Our expert guide to the best things to do in Ireland with kids. From castle exploring to zip-lining and visiting National Parks, these are 40+ ideas for unforgettable Ireland family vacations!
A trip to Ireland can be a wonderful family vacation.
Famous for its stunning green scenery and traditional Irish welcome, Ireland is safe, beautiful and rich in cultural traditions that capture the imagination of travelers of all ages.
From fairy trails, to hikes and castles, if you are visiting Ireland with children, you won’t get run out of things to do!
These are 40+ family-friendly things to do in Ireland you can add to your Ireland itinerary, chosen by our kids.
I have been living in Ireland for over 15 years and our kids are born and raised in Dublin so when we say these are bases on our experience, you know we mean it!
We hope they will help you get your family vacation planned!
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Best things to do in Ireland with kids
Cycle to Ireland’s most Northerly point
Malin Head, in Co Donegal, is the most northerly headland in mainland Ireland and wonderful to visit at all ages.
The land here stretches gently into the treacherous waves of the Atlantic Ocean and touches the highest latitude at Banba’s crown, a spot named after the Irish mythological Queen Banba.
Malin Head is easy to access by car but the most scenic way to visit is by bike. Rentals available for age 6+
Explore the second most beautiful beach in the world
Donegal has some of the most amazing beaches in Ireland and, according to some sources, it is home to the second-best beach in the world: Ballymastocker!
Make sure you wrap up even in summer: while the sand is golden and inviting, the wind can be strong here and the water is never warm!
Visit the tallest sea cliffs in Europe at Slieve League
Slieve League cliffs in con Donegal are the tallest accessible cliffs in Europe and one the most beautiful corners of the whole in Ireland.
They plunge into the ocean from 601mt (1,972 ft) and are easily accessible by people of all ages and most levels of fitness thanks to a large paved road.
What makes them perfect for kids? The easy walk and the ice cream van on top (summer only)!
Hear Gaelic in the Gaeltacht
Ireland is a bilingual country and its original language is Gaelic.
Gaelic is still the main language of the law, it is taught in school and it is very much alive in some parts of the country called Gaeltacht.
One of the most scenic and atmospheric of these areas in Donegal, especially around Fanad head.
If you can’t catch the Irish speaking it, you can still have a taste for it looking at street signs.
They are bilingual and not as easy to decipher as you may think: this language has different roots than English and looks and sound absolutely unique!
Cycle the Western Greenway to Achill island
Ireland has many cycling routes, some family-friendly.
The Great Western Greenway is the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland and brings you from the lovely town of Westport to Achill island and its stunning beaches.
A wonderful child friendly activity and perfect for a family day out.
Get adventurous in Connemara
Connemara, in the West of Ireland, is one of the most atmospheric areas of the country with truly stunning nature and remote scenery.
One of the best ways to enjoy connemara with kids and getting up close and personal with nature here is to go to and adventure center like the Delphi resort.
Here, you can go try your hand at mountain biking, canoe making, kayaking, surfing, tree adventuring and much more.
Parents can also enjoy the on site spa….
Visit a castle, turned abbey, turned school at Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey is one of the most photographed buildings in the whole of Ireland and one of the country’s most famous.
Built in 1868 as a castle, in 1929 it changed use and became an abbey and finally a school for girls!
The abbey is fun to visit with kids: aside from the brilliant location, several family activities are on offer as well as a wild play area, garden tea house and the chance of seeing the abbey pigs!
Experience total darkness in the Ailwee Cave
Did you ever wonder what complete darkness looks and feels like?
This is exactly what you can learn with a tour of the Ailwee Cave, in County Clare!
Ailwee Cave is an easy to access cave that lets kids and adult get familiar with the lunar landscape of the Burren… from underground!
The tour is child friendly and culminates in a moment when the lights are turned off to experience total darkness.
Really fun and suitable for all levels of fitness, with no small passages or difficult parts to negotiate but be aware that the total darkness moment can be a little scary for very small children (doesn’t last long though and you don’t have to walk, just stand, while that happens)
Get into falconry at National Birds of Prey Centres
Ireland has a love affair with falconry and it is easy to partake of this passion.
Several locations offer falconry experiences ranging from flying displays to full falcon walks.
