By Kassidy Weemhoff | Contributor
DUBLIN-Tucked into the southeastern coast of Ireland, there is an unknown treasure with sea views, a colorful main street and friendly faces.
The town of Greystones is just about a 30-minute drive south of Dublin, and this small hub of culture and beauty is becoming more and more popular by the day. So, mark your calendars, pack your bags and book a trip before this hidden gem is found.
Greystones is located right on the coast of the Irish Sea, and it has both ocean and mountain views. Beaches littered with -- you guessed it -- gray stones and pebbles span the outer edge of the town. Waves rhythmically beat against the rocky cliffs and the smell of salty and fresh ocean permeates the air. The horizon is filled with lush green farmland and rustic mountains ripe to any curious hiker. A mixture of land and sea culminates at this tiny town.
Dublin, a massive city full of Irish culture, is only a 50-minute train ride north. Along the train line are multiple small coastal towns to visit on a free day. Greystones is the last stop on the line, so it can be the perfect getaway from the big city area or a destination for a relaxed, nature-filled holiday. You can be walking along the beach or hiking along a trail within minutes from the center of town.
Running through the Greystones is Church Road which is home to most of the boutiques, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Pastel-colored houses with brightly painted doors line the streets, each with their own character, personality and name. Ivy runs up the stone walls that separate houses from streets. In the neighborhoods of Greystones are beautiful, stately homes with awe-inspiring, natural landscaping. A stroll, bike or jog through these streets can be both interesting and informative of those who live here.
A paved path along Marine Road leads right next to the sea and has stops at the Marina (currently in renovation), the Cove and South Beach. Walking this path you'll see many faithful pups and their owners enjoying the fresh air. On the beach, you might find sea glass, colored stones or treasure if you look hard enough.
If you are not into soaking in the beachside views, there are multiple hiking opportunities surrounding Greystones. Glendalough is about a 40-minute drive into the mountains of Wicklow. This breathtaking glacial valley is also home to an ancient monastic site. Hiking and history are wrapped up in one unforgettable location sprinkled with crumbling ruins and crystal clear lakes.
The trailhead to a hike along a cliff to the next town over, called Bray, is walkable from Greystones. This approximately four-mile hike takes any adventurer up along the rocky cliff looking over the water. Being one with nature is not too hard to do in Greystones.
This place has a rich culture rooted in Irish history and recently more influenced by immigrants to the area. Walking the streets and in each shop is a friendly face and welcoming atmosphere. The tight-knit community is involved deeply in the local churches, schools and businesses.
One cheery group of people, led by brothers David and Stephen Flynn, jump into the ice-cold sea each and every morning on the beach of Greystones. According to the locals, people have been taking the daily plunge for years. The brothers, also known for their vegetable stand/cafe called The Happy Pear, said the swim promotes health and invigorates them for the rest of the day.
After the chilly dip in the sea, the brothers encourage a nice steamy bowl of porridge from their cafe. In fact, The Happy Pear has drawn hundreds if not thousands of people to Greystones and has helped to put it on the map. Serving vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods as well as offering fresh produce to the local people establishes their desire for a healthy community. It has also landed them multiple book deals and TV interviews.
Now world famous, The Happy Pear and its community have continued to plug into their local spaces. They have created healthy food that isn't outrageously expensive and provided a meeting point for locals and visitors alike to socialize, share stories and encourage one another to live healthy, balanced lifestyles.
If the vegan fare doesn't tickle your tastebuds, there are loads of other options around Greystones to indulge in. For quick, cheap and extremely delicious, try Sweeney's or Joker's fish and chips. For only a few euro, you can have a heaping pile of fried fish and a salty sack of chips in your hands in minutes.
If you are looking to dine-in and enjoy some more expensive fare, Three Q's, The Hungry Monk and The Beach Club all have moderately priced menus complete with everything from traditional bar food to imaginative cuisine. The latter two are also examples of pub atmospheres in Ireland. Do not leave without soaking in one of these venues to understand the pub culture embedded in this country's society.
Looking for perfectly puffed croissants, traditional tea or locally sourced sandwiches? Check out the plethora of local coffee shops and cafes such as The Baker's Table, Cafe Gray or Eleven Deli. Almost every restaurant or cafe has allergen sensitive items, and the grocery stores are stocked with treats to please even the pickiest of eaters. No matter where you choose to eat, you'll meet someone new and truly be able to immerse yourself in a piece of the Greystones life.
Food, culture, location and community make the town of Greystones something so special to anyone who visits. From the picturesque beaches to the Happy Pear to the hiking trails, this place is anything but ordinary. Locals are excited to welcome you with open arms, and the quaint, beachy vibe will have you booking another visit in no time. Greystones, Ireland is ready for you, so will you take on this grand adventure?