10 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids

It’s incredibly easy to think of Ireland as a place for “seasoned” tourists to take bus tours or for young singles on self-directed “pub tours”.

But the Ireland I know is welcoming for the entire family, filled with a centuries old magic just waiting to be discovered.

For nearly a decade I have been traveling with my children. My eldest daughter’s first flight was to Ireland. As we have crossed the country in the years since her first trip, we’ve discovered many amazing places – and have many more on our “future visits” list.

10 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids

1. Cliffs of Moher

 

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher seem a very obvious choice. The most popular tourist destination in Ireland, people have been coming here for hundreds of years to take in the incredible views.

Before walking up to the cliffs – a bit of a hike – be sure to stop in the Visitor’s Centre. The Atlantic Edge exhibit is well worth the time.

Kids, and even adults, will enjoy learning about the history of the Cliffs and how bird eggs were collected from the cliff walls.

2. Killarney

 

Jaunting Cart in Killarney National Park
Jaunting Cart in Killarney National Park

The tourist town in Southwest Ireland – and for good reason. Killarney is often the starting point for many tourists who plan day trips around the Ring of Kerry.

Nestled next to the city centre is the edge of Killarney National Park, which includes Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey and Traditional Farms, and miles of walking and cycling trails.

Killarney is a terrific base for day trips through the Gap of Dunloe and the Beara Peninsula. Add in shopping, dining and lively pubs and it’s very easy to spend your entire vacation in this single area.

3. Lough Gur / Ballyhoura

 

Donkey Sanctuary
Donkey Sanctuary

Quite possibly one of Ireland’s most magical – and least visited – areas. Lough Gur lies just south of Limerick City. In this small area you’ll find Ireland’s largest stone circle, the entrance to faerie land, castle ruins and incredible archeological sites. Easily, an entire days’ worth of exploration and discovery.

The Ballyhoura Region, of which Lough Gur is a part of, covers much of County Limerick and the northern portion of County Cork. A popular area for hikers and mountain bikers, you’ll also find Ireland’s only Donkey Sanctuary, which is fun and free to visit.

Rambling Houses across the area will teach you Irish Dancing or maybe even how to play the Irish whistle or bodhrán.

4. Kylemore Abbey

 

Kylemore Abbey              Source: flickr.com via Kathleen on Pinterest

Photos of breathtaking Kylemore Abbey in Connemara inspire many adults to visit Ireland. But few realize that the grounds of the Abbey are incredible place for children. The paths throughout the grounds feature fun play areas for kids.

While the adults will marvel at the Walled Victorian Gardens, the kids will see a fabulous place to run and explore. The gardeners are always happy to answer questions and the tea shop provides a relaxing spot for a cuppa and a bit of chocolate.

Gardens of Kylemore Abbey

If you are very adventurous, enquire about mountain hikes behind the Abbey. Not for the faint of heart, but the views are unbelievable!

5. Dingle Peninsula

 

the dingle peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula

Often overlooked in it’s neighbor’s (the Ring of Kerry) popularity, the Dingle Peninsula offers quite a lot for families. One of the largest draws is the town of Dingle’s resident dolphin, Fungi.  A terrific Oceanic Aquarium lies just by Dingle Bay.

Driving the peninsula leads to a stone age fort, bee hive huts and the Gallarus Oratory. Views are just as dramatic as you’ll find on the Ring of Kerry.

The Dingle Peninsula is a Gaeltecht, or Irish speaking area, so you’re likely to pick up a few Irish words, as well.

6. Giant’s Causeway

 

Giant's Causeway Northern Island
Giant’s Causeway Northern Island                         Source: reachli.com via Noraina on Pinterest

Will you believe the scientists, who say the Giant’s Causeway is the result of an underwater volcano, or will you trust the Irish legend that says it was built by Finn McCool as a path way to Scotland?

After visiting the miles of octagonal stones along the Antrim coastline, it’s likely you’ll choose the Irish legend.

For those looking for adventure, follow the Antrim Coast Road, a narrow, often single carriage-way drive that hugs the Antrim coast providing some of the most breathtaking views in Northern Ireland.

Include a stop at the dramatic ruins of Dunluce Castle or, for those who enjoy a thrill, cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

7. Lough Boora Parklands

 

Lough Boora Parklands Ireland
Sculpture in the park                      Source: photos.kieranlane.com via Magnetic Jewelry by J & I on Pinterest

The Lough Boora Parklands were once a prime peat mining area. Now those acres of land are public space, filled with art that can be appreciated by all ages.

Wander the pathways on foot, or rent a bicycle. And bring bits of bread to feed the ducks and geese that call the park home.

8. Clifden / Sky Road

 

Live Music in Clifden 2012
Enjoying the traditional craic

Though maybe not as white-knuckling as the Antrim Coast Road, the Sky Road near Clifden offers incredible views – and a few heart-racing moments as well. At times the road seems like it must fall off the edge of the cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean, and then the road widens, providing a place to stop and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

The village of Clifden is called the Capital of Connemara. Filled with shops and pubs, it’s the perfect place to dance the night away in a pub to traditional Irish music (yes, kids are allowed in the pubs!). And the beaches of Mannin Bay are a terrific place to hunt shells and sea glass.

