Expert Tips for Planning a Vacation in Ireland with Kids

Traveling through Ireland with kids, your family will discover how imagination blends with history to weave an enchanting realm filled verdant hills, craggy cliffs, and traditional music. With very little language barrier and a well-earned reputation of friendliness, Ireland is growing in popularity with families as a destination for their first or subsequent European vacation. As a frequent traveler to Ireland with my own children, here are my top five tips for planning a vacation to Ireland with kids.

Blarney Castle, near Cork, Ireland
Blarney Castle, near Cork, Ireland (Photo credit: Jody Halsted)

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1. Drive your family or hire a driving guide.

When you travel anywhere with kids, it’s easiest to have your own schedule and transportation, as opposed to participating in a large bus tour. In this way you can follow where your interests and intrigue lead you, staying as long as you want in some places, and skipping others entirely.

In Ireland you drive on the left side of the road, sit on the “wrong side” of the car, and shift with your left hand. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and you’ll feel like a pro in no time!

If you don’t want the stress of a self-drive vacation, consider hiring a professional driver guide. I personally use and recommend Ireland Chauffeur Travel. With a driver guide everyone can sit back and enjoy the scenery without worrying about the narrow and winding roads, oncoming traffic, or missing a turn. Your driver guide is also a knowledgeable tour guide who will tell you stories of places you visit, as well as those you don’t.

Tip: Car rental in Ireland isn’t a straight forward as other locations. Learn what what you need to know about car rentals in Ireland.

Coastal road in Dingle Peninsula in Ireland
Coastal road in Dingle Peninsula (Photo credit: Captblack76,

2. Choose the right Ireland accommodations for kids.

Ireland accommodations are as varied as the landscape. From luxury castles to family-friendly hostels, you’ll find lodging options for every budget. When traveling through Ireland with kids choose your accommodations based on your vacation goals.

Hotels in Ireland

If staying at a hotel, be sure to confirm a family room or connecting rooms with interior connecting doors. Additionally, when choosing an Irish castle hotel be sure the hotel is actually a castle and not named for a nearby fortress.

Dining at Kinnity Castle Hotel in Co. Offaly, Ireland with kids
Dining at Kinnity Castle Hotel in County Offaly, Ireland (Photo credit: Jody Halsted)

Irish Bed & Breakfasts

In my opinion, the Irish bed & breakfast offers the best of Irish hospitality and céad míle fáilte (hundred thousand welcomes). Your B&B host is an invaluable resource who can guide you to ‘hidden’ places to visit, offer tips on what to avoid, and lead you to the tastiest restaurants.

Ireland Vacation Rental Homes

For families who like their privacy and space, a self-catering property or holiday home is a terrific option. Ireland is filled with properties available for rent from private owners, as well as rental homes at resorts and castles.

Tip: For a well-rounded and interesting tour of Ireland, don’t be afraid to mix and match your lodging choices. Read more in this Quick Guide to Ireland Accommodations.

Dromoland Castle in County Clare in Ireland with kids
Dromoland Castle in County Clare (Photo credit: Patryk_Kosmider,

3. Bring your family to a castle in Ireland.

Ireland is dotted with castles, abbeys, and walled towns — in all states of restoration, repair, or ruin.

Although it’s a splurge, a night or two in an Irish castle is the stuff of dreams. Many locations, such as Dromoland Castle in Clare or Ashford Castle in Mayo, have kid-sized slippers and robes, as well as wonderful family activities on the estate.

Tip: The OPW Heritage Card is the best value in Ireland. One family pass grants access to dozens of sites across Ireland, including castles!

Live music in an Irish Pub
Live music in an Irish Pub (Photo credit: Jody Halsted)

4. Take your kids to an Irish pub.

Pub is short for public house. The Irish pub is a place for everyone to gather for food, music, and craic. Pronounced “crack,” craic loosely translates to fun, entertainment, and good company.

Don’t expect to be waited on at the pub. Instead, wander up to the bar to place your order and have a chat.

Early in the evening you’ll find many families out at pubs in Ireland. Their numbers drop, though, as the hours get later.

Many pubs feature live music. You may be treated to live entertainment by either a local band or an impromptu session (an unofficial gathering of musicians). Participating in a session, even if you’re just clapping along, is a great way to feel part of the community.

Tip: Ask your hotel or B&B which pubs are most child-friendly and if any offer live music.

Rainbow over King John's Castle in Limerick, Ireland
Rainbow over King John’s Castle in Limerick, Ireland (Photo credit: pawopa3336,

5.  Don’t let the rain stop you in Ireland.

If the Irish waited for it to stop raining, nothing would ever get done! Therefore, it’s best to pack for any weather. Think layers and don’t forget to pack an umbrella or rain jacket.

Keep in mind, too, that any inclement weather will likely blow over quickly. And if it doesn’t, well, go back to tip #4! If it’s too wet to be outside you’ll likely find much of the village “down the pub.”  Join in!

Tip: Irish wool is the best souvenir you can buy. Whether you get socks, a hat, or a sweater — they will not only keep you warm, but also they’ll keep you dry.

Sheep near the coast in County Donegal, Ireland
Sheep near the coast in County Donegal (Photo credit: DesignPicsInc,

Get expert help planning your Ireland family vacation

A Note from The Travel Mama: The guest author of this blog post, Jody Halsted, is an enthusiastic Ireland expert. I’ve been friends with her for over 10 years, and one of the first things she told me was that Ireland is her favorite place on Earth.

Jody is the author of the guidebook, Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams. Her website, Ireland Family Vacations, provides all sorts of handy advice for a holiday in Ireland. For travelers looking for more guidance, she offers Ireland itineraries, a luxury small-group tour, and Ireland vacation coaching.

Jody can help you plan your trip to Ireland with kids
Jody can help you plan the Ireland vacation of your dreams! (Photo credit: Jody Halsted)

Although I have never personally used Jody’s vacation coaching services, if you’re considering embarking on an Ireland trip with kids (or without, really), I wholeheartedly recommend hiring her. She’s responsible, hard-working, and very knowledgeable about Ireland. What’s more, she is dedicated to helping others get the most out of visiting this country that she loves so much. Take a look at Jody’s Ireland vacation planning package or get her book now.

Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams Book

Ireland is a magical place just waiting to be explored. A word of caution, though…one trip may not be enough!

Learn more

Take a look at how to spend a perfect day in Dublin.

Here are the best attractions for families in Ireland.

Try these traditional British foods with funny names.

Discover places in North America that feel like Europe.

5 Expert Tips for Visiting Ireland with Kids

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Do you any questions or tips for traveling to Ireland with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Hi we are looking to vacation there with 5 adults and 2 year old granddaughter – having such a hard time deciding g self touring or if she can go on the guided tours. I’m really looking for the easiest way !! Do u have any suggestions. He packages seem to be the best as everything is in included. Thank you, Michele

  2. A beautiful country and so much to see and do. Wonderful people and yummy food, and all the music!!! Hope to make a trip back there again soon!

    1. Shannon – Thanks for your comment! Jody paints such a beautiful picture of Ireland, doesn’t she?! I haven’t been to Ireland for over 20 years…I need to go back and bring my kids!

  3. I haven’t been at Ireland yet. I have always wanted to
    come so I can visit the places where Game of Thrones shoot! All the feels!

  4. I missed Ireland during my last 2 trips to UK. Great insight. It’s a place I must visit and would use your tips.