This Seaside European Town Was Named One Of The Most Underrated Spots In The World

Located within the captivating County Wicklow, just 12 miles south of Dublin, Bray is an unparalleled jewel of coastal beauty. It is widely regarded as one of the best places to live in Ireland, and for good reason! As the longest seaside town in Ireland, it goes by many names, including the "Gateway to the Garden of Ireland" and the "Brighton of Ireland."

The history of this town dates back to as early as the Bronze Age, with its shrouded history well-preserved through evidence found from those living during the Norman period. In the years following the fortification of castles and strongholds across the land in the 17th century, a young railway entrepreneur named William Dargan contributed the gift of railway transportation throughout Bray. It wasn't long before the rest of the world began to take notice of this small yet beautiful coastal strip of paradise, and visitors crowded the land, venturing into the city by railway. Today, Bray is a popular resort destination and beach-chic getaway spot beloved by those around the world. With no shortage of things to taste, see, and do, Bray is a hotspot for social butterflies, fitness enthusiasts, and cafe connoisseurs. Local residents of Bray enjoy a high quality of life in this seaside town, with a strong sense of community and purpose.

Dive into the city's rich history and local hot spots

Intersecting both Bray Seafront and the town's railway station, The Albert Walk is your one-stop shop for a quality cup of coffee or a freshly pressed panini from the local bakery. Nine Cafe, in particular, is a jewel on the Albert Walk, offering a mish-mash of brunch delights, soups, salads, and sandwiches. The cozy home kitchen-style interior makes this the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon sipping on one of their house cappuccinos.

Bray has no shortage of rich and fascinating history, with a collection of ancient relics that stand as living testaments to the history of this town. Tucked within the interior of the land is Killruddery House, one of the most remarkable gems along the Irish coastline and a member of the Historic Houses of Ireland. This 800-acre estate houses the 17th-century Victorian-style mansion and its adjoining bio-diverse farm. Killruddery House has been the residence of three generations of the Brabazon family since the beginning of its history and now operates as both a dwelling place and a visitor attraction.

If you've ever wanted to stay in a castle-turned-hotel, check into the Waterford Castle Hotel, the only island castle hotel in Ireland. This magnificent feat of architecture is one of Ireland's most iconic castles, featuring opulent deluxe suites and luxurious amenities. The resort's 16th-century elegance has allowed it to be the site of several weddings, upscale events, and civil ceremonies.

Explore the great outdoors of Bray, Ireland

Bray is nothing short of a wilderness paradise for active travelers, with many hiking trails and outdoor activities, making it a great destination for your first international vacation. Located at the end of the promenade, Bray Head Hill consists of a 6-mile winding pathway that rewards hikers with panoramic views of County Dublin and Bray. Mounted at the top of Bray Head is a stone cross, a sanctified piece of this town's past. The cross was carried to the headlands during the Holy Year in 1950 and still stands as a testament to the religious traditions upheld by community members. 

One of the most popular trails in Ireland is the Cliff Walk Trail, a winding pathway connecting Bray to the nearby town, Greystones. This manicured hiking trail is a gem that every traveling wayfarer must embark on when in Bray. Beginning at Bray Seafront, this 4.4-mile trail overlooks the Irish Sea and the Wicklow Mountains.

The city of Bray retains much of its Victorian-era heritage, evident in some of its most iconic attractions, including Bray Seafront — the popular promenade that runs parallel to the ocean. Located adjacent to Bray Beach, this eclectic strip is the heart of activity in town. The promenade is always buzzing with life, dotted with quirky coffee shops and adorable houses along the main street adorned with brightly colored flower boxes. In the summertime, the promenade hosts Wicklow County's annual Summerfest. This extravagant commemorates the changing season with garden parties, fireworks, music festivals, and outdoor markets.