There are plenty of reasons to choose Ireland for a family vacation. The country is easy to navigate, the people are lovely, and the scenery is epic. I am thrilled to have Jody Halsted from Ireland Family Vacations sharing her top destinations in Ireland for families. She is the person I ask about all things Ireland, and she should be your first choice for questions too. These are the top destinations in Ireland your family will love according to Jody.
When planning a European family vacation, Ireland tops the list. With no (or very little) language barrier, a magic that shimmers like dewdrops on grass, and adventure at seemingly every twist of the narrow country roads, Ireland is tailor made for families!
Whether you’re planning your first Ireland family vacation (or your 10th!), choosing destinations in Ireland can be overwhelming. There is just so much to see and do! Choose one or two of the family-approved suggestions below to create an Ireland itinerary everyone will love!
Top Destinations in Ireland for Families
Choosing the ‘best’ of anything is tough, but with a wide variety of activities, attractions, and accommodations, these destinations in Ireland will please everyone in your family.
1. The Burren, County Clare (and a bit of Galway)
Long a tourist hub due to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, the stark Burren region has become a destination in its own right. Adventure seekers can surf, kayak, or rock climb. Those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground will love the nature walks through the otherworldly terrain. Families with young children shouldn’t miss the Burren Nature Sanctuary. It has a disappearing lake, friendly farm animals, and wonderful playground (and equally wonderful café). Famed for hyper-fresh food and traditional music the Burren spoils you with evening activities that include delicious dining and live music in the pubs.
2. Killarney and the Peninsulas, County Kerry
You’ll find that many of Ireland’s ‘must see’ destinations are so called for a reason. Killarney and the peninsulas- the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula- are some of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll see in Ireland. Truly, everything you come to Ireland for- culture, castles, and craic- can be found here. Be sure to take a jaunting cart ride through Killarney National Park or the Gap of Dunloe. Your jarvey will share the history of the area, though it is up to you to decide how much is true! Spend an afternoon flying a hawk at the Killarney Falconry or exploring under ground at Crag Cave. A day spent on either peninsula can be filled with land or water adventures including horse trekking and hiking, dolphin cruises, or- for the truly adventurous- coasteering, a combination of cliff jumping, cave swimming, and rock climbing.
3. Causeway Coastal Route, Counties Antrim and Derry, Northern Ireland
The breathtaking landscapes of Northern Ireland are the stuff of legend. Finn McCool built octagonal pathway to Scotland known as the Giant’s Causeway. Fishermen of old crossed from the mainland to island using a bridge of rope. The waterfalls in the Glens of Antrim are said to be enchanted. Beyond this legend the history and present day strife of the North, a divide between the Protestant England and Irish Catholic, should be explored in both Belfast and Derry; you’ll come away with a new understanding of Ireland.
4. County Cork Countryside
Ireland’s largest county is filled with places to explore! Blarney Castle, famed for the stone of eloquence, is surrounded by enchanted gardens – including the Wishing Steps and the Poison Garden. If you’ve an animal lover in your family, splurge on a Family VIP visit to Fota Wildlife Park to go behind the scenes of this open zoo and even feed some animals! Venture further west to the seaside village of Kinsale for pirate history and some of the best food in Ireland. To really escape the tourist trail make your way to West Cork where pod camping puts you in the center of a maze of walking trails, boat tours, and beautiful beaches.
5. County Mayo’s Wild Coast and Castles
Begin your adventure on Ireland’s ‘wild west’ coast with a little pirate history in Westport where Grace O’Malley once ruled the seas. Travel inland to the Museum of Country Life for an interactive history lesson, before moving northward again to the Gaeltacht of Achill Island, a truly untamed place where North Atlantic winds batter the cliffs and Irish is still spoken daily. Spoil your family with a stay at Mount Falcon Estate or Ashford Castle; both offer hawk walks, archery, and cycling, as well as other fun activities.
Use these destinations in Ireland to begin your trip plan, then use the interactive map on Ireland Family Vacations to explore more activities, discover other attractions, and choose the perfect accommodations for your Ireland family vacation.
Have you been to Ireland? What’s your favorite place to explore?
If you would like to learn more, Jody has a new book called Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams, available here.
Jody Halsted has been traveling across Ireland for over a decade with her own children, discovering the most family friendly sites and activities on the tourist trail and off. Dedicated to Ireland family travel, her website Ireland Family Vacations, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For families looking for a perfectly tailored Ireland vacation, Jody offers Ireland vacation coaching, working with your family to help you choose the perfect lodging, destinations, and activities to fit your budget, interests, and expectations.