The growth of Dublin has led the greater Dublin area to swallow seaside towns close by. To the north of the city are places like Howth, while to the south it is Dun Laoghaire and Bray. Dun Laoghaire is easily accessible from the city centre using Dublin Bus or the DART train, or driving.
Dun Laoghaire is town on the coast, and there are plenty of places to eat and some shops but its attraction to most Dubliners are its walks. There is a lovely coastal walk, but many enjoy walking the piers that form the harbour. Dun Laoghaire is a port though it now really only deals with a ferry service to Wales and pleasure boats. There is the east and west pier - the east pier is the more developed of the two and the more popular for people to stroll, with smoother and better maintaining surfaces, while the west pier is a little more rustic with weeds growing up in cracks though is perfectly walkable.
There is plenty of parking, and the buses and DART stop close to the ferry port, and the pier is clearly visible from them.
The pier is nearly a mile long to walk. It is a very popular spot, and can be very busy on Sunday afternoons especially, with lots of families, but can be quite quiet on a winter weekday. The lower level is more sheltered to walk on, and if it is a blustery day most people walk here, but the upper wall provides the better views of the bay and sea.
As Dun Laoghaire is a ferry port, you can watch ferries come in and out of the port from the pier. Also Dun Laoghaire has a very active sailing club, and there are, if the conditions allow, lots of small boats close to shore to watch. They also occasionally host sailing competitions. So when you walk out the pier there are plenty of things to watch.You'll see lots of locals out walking and so its a great place to people watch as well.
There is a small kiosk on the pier selling coffee and ice-cream- though I have never found it open, probably due to the times I have walked the pier - it seems the kiosk is primarily open in the summer season. But there is sometimes an ice-cream van nearby - and there are several coffee shops closer to town.
From the pier you can see a coastal tower - this was in the opening chapter of Ulysses, and is now known as the James Joyce Tower. The tower has a museum in it - but it is run by volunteers and sometimes its opening hours are a little erratic. Also note it may look close, the walk is longer than I thought!
I love coming out here to get out of the city centre, and get some sea air to blow the cobwebs away. Its a lovely place on a beaming sunny day or a rough grey day. It is a nice place for an hour out of madness.