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Top 14 Things to Do in Ireland with Kids

I’ve traveled to Ireland at least a dozen times over the past 20+ years to visit family and explore the island, including some trips with kids. A place of céad míle fáilte, or “a hundred thousand welcomes,” it’s very welcoming to all ages, including children. In fact, it’s one of the most family-friendly destinations with so many things to do with younger ones that it’s practically overwhelming.

Kids and adults alike will be impressed with Ireland’s castles, the folklore, the beaches, pristine parks, and even the pubs where children are often welcome to enjoy live music sessions. If they can play, they might even be invited to join in. These ideas are just a short list of the things to do when bringing your kids to the Emerald Isle.

 

Phoenix Park, Dublin herd of red deer in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland
Credit: herd of red deer in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland by Bigstock.com

Phoenix Park, Dublin

What Is It? The largest city park in Europe, Phoenix Park dwarfs even Central Park at 1,752 acres. It includes tree-lined avenues, large areas of grassland, and a herd of wild fallow deer, along with numerous attractions.

Why Do It? It’s a great place to beat jet lag with a pleasant stroll and the kids will enjoy burning off some energy here too. You can also check out the President’s House, which keeps a candle burning in one of the windows as a reminder to those who’ve left the country that they’re welcome home. There are tea rooms to unwind in and wild deer to watch for that like to hang out on the 200-acre flat meadow area called Fifteen Acres and in the woodland of Oldtown Wood on the northern perimeter.

Good to Know: Public tours are available of the President’s House, but you’ll need to call in advance to make arrangements.

Dublin Zoo Dublin Zoo
Credit: Dublin Zoo by Ocskay Bence/shutterstock.com

Dublin Zoo

What Is It? The Dublin Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin and one of the world’s oldest zoos, opened nearly 200 years ago in 1831. Spread over nearly 70 acres – it helps to preserve some of the planet’s most endangered animals with famous conservation projects aimed at helping tigers, rhinos, and great apes.

Why Do It? It’s home to over 400 rare, exotic, and endangered animals from across the globe, including giraffes and zebras in the African Savanna area, elephants along the Kaziranga Forest Trail, and animals like a two-toed sloth and saki monkey at the South American House. Kids will enjoy it all, but the Family Farm with animals like pigs, cows, sheep, goats, and geese is always a big hit.

Good to Know: Kids 3 and under are free, and the zoo is wheelchair-friendly too.

National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland, Dublin Leprechaun Museum, Dublin, Ireland
Credit: Leprechaun Museum, Dublin, Ireland by Rev Stan via Flickr

National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland, Dublin

What Is It? The National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland is dedicated to Irish folklore and mythology.

Why Do It? It’s a fun way for kids to learn about Irish culture and they’ll love the “leprechaun-sized” world filled with giant furniture that they can sit on to feel like leprechauns themselves. The guides are fantastic storytellers that truly capture the audience with their enthusiasm. You’ll learn about wood spirits and how they interact with humans and play mischievous pranks, as well as how leprechauns hide their pots of gold and find them at the end of the rainbow.

Good to Know: There is a gift shop on-site where you can purchase leprechaun-related literature and leprechauns of all sizes.

Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle Kissing the Blarney Stone, Blarney, Ireland
Credit: Kissing the Blarney Stone, Blarney, Ireland by Wikimedia Commons

Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle

What Is It? One of the most famous castles in Ireland, Blarney Castle is a romantic castle in partial ruin that dates to the 15th century with its grounds particularly stunning, featuring a river, wooded hollows, and strange rock formations. The castle is best known for the Blarney Stone, a rock at the top of the castle that’s said to impart the gift of eloquence or “the gift of the gab” to those who kiss it.

Why Do It? Kissing the stone has become somewhat of a rite of passage for first-time visitors to Ireland. Kids will get a big kick out of it.

Good to Know: To reach the top of the castle, you’ll have a steep climb up narrow, winding steps. Then you’ll be dangled over a crevice upside down to kiss the stone. Avoid overdoing the Guinness or whiskey the night before.

Hold a Lamb While Traveling Scenic Slea Head Drive, Dingle lamb in Ireland
Credit: lamb in Ireland by © Patryk Kosmider - Dreamstime.com

Hold a Lamb While Traveling Scenic Slea Head Drive, Dingle

What Is It? Slea Head Drive is one of the most famous scenic drives in Ireland. Starting from Dingle, it travels along the Dingle Peninsula, providing some of the most jaw-dropping views while offering numerous attractions like the ancient Beehive Huts that date back at least 2,000 years. A new experience along the way allows travelers to hold a cuddly lamb.

Why Do It? Who wouldn’t want to hold a lamb? While you’ll see plenty throughout the country, they generally can’t be touched unless you know the owner. This experience provides the perfect opportunity, all while enjoying the incredible view of the coast and out to the Skellig Islands.

Good to Know: Visitors can also hear about life in an old farmhouse and even spend the night.

Doolin Cave Doolin Cave, Ireland
Credit: Doolin Cave, Ireland by Wikimedia Commons

Doolin Cave

What Is It? One of the most popular caves in Europe, Doolin Cave offers the chance to discover a world carved by the water near the popular town of Doolin.

Why Do It? It’s home to the “Great Stalactite,” one of the longest free-hanging stalactites in the Northern Hemisphere. Exploring a cave is something the kids are sure to enjoy, although those with very small children (three or younger), might want to skip it. Otherwise, the fully guided tour offers a fun geography lesson that takes visitors 350 million years back in time.

