Ireland with Kids – Road Trip Itinerary

Author: Celine Brewer

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The land of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and rainbows, you’ll never forget a family trip to Ireland. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any leprechauns or four leaf clovers and by the end of our 3 week road trip around Ireland with kids, we had only seen one rainbow. While we expected the first two, the third one was a bit of a surprise, but regardless, we still found visiting Ireland with kids to be a phenomenal experience.

There was never a shortage of amazing things to do with kids in Ireland and they had plenty of space to run free. We were also able to tick off an item on our family travel bucket list by cycling with kids in Ireland.

Dan Brewer, of Family Can Travel, walks with his two kids along the ocean near the wormhole on Inishmore, which is one of the top things to see on Inis More Aran Island,

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Planning a Family Trip to Ireland

When to Visit Ireland with Kids

The peak tourist season for Ireland is July and August. While we knew it wouldn’t be ideal from a crowds perspective, summer was the ideal time for us to visit Ireland with kids.

Summer school holidays allowed us piece together the most amount of time to do both a 3 week Scotland road trip with kids and also 3 weeks in Ireland with kids.

yellow and purple wildflowers along Lighthouse Loop Walk on Sheep's Head Peninsula Ireland.

All else being equal, we would have preferred to visit Ireland in the spring or the fall. A family trip to Ireland in April and May would be stunning with all the spring flowers. Plus, there would be less tourists at that time.

Regardless, we made the best of our high season Ireland family vacation. We found that how we planned our time with this Ireland itinerary, that we were rarely bothered by the crowds (or even around the crowds). We were often out early in the morning and by doing a lot of hiking and cycling, allowing us to easily avoid the tour bus crowds.

How Long to Travel in Ireland

We traveled around Ireland with our kids for 3.5 weeks. We started in Northern Ireland after a bus and ferry ride after our time in Edinburgh with kids. Since we had already been in the UK for almost a month, we didn’t have any jet lag to worry about.

Since we were on our Ireland family cycling trip for almost a third of our time, we were glad we had the extra two weeks to explore other areas.

We felt that even 3.5 weeks wasn’t enough time for our Ireland itinerary with kids. Our advice would be to plan as long of a family trip to Ireland as your schedule and budget allow. It’s impossible to see all of Ireland in a single family trip, so pick a few destinations that are close to each other to minimize wasteful travel days.

a Celtic Cross stands in a graveyard on Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland.

Getting Around Ireland with Kids

As mentioned, since we had planned to use a large portion of our time in Ireland on a self-guided cycling tour, we didn’t rent a car until about 10 days into our Ireland itinerary. Prior to getting a rental car, we took buses from Belfast to Galway, then to Oughterard to begin our tour.

One other complicating factor in our planning was that the day we ended our bike tour it was a bank holiday in the UK, so we couldn’t rent a car in Galway like we had planned. Instead we took a bus from Clifden to Galway then on to Limerick where we were able to rent a car at the Shannon Airport that day.

vehicles parking along road for Dunmore Head Loop on Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Further to that, we found that the one-way car rental price from Limerick to Dublin was about the same as returning the car to Limerick and then taking the bus to Dublin, so we opted for a convenient one-way car rental.

If you are arriving by plane to Ireland, you’ll likely start your family trip in Dublin. In this case you could rent a car at the Dublin airport and return it before your flight home.

Be aware that most car rental companies in Ireland will hold a large sum (up to €5,000) as a damage deposit on your credit card – read your fine print!

Driving in Ireland for the First Time

Coming from Canada, we knew the roads in Ireland would be much narrower than what we were used to. Pair this with driving on the opposite side of the road and this can be a little scary.

To help with driving on the left, we recommend packing light and trying to get the smallest car possible that will still fit all your stuff.

a large bus bus drives along narrow Slea Head Drive on Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

We had already spent 3.5 weeks in Scotland, most of it with a car, so by the time we got to Ireland we weren’t as nervous about driving on the left hand side of the road.

At the start of our UK trip, to get more comfortable with the driving on the other side, we’d make sure we were out early in the morning when there would be less traffic. We also tried to avoid city driving as much as possible.

What about car seats for Ireland road trips with kids?

