This is a guest post by Sian McQuillan, Ireland travel expert, author and editor at Emerald Green Media.
Balmy conditions and a safe reputation make Ireland the perfect choice for a family holiday. Beyond popular destinations like Dublin, Killarney and the Cliffs of Moher, the Emerald Isle offers an abundance of fun activities that fall a bit more under the radar. From wildlife encounters to heritage parks, historical sites and more, there is always something new to discover. If you’re travelling with the kids in tow, here are the top 10 things to do in Ireland off the beaten path — spots most visiting families wouldn’t know about.
Topping our list of off-path things to do in Ireland is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The 15th-century castle itself is the most complete medieval fortress in all of Ireland. The folk park features 26 acres of land filled with 30 buildings in a historic replica village. Medieval banquet nights feature music and entertainment as well as period-appropriate cuisine.
The ultimate indulgence located in the scenic Garden of Ireland, as County Wicklow is known, is the Chocolate Garden of Ireland. Make your very own chocolate at their onsite workshop before heading over to the shop and café, where you can get a taste and even take some home for your friends and family.
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Take a step back in time to Ireland of the early 20th century. Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is split into two separate museums; one documents the history of transport in Ireland and the other is a folk park showing what life was like in the early 1900s. This is the perfect place to learn something about the country’s past while enjoying a fun day out.
Located in West Galway, Brigit’s Garden is a magical day out for the whole family. Home to a discovery trail, Celtic gardens, ring fort and crannog (a type of ancient dwelling), nature trail, and more, this fantastic spot offers a glimpse into Celtic heritage and mythology.
Located in Ireland’s Ancient East, the Irish National Heritage Park in County Wexford offers a unique and immersive historical perspective. With an abundance of interactive exhibits, the park brings to life more than 9,000 years of Irish history that range from Prehistoric Ireland to Early Christian Ireland and the Age of Invasion, making it perfect for kids to appreciate the region’s heritage and have fun at the same time.
If you’re looking for something that will provide your little ones with endless hours of entertainment, look no further than Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in County Roscommon. Check out the amazing Adventure Play Kingdom or test your mental skills and physical agility at the Boda Borg Challenge. Whatever you fancy, there is something for all the family to enjoy here.
Wild Ireland is an incredible wildlife park that takes you back to a time when the country was covered in a temperate rainforest. Today, visitors can see up close and personal animals that were once native to the Emerald Isle before becoming extinct due to hunting. Wild Ireland is a sanctuary for species such as lynx, red deer, brown bears and more, all returned from other parts of the world to their onetime homeland.
This beautiful beach lies along Northern Ireland’s coast, just below the popular Causeway Coastal Route. However, it would be easily missed by those driving past. Backed by limestone cliffs, this 4.8-km (3-mile) Blue Flag beach — a designation that signifies high water quality, cleanliness and safety standards — is one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland. Perfect for families or anyone looking to dip their toes in the sand, it is a true hidden gem.
Situated in the beautiful surroundings of Connemara National Park, Delphi Adventure Resort offers fun for all the family. Whether you fancy kayaking on Killary Fjord or ziplining through the trees, you’re sure to get a thrill at this fantastic resort. There’s also an upscale hotel onsite that includes family rooms with bunk beds.
The award-winning gardens of 400-year-old Birr Castle in County Offaly are a must-visit on a family holiday in Ireland. Alongside the incredible flora and fauna, Birr Castle is also home to a science centre where there is always something new to discover, from photography to astronomy. Guided tours are also on offer here for those who want to find out a little bit more.
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