The rolling green fields, misty mountains, castles and cliffs of Ireland make for a lot of romance, yet it also spoils families with its rich mix of cultural sights, hospitality, natural playground, ancient tales and spirit of craic.
You are likely to have happy kids by the end of your stay in Ireland, because of the variety of things to do. Everyone from the postman to the bartender will have a smile for your kids.
There are many ways to experience Ireland with children.Squeeze every moment out of your next vacation with tips and tricks from Lonely Planet in our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.
Ireland has a slogan called "céad mle filte", which means "a hundred thousand welcomes". The Irish people are famous for putting children at the center of attention and know how to cater to them.
There are many parks, fairies and folklore in the country. It's a place where you can spend the night in an ancient castle or chat with a local in a friendly B&B, then listen to music in a pub and eat fish and chips. Ireland is a great place to take a family vacation.
There are many hotels that cater to families, including children's menus, age appropriate activities, kids' clubs and babysitting services. There are a lot of museums with kid-geared programs.
The majority of pubs in Ireland are child friendly. Children have to be out by 9pm in some pubs, but this is usually more than enough time to enjoy the fun. There are outdoor areas where children can run and play while you sip a beer.
The OPW family card provides entry to 45 heritage sites and attractions for two adults and up to five children. The Dublin Pass App can be downloaded for 21.80/$23.30 per day and comes with a free guidebook.
The best way to see Ireland is by car, as it is long on inspiring drives that take you through picturesque villages. Children under the age of 12 are required to use a car seat. You will be driving on the left if you have a manual transmission car.
Getting lost in Ireland is not the worst thing that can happen to the kids. If you're going to go down a boggy, sheep-strewn road, you need a car with a gps device.
How to reach Ireland.
It's important to pack a good waterproof jacket and warm clothes when you travel in Ireland because the weather is not predictable. You are likely to be hitting some rough terrain as you walk across the country. Everyone here is used to rainy days and has a lot of options for indoor family time at castles, museums, historic houses and cozy pubs.
Around every bend in Ireland, you will see stunningly beautiful scenery that will impress you and make you smile.
The Giant's Causeway is said to be the result of Celtic giants throwing rocks into the sea in order to create a structure. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the pathway of over 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns rises up out of the sea, making it a great place for kids to bounce. A walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is a must for thrill-seekers.
It's the best time to visit Ireland.
The cliffs in the movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince are similar to the ones in the movie. The 700ft-high (213m) cliffs of Moher attract throngs of tourists, as well as madcap surfers who ride the notorious Atlantic breaker "Aileen's Wave."
The virtual reality experience at the visitor center is carved into the cliff rock. Driving through the landscape of the burren will double up on the drama. It tends to get misty at the top when you arrive.
Thanks to the rapid ferry service that zips to, from and between the islands, Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer are easy to reach.
The small specks are perfect for family exploring on bikes. Climb the ruins of Dun Aengus fort if you want to pack a picnic. A menu of lobster, crab and smoked mackerel can be found at O'Dowd's in Roundstone, which also has pizza and fish and chips for the kids.
Skellig Michael is the location of the final scene in The Force Awakens. While the two-hour boat ride can be a little hairy, you are likely to see dolphins swimming alongside you.
Hike a rock in the middle of the ocean and you'll get a reward. A visit to Skelligs Chocolate in Ballinskelligs to see how the treats are made will give you a good idea of how they are made.
The most popular tourist town in Ireland is Killarney. The area is home to the country's only wild herd of native red deer, which have been in the area since the last Ice Age. The drivers of the horse-drawn carts that ply the streets of Killarney entertain passengers with a lot of chatter.
You can clip-clop your carriage through the Gap of Dunloe. Along the Ring of Kerry, you can see the golden sands of Derrynane, the Inch and Rossbeigh beaches and Kenmare.
The Parknasilla Resort is an all-around family hotel that has been honing its craft for 120 years. Families can stay in one of the villas overlooking Kenmare Bay. There are many things to do on the grounds, including beaches, horse riding, tennis, fishing, golf, eco and treasure trails, sea kayaking, a fantastic spa, pool and even a "hideout" for older kids. The dark sky reserve is a great place for mini explorers to learn.
