Guide to Dublin for Families: Where to Eat, Stay, Play and Explore

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

May 5, 2022

Mykidstime Ultimate Guide to Dublin for Families lead

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Dublin is an incredible capital city packed with history, culture, fabulous food, and a whole host of unique activities, museums and folklore to keep you busy. In our Guide to Dublin for Families, we’ve picked dozens of interesting and exciting things to do in Dublin as a family, whether you’re planning a weekend break, looking to fill a rainy day, explore in the sunshine, or just try something new.

One of the best ways to discover Dublin is on foot. The city centre is small and ready to be discovered, while bus, DART and LUAS options will take you further afield to discover even more that the county has to offer.

Our Guide to Dublin for Families

Family-Friendly Things to Do in Dublin

Trinity College Dublin for free things to do in Dublin

Home to more than 400 species of rare, exotic and endangered animals, take a visit to see animals big and small at Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. In addition to seeing the animal residents, here is lots to see and do, including playgrounds, keeper talks, animal feedings and seasonal events. Dublin Zoo is a guaranteed fun day out for the whole family.

Challenge the family to a series of mini escape room-style puzzles and games at GoQuest in Carrickmines. The GoQuest Junior arena is suitable for 9-13 year olds, while the main GoQuest arena is suited to older children, teens and adults.

If you have a history buff or budding archaeologist on your hands, then Dublinia is sure to appeal. Travel back to Viking and Medieval Dublin, and witness the sights, sounds and smells and unearth the city’s archaeology in the History Hunters exhibition.

The Ark in Temple Bar is a creative space that holds wonderful shows and workshops for kids of all ages – their preschooler workshops are very popular.

Set within a huge wooden Viking Fort, Fort Lucan is Dublin’s only fully supervised outdoor Adventureland complete with hidden towers, crazy golf, slides, go-karts, zip lines, a playground, and a mini wooden maze perfect for those who like to keep their feet on the ground. For the adventure seekers, try crossing the 40ft-high suspension bridges, crash down the raging river and get soaked on the waterfall slide.

Aquazone at the National Aquatic Centre is an indoor waterpark with rides, slides and experiences for all ages.

Get lost in the glorious green haven and excite your senses with a visit to the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, just 3km from the city centre. Home to thousands of plant species, you’ll also find some stunning restored glasshouses, daily tours, a regular programme of family events and seasonal activities.

Rainforest Adventure Golf at Dundrum is the only themed indoor mini golf venue of its kind in Ireland, and you can play whatever the weather. They have two 18-hole South American themed crazy golf courses “deep within the rainforest”.

Erected in the early 13th century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle is a firm favourite for many visitors to the city. While not all of the Castle is completely free, there are quite a number of public areas and the grounds are.

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Free Things to Do in Dublin

Winter Walks for Families; The Phoenix Park

The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin are all free to visit and have great collections as well as a wide range of ongoing events for families. They include:

  • National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History is home to a wide range of objects, which include weaponry, furniture, silver, ceramics and glassware; as well as examples of Folk life and costume.
  • National Museum of Ireland – Museum of Natural History has galleries of animals from Ireland and overseas, also geological exhibits form a total collection of about 2 million scientific specimens with a Discovery Zone.
  • National Museum of Ireland – Museum of Archaeology is the national repository for all archaeological objects found in Ireland and displays artefacts dating from 7000 BC to the 20th century. The Irish archaeology collections include The Treasury, featuring outstanding examples of Celtic and Medieval art.

Head to Howth in North Dublin where you can go seal-spotting and crab-fishing in the harbour, watch the fishermen unload their catches, browse the market, or get some fresh air and take in the views with a hike up Howth Head.

Find pixies at Tymon North Park at the Enchanted Fairy Walk which is open to the public all year round, or visit one of the other brilliant places to find magical fairy trails in Ireland.

Since Dublin is a city by the sea, head to one of Dublin’s beaches with your buckets and spades. Blue Flag beaches can be found at Portmarnock, Seapoint and Killiney, while other beaches in the county include Balbriggan, Skerries, Loughshinny, Rush, Donabate, Malahide, Sutton, Howth, Dollymount Strand, Sandymount Strand, and Sandycove.

Outdoor Activities in Dublin

Ardgillan for free family days out

Experience the rolling open grounds of Ardgillan Castle, set in 194 acres of parkland, woodlands and gardens. The most distinctive feature however is the spectacular setting, with unmissable views over the Irish Sea. No visit is complete without a visit to the state of the art playground with over 30 pieces of play equipment for kids to enjoy.

