There’s a magic to Ireland that beckons young and old. Whether it’s the merriment on offer across Irish pubs or the dramatic landscapes in every direction, you’re bound to get caught up in this country dubbed the Emerald Isle. Ireland has long been overlooked as a perfect destination for travelling with kids. Not any more. Get ready to discover the top five things to capture your children’s imaginations in Ireland.
With endless tales of knights, princesses and dragons on offer, what child wouldn’t wish to visit a real life castle? Let your little king or queen reign for a day during a visit to one of Ireland’s famous fortresses – Bunratty Castle. Located in County Clare, this castle is guaranteed to transport the family back in time. The castle and gardens have been restored to reflect their medieval past and you can explore them at your leisure. At the adjoining Bunratty Folk Park you will also get to walk through a ‘living village’ where you can stroll down the street like it was still 1859. Costumed performers make the experience so authentic and enjoyable.
Viking Life at Dublinia
Vikings are always popular with kids so continue the journey of discovery by visiting Dublinia – Dublin’s top Viking and medieval attraction. Here you can learn everything about Viking life, from warships and weaponry to home life and myths. Kids will especially love the chance to dress up as a Viking. Plan your visit around one of the Family First Saturdays and you’ll be rewarded with extra activities, like how to make your own Viking cowskin pouch and tales from a professional storyteller.
Horse Riding And Donkey Visits
What could be more spectacular than exploring the Irish countryside on horseback? Horses played a key role in Ireland’s Celtic past, so much so that it is known as the Land of the Horse. Head to County Kerry and thrill the kids with a trail ride through Killarney National Park. They’ll be wowed by the lakes, woods and waterfalls. The Killarney Riding Stables cater to all ages and riding abilities, and it has a good reputation for safety. If horse riding is a little too adventurous for your young ones, consider a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary in neighbouring County Cork. The sanctuary was set up to rescue abandoned donkeys and visitors receive free entry. The friendly donkeys love the attention.
Bike Rides On The Aran Islands
For a sense of adventure, take the ferry from Rossavel, which is about 50 kilometres from Galway, and travel across to the Aran Islands. It’s a rider’s paradise with quiet country lanes, few cars and a flat landscape that will suit young riders. Bike hire includes child-friendly options from tag-along attachments to buggies and children’s seats. If the thought of bike riding is too taxing, you can opt for a tour bus or horse-drawn cart ride with one of the local experts who’ll be able to tell you many a tale along the way. The island’s accommodation options are limited, so most visitors are day-trippers. Spend the rest of the time enjoying nearby attractions in County Clare including the inspiring limestone landscape of The Burren.
If you don’t have your travel dates locked in, plan to be in Ireland in October so you can make the most of this country that dedicates an entire month to children’s art activities and events. Seven different festivals are held across the country offering Irish and international performances including theatre, dance, music, comedy, circus, poetry, film and puppetry. From RoolaBoola in County Mayo to Sticky Fingers in County Down, there is a great diversity of festivals catering for all age groups.
Looking for more great family friendly holiday ideas for Europe? Check out our guide to Family Friendly Activities in Dublin, Family Friendly Attractions in London and our Top 5 Family Friendly Cities in Europe.