There are so many things to do in Dublin with children, it’s a wonderful place to visit with your kids. We visited Dublin in high season with our two kids, aged 4 & 6. We enjoyed a good mix of outdoor activities, cultural pursuits and kid-friendly activities.
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Things to do in Dublin with Kids
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
When Celine celebrated her birthday in Dublin, we wanted to find a fun outdoor activity to do near Dublin. We were lucky to find a really good one… hiking the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk.
Hiking the Bray to Greystones Walk is reminiscent of a day hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy. Seriously – I’m not joking. The ocean vistas from this elevated oceanfront hiking trail are breathtaking!
The coastal town of Bray just oozes charm and sophistication and it’s on full display as you walk south along the oceanfront promenade. On one side of the promenade, locals play with their off-leash dogs in the grassy park area while the ocean crashes onto the pebbly beach on the other side. Tall, beautiful and colorful buildings line the main street in the distance.
As you walk south, you will see a hill rising out of the ocean with a notch cut out of the side – this is the cliff trail you are headed for. The whole Bray cliff walk to Greystones is carved into a pathway along the side of this large hill.
After walking 0.6 miles / 1km from the train station, you leave the Bray promenade and start the Bray Head walk. This trail gently climbs up and down several times, but you’ll barely notice it. The initial climb of 130 feet / 40 meters is high enough above the ocean to enjoy some amazing views.
The Bray to Greystones coastal walk is popular, but it’s mostly locals going out for a walk with friends or walking their dog. The waves crash onto the rocks below, birds are fishing in the waters, thousands of blackberries are ripening in the sun, pleasure boats go speeding by and the DART train passes below you into yet another oceanfront tunnel.
When the sun is shining the ocean water glistens and is an incredible clear, green color. It’s an amazing & special atmosphere for a hike.
It was a very windy day when we hiked the Bray Head Cliff Walk, but on the trail, the hill blocked the wind and we barely felt it. The trail has a variety of surfaces ranging from smooth and paved to a traditional rock and gravel hiking trail.
At the 3.1 mile / 5km mark, you start to approach the town of Greystones. The trail cuts through a long field of flowing golden wheat – it’s kind of odd, given the spectacular coastal scenery you’ve just walked through, but this is a fun little stretch of the hike.
When we did this hike in August 2019, there was a significant amount of oceanfront condo construction going on in Greystones. It looked like they were planning on diverting this trail through the new condos, but for now you walk along the streets of Greystones to the train station. Greystones is not as charming as Bray, but it’s pretty nice too.
How to get to Bray from Dublin by Train
You can get to Bray by taking the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) commuter train from the Tara Train Station in central Dublin. You return from Greystones on the DART train as well. You can buy tickets at vending machines within the terminals.
The Bray to Greystones Cliff Hike was a great way to celebrate Celine’s birthday; we highly recommend this amazing hike near Dublin.
Date Night!! Ok, ok… It was more of a date afternoon, but we were still excited to get out and see Dublin without the kids!
We arranged for 4 hours of babysitting through a promotional trial with Holiday Sitters. We’ve never used a babysitter while traveling before as we don’t like the risk of not knowing the person watching your kids. But Holiday Sitters has a vigorous background check process which made us more comfortable.
Our sitter arrived promptly at 12:00 and the kids immediately took to her. She was a happy person who was obviously good with children. Within seconds, she had them at ease and the kids had basically forgotten about us, so after a quick handoff with our sitter, we went on our way.
So, what do we want to do most when we have a few hours without the kids? Did we go drinking? For a nice meal? Nope – we wanted to go walking at a normal adults pace – haha! We’ve done a ton of hiking on this trip so far, and the kids have done amazing, but they are sooooo slow sometimes.
We just wanted to go for a fun walk that is unique to Dublin; the Poolbeg Lighthouse. The uniquely red Poolbeg Lighthouse sits proudly in the heart of Dublin Bay at the end of a 1 mile / 1.7km seawall.
There is an opportunity to make the walk longer, so we began our walk in Sean Moore Park, where we followed an oceanfront path all the way to the beginning of the Poolbeg Lighthouse seawall.
This path features some really nice oceanfront scenery with crashing waves, windsurfers, anglers and even a few small beaches. All the good scenery along this path is to your right – to your left is the view of a massive power plant. It’s a monster, but it won’t bother you much – the good scenery is enough to overpower the bad scenery and you won’t notice it much.