Also in North Dublin, visit the extensive grounds of Malahide Castle and Gardens. While the Castle itself, the butterfly house and the walled gardens require a ticket, the sprawling parklands are free to enter. With plenty of walking trails, green space, playing fields and woodland to discover, this is a real hidden gem. Don’t miss the enormous playground, with plenty of equipment for toddlers to older kids. You can also follow the paths out of Malahide Castle for a short walk into Malahide village, home to a marina, beautiful beach, and plenty of independent shops and restaurants.

The farm, gardens, café and heritage experience at Airfield Estate offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and learn about food, farming and the natural work in the unique and relaxed 38 acre urban environment in Dundrum. Learn about the workings of the farm from daily milkings, to egg collecting, mucking out and feeding, and there are lots of play areas for kids.

An oasis of calm and beauty in the middle of Dublin City Centre, the Iveagh Gardens are an ideal picnic spot, with beautiful greens and gardens and a small waterfall, there is nowhere nicer in Dublin on a summer’s day.

Head to Dun Laoghaire and blow the cobwebs away with a walk down the pier. Spot the sailboats, and keep an eye out for seals and dolphins.

You can enjoy many family walks in South Dublin but if you want to enjoy a stroll along the banks of The Grand Canal, there is an 8.5km route starting from the 3rd Lock at Inchicore and running to the 12th Lock at Lucan. It is entirely off road, so perfect for all family members, including those in a buggy!

Killiney Hill is a popular destination for walkers and hikers, and a great way to enjoy the spectacular views over the Irish Sea and the surrounding areas.

Hike to the Hell Fire Club on Montpelier Hill by taking the newly refurbished walking trail. This is a popular site, and at the top of the hill you’ll find the ruins of an old shooting lodge that has many legends associated with it. The city views from the Hell Fire Club are sprawling and unlike anywhere else. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top, or walk the woodland in search of pixies and fairies.

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Are you searching for what’s on for families in Ireland? Enjoy hours of family fun with our monthly round up of exciting events and things to do!

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Family-Friendly Museums & Galleries in Dublin

Museum of Natural History Dublin

Travel back in time and learn all about 1,000 years of dramatic and colourful history at the interactive The Round Tower, Clondalkin exhibition, one of only four remaining round towers in County Dublin. The Visitor Centre provides the perfect free family day out, as it brings the story of The Round Tower Clondalkin and the surrounding area to life through an exciting interactive experience. The fun and educational exhibition can be enjoyed through eight distinctive themed spaces in the refurbished 19th century Mill Cottages.

The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin are all free to visit and have great collections as well as a wide range of ongoing events for families.

Browse an extensive collection of Irish and international art at the National Gallery of Ireland. Plan in advance to avail of the many free family workshops and family guided tours taking place each weekend.

The award-winning and fun The Little Museum tells the story of Dublin through quirky exhibits and memorabilia. Described as “Dublin’s best museum experience” by The Irish Times, there is plenty to see and do.

Explore a world-renowned collection of rare artwork, manuscripts and books from all over the world at Chester Beatty Library.

Hugh Lane Gallery is the perfect place to unravel and unwind with over 2,000 pieces of contemporary and modern art. Check out their events guide for free educational talks, classes and family workshops.

EPIC Ireland is an interactive visitor experience celebrating the global journeys and influence of the Irish diaspora. Over the centuries, some 10 million people have left the island of Ireland and EPIC Ireland tells the dramatic story of how these people have spread around the globe, and how they changed the world.

Explore the Croke Park GAA Museum with its exhibition galleries that vividly illustrate the story of Gaelic games, from ancient times to present day. Exhibitions include the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups, the official GAA Hall of Fame, and lots more.

Rainy Day Activities in Dublin

Awesome Walls Dublin

Jump Zone is an indoor trampoline and inflatable park located in Sandyford, Liffey Valley and Santry. It offers wall-to-wall bouncy activities, including open jumping, climbing, Ninja, dodgeball, assault course, climbing tower, trapeze and gymnastic airtrack.

Leisureplex, the fun family entertainment centres with bowling, quasar and more in Blanchardstown, Charlestown, Coolock, Tallaght and Stillorgan.

Check out a book, attend a class, discover a new skill or just avail of the peace and quiet – the library offers so much for the whole family. Discover and visit these local Dublin libraries for FREE family events and plenty more!

Awesome Walls is one of the largest and most modern indoor climbing centres in Europe, suitable for 6 to 16 year olds. Enjoy 2 hours of rock climbing with an experienced instructor and meet new friends.

