Ireland is a great place to go on vacation with your kids. Choosing a 10-day itinerary gives you enough time to see the highlights without spending half of your trip driving or rushing. This guide will show you exactly how to spend 10 days in Ireland with kids including bucket-list destinations like the capital city of Dublin, the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher, and the epic Ring of Kerry drive.
If it’s your first time in Europe with kids, know that there won’t be a language barrier but the culture will still be new and exciting. For a small country, the Emerald Isle packs in a lot. There are historical sites, ancient castles, charming small villages, fun hikes over rolling green hills, and pubs playing traditional Irish music that are also kid-friendly (during the day!).
Since many of the top things to do in Ireland are in remote areas, the best way to visit the country is to skip public transportation and venture on a classic Irish road trip.
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Table of Contents
10-Day Ireland Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
The best place to begin your 10 days in Ireland is Dublin. It’s the capital city and has the most well-connected international airports in the country, so it’s a natural starting point.
There are also tons of things to do in Dublin for kids and teens. Shannon Airport on the west coast is another busy international airport but this 10-day Ireland itinerary starts in Dublin with a two-night stay.
How much you will be able to see and do on your first day in Dublin will depend on what time you arrive and your energy levels with jet lag. It’s a good idea to not pack too much into your 10-day Ireland itinerary, too quickly!
Start by walking around the city and checking out easy-to-visit sites like bridges, neighborhoods, churches, and notable streets.
Things To Do in Dublin With Kids
- St. Stephen’s Green: Visit this historic square with statues dedicated to famous Irish writers where you can walk around and feed the ducks
- Merrion Square: Another cute, small park surrounded by streets of gorgeous Georgian houses with brightly-painted doors
- River Liffey and Ha’Penny Bridge: This river runs through the heart of Dublin and the Ha’Penny Bridge is a 19th-century cast iron bridge and the most beautiful in the city
- Temple Bar Neighborhood: Despite being under the legal drinking age of 18, kids can visit the famous Temple Bar pub during the day! It’s located in a historic quarter named after the legendary 19th-century pub with cobblestone streets and lots of cool street art murals, markets, and the former Irish Houses of Parliament
- Grafton Street: Walk up and down Grafton Street where you’ll find dozens of young, talented buskers hoping to be recognized by talent scouts or to make a euro or two
- Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia Museum: First built as a Viking church in 1030, this medieval cathedral in Dublin has a unique crypt for a cat and a rat which is a good place to visit with kids. There’s a child-friendly, interactive Dublin history museum next door complete with costumes and the ‘smells’ of Dublin throughout the centuries
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral: This 13th-century Catholic church is Ireland’s national cathedral although it’s a 15-minute walk from the city center (GET TICKETS HERE)
Day 2: A Full Day Exploring Dublin
On your next day in Dublin, check out all the top museums and exhibits you didn’t catch on your first day.
One of the main reasons it’s better to follow a guide on how to spend 10 days in Ireland with kids is because a lot of the activities (seriously, a lot) revolve around alcohol. Yes, some of the Irish whisky distillery tours allow kids but there are so many other, better experiences for them. Take your kids to the Jameson Distillery on Bow St if you like, but keep those types of activities to a minimum.
Places to Visit in Dublin With Kids
- Viking Splash Tour: This is the most family-friendly day tour in Dublin. Viking Splash Tours uses an amphibious mode of transport to take you all around the streets and waterways of Dublin. Families will don Viking hats and see the cathedrals, Georgian streets, and the Grand Canal from the same vehicle! Perfect for kids over three
- Guinness Storehouse: Believe it or not, the Guinness Storehouse is one of the best things to do in Dublin with kids. It’s an interactive tour with lots of characters, advertisements, and activities to keep your kids entertained. In the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour, you will get a free pint of Guinness while your kids can get a soft drink
- Trinity College Library: This 16th-century library in Dublin’s most prestigious university owns one of the most valuable books in existence, the Book of Kells. The library’s Long Room also looks like something out of Harry Potter with rows and rows of old books displayed on dark wooden shelves
- Dublin Castle: Take a tour of the city’s most important fortification which dates back to 1204 and houses two museums and staterooms
- EPIC The Irish Immigration Museum: Do you have Irish ancestry? Find out at this fascinating immigration and ancestry museum with facilities to help you and your kids trace your Irish roots (GET TICKETS HERE)
Alternative Activities in Dublin for Families
If you have extra time, you could also visit Kilmainham Gaol and/or the Little Museum of Dublin. Kilmainham Gaol is a former jail on the outskirts of the city. It’s a really good place to visit with kids but it takes a little bit of time to get there which will eat up your limited time. It’s also close to Phoenix Park if your kids just need time to run around.
