Dublin, Ireland’s Capital city, is walkable and friendly. It’s a city that is best explored without too many activities planned, so kids can people watch, as well as wander in and out of shops and down streets that strike their fancy.
That being said, make a list of a few highlights you and your family don’t want to miss. Here are 6 of my favorite, best family activities in Dublin:
1. St. Stephen’s Green
Some of the best family travel moments we’ve had, have been simple moments. Wandering around a park or down new streets. Spending unhurried time at an unexpected playground. Or one of my my favorite simple moments, a picnic in a park.
There are endless places to pick up picnic goodies and wander over to St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin for some people (and pigeon) watching. Try the deli counter at Fallon and Byrne (11 -17 Exchequer Street) for some wholesome sandwiches and crisps. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from the Green.
(TIP: You can always eat on the benches, but kids like to sit on the ground and have a proper picnic! I advise asking your hotel for a blanket or bring a towel or two as parts of the Green can be covered in pigeon poop, but don’t let that discourage you from some fun family time.)
2. National Library of Ireland and National Museum – Archaeology
After a wander around St. Stephen’s Green, you’re in the perfect location to visit museums. There are several around, but my two favorite iconic places to visit with kids are the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology.
Both down the same street (Kildare St.), the National Library of Ireland is a great place to pop in. Free and open to the public, the library is a beautiful building with a gorgeous u-shaped reading room that well-behaved kids who love books, will enjoy sitting and taking it all in.
(Tip: you do have to leave backbacks and bags in the cubbies before exploring the library.)
Just down the street from the library, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology is a museum that most kids will find the Viking artifacts and archaeological specimens very interesting to look at. It’s free and open to the public. Ask your kids what their favorite part of the museum was after your visit and compare notes!
3. Afternoon Tea
In my opinion, a visit to Ireland would not be complete without several afternoon teas. After wandering around the museums for the afternoon, stop by the Shelbourne (27 St. Stephen’s Green), a convenient location just down the street from the above library and museum.
This little splurge is a true destination that kids will love! Kids will enjoy all the sweet treats and intricate details of the food, along with sitting in plush cushioned seats and being treated to luxury customer service.
4. Viking Splash
(TIP: There are hop on/hop off bus tours throughout Dublin, taking you through to all the big sites. I would skip these with kids in my opinion. Typically, I enjoy hop on and off bus tours with families as the bus itself (extra points if it’s a double-decker) is a fun destination in itself, especially for little ones. In Dublin, however, it’s such a walkable city that it can take a LOT longer to get around during rush hour on the bus, than it is just to walk to your next destination.)
If you are looking for a fun tour with families, I suggest a Viking Splash tour. It may be a bit hokey, but kids will LOVE the fact that the vehicle goes both on land and in the water. It’s a fun time for everyone. The tours leave all the time from St. Stephen’s Green, and are about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
5. Trinity College
I love visiting historic colleges with kids. It allows them to see a space that they can one day aim to be in if they choose. Trinity College is right in the heart of Dublin and it’s fun to take a 30-minute tour from a University student who will take you and your family through all the beautiful buildings and history of the college. When you walk in through the gates, you’ll note a board of departure times for tours.
The tour will leave you at the Trinity Old Library: a gorgeous place to walk through. Kids will love the number of books and the old architecture.
The tour will leave you at the Trinity Old Library: a gorgeous place to walk through. Kids will love the number of books and the old architecture. This is the place of the Book of Kells. (When you arrive, you can purchase a combo ticket for both a tour of Trinity College, along with entry into the library to see the Book of Kells.)
6. Phoenix Park
Take a bus or cab ride (about 15-20 minutes from the City Centre) to Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park is a great place to spend a full day or an afternoon!
Rent bikes at the main entrance (they have kid options!) and enjoy a bike ride around the 2.73 mile route around the park as a family.
Also within Phoenix Park is the a cafe that serves tea and scones, the Dublin Zoo, along with a few playgrounds that kids will have a great time exploring.