Bounce ‘n’ Beyond in Ballyboughal is packed with entertainment, including trampolines, ninja course, and wipe out zone.

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Plan a whole range of family days out with this brilliant checklist of 99 fantastic places to visit around Ireland!

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Family-Friendly Hotels & Accommodation in Dublin

Shoreline Hotel is a hidden gem nestled on the peninsula of Donabate, a small coastal village in North Dublin.  The hotel sits on a beautiful 4km stretch of sandy beach which is ideal for a walk, or perhaps a swim in the Irish Sea. Additional nearby attractions include Newbridge House & Gardens, Newbridge Petting Farm, Corballis Pony Trekking and plenty more.

Castleknock Hotel is an award-winning four star property and is a great choice for a family-friendly hotel break in Dublin. Ideally located beside Castleknock Village, the hotel is only 5 minutes from Blanchardstown Village and 15 minutes from Dublin City Centre. It is the perfect location for a family break with many fun attractions located nearby –including Dublin Zoo, The National Aquatic Centre, Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, Fort Lucan, and Tayto Park.

The Marker Hotel is set in Dublin’s Docklands, overlooking the River Liffey. It is the perfect, luxurious retreat to escape from it all to celebrate a special occasion or spend time exploring Ireland’s capital city.

Check out more of our favourite family-friendly hotels and accommodation in Ireland – from luxury breaks and hotels with kids clubs to self-catering choices and family camping and glamping.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Dublin

There are so many great restaurants in Dublin to choose from, but the problem for parents is to find one which will comfortably cater for the whole family.

We have a fantastic parent-recommended list of 75+ family-friendly restaurants in Dublin with a great range of kids menus to choose from for your next day out!

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Get set for a real treat with tiers of delicious bite-sized goodies to enjoy at these fantastic places for kids’ afternoon tea in Ireland – they are definitely worth a visit!

Kids Afternoon Tea in Ireland

Things to Do in Dublin for Older Kids and Teens

Wakedock for Days out in Ireland for teens

Wakeboarding in Dublin city centre? Strange, but true! All experience levels will enjoy Wakedock, a unique cable wake park where anyone can go wakeboarding without the use of boat. Essentially, the wakeboard cable replaces the boat and pulls the rider along a course. There are a number of awesome obstacles for beginner and advanced riders alike to pull off their favourite tricks or learn new ones. Sister business Surfdock is also found at Grand Canal Dock and offers more watersports, including stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayak rentals.

GAA fans will enjoy a visit to Croke Park to see the GAA Museum, take a Croke Park Stadium Tour or brave the heights of the Croke Park Skyline Tour. The Stadium Tour offers an in-depth behind the scenes look at one of the most historic and modern sporting arenas in the world.

Kylemore Karting in Dublin 10 and Kart City Raceway near Dublin Airport both offer go karting tracks for racing fun for teens and tweens.

Zipit Forest Adventures offers up to 4 hours of tree-top, fun-filled, thrilling experiences in a healthy, outdoor setting. At their location in Tibradden Wood in Dublin, you can climb poles and climbing walls, swing into cargo nets, balance on a rope bridge, hurtle down a zipwire.

If modern art is more up your teen’s street, then the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is home to the national collection of modern and contemporary art, with over 3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists.

The National Leprechaun Museum is the first ever attraction dedicated to Irish mythology, opening up a fun and magical world full of fascinating folklore, mythology and enchanting stories.

Need a retail blitz? There are lots of shops to choose from in the city centre and in the suburban areas, or you can make your way to one of the many shopping centres in Dublin, including:

  • Dundrum Town Centre
  • The Pavilions in Swords
  • Blanchardstown Centre
  • Liffey Valley
  • The Square, Tallaght
  • Jervis Shopping Centre
  • Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre

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Poolbeg lighthouse for best Instagram places in Dublin

Capture all the best bits of your days out in Dublin with some iconic backdrops. From unique statues and historical buildings to animal photo bombs and unmissable art, these photo hotspots and best Instagram places in Dublin are not to be missed!

Does your family have a favourite place in Dublin that you love to visit? We want to hear about it!

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Published On: May 5th, 2022 / Categories: Ireland / Last Updated: August 24th, 2022 / Tags: , , , /

About the Author: Emily Manning

Emily Manning
Emily is the coffee-loving Editor of MyKidsTime. Mum of one daughter and two naughty Tibetan Terriers, she is particularly partial to Curly Wurlys and unable to resist pretty stationery and new cookbooks. As an avid foodie and domestic goddess-wannabe, she is most likely to be found in the kitchen.

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