With its lush green fields, dramatic coastline and magical castles, Ireland has long been on the discerning traveller’s bucket list.

But the famous Irish welcome is not just for adults: parents will find a land where its myths and legends come alive for their little ones and where the outdoors is the star attraction.

Is Ireland good for kids?

Travelling with kids in Ireland is easy and, as it’s a relatively small island, getting around is straightforward. Cars are best for getting out into the countryside, but the main cities and larger towns are served by train and bus from Dublin, the capital. Dublin is very stroller friendly but if you’re hitting the country’s walking trails or beaches, a baby carrier is advisable. There are playgrounds in most small towns but the country is a work in progress when it comes to providing public toilets and baby changing facilities.

Cead míle Fáilte” means “one hundred thousand welcomes” in the Irish language and families and children are welcomed with open arms into most restaurants and pubs in the country. However, the law states that children can’t stay in bars past 9pm (10pm from May to September). Most restaurant menus have a separate kids’ menu and many hotels have family rooms or interconnecting rooms to cater for families.

If you don’t want to bring all your baby gear with you, Stork Exchange is a baby and children’s equipment rental service based at Dublin Airport that uses quality brands only. Planning to visit several historic places? Buying a Heritage Ireland Family Heritage Card for €90 could be a good-value option, giving you access to 50 historic sites and visitor attractions nationally. 

Navigate like a local with these tips for getting around

A little girl wearing a pink jacket is walking over the basalt columns of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland
There are magical landscapes to explore right across Ireland © Angel Villalba / Getty Images

Where is best in Ireland for kids?

From the museums and galleries of Dublin to the rugged beauty of The Burren in County Clare; from the magic of visiting the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim to digging with a bucket and spade on a remote beach in County Mayo, it’s easy to see why families will leave Ireland already planning their next visit.

This is Ireland, so history is written on every stone wall. The Little Museum of Dublin gives a potted history of the Irish capital for all ages while EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, tells you why the Irish have had such an impact on the world.

And if you’re seeking the freedom to run on a beach with the salt of the Atlantic stinging your skin, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From Keem Bay Beach on Achill Island in County Mayo to Narin Strand in Portnoo, County Donegal, there are stunning opportunities for beachcombing, paddling and sandcastle building. 

Read more: The best time to visit Ireland

Best things to do in Ireland with babies and toddlers

Dublin Zoo offers parent-and-toddler sessions to start children on their wildlife journey at various times of the year, and the Museum of Natural History on Kildare St is the perfect spot to while away a rainy afternoon. The cafe at the National Gallery next door is perfect for refueling. 

Located in a magical woodland, Wild Ireland on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal is a unique wildlife sanctuary and home to many rescued animals including brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild boar. The paths are perfect for little legs and strollers.

Named after the gardener from County Wexford's Wells Estate, Mogue’s Enchanted Woodland Walk has become home to numerous trolls, bears, fairies, witches and wizards. There's even a dragon hidden within the trees.

A young child is swinging on a rope swing in the middle of a dense woodland in autumn
Ireland's woodlands are perfect for family-friendly adventures © anadorado/Getty Images

Best things to do in Ireland with kids

Go on a woodland adventure

Set in 32 hectares (80 acres) of natural woodland and featuring one of the country’s longest ziplines, Castlecomer Discovery Park in County Kilkenny is a great place for kids to ditch the screens and immerse themselves in the outdoors. Its junior woodland course is suitable for kids aged three to seven, while kids over seven will love the Skywalk Challenge, an aerial adventure course.

The Treetop Walk at Avondale Forest Park in County Wicklow culminates in a visit to a 38m-tall (125ft) viewing tower. Kids will also love the opportunity to descend via the country’s longest slide but queues are long in the summer months.  

Learn about the Titanic

Titanic Belfast is where the sights, sounds and smells of the ill-fated cruise liner are brought to life in eye-watering detail.

Take to the dunes

Ards Forest Park Sand Dune Trail near Dunfanaghy, County Donegal is not only perfect for buggies but is ideal for little legs not ready to graduate on to more difficult hiking trails yet.

Cycle a greenway

The free 46km (29-mile) off-road Waterford Greenway stretches from the edge of Waterford city right down through the Comeragh Mountains and the Copper Coast and into Dungarvan. You can take it at your own pace and bikes are available for hire at the many hubs along the route. 

Two groups of teenagers having a surfing lesson on Strandhill Beach in County Sligo
Strandhill in County Sligo is home to the National Surf Centre © mark gusev / Shutterstock

Best things to do in Ireland with tweens and teenagers

Learn to surf

Opened in the summer of 2023, the National Surf Centre at Strandhill, County Sligo, is home to three surf schools providing lessons for beginners as well as more-experienced surfers. Check out Kingdomwaves Surf School, which offers surf lessons and surf hire at both Inch and Banna beaches, two beautiful blue flag beaches in County Kerry

Free yourselves from an escape room

If the weather isn’t playing ball, try the Boda Borg escape-room-type challenge at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in County Roscommon. Over two hours, you'll go from room to room trying to solve the quests or complete the challenges.

Discover secret beaches

It’s hard to beat the sense of adventure that comes with seeking out a secret beach. There are no roads to Trá Mór outside Dunfanaghy in County Donegal, making its discovery all the more thrilling.

Find your inner thrill seeker

The Gobbins Cliff Path gives a real rush. Located around 30 minutes’ drive from Belfast along the Causeway Coast, this thrilling cliff walk, where bridges carry you over crashing waves to sunken caves, is accessible only by guided tour and takes about two hours. 

Planning tips 

One of the biggest considerations to make when planning a trip to Ireland is the weather. The Irish have a saying that there can be four seasons in one day for a reason, so pack your wet-weather gear, a pair of sturdy walking boots and a change of clothes. Phone signal can be unreliable, so download or take a hard copy of any maps you may need.

If your trip takes in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, bear in mind you’ll need two different currencies; the Republic of Ireland uses the euro while Northern Ireland uses the pound.

Keep planning your trip to Ireland

Want the scoop on Ireland's top towns and cities? Here are the best places to visit.
See more of Ireland on one of these classic road trips.

This article was first published May 11, 2021 and updated Mar 28, 2024.

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