The Little Museum of Dublin is a kid-friendly alternative to the National Museum of Ireland.
Day 3: Travel to Cork
The first thing to do before leaving Dublin is to pick up a rental car! You don’t need a car to get around Dublin. Parking is expensive (and difficult to find) and the traffic can be a nightmare too. Most things to do in Dublin are within walking distance anyway.
Find a rental company with an office in Dublin city center and Dublin airport so you don’t have to go back into the city before heading home. Download an offline map of Ireland onto Google Maps (in case of a bad signal in remote places!), and use this app to plan your route and stops.
Driving from Dublin to Cork is around 260 km/161.5 miles and takes approximately two hours and 45 minutes if you drive down the M7 and M8. There are plenty of things to do along the way to Cork so you can take your time and make lots of stops. Or, drive the whole way and have more time to explore Ireland’s second city, Cork. Spend one night here.
Where To Stop on the Drive from Dublin to Cork
- Kildare: One of the smaller towns on the drive to Cork with a population of around 10,000, Kildare is home to an important Celtic Christian cathedral. St. Brigid is said to have founded a nunnery on the site of this 13th-century cathedral which has a striking tower in the center
- Kilkenny Castle: Take the M9 road from Dublin and stop off at Kilkenny Castle instead. It’s located in a huge garden with a play park (perfect for younger kids) with an art gallery and tea room which is perfect for lunch. It’s only open for tours inside
- Rock of Cashel: No matter which route you take from Dublin, the Rock of Cashel is one of the best places to visit in Ireland. It’s an extremely important historical site with a cluster of medieval churches on a limestone outcrop. It’s said to be the site where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity in the 5th century. You can visit Hore Abbey, a 13th-century Cistercian monastery, as well as Cormac’s Chapel and the round tower
Things To Do in Cork and Nearby With Kids
- The English Market: This traditional 18th-century covered market sells fresh produce, antiques, and local souvenirs to take home
- Cork City Gaol: If you didn’t have much time in Dublin and couldn’t visit Kilmainham Gaol, visit Cork City Gaol instead. This restored 19th-century prison will fascinate your kids
- Blarney Castle and Gardens: While Blarney Castle is a beautiful place to visit, the main attraction here is the Blarney Stone. It’s said that everyone who kisses the stone receives mystical eloquence or, as the Irish would say, ‘the gift of the gab’
- Kinsale: This seaside town in County Cork treats you to the views of the Atlantic and a colorful city center. Take the Scilly Walk to explore the Charles Fort, a 17th-century military fortress
- Cobh: If you have time, drive to the seaside town of Cobh, just a 30-minute drive south of Cork on the coast. Cobh is one of the most colorful small towns in Ireland and is known as the Titanic’s last port of call before sailing into the Atlantic
- Fota Wildlife Park: This 28-hectare zoo keeps over 100 species of endangered animals from giraffes, ostriches, leopards, and more
Some other cool things to do in Cork with kids include Blackrock Castle Observatory and walking the walls of the Elizabeth Fort.
Day 4: Travel to Killarney National Park
Continue your Ireland road trip itinerary by driving from Cork to Killarney in County Kerry. This is the main town in Killarney National Park and it’s on the Ring of Kerry scenic drive.
This is Ireland’s first national park and a UNESCO biosphere reserve for good reason; it’s absolutely beautiful! Spend three nights with Killarney as your home base as there is plenty to explore in the local area.
The drive from Cork to Killarney is only 87.4 km/53 miles and takes just over one hour. You can make stops along the way if you like, but there is so much to do in Killarney National Park that you’ll want to get there as fast as possible!
Highlights in Killarney
- Muckross House and Abbey: Muckross House is a stunning 19th-century country house surrounded by picturesque flowerbeds with a backdrop of mountains. Queen Victoria visited Kerry in 1861 and she stayed at Muckross House during her visit. Visit Muckrock House by walking along the Lakeside Loop hiking trail, one of the most scenic trails in the park and perfect for kids
- Ross Castle and Lough Leane: Covering around one-quarter of the entire national park, visiting Lough Leane is a must. This picturesque lake is home to lots of small islands, some of them with ancient buildings like Ross Castle and Innisfallen Abbey. The castle fortress was once owned by Irish chieftains and you can take guided tours of the Castle when you arrive. Take a guided tour of the lake with Killarney Kayaking so you can visit the abbey and have fun sailing around Lough Leane. Win-win!