Anyone going on a family road trip in Ireland with small kids will need to figure out a car seat solution. We didn’t want to lug our big & heavy convertible car seats from home. With a little bit of research we discovered we could buy inexpensive, suitable high back booster seats from Argos (kind of like a catalog shopping store) while in Glasgow with kids (at the very start of our UK trip).

On family road trips we always have a discussion about bringing our own car seats versus renting. For our family road trip in Ireland, renting was out of the question. We prefer to not rent child seats from car rental agencies due to highly variable quality, and we couldn’t rent from a 3rd party as we weren’t weren’t returning to the same city.

the FamilyCanTravel.com kids have some fun in a rental car during a family road trip in Scotland.

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If you’d like to explore the car seat topic in more depth, our Baby Can Travel blog has a full rundown on travelling with car seats.

Where to Stay in Ireland with Kids

While we typically prefer to stay in vacation rentals through Airbnb or VRBO as much as possible when we travel with kids (for the extra space, kitchen and laundry facilities), we stayed in quite a few kid-friendly Ireland hotels on our family trip.

a blue hotel in Dingle, Ireland.

Most of our kid-friendly Ireland hotels came on our Ireland cycle tour and were a combination of bed and breakfasts or hotels with family rooms.

We happened to be in Galway during the Galway Races (an Irish horse-racing festival) without knowing, so the cost of accommodation was sky high. To save money, we ended up staying in a Galway hostel with kids. The kids loved that we were all in the same room with matching bunk beds.

Celine Brewer, from Family Can Travel blog, sits on a bunk bed with her two kids in a hostel in galway, ireland.

We did manage to stay in rented apartments near the Cliffs of Moher, in Kenmare when we were visiting Killarney National Park, in Dublin, and for a couple of nights in Belfast.

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We have blog posts for each destination in our Ireland with kids itinerary. Visit each post for specifics on our choices of kid-friendly accommodation.

Ireland with Kids Itinerary – Destination Summary

  • Days 1-3: Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Day 4: Galway
  • Days 5-10: Connemara Cycle Tour
  • Day 11: Cliffs of Moher
  • Days 12-13: Dingle Peninsula
  • Days 14-18: Killarney National Park
  • Days 19-21: Cork
  • Days 22-24: Dublin

Three Week Family Trip to Ireland Itinerary

Days 1-3: Belfast, Northern Ireland

We had two full days in Belfast with our kids. We spent our first day getting the lay of the land with a walk around Belfast to see some of the sights. We were staying near the town centre so getting around Belfast was easy by walking along the river.

the FamilyCanTravel.com kids kiss the salmon of knowledge while on a family trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Speaking of walking along the river, Belfast’s riverside walk is quite beautiful. We walked the pathway known as Lagan Towpath and again on our second day, we walked along the river to the Titanic Museum.

Image of girl walking towards Titanic Belfast

We found the two best things to do in Belfast with kids were the Titanic museum and W5. The Titanic museum is really well done and is interactive enough that it keeps kids engaged throughout. It was so good that we included it in our list of top 10 things to do in Ireland with kids.

W5 is home to over 250 fun, interactive exhibits over six exhibition areas. It’s basically a giant play area for kids and they loved it!

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We loved our two days in Belfast! Read more about our family trip to Belfast and get all the details of what we did!

Day 4: Galway, Ireland

Celine Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, walks Quay Street in Galway Ireland with her kids.

Galway was just a short bus ride from the starting point for our upcoming self-guided cycling tour, so we used it as a stop over from Belfast.

By the time we arrived in Galway by bus from Belfast, it was late afternoon. We were left with enough time to walk Quay Street and have dinner. The next morning we were off to Oughterard by bus to meet with our tour company, Green Marble Tours.

colorful houses along the water in Galway Ireland.

Days 5-10: Family Friendly Cycle Tour in Connemara, Ireland

We had always dreamed of cycling in Ireland and to be perfectly honest, we were uncertain if our kids were too young to be able to do it on our family trip.

We thought it would have to wait until they were cycling on their own, but we were wrong we were. With a little research, we were able to find Green Marble Tours who offers family-friendly cycling tours in Ireland.

