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Ireland with Kids – Expert Tips for a Family Vacation on the Emerald Isle

Traveling though 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)

1. Drive your family or hire a driver 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, Depositphotos.com)

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, Depositphotos.com)

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, Depositphotos.com)

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, Depositphotos.com)

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 I’m pretty sure one of the first things she told was that Ireland is her favorite place on Earth.

Jody is the author of the guide book, 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 whole-heartedly 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 buy her book now.

Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams

Save these tips for visiting Ireland with kids

Be sure to save these Ireland with kids tips. Just pin the image below to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

5 Expert Tips for Visiting Ireland with Kids

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

For more information on traveling to Ireland, take a look at how to spend a perfect day in Dublin.

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

About Jody L. Halsted, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger

Jody is the author of the award-winning book, Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams. Her website, IrelandFamilyVacations.com, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For travelers looking for more guidance, Jody offers Ireland itineraries, a luxury small-group tour, and Ireland vacation coaching.

Comments
  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Thanks so much for the tips, Jody! I have been to Ireland, but never with the kids. I would love to stay at an Irish Farmhouse or in one of those castles that doubles as a hotel. How cool would that be?! My daughter would love to pretend to be a princess for a night or two!

  2. I agree with these “Top 5 Tips”! Our family spent 2 weeks in Ireland and coincidentally followed all of your tips. It was a magical trip where learned about the Irish and the history of this beautiful place by being close to the people of the countryside with our car. The kids will forever remember the night we slept in a “haunted” castle! Your blog brought back great memories. Thanks.

  3. Lonnie Pobanz says

    very good insight, I really enjoyed reading this, keep it up!

  4. Sheridan Stanton says

    Jody,
    You make it sound so easy to travel with children, especially to another country. It makes me want to book my trip right NOW!!!

  5. Nancy Driscoll says

    Thanks for the tips Jody…..I have been to Ireland with friends but am going for the first time with my grandchildren and am expecting it to be a much different trip….(no pub crawls this visit *L*) and so am researching ways to make if fun for the kids…thanks again!

  6. laura walters says

    Does anyone have recommendations for ACTIVE travel through Ireland with kids?

  7. Hi! This is very useful. I am travelling to Ireland with my husband and two kids (7 months and 2 years) in august! My husband says b&b’s are not good because you have to leave during the day, is that true? I can’t imagine this would be a good idea for little kids since they need to nap once to twice a day! Do you have any recommendations?
    Thank you!

  8. hi there,

    I will be in need of a crib when we visit Ireland in March. Do many B&Bs provide them? I’d really hate to drag around my pack n play. Thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Lorna – I would check directly with any B&Bs your considering. You could also do a Google search for a baby gear rental company in Ireland. Unfortunately, it looks like we don’t have any on our Baby Gear Rental Directory: https://travelmamas.com/shop/rent-baby-travel-gear/#europe Good luck and enjoy your Ireland travels!

    • I would opt for renting a home for a week or two through HomeAway, TripAdvidir or AirBnB. There are probably many other apps as well. We are headed there with children and secured a home on the west coast for a week to explore and the a home in Northern Ireland for a week. I have seen many hosts who provide some of the things you mentioned.

      • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

        Dossie – Home rentals are great, but sometimes I just want the extra perks and customer service that come with a hotel stay!

  9. Im wondering about car seats when renting a car? Did you bring your own?

    • Jody Halsted says

      Hi Mallory. You have a few options for car seats in Ireland.
      1) Bring your own. This is what we opted to do when my girls were little as we used the car seats on the airplane. Not only is it safer than a lap child but it was also a known item in an unknown place- it helped them relax and sleep on the overnight flight.
      2) Rent a car seat from the car rental company. Most offer this service and will help you put them in if needed.
      3) If you are flying in and out of Dublin contact The Stork Exchange. They have everything you will need while in Ireland- car seats, cots, etc. http://www.the-leader.com/article/20130925/News/130929832

      I hope that helps! Ireland is a wonderful place to explore with kids!

  10. Paula Schuck says

    I did a couple of media trips in Ireland and loved it and would return in a heartbeat. I was surprised to find Dublin to be such an incredible culinary destination right now. I’ve not taken the kids but would love to return with my children one day. Dingle was a lot of fun as well.

  11. Christine Weis says

    These are great tips. I have never been to Ireland but do plan to visit when my kids are older. I have a friend who is from Ireland so I’ll have to share this post with her too. She’ll love it.

  12. Shannon Gurnee - Redhead Mom says

    That sounds like an amazing adventure for the kids and parents! I would love to visit Ireland someday!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Since you’re a Redhead Mom, I’m assuming you’re part Irish?! Enjoy your Ireland travels!

  13. Ireland sounds like a perfect family trip due to its beautiful castles. Especially all the girls of the family will enjoy such views. 🙂

  14. Annemarie LeBlanc says

    The coastal road is so idyllic. It would be so nice to just stop and admire the beauty around you. Ireland is such a beautiful country I want to have a chance to visit too!

  15. Cindy Gordon says

    My sister is about to embark on this journey. I hope they have a good and safe time!

  16. Jessica Hughes says

    I’ve always wanted to check out Ireland! Hearing your tips makes me wanna go more! Saving these for sure!

  17. This looks like such a fun trip! Thank you for sharing all your pics!

  18. Subhashish Roy says

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

  19. emman damian says

    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!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I’m not a Game of Thrones fan but I bet my husband could get on board for seeking out all of the GOT locations!

  20. Becca Wilson says

    This looks like it would be such an amazing trip. I have always wanted to go to Ireland.

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