The seawall is a lot of fun with waves crashing into rocks piled along the side. It gets windy out there, so hold onto your hats! It’s fun watching the big boats come and go as you walk towards the very photogenic lighthouse.
We were in Dublin in high season and there were literally people everywhere. We were grateful for a few hours away from the crowds, walking at a normal adult’s pace – all thanks to Holiday Sitters. When we arrived home, the kids were having a great time sharing their coloring books with their babysitter. Our kids were obviously in very good hands.
Cycling in Phoenix Park
Dublin is home to one of the largest city parks in Europe; at over 1,700 acres it’s twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. We always enjoy spending time in the great parks of the great cities, so we thought it’d be a great idea to rent some bikes and spend the morning exploring this large park. We found a bike rental shop right at the main entrance which had equipment for the kids, so we were good to go.
We took the local bus from our Airbnb to the park entrance. We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the bike rental shop opening, so we decided to walk around for a bit. The first thing we noticed as we entered the park was a “No Cycling” sign! What the….?
As it turns out, you are only allowed to cycle along the 2.5 mile / 4km main road and a few small parts within the park, but nowhere else. We had just finished doing some amazing family cycling in Connemara and in Killarney National Park, so the thought of just cycling up and down the street didn’t appeal to us.
You gotta roll with the punches when traveling, so we explored the park on foot. Phoenix Park is massive so we could only see a fraction of it, but what we did see we liked. We primarily walked around the area southeast of the Dublin Zoo.
There are many nice walking paths through towering trees and alongside beautiful lakes. Our kids loved passing the lakes filled with swans, ducks and even a heron.
When we ran into a playground, we stopped to let them play a while. It’s a nice, big playground in good condition and a recycled tire surface.
IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art
When we travel, though it may not seem like it, we like to balance our trips with outdoor activities and culture. It felt like it was time to give the kids some culture, so we walked from Phoenix Park to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Modern art is often more fun and accessible to the kids versus stodgy old European portrait and religious art.
IMMA is housed within a square building with a beautiful inner courtyard. The exhibits are housed over two floors. Despite the large size of the building, it’s a reasonably small museum and if you don’t linger over the art very long, it won’t take long to visit. We were done in approximately 45 minutes.
The kids enjoy the many different mediums modern art uses. They especially love anything that is on a screen, but they enjoyed the paintings, photographs and sculptures too. A few of the photos contained nudity, but the great thing about small kids is they don’t know what may be controversial or offensive to some people. If you don’t acknowledge it, chances are they won’t even notice or even care.
Entry to the Irish Museum of Art is free, but a €2 donation is encouraged.
Trinity College Old Library
While in Cork, we bought our son a children’s book about Brian Boru, the famous High King of Ireland in 976AD. Brian Boru was known for his harp playing and is the reason why the harp is the national emblem of Ireland (perhaps most famously known as the Guinness beer logo). Brian Boru’s harp is found in the Old Library at Trinity College, so we thought it’d be a fun educational opportunity to connect what he saw in his book to some real life history.
We arrived at the Trinity College Old Library around 1PM to find a lineup several blocks long. To see a harp and some old books? We didn’t think the kids would be up for that.
The Trinity College Old Library is one of Dublin’s top tourist attractions, so we recommend learning from our experience and booking your tickets in advance. You can also skip the line by joining a 2-hour tour of the Old Library and the Dublin Castle.
Dublin Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a few blocks from Trinity College, so we decided to give it a try. This small, free museum packs a ton of animals into a reasonably small space. Locals hilariously call this place the “Dead Zoo” – haha!
The ground floor features the animals of Ireland. You are immediately greeted by the awesome skeletons of three Giant Irish Deer, which went extinct in Ireland during the last Ice Age. The remainder of the floor is jam-packed with stuffed Irish animals or their skeletons, including otters, badgers, pine martens, bears, wolves, tons of birds, fish, bugs and butterflies.
The second floor features the Mammals of the World. You name it, it’s in here: lions, hyenas, bears, deer, elephants, walrus, giraffe, fin whale, humpback whale, hippo, sloth, bats, zebra, koala, Tasmanian devil, kangaroos, just to name a few…
The Dublin Natural History Museum is one of the most fun things for kids to do in Dublin. Our kids loved it, spending their visit running excitedly from animal to animal.