One is in the Burren, close the Ailwee Cave we just mentioned but you can find several, in different parts of the country.
A place we love for this is Russborough house, near Dublin and an exceptionally scenic one is elegant Ashford Castle, in Co Mayo which offers family-friendly accommodation in stunning castle surroundings.
Take an iconic photo at the famous cliffs of Moher
The cliffs of Moher are well equipped for visitors and can be safely visited at all ages.
Try to visit late in the afternoon for fewer crowds and make sure you stop at the visitors’ center is you have school-age kids as there are interesting tidbits for the to learn.
Cycle around the whole of Inisheer
Adults and kids alike can cycle along the perimeter of the smallest of the Aran Islands, Inisheer.
The island is tiny and scenic, it has a beautiful lighthouse and allows you to see the Cliffs of Moher from across the water (cruises also available).
On a sunny day, it is a quiet and lovely place to get in touch with the more remote side of Ireland.
Listen to live music in a traditional pub
Pubs may not spring to mind as kid-friendly places but some of them are family-friendly and make for a lovely experience!
Go for those that serve food and pick one with live Irish music for the most fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
You can find tips for visiting Ireland with kids here.
Go surfing in Lahinch
Ireland is a fabulous surfing spot and one of the best places to experience Ireland’s swell is Lahinch, on the West coast of the country.
You can take the waves on your own here or join one of the many local schools offering sessions: make sure you bring or rent a wetsuit though, it gets very cold in the water, even in summer.
Visit Fungie the dolphin in Dingle
Animal lovers should not miss the opportunity to pay a visit to Fungi, Ireland’s beloved dolphin!
Fungie lives in the waters in front of the Dingle peninsula and special cruises are arranged for visitors of all ages to see him in its natural habitat.
The Dingle Peninsula is a lovely corner of Ireland and Dingle town is a delight of colored houses and ice cream shops.
Spending some time here is one of the best things to do in Ireland for a real taste of the Irish West!
Update 2020: recently, Fungi has gone missing! While we all hope he can return safely to his home, I still recommend you visit this area with kids but it is important to manage expectations if Fungi was the reason for the trip.
Get outdoorsy in the Killarney National Park
Maybe less agile than Fungie but nonetheless unique to this part of the country are the Kerry cows.
They are a special breed native to Ireland and they are considered the most ancient type of cow in Europe.
Spotting them from the car is a family favorite while in the Killarney area.
One of the best places to see them is the amazing Killarney National Park, which is a delight to visit with kids but truly, at all ages.
Blessed with beautigul lakes, waterfalls, walks and atmospheric ruins, the park has entertaining opportunities for kids including, walks, carriage rides, kayaking and exploring castles!
Experience a medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle
If your kids ever wondered what it would have been like to live in the Middle Ages and go to a castle banquet, then they will love the opportunity to experience one in Bunratty castle!
Built in 1425 and restored in 1954, the castle has elegant interiors recreating the mood of the 15th and 16th centuries and treats is guests to s a full medieval banquet to experience life in the castle in times of splendor!
The banquet is child friendly.
Catch the only cable car above open seawater
How do you cross a turbulent stretch of water? But by cable car, of course!
Dursey Island, in the West of Ireland, is separated from the mainland by a temperamental stretch of seawater and the best way to reach it is by cable car.
The gondola connects the island to the mainland with regular rides and holds a record: it is the only cable car crossing open sea water in the whole of Europe.
Take a hike to 3 Castle Head
One of the most scenic spots in the whole of Ireland is Three Castle Head, a small promontory in West Cork home of the impressive Dunlogh Castle.
The castle can be reached with a short hike, its ruins sit on the shores of a lake and its tower is said to be haunted!
Learn about Irish diaspora in Cobh
Emigration plays a huge role in the history of Ireland and nowhere like in Cobh it hits home what it must feel like, to leave family behind and face the unknown to make a living.
The emigration museum in Cobh is suitable for all ages and is a great piece of living history.
Get the gift of the gab kissing the Blarney stone
One of the most famous localities in the whole of Ireland is Blarney, a small town in Co Cork famous for its impressive Blarney castle as its legendary stone.
According to the legend, if you bend over backwards (literally) and kiss the stone, you will get ‘the gift of the gab’, meaning you will be exceptionally eloquent.