- Torc Waterfall: There are several beautiful waterfalls in County Kerry, but the best is Torc. It measures 20 meters high and is located in an easy-to-reach woodland area, close to a parking lot
- St. Mary’s Cathedral: Located in Killarney, check out St. Mary’s Cathedral. It’s a relatively new cathedral (by Ireland’s standards!) as it was only completed in 1855
Some other things you could do are drive along The Gap of Dunloe mountain pass (for confident drivers only!) or take a Jaunting Car Ride Tour through the park.
Day 5: Drive the Ring of Kerry
This is the mid-point of how to spend 10 days in Ireland with kids and driving the Ring of Kerry will be a highlight. It’s a popular, scenic road trip around the Iveragh Peninsula. You can begin and end the route in Killarney. It’s around 179 km/111 miles in total and takes around three and a half hours to drive without stopping.
But, of course, you’re going to make lots of stops! Aside from all the spontaneous stops you’ll make when you see a gorgeous vista, here are some suggestions in an anti-clockwise direction from Killarney.
Highlights on the Ring of Kerry
- Staigue Stone Fort: This ancient stronghold dates back to the Iron Age, somewhere between 300 and 400 AD. It’s likely to have been built for an Irish lord or king and ruins of what would have been an imposing, defensive structill remain
- Kerry Cliffs: Standing 1,000 ft above the sea, this rocky coastline has the best views of the Skellig Islands (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and potentially puffins. The best time of year to bird spot and take the ferry to the Skellig islands is during the summer months when the Atlantic is calmer
- Ballycarbery Castle: Although this 16th-century castle has fallen to ruin, it’s completely free to visit and is a great spot to look out over the coastline from the top of this grassy hill
- Glenbeigh Fairy Forest: Road-tripping with younger kids? Head to Glenbeigh Fairy Forest, a woodland area where you can see fairy houses!
- Rossbeigh Beach Horse Riding Center: Road-tripping with older kids? Head to Rossbeigh Beach instead where a guide will take you and your kids out on a horse riding trip over soft sands
- Kerry Bog Village Museum: While it doesn’t sound like an appealing place to visit, Kerry Bog Village is an open-air museum complete with replicas of traditional 19th-century thatched cottages so your kids can explore the houses to see what life was like in that era
Day 6: Explore the Dingle Peninsula
There is yet another incredible scenic peninsula in County Kerry that makes for a great day trip from Killarney. Driving around the entire coastline and back to Killarney might be a little much for one day (it takes a long time to drive down those country lanes!) but there are many things to do. Here are some suggestions.
- Slea Head Drive: Focus your day exploring the tip of the Dingle Peninsula along the Slea Head Drive. This is a 38 km/24-mile circular route starting and ending in Dingle and is the most scenic part of the area
- Gallarus Oratory: It might not look like it, but the Gallurus Oratory is one of the best-preserved early Christian churches in Ireland. It was built around the 7th century and it’s free to visit
- Inch Beach: This is such an epic, wide beach that practically has its own peninsula. It’s 5 km long and great for watching surfers and people fishing
- Minard Castle: One of the many ruined castles sitting on the coastline of the Dingle Peninsula is Minard Castle, this 16th-century stronghold is a hidden gem in Ireland and it’s free to explore
- Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium: This is one of the best places to visit for younger kids. It has a hallway surrounded by a tank of fish and there are even sharks, penguins, and a ‘touch’ pool so kids can safely interact with some of the sea life living at the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
- Tralee: Although Killarney is more popular with visitors, Tralee is the main town in County Kerry. Visit the Kerry County Museum or watch a show at the National Folk Theater of Ireland
Day 7: Travel to Galway
Galway is one of the best cities to watch live music in Ireland and it’s also the gateway city to some of the most natural beautiful parts of the country. No wonder it’s a favorite place for visitors! Use it as a home base for three nights so you can explore this part of the West Coast.
Driving from Killarney to Galway is 216 km/134 miles which is around two hours and 30 minutes.
Where To Stop Driving Killarney to Galway
- Lough Gur: Take a short detour to walk along the banks of Lough Gur. There are so many historical sites near this scenic lake including a castle, a fort, a stone circle, and ancient tombs
- Limerick: As the main city in County Limerick, you’ll pass right through Limerick before reaching Galway and there is so much to do here! Visit the Old Town where you’ll find St. John and St. Mary’s Cathedral, and don’t leave without visiting the medieval King John’s Castle
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: Only a few miles outside of Limerick, this 15th-century castle and 19th-century living village are fantastic places to stop on an Irish road trip with kids. Walk down colorful painted streets and visit houses with thatched roofs (GET YOUR TICKETS HERE)
Things To Do in Galway With Kids
- Galway City Museum: You’ll find this local history museum on the banks of the River Corrib next to a historical structure called Spanish Arch. At the Galway City Museum, you and your kids will learn all about Galway’s shipping heritage as well as exhibits on music and everyday life in Galway through the ages
- Latin Quarter: This lively, colorful, cobblestone street is the heart of Galway and you can’t miss it! It’s lined with brightly painted pubs and stores selling Claddagh jewelry. You’ll see jewelry all over Ireland with the same motif: two hands symbolizing friendship, a crown for loyalty, and a heart for love. If you want to treat your daughter to a special gift during your travels in Ireland, a beautiful Claddagh necklace or ring would be the perfect choice!