9. Bunratty Castle

 

Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle

One of Ireland’s best preserved tower houses, Bunratty Castle is the center of a folk park filled with traditional Irish cottages as well as a small village filled with traditional shops and a pub.

Wandering the grounds leads to a beautiful walled garden, a piggery, plenty of animals and even a play area featuring a wooden castle.

Bunratty castle can be explored top to bottom and hosts a Medieval Banquet nightly. For families with young children, I recommend Traditional Irish Night, which is filled with music, dancing and craic (pronounced “crack”; Irish for fun and entertainment).

10. Phoenix Park / Dublin Zoo

 

deer at sunset Phoenix Park Dublin
Deer at sunset Phoenix Park Dublin              Source: thejournal.ie via National University of Ireland Maynooth on Pinterest

Many visits to Ireland begin and end in Dublin. But Dublin is not all about the pubs.

One place in the city that will surely please kids of any age is Phoenix Park. Over 1700 acres, Phoenix Park was originally a Royal deer park. You’ll still find deer and other wildlife throughout the park as you explore on foot or bicycle.

Also within the park is the Dublin Zoo, playgrounds, a flower garden, and tea shops. Phoenix park is truly a relaxing oasis in the center of bustling Dublin.

Have you visited Ireland with Kids?

Share your tips below…

More Posts About Ireland

Our Posts about Dublin

 More Resources for Ireland

Jody Halsted
Jody Halsted is a family travel authority with a mad passion for Ireland. A frequent visitor to the country, she loves nothing more than exploring Ireland with her husband and two daughters. Jody recently published a series of Ireland vacation planning tips at her site Ireland With Kids. Jody also plans Ireland itineraries and provides Ireland travel coaching. Get inspired by the Ireland Family Vacations Pinterest boards or follow Jody on Twitter @IrelandFamTrvl.

21 Comments on “10 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids”

  1. I’ve been to about seven of the places suggested and would say they are great for adults too. I’d also recommend a trip to the Aran Islands – fun for both adults & kids.
    Leigh recently posted..Day 2 of Hiking in Colombia: High Passes and Heavy Breathing
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  2. Wow, a lot of stunning views. I have plans for Dublin for the first time, soon. I will have to make sure I spend a day taking in some of these spectacular views. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  3. Beautiful photos of a beautiful country. This looks like a great list for families who are considering a trip to Ireland!
    Allison recently posted..Hotel Review: University Guest House
    Allison recently posted..Hotel Review: University Guest House

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  4. I love Ireland. Some nice suggestions, here!
    wandering educators recently posted..Are Those Giant Rats?
    wandering educators recently posted..Are Those Giant Rats?

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  5. Whilst we haven’t been to Ireland.

    If you add farm animals and a buggy trip they have got to have a ball.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted..Kota Kinabalu with Kids – November 2012
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted..Kota Kinabalu with Kids – November 2012

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  6. HeatherS

    We’re thinking about taking a trip to Ireland with my 6.5 and 3.5 year old girls. This websie is perfect! Do you recommend basing ourselves in one city and doing day trips or are there 2 or 3 places you’d recommend staying? We’ll be there for 7-10 days.

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  7. Beautiful photos! Can’t wait to bring the kids there one day!
    Laurel- Capturing la Vita recently posted..San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy- In Black and White
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  8. [...] 10 Place to Visit in Ireland with Kids – Y Travel [...]

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  9. Took our kids to many of these sites a few years back and had a wonderful time. I also recommend staying on a farm while your there. We rented a cottage for a week on a working farm and it really made the trip special for the kids. As a bonus, we went in the spring! Can you say baby farm animals?

    P.S. Isn’t your photo of Slea Head on the DIngle Peninsula backwards????

    Reply
  10. hi,
    am looking for somewhere fun to take my two boys,11yrs(hard to please coz has Autism) and an 8yr old…i know they an’t into out door activities so maybe something interesting to see..
    looking for 3 or 4 different places in different towns…any suggestions will highly be appreciated.

    Reply
    • I would suggest doing a search on google to see what is in the towns your were thinking of visiting. This post is probably a good starting point for you

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  11. I went to Ireland last year and it is really very beautiful island I have ever seen and experienced. Its beauty is just out of this world.

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  12. […] Visit YTravelBlog to see my recommendations for 10 places to take the family in Ireland. […]

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  13. I disagree with your list. Maybe your kids were older. I traveled with children from 2 – 9. Our favorites are Fota Wildlife Park near Cork, & Bunratty Park which is similar to our American Greenfield Village or Williamsburg but Irish. We did love Giant’s Causway.
    I find it interesting that the Cliffs were number one. Young ones are too unpredictable for that one for me.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry you disagree, Nerma. My daughters were both 1 year old when they made their first visit to Ireland (2005 & 2008) and have been multiple times since. The are now 7 & 9. Because the Cliffs of Moher are ‘barricaded’ with a high wall, they are not unsafe unless you venture out beyond the main area. Really, nothing for a parent to worry about at the main site.

      We have not had the opportunity to visit Fota Wildlife Park yet, but I did list Bunratty.

      Reply
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