It is also worth visiting the castle for its scenic ruins, grounds and the fabulous poison garden.
Visit the animals in Fota
Did you know you had cheetahs in Ireland?
They are not in the wild, as you can imagine, but they do live on the Southern coast of Ireland in the safe enclosures of Fota wildlife park in Cork.
Admire the powerful Rock of Cashel
One of the most scenic ancient sites in Ireland is the Rock of Cashel, in County Tipperary.
The rock of Cashel is an ancient fortress perched on a hill overlooking the town by the same name.
Legends report this is where St Patrick converted the kings of Munster to Christianity and all it takes is to cast your eyes on this ancient fort to see why legends blossomed around it.
A visit here is one of the best things to do in ireland with slightly older kids who will be best able to appreciate the ancient history of this impressive location.
Visit the oldest operational lighthouse at Hook Head
At the very top of Hook Head in Co Wexford, Hook head lighthouse holds the record for being the oldest operational lighthouse in the country and the second oldest in the whole world!
The lighthouse is open to visitors and you can climb all the way to its viewing platform for great views over the sea in front.
Climb to the top of Trim Castle
Mel Gibson fans may recognize Trim Castle from the scenes of Braveheart since, to the surprise of many, the Scottish saga was filmed in Ireland!
The castle is great to visit and you can climb all the way to the top for beautiful views over the surrounding landscape.
Discover the biggest telescope in Europe at Birr Castle
Not many realize that Ireland, for a long time, was an important centre for astronomic discoveries.
Birr Castle in County Offaly is the home of what used to be the biggest telescope in Europe.
It is still located in the grounds of the castle and it is a sight to behold even now that its technology is surpassed.
A visit to Birr castle is one of the best things to do in Ireland with kids also because of the castle playground equipped with a bouncy hill, a hobbit house and the biggest treehouse in the country!
Explore Strongbow’s castle in Kilkenny
The beautiful city of Kilkenny graces most Irish itineraries and with a beautiful castle, a stunning cathedral and a lively main street, it is easy to see why!
With kids, make sure you take the time to explore its beautiful castle and learn the history of Strongbow, its founder, before letting off steam in the castle garden playground.
Too tired to go sightseeing? Get the kids on the little Kilkenny street train for a tired-kids-proof tour of the city!
Go Kayaking on the River Nore
A fun way to experience the Irish landscapes to kayak along one of Ireland’s rivers such as the river Nore, which crosses Kilkenny.
River kayaking experiences are offered by local operators and they are a fun day out for all ages: bring a picnic!
Explore the monastic site of Glendalough
Glendalough monastic site sits amidst the beautiful Wicklow mountains in the east of Ireland.
The site is a place of incredible natural beauty and can be visited by travelers of all ages, including very young kids and families with strollers. Tours from Dublin available
Hike to the very top of a mountain in Co Wicklow
How would it feel to climb all the way to the top of a mountain and look at the Irish sea below?
You can find out in Co Wiklow, where you can hike all the way to the top of the Sugar Loaf, one of the area’s most pointy yet accessible peaks.
You can find a selection of our favorite family hikes in Dublin and Wicklow heew.
Visit Parnell’s house in Avondale
A great way to mix a cultural visit with children fun is to pay a visit to Avondale House, a short day trip from Dublin.
Sitting amidst wide lawns and native woodlands, Avondale house is famous for being Parnell’s home and is now a museum open to the public.
On its grounds, now you can find a nice coffee shop, nature walks and a fabulous playground perfect for even very small kids.
Visit beautiful Powerscourt House and Gardens
A stunning hotel, beautiful Italian style gardens and a cafe expect families in Powerscourt House and Gardens, one of the most beautiful estates in the whole of the country.
As well as visiting the gardens, make sure you bring the kids to the Cool Planet Experience, just beside the main house.
This is a wonderful, family friendly, fun, interactive exhibitio teaching about climate change but, more importanlty, how YOU can make a difference!
Visit the stunning Mount Usher Gardens
Take a break from it all and spend one afternoon in the wonderful Mount Usher Gardens, in County Wicklow.
Equipped with a family-friendly restaurant on-site and quaint shops, mount usher gardens are an example of Robinsonian gardens and are one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland.
Give the kids the map and let them lead the way: the wild yet safe environment is perfect for little explorers!