- Galway Cathedral: Since it only opened in 1965, Galway Cathedral might just be the youngest in Ireland! It’s still an impressive Renaissance-style church and even has a mosaic of JFK. Although unconfirmed, it’s believed that the Kennedy family funded the completion of the church which was incomplete during JFK’s visit to the church years earlier
- Live Music Pubs: Irish law states that parents can accompany their children under 15 years old in a pub between the hours of 10:30 am and 9 pm. This extends to 10 pm from May to September. Head to Galway pubs with early Irish music ‘sessions’ like Taaffes Bar and Tig Chóilí
Day 9: Connemara National Park
On the last full day of your 10-day Ireland itinerary, explore another scenic national park in the Republic of Ireland. Connemara National Park is only an 81.3 km/50-mile drive from Galway which will take around 90 minutes to drive. It covers 7,000 hectares of hills, woodland, grassy heaths, and bogs so it’s the perfect place to go hiking and enjoy pristine nature with your family.
Not to Be Missed Near Connemara National Park
- Connemara National Park Visitor Center: Housed in a renovated farm building, the visitor center has lots of displays about the history of the national park. There’s also a cafe where you can warm up after your adventures in the park
- Kylemore Abbey & Walled Garden: This picturesque Benedictine monastery sits on the banks of Pollacapall Lough and is a real gem of the area and you cannot miss it. Built to be a castle in 1868, nuns took over this building in the 1920s and they still run it today. While you can’t explore every nook and cranny of Kylemore Abbey, much of it is open to the public (as well as the church) and you can join free tours of the Victorian walled garden too
- Lower Diamond Hill Hike: Diamond Hill is a 1,450 ft/422 m-tall hill in Connemara National Park and the 3 km Lower Diamond Hill hike is perfect for kids. You could hike halfway up the hike and decide whether or not you’d like to continue up the Upper Diamond Hill trail to reach the summit for the epic views
- Ashford Castle: Take a detour over the border of County Mayo and visit Ashford Castle on your way back from the national park. This 13th-century castle is now a five-star luxury hotel where the likes of King George V, John Lennon, and President Ronald Reagan have stayed. If you want a unique stay in an Irish castle, this would be the place to do it. Families can also explore the extensive grounds and sail on the lake with Corrib Cruises
Day 10: Return to Dublin
You no longer have to figure out how to spend 10 days in Ireland with kids because it’s the end of your trip! The drive from Galway to Dublin is 207 km/128.6 miles and takes approximately two hours and 15 minutes, so set off within good time to drop off your car and make it to the airport.
If you returning to Dublin on Day 10 but have an early flight on Day 11, make the most of the last full day of your Ireland vacation. Make some stops en route to Dublin from Galway (spoiler alert: all of the best stops are castles). Or, head to places in Dublin that you didn’t get the chance to on your first visit to Ireland’s capital.
Where To Stop Between Galway and Dublin
- Birr Castle and Gardens: There has been a castle on this site since the 11th century and this land was ruled by the O’Carroll family between the 14th and 17th centuries. Today, there is so much to see on the land including beautiful gardens, Ireland’s largest treehouse, and of course the castle itself
- Athlone Castle: Sitting on the banks of the River Shannon, Athlone Castle dates back to the 12th century. Athlone is one of the largest places to stop between Galway and Dublin so there are also lots of restaurants, shops, and beautiful churches
- Trim Castle: Another 12th-century castle, this one is for movie fans! Although set in Scotland, much of Braveheart (1995) was shot in Ireland. Trim Castle features in many scenes so it’s cool to visit in real life if you and your kids love the movie
Follow This Guide on How To Spend 10 Days in Ireland With Kids
Many Ireland itineraries rush around the country too fast or include too many adult-only activities. This guide on how to spend 10 days in Ireland with kids doesn’t involve lots of driving, packing up, and moving to different places. This is much more manageable, especially when driving on the left side of the road is a challenge in itself!
It also includes lots of suggestions for each place so you can pick and choose depending on the age and interests of your kids to ensure you have a great time on your epic Ireland vacation. It is a perfect place to visit as a family and to open up your kids’ eyes to the ancient history and natural beauty of the Emerald Isle.