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 it’s time we change this perception, because Ireland has so much to offer.
The Ireland I know is welcoming for the entire family, filled with a centuries old magic and history just waiting to be discovered.
For nearly a decade I have been traveling with my children, and my eldest daughter’s first flight was to Ireland. We’ve spent many years traveling across the country and we’ve discovered many amazing places to visit in Ireland with kids.
If you’re planning on taking a trip to the Emerald Isle full of folk tales, gorgeous nature and mystery, then you’ll want to add these family-friendly destinations in Ireland to your Ireland itinerary.
EDITOR NOTE: Craig will be touring Ireland for a week in Sept 2022. Jump in our email community so you don’t miss all his adventures and tips.
- Getting Around Ireland
- Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids
- 1. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
- 2. Killarney, County Kerry
- 3. Lough Gur / Ballyhoura, Limerick
- 4. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway
- 5. Dingle Peninsula
- 6. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
- 7. Lough Boora Parklands, County Offaly
- 8. Clifden / Sky Road, Connemara
- 9. Bunratty Castle, County Clare
- 10. Phoenix Park / Dublin Zoo
- 11. Clara Lara Fun Park, County Wicklow
- 12. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
- 13. Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny
- 14. Kildare Maze Activity Park, Kildare
- 15. Fairy Bridges and Wishing Chair
- Before You Go
- More Ireland Inspiration:
Getting Around Ireland
Ireland is a huge country and most of it is very rural. You can get from city to city quite easily by train travel, which is certainly faster and easier than getting a bus.
Here’s a travel tip for Ireland – get the bus! One of the things we love about Ireland is some bus services are free (yes, free!). These are limited to the Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, DART and Luas Services. Some ferry services are also free.
However, the buses don’t often go to rural areas. If you’re planning on visiting small towns and villages, you’ll need to do a lot of planning as bus services don’t operate that regularly. They don’t always connect to each other, too, which means changing over at another town or city.
This can take quite a long time, so if you are short on time in Ireland, or you have fussy children, the best way to get around Ireland is to hire a car.
We use RentalCars.com when we’re preparing for road trips. It’s the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
If you have lots of time to spare and don’t mind spending time on public transport, the good news is Ireland’s public transport is very reliable and quite affordable.
Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids
Now you know how to get from A to B in Ireland, it’s time to take a look at the top places to visit. Whether you’re looking for castles, nature, or quintessentially Irish attractions, these are the most unmissable places to visit.
1. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher seem a very obvious choice for a place to visit in Ireland with kids. This spectacular area on the west coast of Ireland is 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 of Moher and how bird eggs were collected from the cliff walls.
2. Killarney, County Kerry
Killarney is 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 Muckross House and Muckross 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 Irish vacation in this single area.
3. Lough Gur / Ballyhoura, Limerick
Lough Gur is quite possibly one of Ireland’s most magical – and least visited – areas.
Lough Gur lies just south of Limerick City in Limerick County. In this small area you’ll find Ireland’s largest stone circle, the entrance to faerie land, castle ruins, and incredible archaeological sites. Easily, an entire days’ worth of exploration and discovery for the kids.
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, County Galway
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 of Kylemore Abbey are always happy to answer questions and the tea shop provides a relaxing spot for a cuppa and a bit of chocolate.
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
Often overlooked in its 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, beehive 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. It’s a fascinating and beautiful place in Ireland to visit with kids.
6. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
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. The kids sure will.
For those looking for adventure, follow the Antrim Coast Road, a narrow, often single carriageway 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, County Offaly
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, Connemara
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 landscape and 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, County Clare
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).
Next door to the castle is the famous bright yellow Durty Nelly’s Pub.
10. Phoenix Park / Dublin Zoo
Many visits to Ireland begin and end in Dublin. And while many visit the city to explore all of Dublin’s pubs, there is much more to see and do here – and let’s face it, kids are not particularly interested in pubs beside the pub grub.
One place in Dublin 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.
11. Clara Lara Fun Park, County Wicklow
There are several theme parks and amusement parks in Ireland, but Clara Lara Fun Park is an amusement park that the whole family can enjoy.
You can kayak or canoe in the lake, ride bikes around the park, or slide down the water slide! There’s also an obstacle course, mini-golf and junior go-karts.
This is one place to visit in Ireland to tire the kids out!
12. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
Fota Wildlife Park is an open zoo where visitors can get up close to the animals and even feed them. You can see kangaroos, lemurs, and monkeys. You’ll even find African animals such as giraffes, lions, and rhinos.
For animal-loving families, this is one of the top places to visit in Ireland.
Another stop in County Cork not to miss is Blarney Castle, which is famous for housing the stone of eloquence. The castle is also where you’ll find the enchanting Poison Garden and Wishing Steps. Make sure to kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck!
13. Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny
If your kids are a little older and have a more adventurous spirit, then the Castlecomer Discovery Park will be sure to excite them.
The park features a canopy walkway and climbing wall which is set 10 meters off the ground. Don’t worry though, they’ll be strapped in and given a full safety briefing.
As you cross the obstacle course in the Sycamore trees, you’ll get a birds-eye view of the park. It’s a great bonding activity and fun for all the family (over the age of 7 years old).
Afterwards, you can relax in The Canopy Cafe and catch your breath.
14. Kildare Maze Activity Park, Kildare
If you’re looking for a great day out with the kids, you’ll find ample amounts of fun at Kildare Maze Activity Park. The park is famous for housing one of the largest hedge mazes in Ireland, which is a challenging and fun family activity!
After getting lost and found in the hedge maze, you can try again in the wooden maze! There’s also a crazy gold course, assault cause, picnic area and zip wire.
If you’re looking for cheap places to visit in Ireland with kids, this is a good option, as you can save money by purchasing family tickets.
15. Fairy Bridges and Wishing Chair
Ireland has always embraced its magical history and folk tales, which are one of the reasons why kids love Ireland! It’s full of fairy trails, which take you past little wooden houses and through enchanted woodlands – it’s where your kids can escape reality and pretend to be living in a fairy tale.
You’ll find fairy trails around Malahide Castle and Gardens, Giant’s Lair or Brigit’s Garden.
If your kids are fascinated by fairies, then a spot that should not be missed off your list is Fairy Bridges and the Wishing Chair, located in Bundoran, County Donegal.
It’s a magical nature spot, offering 360-degree views of the Mullaghmore and the Slieve League Cliffs. The area is made from naturally formed sea stacks, known as the Fairy Bridges, which can be enjoyed from the rock wishing chair.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the best places to visit in Ireland with kids. As you can see, there’s a lot for your children to explore.
You may have already known that Ireland is great for adults, but now you know it’s a destination that the whole family can enjoy!
Before you go, make sure you book your accommodation in Ireland beforehand. There’s not a huge amount of family rooms in hotels, and guest houses and apartments get booked up quickly. Booking.com has 3,300+ properties in Ireland including hotels, apartments, and guesthouses. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best-price guarantee.
More Ireland Inspiration:
Do you need more inspiration about Ireland? Then check out these additional resources.
Do you have any favorite places to go in Ireland with kids? If so we’d love to hear about them!