Visit the wild seals in Howth
Just to the north of Dublin city center sits the charming fishing village of Howth.
On a sunny day, local families flock here to enjoy a meal of fresh fish from the market, make friends with the local seals in the harbor and to take a walk along the coastal path of Howth head, offering lovely views over Dublin bay.
Need to know! not all the paths in Howth are suitable for small kids. Make sure you check the local panel with info on all the available paths and levels of difficult to make sure you get the most suited to you.
Visit the Neolithic sites of Newgrange
There is something powerful and mysterious about prehistoric sites and Newgrange makes no exception.
The complex of Newgrange is listed in the Unesco list of work heritage sites and it is indeed special: the tombs here appear like large man made hills but hide a secret.
In Newgrange, a small aperture on the roof is positioned in such a way that a ray of light comes in exactly at the time of the winter solstice.
The Brú na Bóinne monuments, as they are officially named because of their location in the Boyne Valley, represent the largest and most important expression of prehistoric megalithic plastic art in Europe.
Visit Trinity College Long Room and the book of Kells
Trinity college is a sister university to Oxford and Cambridge and a wonderful campus to visit.
Its most impressive corner is the Long Room, Trinity’s old library. The room is covered in books from floor to ceiling and holds a copy of each booked published in the country!
Trinity is also the home of the book of Kells, a manuscript dating back to monastic times with incredible drawings and decorations crafted with unbelievable craftsmanship.
This is a cool place to visit with older kids and star wars fans as it looks remarkably like the Jedi’s archive!
Learn how Guinness is made in the Guinness storehouse
Kids cannot drink Guinness because of its alcohol content but a visit to the brewery and storehouse is fun for all ages thanks to the impressive and fun displays.
The Guinness storehouse is in Dublin and the tour ends in the gravity bar, which has a 360 degrees view over the city.
Learn the history of Ireland in Dublin castle
One of the best family-friendly places in Ireland to learn about Irish history is Dublin castle.
Once the seat of the British rule in Ireland, this castle is in Dublin city center and offers regular family-friendly tours around its impressive rooms, still now used to host stately events.
Explore your Irish heritage in the Epic Ireland exhibition
Do you have Irish origins?
You can discover if you have family connections with Ireland in the Epic Ireland genealogy centre: here you can learn about the history of the Irish diaspora and trace your history back to your Irish ancestors. A wonderful family activity.
Hop aboard a famine ship
Nothing brings home how hard it must have been to flee Ireland at the time of the family as stepping onto a family ship, the small vessels that used to sail across the Atlantic to bring people to what they hope would be a better life or even just survival.
You can visit a family ship in the heart of Dublin: the Jeanie Johnston is anchored in front of the Epic Ireland exhibition and carries memories of an important piece of Irish history (and not only).
Admire Irish horses at the National Stud Centre
Ireland has a love affair with horses and a great place to see the country’s best is to visit the National stud centre in Kildare.
Here you can come up close and personal with the studs and also explore some of the centre stunning gardens including the impressive Japanese gardens.
Look for fairies on Ireland’s fairy walks
Ireland is said to be the land of fairies and leprechauns, small creatures depicted as little bearded men with a coat and large hats.
You can go fairy spotting in many locations around Ireland (Russborough house and Ardgillan castle are our favorites): keep your eyes peeled for fairy doors!
Visit an open farm
Ireland has many, lovely farms that have now opened their doors to kids and families for fun and educational family days out.
Visi a family-friendly estate
Ireland has many large villas and estate and many have now been open to the public and turned into lovely family-friendly locations.
Wells house for instance, in Co Wexford, has a gruffalo trail, archery and a fabulous playground, Kilruddery House a legendary sandpit (and pumpkin patch at Halloween) and Russborough House a nature trail, a fairy trail, playground ans a maze!
Feel like royalty spending one night in a castle
Ireland is home to thousands of castles and spending the night in one is, for many visitors, one of the highlight of their Irish vacation.
If you want to feel like royalty and bring the kids along, make sure you pick a castle hotel that is welcoming to kids. You can find our handpicked selection in our guide to family friendly castle hotels in Ireland.
I hope you enjoyed this list of cool and unique things to do in Ireland with kids. Safe family travels!