Dan and Celine Brewer, owners of FamilyCanTravel.com, ride bikes in Connemara, Ireland with their kids in a trailer and a tag-a-long.

We were impressed with the quality of equipment Green Marble Tours provided, which is very important.

At the time of our Ireland vacation, our kids were 6 and 4 years old, so we went with a bike trailer and a tag-a-long. This worked perfectly, as the bike trailer worked for either kid and so did the tag-a-long, allowing the kids to switch off depending on their energy level.

Celine Brewer, of FamilyCanTravel.com, pulls her daughter in a child trailer with while on a family cycling tour in Ireland.

As for the scenery and cycling around Ireland? It was spectacular! Imagine beautiful coastal scenery, charming small villages and tranquil hills and valleys.

We lucked out with some fantastic weather while on Inis Mor and played on the beaches. We stopped at playgrounds in small towns along the way. And we all got drenched in the pouring rain. It’s what family travel memories are made of!

Dan Brewer, from FamilyCanTravel.com, cycles with his daughter on Aran Island Inis Mor, Ireland.

This was our favorite part of our family trip to Ireland itinerary. If you have the chance, we highly recommend a self-guided cycling tour like the one we did while in Ireland with kids.

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We loved our very first family cycling trip! We share all the details on our self-guided family cycling tour in Connemara and visiting the Aran Islands with kids in these posts.

Day 11: Cliffs of Moher

No family trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to the Cliffs of Moher. Trust me when I tell you that the famous Irish cliffs are just as dramatic in person! The viewing area near the visitor center is well set up for visiting with kids, while keeping them safe.

Dan Brewer holds his daughter while admiring views of the cliffs of moher on a family trip to Ireland.

We took a bus back from Clifden through Galway and onto Limerick to pick up our rental car. Our first afternoon at the Cliffs of Moher left us completely drenched while walking in very heavy winds and rain. It was so bad we turned back.

The next day, we had slightly better weather and hiked from the visitor center along part of the Cliffs of Moher Coastal trail. This area is not recommended for dogs or children, however we walked the portion of the trail where there is a wall to keep the kids in.

Dan Brewer, of Family Can Travel, walks the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail with kids kids while on a family vacation to Ireland.

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The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most beautiful places. Get all the details on visiting the Cliffs of Moher with kids in this post.

Days 12-13: Dingle Peninsula

The drive from the Cliffs of Moher to the Dingle Peninsula is approximately 3 hours. That left us with an afternoon, one full day, then the morning to explore Dingle with kids before driving on to Kenmare.

a boy and girl on a family trip to the Dingle Peninsula walk on grassy path with beach and cliffs in the distance.

Dingle, with its rugged coastlines, stunning scenery and charming fishing village was one of the best places to visit in Ireland with kids (or without!).

We spent our full day there hiking the Clogher Beach Loop, the Dun Chaoin Coastal Loop and the Dunmore Head Loop. These three kid-friendly Dingle hikes weren’t overly difficult, and they were short enough that we were able to do them all in one day.

We even had enough time left over to visit the Dingle OceanWorld Aquarium – a fun thing to do with kids in Dingle.

two kids look at sharks in a tank at Dingle OceanWorld Aquarium.

The sun was shining on our final morning on the Dingle Peninsula, so we did one of our favorite things to with kids while traveling – we drove to Inch Beach and spent few hours playing and beachcombing in the sand.

a 6 year old girl stands on Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

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We think that Dingle is one of the best places to visit in Ireland with family. Get all the details about our time on the Dingle Peninsula with kids.

Days 14-18: Killarney National Park

Given how much we love to hike with our kids when we travel, we knew Killarney National Park was a perfect fit for our Ireland road trip itinerary. We stayed in nearby Kenmare and explored Killarney National Park and area over 5 days.

a young boy walking down a hiking trail in Killarney National Park in Ireland.

On our first day, driving the hour and a half from the Dingle Peninsula to Kenmare, we stopped for a fun little hike in the Rossacroo Forest while we were waiting to check into our Airbnb.

a young boy on a family trip to Killarney National Park stands in a very lush area of Rossacroo Forest.

Within Killarney National Park, we hiked to the summit of Torc Mountain with kids and cycled the Gap of Dunloe.