St. Stephen’s Green
A few blocks from the Natural History Museum is St. Stephen’s Green. This small city park is really beautiful, filled with towering trees, fountains, lakes and flower gardens. It’s not very big, but it sure is impressive.
The primary reason we came to the park was for the playground. This large playground is fully fenced in with only one way in & out. We’re always a bit nervous at a big playground when we occasionally lose sight of our kids, so having the security fence all around was a nice treat. The playground was a big hit and the kids had a ton of fun.
3 Day Dublin Itinerary with Kids
Day 1: We took the Airlink 757 from the Dublin Airport to central Dublin and arrived midday. We thought we’d start by seeing Brian Boru’s famous harp at the Trinity College Old Library, but we balked at the massive lineup.
No worries, the Natural History Museum was only a few blocks away. It’s a small museum, but they have crammed a ton of animals into it.
We finished our first afternoon at the small, but very beautiful St. Stephen’s Green city park where the kids blew off some steam at one of the best playgrounds in Dublin.
Day 2: In the morning, we explored Phoenix Park, one of the largest city parks in Europe. We enjoyed a nice relaxing stroll through dense forest before stopping at a fun playground.
It had been a while since we subjected the kids to some culture, so we walked to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
In the afternoon, we arranged for 4 hours of babysitting though Holiday Sitters. With our newfound freedom, we enjoyed a popular inner-city hike to the Poolbeg Lighthouse – it’s so liberating to walk at an adults pace for a change!
Day 3: On our final day in Dublin, we took the train to Bray to hike the Bray to Greystones walk. The scenery along this town-to-town coastal trail is on-par with Cinque Terre. The best part is you can hike one-way and take the train back to Dublin from Greystones.
Getting into Dublin with Kids
We arrived in Dublin by rental car, but we actually just dropped it off at the airport, so we didn’t need to drive around Dublin.
We got from the Dublin Airport to central Dublin via the Airlink 757 airport bus. This journey took approximately 35 minutes and cost only €7.00 for the adults and €3.00 for the kids.
If you plan to have your own child seats on your trip, it’s super-easy to just hop into an Uber at the Dublin Airport and get to your accommodation.
If you are flying into Dublin without car seats and would like to avoid buying your own, we can recommend the Taxi2Airport service, which we used for our airport transfer in Glasgow at the beginning of our British Isles trip.
Booking through Taxi2Airport provided us both safety (free child seats for both kids) and convenience (our driver met us at the gate). These services come at a small premium to just taking a normal taxi or Uber, but when it comes to child safety, we don’t mind paying a little extra.
For more thoughts on bringing car seats, read our Traveling with Car Seats post.
Airbnb and Family Hotels in Dublin
Central Dublin is home to most of its top attractions, shopping and restaurants and is our recommended area to stay. A downside of this area is that it can be quite expensive to stay during the high season. You can browse a wide-variety of family-friendly hotels in Dublin on Booking.com.
To be honest, the prices of Dublin hotels in high season chased us out of the central Dublin and we ended up booking a really nice 2-bedroom Airbnb in Clondalkin, a residential neighborhood about 11km from central Dublin by bus. The local bus from Clondalkin to central Dublin took us approximately 40 minutes, while an Uber took about 25 minutes.
If you are like us and prefer an Airbnb for your family, you can search the available Dublin Airbnb rentals. If you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up with our link and get a $35USD credit towards your first stay.
Getting Around Dublin with Kids
Once you get to central Dublin, getting around without car seats is super easy.
Walking: The historic Dublin town centre is reasonably small and takes toughly 20 minutes to walk directly from end-to-end. In high season, the streets are extremely crowded so keep a close eye on your kids.
Local bus: Staying outside the town centre meant we took the local Dublin buses a lot. On our first ride, we were surprised to find out you needed to pay the fare in Euro coins in exact fare, but some nice locals helped us make some change.
To make things easier for the rest of our stay, we bought pre-loaded Leap cards at a corner store which eliminated the need to have exact change.
Hop-On Hop-Off bus: There are a significant amount of Dublin attractions outside of the city centre. If you don’t wish to drag car seats around with you, a hop-on hop-off Dublin sightseeing bus is a fun alternative. The Dublin City Sightseeing bus has an extensive route ranging from Phoenix Park to the waterfront.
We tried a City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus for the first time in Glasgow and really enjoyed it. We loved the vantage point from the open-air upper deck and felt it was a fun way to get introduced to the city.