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. If you are planning a vacation to Ireland with kids, these are the destinations families should have on their itinerary.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
Where to Go on an Ireland Vacation with Kids
When planning a European family vacation, Ireland tops the list. With no (or very little) language barrier, magic that shimmers like dewdrops on the grass, and adventure at seemingly every twist of the narrow country roads, Ireland is tailor-made for a family trip!
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!
Choosing the ‘best’ of anything is tough, but with various activities, attractions, and accommodations, these destinations are the best places to visit in Ireland with kids.
1. The Burren, County Clare (and a bit of Galway)
Long a tourist hub due to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher (One of Ireland’s most iconic natural landmarks), 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 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 a wonderful playground (and an 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 its National Park
Killarney on the west coast is a popular destination on a trip to Ireland with kids because it has some of the most idyllic scenery on the island. Families can enjoy a jaunting cart ride through Killarney National Park or hike through the Gap of Dunloe. Spend time exploring historic Ross Castle or taking a boat ride on Lough Leane.
3. Dingle Peninsula
A day spent exploring the Dingle Peninsula can be filled with land or water adventures. We recommend booking a driver or renting a car. We explored Inch Beach, Minard Castle ruins, Dingle Town, Fahan Beehive Huts, Slea Head, and Coumeenoole Beach.
There’s even a stop along the route where kids can feel animals and hold baby sheep. This is one of our favorite places to visit in Ireland with kids!
4. Ring of Kerry
You’ll find that many of Ireland’s ‘must see’ destinations are so-called for a reason. The Ring of Kerry has some of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll see in Ireland. It’s easy to access from Killarney and offers everything you come to Ireland for – culture, castles, and craic- can be found here.
Popular stops on a Ring of Kerry tour include – Valentia Island, Portmagee, Sneem, and Ladies View. TIP: If you plan on driving the Ring of Kerry on your own, be sure to drive clockwise as the tour buses drive counter-clockwise and often lead to traffic delays.
5. Causeway Coastal Route, Counties Antrim and Derry, Northern Ireland
The breathtaking landscapes of Northern Ireland are the stuff of legend. Finn McCool built an octagonal pathway to Scotland known as the Giant’s Causeway.
Fishermen of old crossed from the mainland to the island using a bridge of rope. If you have a time, you can cross the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge today as it dangles high above the sea.
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 Protestant England and Irish Catholic, should be explored in both Belfast and Derry; you’ll come away with a new understanding of Ireland.
6. 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 there is 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.
7. 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. They are some of our favorite luxury family hotels in Ireland.
8. Soak up the city life in Dublin
The capital city will be the starting point for most Ireland family vacations. Dublin has some amazing attractions including Dublin Zoo, EPIC Museum, St. Stephen’s Green, and a host of museums and galleries. There are plenty of things to do in Dublin with kids.
9. Learn about Viking history in Waterford
The oldest city in Ireland is home to the famous Waterford Crystal factory, and is believed to have been settled by the Vikings in the early 10th century. It also has a fabulous street art scene and hosts the annual Waterford Walls Festival where artists from around the world create murals throughout the city!
10. Explore County Wicklow and Glendalough
County Wicklow, is known for its beautiful hiking trails. There are many kid-friendly trails in the area, such as the Glendalough Spinc and the Wicklow Way. These trails offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Glendalough is home to a variety of ancient monastic ruins, as well as beautiful lakes and forests. This might be one of our favorite hidden gems in Ireland.
Be sure to visit one of the county’s magnificent estates, Powerscourt Gardens or Killruddery House. Both have beautiful gardens kids will love to explore.
11. Visit the medieval city of Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a wonderful destination for families traveling with kids to Ireland. This charming medieval city is packed with interesting historical sites and fun activities that will keep everyone entertained. Kilkenny Castle is a must-visit attraction where kids can envision what it was like to be a knight or queen of the castle.
Families can take a stroll along the River Nore or visit the nearby Jerpoint Abbey. Jerpoint Glass is worth a visit to watch glass blowing and purchase unique artwork. For a truly unique experience, head to Jerpoint Park where you can explore the ruins of an abandoned 12th-century village.
Planning Your Trip to Ireland with kids
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.
This is a joint article between Kids Are A Trip and Jody Halsted of Ireland Family Vacations. Jody 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.
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option, as is DiscoverCars.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.