Join us as we explore Westport, County Mayo, Ireland with one of the foremost experts in family travel to Ireland, Jody of Ireland Family Vacations! Come see her favorite family friendly things to do in Westport Ireland.
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Where to Go in County Mayo with Kids
About two hours north of the invisible line between Dublin and Galway, the town of Westport in County Mayo is often overlooked by tourists. But it only takes a single visit to fall in love with this town along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Uncover the Legend of Ireland’s Pirate Queen
During a time when clan rule passed between fathers and sons, Grace O’Malley’s leadership of men on both land and sea is legendary. A fierce warrior, dread pirate, and brilliant military strategist, Granuaile survived the dungeon of Dublin Castle, attacks by the English Army, and even sailed to England to meet Queen Elizabeth I face-to-face (a dangerous prospect when one is charged with treason)!
Many of the Pirate Queen’s castles still stand in the inlets and islands around Clew Bay, each with a tale for the visitor willing to search it out.
Explore Westport House
Westport House has seen many expansions and improvements since it was first built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke–who just happened to be one of the Pirate Queen’s great-great-granddaughters! In fact, one of Grace O’Malley’s many castles can still be discovered in the dungeons below Westport House!
This house remained in the Browne family until recently and over 30 rooms are open to visitors- and just as they have appeared through the history of the house. The grounds of Westport House include a Pirate Adventure Park, Birds of Prey centre, and Adventure Activities including archery and orienteering.
Climb Croagh Patrick (or not!)
In 441 AD St. Patrick is said to have climbed this mountain and fasted for forty days. While today’s climbers are greeted by a modern chapel at the summit, the hike to the top can be strenuous and is not for everyone.
If you choose to ascend the Holy Mountain do rent walking sticks from the visitor centre and plan at least 3 hours for your climb.
Cycle the Great Western Greenway
Stretching 43 km from Achill Island to Westport, the Great Western Greenway is a perfect activity on a fine Irish day. You can choose to ride the entire route, or just a small portion of it.
A rail-to-trail initiative, the greenway offers riders a (mostly) easy ride across through some of Ireland’s most beautiful natural landscapes. I recommend Clew Bay Bike Hire for your cycle rental. They can even arrange a cycle and kayak experience!
Immerse Yourself in Irish Music
The town of Westport boasts 52 pub licenses- for a town of 5000 people that’s quite a number! But it means you will likely find live music every night of the week.
The pub, or Public House, is a place where all are welcome. Go ahead and bring the kids, order some drinks, maybe a bit of dinner, and immerse yourself in Irish pub culture.
I hope this wee glimpse of Westport has you considering a detour from the tourist trail when you plan your Ireland vacation!
About the author: 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.
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. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
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. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe.
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. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
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 or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.