddy’s ice-cream stands are strategically placed along the promenade, regardless of the weather they remain a popular treat.
Musical events are also hosted occasionally on the 1890’s bandstand.
2. Bray- Greystones walk
The walk can be taken from either Bray or Greystones and is a stunning cliff-side walk giving walkers a stunning view of the ocean. It takes about 2 hours and is about a 7 Km distance with a gradual gradient that is quite easy to walk.
3. Bray Aquarium
The National SEA LIFE Center in Bray is the only aquarium on the East Coast of Ireland and is one of Ireland’s biggest Marine & Freshwater Zoos. The aquarium does a good job in show-casing the marine mammals of Ireland’s seas and rivers.
The aquarium hosts feeding events, 30 displays and a walking trail. There are also various tropical fish visitors at the aquarium.
4. Bray Head
Bray head is a 241m hill found at the end of the Bray Promenade. The walk up to the top offers beautiful views of Bray and the surrounding area.
Bray is a great place to spend some time, particularly if you are looking for outdoor activities and restaurants. Even the aquarium gives visitors the option to do something indoors if the weather is a bit gloomy.