Good to Know: After exploring underground, you can take the farmland nature trail to visit rare and miniature breeds of animals. There are also opportunities to meet pygmy goats, feed the chickens, and collect eggs.

Dingle Falconry Experience, Dingle Dingle Falconry Experience
Credit: Dingle Falconry Experience by Dingle Falconry Experience

Dingle Falconry Experience, Dingle

What Is It? The Dingle Falconry Experience offers the opportunity to get up close to beautiful birds of prey. It includes both public and private falconry experiences as well as “hawk-walks” on the waterfront lawn and beaches at Dingle Harbour.

Why Do It? Many visitors consider meeting the falcons, a golden eagle, Irish barn owls, Eurasian eagle owls, and Harris hawks to be a highlight of their time in Ireland,

Good to Know: You can hold and fly the barn and eagle owls and the Harris hawks.

Inch Beach, Dingle Inch Beach near Dingle, Ireland
Credit: Inch Beach near Dingle, Ireland by © David Ribeiro - Dreamstime.com

Inch Beach, Dingle

What Is It? One of the best beaches in Ireland, with four miles of wide, golden sands.

Why Do It? The beach offers plenty of room for fun on the sand. As it’s a Blue Flag Beach, that means the water is clean and safe for swimming, complete with lifeguards in the summer, providing a fun day out for families.

Good to Know: There are surf schools, water sports equipment rentals, and wetsuit rentals available. A restaurant, cafe, ice cream stand, and showers are all on-site too.

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Credit: Bunratty Castle, Ireland by Bigstock.com

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

What Is It? A 15th-century medieval castle and open-air music depicting village life in the 1800s with farmhouses, a school, tannery, bakery, pub, post office, and more. At Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, there’s a small farm, a fairy trail, walled gardens, and shops on-site too.

Why Do It? It’s an entertaining and educational experience. The kids are sure to be intrigued by the castle’s dungeon and everyone will enjoy discovering what Ireland was like in another time.

Good to Know: Medieval banquets are also hosted here, complete with musicians in period costumes playing the harp and violin.

Bundoran Amusement Park Bundoran Amusement Park, Bundoran, Ireland
Credit: Bundoran Amusement Park, Bundoran, Ireland by © Mark Gusev - Dreamstime.com

Bundoran Amusement Park

What Is It? A seaside amusement park with a wide range of rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, bumper cars, go-karts, and Adventure Golf.

Why Do It? Bundoran Amusement Park is the perfect place to treat the kids after lots of museum and castle exploring.

Good to Know: In addition to the fun at the park, you can enjoy the beautiful long stretch of powdery sands or even learn to surf with Bundoran one of the top spots in Europe for the sport. Or, just watch the surfers ride the waves.

Killarney National Park Killarney National Park, Ireland
Credit: Killarney National Park, Ireland by © Irishkoala | Dreamstime.com

Killarney National Park

What Is It? Killarney National Park is an enchanting national park with stunning scenery that includes waterfalls, countless sparkling lakes, soaring heather-covered mountains, forests, and a castle.

Why Do It? It’s one of the most beautiful destinations in Ireland and one of the best places to hike, with short treks suitable for even young children, including the quick hike to Torc Waterfall. Those up for a longer walk can take the round-trip route from Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion turned museum.

Good to Know: Horse and carriage tours are available that will bring you to see various highlights like St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney Hoes Gardens, and 15th-century Ross Castle while watching for Ireland’s last native herd of red deer.

Skellig Michael Chocolate Factory, Ballinskelligs Skelligs Chocolate Factory, Ireland
Credit: Skelligs Chocolate Factory, Ireland by K.C. Dermody

Skellig Michael Chocolate Factory, Ballinskelligs

What Is It? A small, family-run chocolate factory along the Ring of Kerry at the edge of St. Finian’s Bay

Why Do It? Who can resist chocolate? At Skelling Michael Chocolate Factory, you can watch as the chocolate is made, taste delicious samples, and buy some to take back home. Parents won’t want to miss trying the Dark Chocolate and Whiskey Truffles.

Good to Know: While you’re in the area, visit Valentia Island (linked by bridge from the nearby town of Portmagee) to see the 385-million-year-old tetrapod footprints.

Giant's Causeway - Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Credit: Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland by Bigstock.com

Giant's Causeway - Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland

What Is It? A UNESCO World Heritage Site with around 40,000 unique hexagonal-shaped stepping stones formed some 60 million years ago and rock formations in unusual shapes like the Wishing Chair, Giant’s Boot, The Camel, The Giant’s Granny and The Organ.

Why Do It? It’s a dramatic landscape backed by towering cliffs that’s sparked numerous myths and legends the kids are sure to be fascinated by.

Good to Know: There’s an excellent visitor center on-site along with a gift shop. Plan to arrive as soon as it opens or toward the end of the day to beat the crowds.

Titanic Museum, Belfast Titanic Museum Belfast
Credit: Titanic Museum Belfast by infomatique via Flickr

Titanic Museum, Belfast

What Is It? The Titanic Museum is one of the most impressive museums in the world with a wide range of exhibits that include artifacts like clothing and letters from the ship that sank in 1912. It also includes re-created rooms where you’ll see how passengers slept and dined on the ship, from the luxuries of first class to the basic essentials provided in third class. There’s even an interactive ride.

Why Do It? While very young children might get bored, older kids are likely to find it interesting and will even get their own separate audio guides and map that will be stamped at various points along the way, making it even more entertaining.

Good to Know: The museum is so big you can easily spend a full day or even two. You’ll want a minimum of a half-day here.

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