Dublin, Ireland is the cultural hub of Ireland’s friendly and welcoming people, literary history, and family-friendly fun. There are several great things to do in Dublin with kids which will keep the whole family happy and entertained while explore the city. Top museums in Dublin are must-see for exploring Irish history, and the family-friendly pub scene in the Temple Bar area is a surprising and welcome relief for families.
The Best Things to do in Dublin with Kids
Get the Lay of the Land on the”Hop On Hop Off” Bus Tour
One of our absolute favorite activities when visiting a new city is to take a hop on hop off bus tour. We recommend taking a family friendly bus tour on your first day in a new city, and Dublin was no exception.
During our hop on hop off tour with DoDublin we were able to visit many of the places we had hoped to see, utilizing the bus for transportation and easy access to the major attractions including Trinity College, home to the book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse, the Dublin Zoo, and the Temple Bar area.
We were also able to get our bearings on our bus tour. The rest of our stay in Dublin was so much easier to navigate as we knew where we needed to go and how to get there. Hop-on-hop-off-buses are even good for rainy days because the buses offer ponchos and completely dry seating inside 3/4 of the double-decker bus.
See the Animals at the Dublin Zoo
Our youngest begged for a visit to the Dublin Zoo, which is one of the largest in the region and amazingly, the 4th oldest zoo in the world! A half-day is enough time to see most everything you want to see.
The zoo is located in Phoenix Park which is home to wild deer, the Duke of Wellington monument, and plenty of open space to bike, run, or play.
Visit the Sea
Dublin is located adjacent to the Irish Sea, with plenty of opportunities to visit adorable coastal villages, feast on local seafood, enjoy a cliff walk, or even splash in the water.
Howth Cliff Walk is just a 30-minute bus ride from the middle of the city, although it feels worlds away with sweeping sea views, lighthouse, a well-maintained looping trail, and even pubs and restaurants along the route.
Dun Laoghaire Harbor in the south boasts a pier with plenty of treats, playground, and even a year-round swimming beach at Sandycove.
Killiney Beach, Portmarnock Beach, and Dollymount Strand are also popular beach locations.
Tap your Toes at a Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl
Dublin’s vibrant pub scene might not seem like a possibility when visiting Dublin with your family, but in actuality most proper pubs (which serve food) are open to patrons of all ages. Kids under the age of 15 just need to be supervised and typically can’t enter after 9pm.
Temple Bar, adjacent to the River Liffey that cuts through the city, is world famous for its pub and live music scene, but it can be a challenge to find seating for the whole family.
It is a family-friendly atmosphere that offers traditional Irish music (you are more likely to hear top American songs from many of the musicians in most popular pubs). That being said, don’t skip out on the pubs completely. They are central to Dublin’s scene and are surprisingly family friendly.
Enter the Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl. Local musicians entertain, tell stories, and play amazing traditional Irish music while you and your family visit at least two fabulous local bars without worrying about seating, reservations, or stumbling into a non-kid friendly establishment.
You can sample the beverages, snacks, and fare during the crawl and kids can get soda or other non-alcoholic drinks. This was one of my top things to do in Dublin with kids, in all of Ireland actually.
Additional pubs and bars that are worth noting: My family recommends visiting Brazen Head, although it is touristy. It is the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1198. The food and drinks were delicious, and the nearly 900-year-old history made me swoon.
The Guinness Storehouse is likely a must-see for most fans of the Irish stout. And even though families are welcome (kids receive a soda at the end of the tour instead of a pint of beer), the prices are extremely high, especially during high season.
During our visit, it would have cost over $120 USD to tour and have a taste with the family. We skipped the tour and opted to taste our Guinness for a few Euros at one of the numerous local pubs.
Take a Day Trip to the Boyne Valley
Although Dublin holds enough to keep your family busy for a few full days, you will likely still want to get out into the countryside to explore, even if it is close by.
Renting a car is fairly straightforward in Ireland, although you do have to worry about driving on the left side of the road and managing the extremely narrow roads that seem often only wide enough for one-way traffic. We did rent a car for one day and took a meandering drive through Irish hills and valleys. It was stunning, but not exactly relaxing.
For our next family day outside Dublin, we opted for a tour company to take care of us. Irish Luxury Tours, who have been touring visitors around the Emerald Isle in luxury for 25 years, just began offering day-trip tours in addition to their overnight and week-long trips.
Our experience on their Mythical Fire & Water Tour was legendary. From paddling an ancient-style boat down the Boyne River like Ireland’s stone-age ancestors, to visiting Anglo-Norman castles and Monolithic burial mounds, to creating traditional iron age metal forging, it was an experience we absolutely could not have crafted on our own.
Read about our incredible experience on the Mythical Fire and Water tour.
Explore The Ark
The Ark is recommended for families with little kids who want both a place to play and explore art. In addition to interactive exhibits and activities, Irish artists offer performances and creative workshops to get your little one’s imagination piqued. As a bonus, The Ark is located in the Temple Bar area, so you’ll likely be just around the corner from a variety of pubs and restaurants you want to visit.
Make & Taste Chocolate at Butlers: The Factory Tour
Take your Wonka fans to Butlers: The Factory Tour for 90-minutes of views into the factory and processes of the world-famous chocolatier. Lots of complimentary tastings and chocolate making are included.
The chocolate shop and factory are located at Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park, Dublin 17, D17 A076.
Explore Viking History at Dublinia
Dublinia is a living-history museum located right in the heart of downtown Dublin. Here you’ll travel back in time to Viking and Medieval Dublin to learn about Dublin’s past in an immersive way.
Families will love the opportunities to dress up, role play, and even make their own weapons. A Family Activity Guide keeps older kids interested in the learning while you follow the museum’s timeline. As a bonus, pricing is fairly reasonable for families: just under €40 for a family of four making it best bet for things to do in Dublin with kids.
Hit the Playground
Sometimes kids just need a good playground to get some energy out in. Dublin doesn’t disappoint with lots of opportunities for play around (most) every corner.
The Giant’s Playground, located in Merrion Square Park near Trinity College, is a favorite of our family. Named after one of Oscar Wilde’s fairytales, “The Selfish Giant” this playground is full of larger-than-life characters and whimsy in addition to the standard structures and equipment. (Just outside the park is Oscar Wilde’s childhood home and a statue to honor his influence on the city and the world.)
Another downtown gem is the Playground at St. Stephen’s Green.
Get locked up at Kilmainham Gaol
Another history museum, Kilmainham Gaol is a best bet for families with older kids who might be less interested in the more kid-focused Ark and even Dublinia.
Originally opened as a prison in 1796, the gaol (pronounced jail) could be compared to America’s Alcatraz in notoriety and fame with famous inmates that include Irish independence fighters, ordinary criminals, young children (including a five-year-old boy) and famous insurrectionists.
Kilmainham Gaol is definitely one of the top things to do in Dublin with Kids and not surprisingly, tickets to the museum sell out way in advance, especially during peak seasons. Consider booking your admission passes as soon as your Dublin trip is scheduled.
Learn from the past at the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum
The EPIC Irish Emigration Museum is another great option for families with older children. THe museum focuses on the emigration of nearly 10 million Irish people, giving voices to their stories of why they left Ireland and how they shaped their new homes with Irish values, community, and history.
The museum is a great counterpart to New York’s Ellis Island. At EPIC, you learn why so many Irish left Ireland and how they made their mark on new lands. Younger kids will love getting their passports stamped throughout the museum, playing with the interactive displays, and learning to do an Irish dance.
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