Cycling the Gap of Dunloe with kids is high up there as one of our favorite things to do in Ireland with kids. It’s a bit challenging, so make sure you and your kids are up for it, check your bike and brakes before you go and take it slow!

Celine Brewer, from the Family Can Travel blog, and her child cycle a winding downhill road along the Gap of Dunloe mountain pass in Killarney National Park.

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To help determine whether you are up for this excursion, check out our full post about cycling the Gap of Dunloe with kids.

There’s plenty to do around Killarney National Park with kids too. We spent a day hiking around Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, which is full of kid friendly hiking trails.

the two kids from the FamilyCanTravel.com blog look at a bug while on a family hike in Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve.

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We did an incredible amount of fun stuff on our trip to Killarney National Park with kids.

Days 19-21: Cork

Upon leaving Killarney National Park, we weren’t quite ready to return to a big city, so we found one more kid-friendly hike on Sheep’s Head Peninsula. This might have been one of the most beautiful kid-friendly hikes in Ireland and you can read more about it at the end of our Killarney National Park with kids post (linked above).

the white lighthouse on Lighthouse Loop in Ireland.

Now more prepared to do some city exploring, we spent a couple of days in Cork. Our first day we visited the Cork City Gaol, the English Market and Fitzgerald Park Playground (one of the best playgrounds we’ve seen anywhere).

Our second day in Cork with kids, we spent much of the day exploring the Blarney Castle Gardens.

Blarney Castle and Gardens in Cork Ireland.

We were originally hesitant to visit the Blarney Castle, given that we’d heard it was over-hyped and touristy. We were there for 5 hours and had a great time. We do recommend a visit to Blarney Castle with kids, but get there early.

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For more on the Blarney Castle and Cork City in our post on Cork with Kids.

Days 22-24: Dublin

Our last stop on our family trip to Ireland was Dublin. We drove from Cork and dropped our car off at the airport, then took a bus into the city centre. After all the time we’d spent in nature, we were in shock at how busy Dublin was.

We expected Dublin to be crowded, and maybe it was because we had spent so much time biking and hiking in Ireland, but we just weren’t ready for it.

a wooden dock leads to the Poolbeg Lighthouse in Dublin,Ireland.

We opted to find quieter places to explore around Dublin like Phoenix Park, Sean Moore Park, the Poolbeg Lighthouse and even the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

On our final day in Dublin before flying home, we did what we do best… we found a way to get out of the city and into nature. The walk from Bray to Greystones is one we would highly recommend.

dramatic coastline in Ireland near Dublin.
the two kids from the Family Can Travel blog, enjoy the ocean views on the pathway from Bray to Greystones, a family-friendly hike near Dublin, Ireland.

While it was busy on a Sunday, it was nothing like what we had seen in Dublin. The entire kid-friendly walk offers stunning ocean vistas and we timed it just right with a beautiful sunny day!

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Read more about our time in Dublin with kids here.

A 2 Weeks in Ireland Itinerary with Kids

To reduce our family trip to a 2 week Ireland itinerary, the easiest way is remove the cycle tour. While the family cycle tour was the best part of our entire trip to Ireland with kids, it would be hard to fit in much more with a 6 day bike tour.

Instead we offer these suggestions while also doing it in reverse and assuming you are arriving into Dublin. One is with the bike tour and one is without.

the dramatic coastline in Ireland near Dublin.

2 weeks in Ireland with Kids – No Cycle Tour

To come up with a two week road trip around Ireland with kids, we would make the following changes to our Ireland itinerary above:

  • Remove the time in Belfast, if you are flying into Dublin.
  • Remove the cycle tour for this 2-week Ireland itinerary.
  • Reduce the time in Killarney National Park to 3 days and skip the day to hike Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop.
  • Remove 1 day from your time in Cork, without a morning to hike the Lighthouse Loop you can fit in everything in Cork in a two days.
  • Use the time in Dublin at the beginning of your Ireland itinerary to help with jet lag
a young boy in the courtyard of Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.