Ireland has a lot of places to let the children off the leash. There are a lot of organized activities that make for a lot of fun.
In Ireland, a theme park is named after the best-selling potato chips. Europe's largest wooden roller coaster and Ireland's only water flume ride are among the attractions at Tayto Park. There will be lots of rides for younger people, restaurants, picnic spots and Tayto crisps.
Ireland has a lot to offer, from surfing to kayaking. There are a lot of adventure parks around the country. Centre Parcs is the largest adventure resort in Ireland, but it's not the only place to have fun. The world's largest inflatable waterslide is at Baysports, you can play water sports at Carlingford Adventure Centre, and throw axes at Castlecomer Discovery Park.
The Delphi Resort in beautiful Connemara is a great place to go for adventure with a side of zen.
Driving Ireland's wild Atlantic way.
Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's headline scenic route, the Great Western Greenway offers 26 miles of child-friendly, traffic-free paths that curve around County Mayo's Clew Bay. There are several sweet spots along the way, including the historic Westport House, the Mulranny Park Hotel, and Kelly's Kitchen. Since most companies offer shuttle services, you can choose to ride as much or as little as you want.
The Museum of Natural History in Dublin has remained the same since 1856. On rainy days in the capital, little ones lose themselves in front of displays filled with skeletons of now- extinct animals and a giant whale suspended above their heads. Dublin Zoo is located in the middle of Phoenix Park and is home to over 400 species of animals.
You can get up close and personal with animals at Fota Wildlife park. You can base yourself next to Fota Island Resort, where you can enjoy golf, tennis, a spa, football, pools, playground, and an adventure center.
Dublin's parks are some of the best.
It's fun to hit up cultural sites in a land of castles. Kids and their parents will love visiting these attractions.
Ireland was said to be the most castellated country in the world in the Middle Ages. Ireland is full of fairytale castles with enough lore and legend to keep your entire clan entertained for a long time. Many of them are now luxury hotels that allow you to sleep like a king.
The Dromoland Castle is a family favorite. Ashford Castle in County Galway is fresh from a 40m renovation. A base from which to explore Ireland's west can be found at Ballynahinch Castle.
Are you planning a trip? Dublin Castle is home to two museums, as well as two cafes and gardens. You can take a tour of Kilkenny Castle and eat in the tearoom while the kids play at the playground. For a fun medieval-style evening, the nightly banquet experience at Bunratty Castle sees fully costumed actors and musicians performing in front of 15-century tapestries.
Best beaches in Ireland.
Located on the site of the shipyard that built the ill-fated ship, this monument to the Titanic is an engaging attraction that includes interactive galleries allowing you to walk on the deck and even experience a virtual launch. Visitors are taken through the different stages of construction. There is an afternoon tea service in the Titanic Suite.
The W5 science center is located next to the Titanic Hotel, which has over 250 exhibits for kids to see. They can design their own robot, play a computer game, or even climb a giant rocket. No one will ever say that science is dull.
The Long Room of Trinity College's Old Library College is a great place to go if you're looking for a quiet place to read. The Book of Kells, a priceless manuscript illuminated by ninth-century monks, is one of the main attractions here.
The National Gallery of Ireland has lots of programs to engage little art lovers, including family-friendly tours, baby and family workshops, and a child friendly cafe.
You can have a meaningful trip in Ireland even if you have young tourists with you. There is a small horse museum at the Irish National Stud in Kildare. A proper fairy hunt is offered at the Fairy Trail at Loughcrew Estate. There is a coffee shop and lots of space to play on the rolling lawns.
The open farm is a big draw for budding builders, as is the ice cream and chocolate factory. Go-karting, a golf park, maze and farm animals are available. Dublin Zoo, wild deer, walled gardens, a playground, cafe, bike rentals and even a few fairies can be found in the 700-acre Phoenix Park. The perfect picnic spot can be staked out with lots of space. Is there anything else to love?
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