Ireland is so close to the UK it’s a weekend break, but so different it always feels like an adventure, especially for kids.
Visit Dublin for a city that’s easy to get about and filled with things to see and do. Travel to any one of the iconic counties and you’ll find coast and countryside, pretty market towns, lively cities and endless stories. You can visit islands where nothing’s changed for centuries, celebrate international festival in tiny villages and cycle for hours with only the biggest skies and wildest scenery for company. Ireland might be very close to home, but it will never cease to amaze.
Direct daily flights all year round from London to Dublin, Shannon, Cork, Knock and Kerry take less than two hours.
Ireland loves to throw a party and has events all year round including Dublin’s mammoth St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Galway Oyster Festival and spectacular New Year celebrations on St. Stephen’s Green.
A long and rich history
World Heritage Brú na Bóinne in Newgrange is Europe’s largest concentration of megalithic art.
Ireland has over 1400km of coastline and 79 Blue Flag beaches along its entire length from north to south.
The Wicklow Mountains and Connemara are just two of Ireland’s six national parks.
Good weather in the summer
It rains less in Dublin than Paris and average summer temperatures in the Irish capital are between 65 and 68˚C. From late June to mid August it doesn’t get dark until around 10pm.
Where to go
Ireland’s capital has a reputation for friendliness and it’s well deserved. This is one of the most relaxed cities in Europe and making visitors feel right at home, right away is its greatest charm. Incredibly lovely and packed with history, Dublin’s easy to get to know and even easier to get around. Great for a family weekend away but worth taking longer and visit the stunning coast and countryside less than an hour from the city centre.
From Airbnb apartments in the heart of the Design District to Georgian houses, boutique B&B, 5-star hotels and waterfront self-catering, Dublin has family accommodation of every description.
Don’t miss Saturday morning markets, the Leprechaun Museum, fun and free city tours, Imaginosity Children’s Museum and Dublin Zoo.
Dun Laoghaire is Dublin by the sea, famous for the Christmas Morning swim and just 30 minutes drive from the city centre.
Wicklow Mountains National Park is an hour’s drive west of Dublin.
County Cork is the Ireland of everyone’s imagination: brightly painted fishing villages, rolling green fields, white beaches and jewel-like little islands off the long, ragged coast. It’s the county where they keep the Blarney Stone. Foodie capital Kinsale is here too. And the city of Cork itself is second only to Dublin for colourful history, fantastic festivals and activities to keep kids busy day and night.
Cork is the county for sailing and cycling holidays, horse riding and beautiful safe swimming beaches – with lifeguards in summer.
Don’t miss Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone, traditional villages like Kinsale and Skibbereen, the Titanic Trail, Doneraile National Park and Gougane Barra Forest.
Direct flights from London to Cork take 1 hour 15 minutes and it’s a wonderful county for country holiday cottages and beachy self-catering.
County Clare’s rugged Atlantic coast is where you’ll find the Cliffs of Moher, the mysterious Aran Islands and enough pounding waves to tempt surfers, even in the depth of winter. The bleakly magnificent Burren brings even more drama to this wild, western county. But, in quieter moments, Clare’s also the heartland of Irish folk music, quaint villages and grand castles.
Self-catering cottages with sea views are great for families in County Clare.
Don’t miss the Cliffs of Moher, Craggaunowen prehistoric park, Bunratty Castle, Ailwee Cave and Cratloe Woods.
The tiny village of Doolin has a great St. Patrick’s Day parade and hosts the Irish Folk Music Festival every year in February.
County Galway combines its world famous city with astonishing countryside and a breathtaking coast to make an almost perfect family holiday. Roam flawlessly lovely Connemara National Park, go snorkelling off the pristine beach at Carraroe, discover castles like Oranmore and Kinvara, cycle by the sea or deep in the heart of the country and spend more than a little time in Galway itself. The county capital is home to some of the world’s finest seafood and a great little city for kids to explore.
Galway is home to the one of the world’s best loved oyster festivals in September and it has exceptional hotels and guesthouses all year round as a result. Connemara National Park is good for family self-catering and country guesthouses.
Ancient and fascinating County Wexford is under two hours drive from Dublin and where Ireland keeps its best beaches.
Wexford’s famous coastline is scattered with family holiday parks and excellent campsites.
Famous beaches here include: Rosslyn Strand and enormously long, sandy Curracloe.
Don’t miss: the waterfront city of Wexford, Irish National Heritage Park, Hook Peninsula and Lighthouse, the Wexford Trails, Dunbrody Famine Ship and Loftus Hall – Ireland’s most haunted house.
What to do and see with kids in Ireland
National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
The little people are the most famous of Ireland’s many mythical beings and this is their story in full, fun and fantastic detail.
Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre, Dalkey
Ancient Ireland’s trials, tribulations and triumphs are made very real for kids in this all action heritage experience.
Imaginosity Children’s Museum, Dublin
Whatever inquisitive young kids are curious about, this experience is designed just for them and their imagination.
One of the world’s oldest city zoos Dublin is famous for its endangered species breeding programme – in 2016 it celebrated the arrival of a white rhino calf and a litter of Painted African dogs.
Cliffs of Moher
702m high and stretching for eight kilometres along County Clare’s Atlantic Coast the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural wonder.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Covering over 20,000 hectares, Wicklow is Ireland’s largest national park and ideal for an entire holiday or even just a day trip from Dublin.
Connemara National Park
Reason in itself to base a family holiday in County Galway, Connemara National Park is a manageable 2957 hectares of mountain, moor and forest.
Titanic Trail, Cobh
Cork was the ill-fated Titanic’s last port of call before facing the open Atlantic on her first and last voyage. This fun heritage trail is as entertaining as it is interesting.
Dublin Discovery Trails
A range of self-guided city tours available as free downloadable apps.
Rush Beach, Dublin
Dublin’s favourite beach is just half an hour from the city and one of the best spots in the country for kitesurfing.
Educational value for kids
Ireland’s amazing for cycling holidays and there are well-marked routes all over Dublin and West Cork through some of the country’s most historic and scenic areas.
From Dublin to Galway, free city tours are fun for kids, the guides are always well-informed and entertaining locals and you get a choice of themes – remember to tip.
Visit any one of Ireland’s six national parks and kids are immersed in natural history, myth, legend and more than a little ancient Celtic lore.
Catch the ferry at Doolin and sail to the Aran Islands for a unique look at a very traditional Irish way of life, still alive and well today.
Getting around with kids in Ireland
Touring around Ireland by car is an unforgettable way for kids to see the country. But, if you don’t want to drive, the countrywide train service is excellent. Cycling is very common in rural areas and every city has excellent public transport and there are bus services to most towns and villages.