Your 14 Day Itinerary for Ireland with Kids might look something like this:

  • Day 1: Dublin – Arrival
  • Day 2: Dublin – City Walking
  • Day 3: Dublin – Hike Bray to Greystones
  • Day 4: Cork – Arrival (3 hr drive) City walking & Fitzgerald Park
  • Day 5: Cork – Blarney Castle & Gardens
  • Day 6: Killarney NP – Arrival (1.5 hr drive) Muckross House and Torc waterfall
  • Day 7: Killarney NP – Cycle Gap of Dunloe
  • Day 8: Killarney NP – Summit Torc Mountain or explore area surrounding Killarney NP
  • Day 9: Dingle – Arrival (1+hr drive) Explore Dingle
  • Day 10: Dingle – Hike the Dun Chaoin Coastal Loop and the Dunmore Head Loop
  • Day 11: Cliffs of Moher – Visit a Dingle beach then drive 3 hrs to Cliffs of Moher Accommodations
  • Day 12: Cliffs of Moher – Visit Cliffs of Moher        
  • Day 13: Galway – Explore Galway
  • Day 14: Dublin – Drive to Dublin to fly home
a young boy in sunglasses, cap and grey hoodie running along Inch Beach with green hills in background in Ireland.

2 weeks in Ireland with Kids – With Cycle Tour

To keep the family-friendly cycle tour, here’s a sample 2 week Ireland itinerary:

  • Day 1: Dublin – Arrival
  • Day 2: Dublin – City walking or hike Bray to Greystones
  • Day 3: Galway – Explore Galway
  • Day 4: Oughterard – Arrive in preparation for Cycle Tour
  • Day 5-10: Cycle Tour 6 days – Inishmore, Carna, Clifden & departure day where you get to Cliffs of Moher
  • Day 11: Cliffs of Moher – Visit Cliffs of Moher        
  • Day 12: Killarney NP – Arrival (3 hr drive) Muckross House and Torc waterfall
  • Day 13: Killarney NP – Cycle Gap of Dunloe
  • Day 14: Dublin – In preparation for flying home
Dan Brewer, of Family Can Travel, cycles with his daughter on a family-friendly cycle tour on Aran Island Inishmore, Ireland.

A 10 Day Family Trip to Ireland Itinerary

10 Days in Ireland with Kids – With Cycle Tour

To reduce our Ireland family trip itinerary even further, this is how we would spend 10 days in Ireland with kids:

  • Days 1-3: Fly into Dublin and get over jet lag
  • Day 4: Galway
  • Days 5-10: Connemara Cycle Tour
  • Day 11: Dublin to fly home
image of mother and child on bikes in front of Ross Castle in Killarney National Park

10 Days in Ireland with Kids – No Cycle Tour

Without the cycle tour a sample 10 day itinerary for Ireland with kids might look like this:

  • Day 1: Dublin – Arrival
  • Day 2: Dublin – City Walking or Hike Bray to Greystones
  • Day 3: Cork – Arrival (3 hr drive) City walking & Fitzgerald Park
  • Day 4: Cork – Blarney Castle & Gardens
  • Day 5: Killarney NP – Arrival (1.5 hr drive) Muckross House and Torc waterfall
  • Day 6: Killarney NP – Cycle Gap of Dunloe
  • Day 7: Dingle – Arrival (1+hr drive) Explore Dingle + hike Dunmore Head Loop
  • Day 8: Cliffs of Moher – Visit a Dingle beach then drive 3 hrs to Cliffs of Moher  
  • Day 9: Galway – Explore Galway
  • Day 10: Dublin – Early drive to Dublin to fly home
image of two kids running along a path with a fence on both sides and towards the ocean in Ireland.

What to Pack for Ireland with Kids

If you’ve visited our blog before, you know our family trips are usually pretty active. We always try to be as prepared for the weather as possible and plan to be outside exploring nature, rain or shine.

For traveling our family trip to Ireland, we knew this would mean rain gear for everyone. The items in our full packing list for Ireland, we consider “must haves” for anyone planning to travel to Ireland with kids.

We also recommend getting some kid-friendly podcasts for road trips to help keep kids entertained on long car rides!

image of girl hiking boardwalks on Torc Mountain hiking trail in Killarney National Park Ireland
ireland with kids
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Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.

When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.