Visiting Ireland with your kids is guaranteed to be a family vacation of a lifetime and great example of a “travel that teaches” vacation.
Ireland is a majestic land of wonder, filled with folklore, tales of fairies and leprechaun’s in search of that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Rain or shine, Ireland is brimming with family friendly learning adventures like exploring the multitude of medieval castle ruins and other ancient landmarks that, unlike other countries, are there to be explored by inquisitive minds of all ages. Visiting Ireland with kids isn’t just about historical landmarks either – there are caves to explore, seemingly endless miles of captivating beaches and breathtaking landscapes. From horseback riding on the beach to surfing, to riding bikes cross country, time spent in Ireland with your family will be an experience that all will remember forever. Keeping a camera (or smart phone) handy and letting the kids take pictures along the way is a great idea because once you get back home, you can relive the experience together and see who can remember where the photos were taken.
Following are just a few examples of noteworthy things to do in Ireland.
Stay the Night in a Castle
As children, we’ve all dreamed of living in a castle. In Ireland, you can make it come true for you and your family. Talk about a cool learning adventure! There are a number of castles that can be booked for your stay, also putting you in reach of legendary things to do because Ireland is filled with opportunities for adventure. For example, if you decided to spend the night (or days) the West Cork area, you’ll be able to explore its breathtaking rugged coastline. If you choose to stay in Dingle, you and the kids will have the opportunity to meet the resident dolphin Fungi, who calls Dingle bay home and is always eager to greet visitors. You’ll also be able to enjoy many family outings amongst the many coves nestled along the beaches.
When in Ireland, you definitely need to visit Dublin, an area that can be easily enjoyed via bike (rentals are readily available) or on foot. The city is home to a wealth of treasured sites to see and exciting learning opportunities. A few of Dublin’s main attractions include the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College, the Kilmainham Gaol, and St. Stephen’s Green. Be sure to visit Dublin’s legendary Grafton Street to enjoy a bit of shopping and check out the mimes and busters doing their magic.
There’s a lot to do in Kilkenny, a majestic medieval city, including checking out historical places like the Powerscourt Gardens located in Wicklow and Blendalough’s monastic settlement. You’ll also want to spend hours visiting its many ancient castles and museums. You’re also going to be just a short bicycle ride away from charming country villages, riding by emerald green landscapes dotted with sheep. Nestled beside the city center is Killarney National Park, which is home to the Muckross Abbey, Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey, traditional Farms, and miles upon miles of cycling and walking trails.
The Dingle Peninsula is one of the most visually stunning places in the world, featuring dramatic cliffs, crashing waves and a wealth of incredible archaeological sites. Driving along the peninsula, you’ll be led to the Gallarus Oratory, beehive huts and a Stone Age fort. The area is also known for its pottery, music and great pubs for the grownups.
Cliffs of Moher
Ireland’s most visited natural attractions, the Cliffs of Moher captures the hearts of over a million visitors annually. There are miles of pathways and viewing areas along the cliff’s edge, allowing visitors to enjoy a memorable walk and spectacular, expansive views. From the viewpoints, you can see as far away as the iconic Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Kerry mountains, O’Briens Tower and the countless seabirds that make the Cliffs of Moher the magical place that it is. If the timing is right, you may even hear the Cliffs Buskers playing their traditional Irish music along the pathway.
You’ll definitely want to take the kids to Crag Cave, a brilliantly colored wonderland of Stalactites and Stalagmites. Crag Cave is one of Ireland‘s longest cave (3.80km) systems. Visitors can explore the cave along an easy path, taken them past groupings of stalactites and spacious chambers. The path curves past a labyrinth of side passages, where at times you can hear the sounds of underground rivers and caves winding their way within the depths. A unique lighting system has been installed throughout the cave, strategically placed to enhance the cave’s natural beauty.
The Kingdom Falconry provides an incredible educational (and exciting) opportunity that gives kids of all ages a chance to see and learn about an impressive variety of awe inspiring birds of prey, including owls, falcons and hawks. Watch the birds at their best and learn fascinating facts about the ancient art of falconry that has been acknowledged by UNESCO as a part of Ireland‘s collective cultural heritage.
The Blarney Stone
High on the top of the Blarney Castle you’ll find one of Ireland’s most famed tourist attractions – The Blarney Stone, which is easy to see from the ground as well as the battlements. What’s not as easy is kissing the Blarney Stone, but even Sir Winston Churchill put in the effort to bend over backwards to be rewarded with great eloquence (flattery or the gift of gab).
Accommodations in Ireland that cater to families are available in all shapes and sizes. There are genuine Irish castles, with acres of landscapes where children can burn off energy, farmhouses and cottages you can rent, charming inns and even modern hotels with all the amenities.
Best Time to Go
Fall is definitely one of the best times to visit Ireland because the weather’s still good, everything is more affordable and it’s less crowded.