Ireland is a country that is tailor made for families seeking a magical vacation. Fearless knights can explore castles from the darkest dungeon to the highest battlements. Pretty pixies will find proof that faeries are real. The land that inspired C. S. Lewis to create his magical Narnia will charm your family like no other place on Earth.
Dublin, the capital city of this enchanting land, is often the first and last place the traveler to Ireland sees. From one of the largest walled city parks in Europe to some of the smallest and oldest artifacts in the world, exploring Dublin with kids is a must during your Ireland holiday.
You’ll find plenty to keep your family occupied in Dublin, but these 4 activities are the ones my own children chose for our Dublin city adventure, along with my own recommendations for 1 great place to stay and 1 great place to eat during your visit.
Activity 1: Visit the Bog Bodies at the National Museum of Ireland Archeology
Ireland’s bogs have released many secrets- from fabulous prehistoric offerings to clothing to amazingly well preserved bodies. Many of these items can be seen in the National Museum of Ireland’s Archeology building. While mom and dad will enjoy seeing the famous Tara Brooch and Ór, the incredible gold collection, the real draw is the Bog Bodies in the Kingship & Sacrifice Exhibit.
Ancient Ireland was a dangerous and superstitious place, where the Kings were supported in times of feast and offered as sacrifice in times of famine. As you explore this exhibit your family will learn more about the beliefs of old Ireland – and how some of these old traditions are still see today in holidays such as Halloween.
Admission to the museum is always free. Visit NMI Archeology online for hours. Free activity sheets, available at the museum, keep kids engaged as your family learns about Ireland.
Activity 2: Relax and Play in Phoenix Park
Once the Royal deer park of King Charles II, Phoenix Park is now a relaxing getaway within the city of Dublin. An entire day could be spent within these 1752 acres of walled parkland.
Begin at the wonderful Dublin Zoo where over 400 animals make their home in realistic habitats from desert to rainforest.
Enjoy a freshly made lunch at the nearby Victorian Tea Rooms. Built in the late 1800’s as an ice cream kiosk for zoo visitors, you’ll feel as though you have taken a step back in time.
Then explore the parklands by bike, foot, or on the Phoenix park Tourist Train which will take you to Farmleigh House with its beautiful gardens, the Phoenix Park Visitor center, and the old Zoo entrance. You might even see the famous Fallow Deer, descendants of the original herd.
Activity 3: Make Like a Viking and Splash
A tour of Dublin the entire family will enjoy! Hop aboard this amphibious World War II vehicle, don your Viking helmet, and prepare to ‘raid’ some of Dublin’s most popular attractions. Your Viking Captain will teach you how to roar like a Viking before taking you off on a tour that offers loads of Dublin history- if you can stop laughing long enough to absorb the information!
These fun tours begin and end at St. Stephen’s Green North, not far from Dublin’s famous Grafton Street. For prices and tickets visit VikingSplash.com.
Activity 4: Follow the Georgian Dublin Trail
A prefect afternoon can be spent just wandering Georgian Dublin, admiring the architecture, and snapping photo after photo of those incredible Dublin doors.
Well, that might be a perfect afternoon for the adults, but what about the kids? Get Out Find Out created the perfect solution with its Georgian Dublin Trail activity map. With the guidance of award winning author Siobhán Parkinson, let this trail guide you past some of the most prominent Georgian houses on Merrion Square to the smaller, but still impressive Fitzwilliam Square townhomes. Find out about the importance of those garden gates, famous people who lived in the homes, and why Dublin doors are all painted such vivid colors!
The Georgian Dublin Trail map is available at GetOutFindOut.ie.
1 Great Place to Stay: Brooks Hotel
Dublin isn’t known for its inexpensive hotel options, and with a family in tow lodging in the city can eat at your budget. The Brooks Hotel offers a mid-range price (for Dublin) with exceptional personal service.
Rooms are comfortable for a family, you won’t be tripping over each other, and the location is perfect for exploring Dublin by foot or for catching a ride on the Hop-on Hop-off bus. Be sure to add the bed & breakfast package to your room – the extra little bit it adds to your bill will keep you going until mid-afternoon.
Visit the Brooks Hotel official website for their best rate and special offers.
1 Great Place to Eat: Murphy’s Ice Cream
I’m sure I should mention some terrific pub or fabulous restaurant. Dublin has many to choose from. But the one place I always share with visitors is Murphy’s Ice Cream on Wicklow Street.
Handmade in Dingle with incredibly fresh local ingredients like milk from Ireland’s indigenous Kerry cow, fresh baked brown bread, and hand-harvested sea salt, Murphy’s Ice Cream has only one goal – the be the best ice cream in the world.
For me it only took one visit to become hooked, but no one will judge you if you visit every day you’re in Dublin.
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Though she’s not been everywhere in Ireland (yet), her family travels annually to those verdant shores, always exploring new locations and making new friends along the way. When she’s not traveling, Jody is homeschooling her two daughters or attempting to find her long lost Irish ancestor deep in the pages of forgotten history. During her “down time,” Jody enjoys reading and spending time with her husband Doug, a software developer and IT specialist. Follow her on Twitter: @irelandfamtrvl and Facebook: Ireland Family Vacations, and visit Jody's website:
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