Planning a family trip to Ireland? Consider spending a number of days in the country’s largest city, Dublin. There is much to recommend Dublin for a family summer holiday. My kids love the long days and ancient feel to the city. And when they’ve had enough of urban life, the countryside — filled with farms, castles and greenery — is just a short jaunt away. Please note that if you’re traveling to Dublin outside of the high season (May – September), some attractions may be closed or have limited hours.
Phoenix Park is Europe’s largest enclosed urban park. It boasts a lovely zoo with a wonderful African animal exhibit. Additionally, there are a variety of gardens, a playground, monuments and, of course, a tearoom. Seeing the park on two wheels only adds to the fun. You can rent bicycles from Phoenix Park Bike Hire, located at the entrance to the park around the corner from Heuston Station. Along with bicycles, this company also rents children’s bikes, toddler trailers and tag-alongs.
Climb aboard Viking Splash — an Amphibious World War II Vehicle — for a kid-friendly tour of Dublin’s historic center and harbor. Learn about city history, architecture, and many of Ireland’s colorful characters (of which there are many) while acting like savage Vikings. Tour drivers ham it up for their audience making this an entertaining way to see the city’s tourist highlights.
Dublin is a bustling city, so it’s always nice to enjoy a respite in the surrounding countryside. The neighboring county of Wicklow offers a variety of “country” activities for your family. Greenan Farm is located near Rathdrum. A family owned farm and park, it offers a glimpse into farm-life in Ireland with the added bonus of a challenging yet accessible hedge maze. The maze is the prime draw here, but your kids will love the farm animals and nature trail as well. There is also an outdoor green labyrinth and a small museum focused on traditional farming techniques. And, of course there’s a tearoom where one can find delicious scones and sandwiches.
Dublin’s children’s museum — Imaginosity — is the perfect destination on that inevitable day when it’s lashing rain. Interactive exhibits are geared for children from toddler through age 8 and include a “store” a “auto shop” a stage for dress up and performance and much much more. It is imperative that you book your visit at least a day ahead. You can do this by reserving space online or by phoning the museum directly.
Bray Sea Life Aquarium
The Bray Sea Life Aquarium is quaint and my kids love it. Its approximately 90 different species include a plethora of crowd-pleasers including sharks, piranhas, octopus, and sea horses. Its size means that the numerous fish-feeds and naturalist talks feel personal, and there is ample time for Q&A. If you are coming from the City Center, you can take the DART to the Bray station. On your return trip, stop in the seaside village of Dalkey with its medieval castle and charming ambience.
Looking for childcare services in Dublin? Giraffe Childcare has 19 locations around the city!
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