Ireland is a nation known for its mysticism, legends and pubs. As a frequent traveller to the Emerald Isle, I’m going provide some ideas on what to do as a family when you explore this beautiful nation. Goway.com has some great travel ideas and can help you turn those into family friendly itineraries by doing what we do best and customizing them for you.
Before you even take off, plan to do something the afternoon you arrive. Have an activity of some sort planned for each day, and possibly a backup plan in case the weather changes or your flight is delayed. In other words, be flexible yet organised for your trip. That way, even if plans do need to change, you won’t be stuck in a foreign city with bored kids.
Ireland’s capital has a lot to offer a family, depending on the age of the kids. Finding the balance between history and fun is the goal of any great Ireland vacation. For example, you might visit the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College, letting the kids run in the grounds before heading into the famous library. Here are some hints on how to enjoy Dublin’s highlights with kids.
Guinness Store House
Yes, even the centre of all things Guinness can be a great family attraction! The tour of the store house is self-guided, taking you through the history of brewing. With no guide to interrupt, you can turn the tour into a game of eye spy for little kids. For bigger kids, focus on the story of the family and imagine what it would be like now to be that family. When you get to the end of the tour at the Gravity Bar, instead of sitting, enjoy spectacular views of Dublin from a glass bubble on top of the Brewery. You can even sneak in your pint while the kids are distracted by views of the mountains, and search the sea for ships.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
This famous Cathedral is a beautiful piece of history. You might expect young children to glaze over at an attraction known mostly for its architecture, but my own experience showed me how little ones’ imaginations craft their own stories. My daughter thought a princess might have lived in this place at one time. We both enjoyed learning about the door of good faith and putting an arm through the hole.
Viking Splash Tour
My husband was sceptical about this tour at first, but the guide was fantastic. It’s a very different way to see the city, and the kids thought it was hilarious. Introverts be warned. This is a hands-on, participatory tour. You’ll want to be loud and jump right in to get the most out of it.
The Hop-on Hop-off Bus
This is a great way to get around the city, linking the most popular attractions. Choose an open-top bus if it’s nice, or a covered one when it’s not. This bus will take you to Phoenix Park where you can visit the Dublin Zoo or go for a picnic for lunch if the weather permits. Dublin has some fantastic parks, including Stephen’s Green. Plus, with a hop-on hop-off ticket, you can let the kids get out and look around at any stop, making the day much more adaptable and comfortable.
There is plenty to do in Belfast, and this iconic city has some great attractions at its doorstep as well.
Black Cab Tour
This is a must when in Belfast, and a great way to see the murals and street art in different neighbourhoods. Just be sure to ask for stops that allow everyone to stretch their legs.
With plenty of buttons to be pushed, along with more in-depth articles to read, it has something for everyone. There is even a ride that takes you back in time, so you are listening to the people working on the ships. There are plenty of videos and replicas to make this more of an experience for the whole family than just a museum.
Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
I recommend learning a little about the legends of the Giant’s Causeway before you see the fantastic site. It’s impressive without that context, but knowing some of its story will bring it to life for the whole family. The site itself is easy to explore, with lots of walking pathways.
The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge is positioned 30m/99ft above the water and connects rocky Carrick-a-Rede Island to the mainland. My son crossed it at the age of 4 and thought it was fantastic. His aunt, on the other hand, had white knuckles the whole walk. It is worth a stop to complete your day tour of this part of Northern Ireland.
Bohemian Galway has long been the spiritual home of Ireland’s ‘cool kids.’ But you can have a great time with your own kids there as well.
Cliffs of Moher and the Burren
Both of these are fantastic sights. It’s possible to take a boat from Doolin to see the Cliffs from below, but the park is big and open. There is no fence between you and the edge when you get out of the main area so keep small kids close, but it is a great attraction.
The Burren is fascinating. At one point in the caves you can experience total darkness, and anyone can do the walk, from adults to small kids. While at this attraction, the kids can also do a birds of prey experience, which is a big hit with the teens.
Another option is to go to the Aran Islands. This involves a boat, so be prepared, but it is a walk back in time and an interesting place to visit.
Kerry has some of the most famous sites in Ireland, with beautiful Killarney Park, the Bay of Dingle, and the Ring of Kerry. This is an area to get outside. Rain or shine, you will find people exploring this area. Staying in an excellent location means less time wasted going from place to place.
In Dingle, take a boat trip out on the bay. You’ll usually see Fungi, a single male dolphin that lives in the area and loves to play in the wakes of boats. It is a beautiful perspective of this famous coastal city.
Killarney Park has plenty of walks on offer, along with jaunting carriage rides using horses and buggies. It is a beautiful, scenic part of the country and is the central hub for the famous Ring of Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive as well, with some high places to stop and enjoy the views over ice cream and a drink.
If you’re anywhere near Cork, you’re going to want to visit the Blarney Castle. It’s great just for a walk around. The age of your children and your taste for adventure will dictate whether you climb to the top of the castle. It has narrow passages, and once you start going up, you will need to keep going.
As for Cork town and Cobh, both towns are pretty and have great parks to run around in before you head in to see attractions like the Titanic Museum in Cobh.
Ireland is a great nation to travel as a family. There are plenty of great public parks with lots of climbers for little kids, but also plenty to see and do as kids grow and mature. There are plenty of beaches around this island nation, some of which run surf schools which are a great way to get your kids out in the water. The Irish Sea is not known for being the warmest, but the beaches are expansive and can create some great memories.
Whether your trip to Ireland is about enjoying the country’s beauty, unearthing its history, or even tracing your family heritage, your Goway agent can assist putting the ideal holiday together.