At Ireland’s only permanent theme park you can ride Europe's largest wooden inverted roller coaster, Cú Chulainn. Just 45 minutes from Dublin city center, Tayto Park is a great family day out, pulling out all the stops with thrilling rides, a zoo, seasonal events and a variety of activities for all ages, including toddlers.
Why you should go
A theme park that celebrates a much-loved Irish potato crisp? Why not! Is it any stranger than a theme park dedicated to a cartoon mouse? Probably. But Tayto is an Irish icon, producing much-loved potato crisps (or just "crisps" as they're known here) since 1954, and then expanding its brand with a theme park in 2010. At Tayto Park you'll find a bit of everything. The big-hitters are dizzying rides rooted in Irish history and mythology such as the mighty Cú Chulainn, Europe's largest wooden inverted roller coaster, and The Viking Voyage, a viking-themed water flume ride.
Beyond that there's a high-speed spinning Rotator, the stomach-churning Air Race ride and a 5D cinema. You can go on an aerial adventure at the zip lining or rock climbing courses. And when you need to catch your breath, visit the zoo where you'll find meerkats, squirrel monkeys, bison, alpacas, porcupines, birds of prey, mountain lions and tigers. In summer, a petting area is open within the zoo. For younger visitors there's a fantastic playground and age-appropriate rides.
Admission to the theme park also covers the cost of a self-guided tour in the crisp factory (don't expect to be privy to any trade secrets). It takes about three to four hours to see and do everything. And, of course, when you enter and leave the theme park, you get a free packet of Tayto crisps.
Throughout the year, Tayto Park hosts seasonal events such as The Wicked Adventures at Tayto Park, a family-friendly Halloween event, and The Christmas Experience.
Tickets and other practicalities
Admission includes a self-guided crisp-factory tour and zoo and playground entry; the wristband day pass is the most economical option for the rides. There are a number of restaurants on site, as well as a picnic area.
Tayto Park is located in Ashbourne, County Meath and is just off the M2 motorway. Bus Éireann buses link it with Dublin (€6, 30 minutes, every 30 minutes).
There's not a whole lot to do in the area but a short drive will take you to Ashbourne village, which has a nice choice of restaurants, cafes and bars. There isn't accommodation in Tayto Park but most villages and towns throughout County Meath have good B&Bs or hotels. The ancient sites of Brú na Bóinne and the Hill of Tara are both about a 20-minute drive from Tayto Park.