Looking for new place for family walks in Ireland? Getting out for a family walk is the perfect way to spend an afternoon together. For fresh air, nature, fun and a chance to create special family memories. We have picked our favourite family walks in Ireland for all seasons and hope you enjoy exploring all or some of them in the future!
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If you are struggling to entice your children to get off the sofa or their devices for a family walk, try making it more interesting by packing a picnic, planning a scavenger hunt or bringing along bikes or scooters. Be sure to wear the right footwear and clothing for your family walk. In Ireland, layers usually work best!
Strokestown Park, Roscommon
Strokestown Park is a super place for a family walk with parklands to run about or fly a kite in. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
If you pay entry to the House you can also enjoy 6 acres of Walled Gardens and woodlands, the Irish National Famine Museum, and the beautiful House itself where you can get a glimpse of what life “upstairs and downstairs” was like. There’s also a cafe for post-walk refreshments.
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Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford
Mum Carmel recommended Johnstown Castle Estate as one of her family’s favourite walks. The estate gardens were designed by Daniel Robertson, who designed the gardens at Powerscourt Estate in neighbouring Wicklow. They offer a variety of different walks, from a stroll around the Victorian walled garden to longer walks around the lake and through the surrounding trees. You can also enjoy the new playground which opens in May 2019.
The castle will be open to the public from May 2019 and the grounds are open all year. There is a small charge in high season to visit the grounds and the castle tours will be charged too. During this time, you can also access the Irish Agricultural Museum. Carmel says her children love spotting the Peacocks that wander around the grounds and seeing the swans and ducks that live on the lake while enjoying their family walks together.
Fota House Arboretum & Gardens, Cork
A visit to Fota House is a real adventure for the whole family. You can explore the working Victorian garden, go on a honey bee adventure, go on a plant hunters trail or a little explorers trail, dig for history and be entertained by stories from the volunteers who keep it all running.
After your family walk you could visit the house and take a tour with lots of activities to keep the kids and adults amused. There is a cost for house tours and other events organised during the year.
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Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon
We love Lough Key Forest Park with its lake and acres of grounds to explore. It is the ideal place for walks with the family as it has established walking and cycle routes and trails, each with a difficulty level and the expected time it will take to complete.
As there is no traffic, it is also totally safe to let the kids run ahead and explore the many different trees and plants that surround you. And best of all they have toilets and a cafe on-site for refreshments afterwards.
There is a cost for parking close to the visitor centre and a charge for organised activities. However, you can walk around the forest park without charge.
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Acres Lake Floating Boardwalk, Shannon Blueway Leitrim
Acres Lake Floating Boardwalk in Co Leitrim is part of the Shannon Blueway, one of Blueways Ireland’s multi-activity recreational trails, designed to get people out and about on our waterways.
Ireland’s first-ever “floating walkway” is part of a 600m-long boardwalk on the River Shannon and that’s also part of a 14km off-road trail connecting Drumshanbo with Leitrim Village. The floating boardwalk runs 160m out over the water, kids will love this. Imagine telling them they are going to walk over water!
Acres Lake also has an interactive Visitor Centre, a kids playground, tennis courts, cruiser jetty. So there’s lots to do outdoors there and most of it free too.
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Irish National Stud, Kildare
Enjoy a great day out for all the family at the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare Town, Co. Kildare. Just off the M7 motorway and only 30 minutes by car from Dublin and the M50. The Irish National Stud offers an unforgettable family walking experience in 800 acres of beautiful Kildare countryside that can be enjoyed by all ages.
It is a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty with some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world, including the beautiful Japanese Gardens and St Fiachra’s Garden. Be sure to tour the Horse Museum and explore the magical ‘fairy trail’ in the woodland area, and afterwards let the kids run off some steam at the playground.
There is a charge to visit the Irish National Stud & Gardens.
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Birr Castle, Offaly
Birr Castle is an experience of discovery for the whole family – home to extensive gardens and parkland with many water features, as well as the Historic Science Centre and the great telescope of the 1840s.
Kids will adore Ireland’s tallest tree house, and the play area, complete with bouncy pillow, picnic areas, sandpits – in fact you may find it hard to pry them away! There is also a lovely café on site.
When you arrive for your family walk be sure to pick up your Family Quest sheet and follow the clues!
There is a charge to visit Birr Castle & Gardens and to take part in some of the organised activities.
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Powerscourt Estate, House & Gardens, Wicklow
Powerscourt Estate offers a fun family day out with wonderful family walks around the 47 acres of gardens which include themed Italian & Japanese gardens, tower valley, hundreds of different plants and trees, water features, statues and more.
You can also visit the Powerscourt waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall and explore the countryside surrounding it. Pack a picnic, enjoy the playground and spot many different varieties of birds.
There is a charge to visit Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall. You can visit the garden centre free of charge.
Ards Forest Park, Donegal
Ards Forest Park near Dunfanaghy in the far north of Donegal is the perfect place for a family walk any time of the year.
The park covers a large area, almost 1200 acres, and has everything from coastal and beach trails to forest and heritage trails.
In addition to the 9 walking trails, which you can combine to make longer or shorter routes. You can also enjoy the free playground and download orienteering maps with answer sheets, trail maps and find places of interest to enjoy on your walk, from the website.
There is a charge for the car park.
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Marlay Park, Dublin
Situated in Rathfarnham, and easily accessible from Dublin city centre, I spent many happy weekends discovering Marlay Park with my brothers while my Dad played 9 holes on the golf course there.
A paradise for kids, with streams, waterfalls, trees, play areas, a miniature railway, tennis courts and playing fields, safe paths and open spaces to run around and have fun in.
It is the perfect place for a family walk or to enjoy one of the many events that take place there throughout the year. You can also enjoy a stroll through the kitchen gardens of Marlay House. And at weekends there is a Market held at the Marlay Craft Centre.
There may be a charge to take part in some of the organised activities but it is free to visit the park.
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Slieve Gullion, Newry
Slieve Gullion in Newry always gets a few recommendations when we ask our parents for their favourite days out. Best of all it is a free day out with a massive adventure playground, an amazing fairy trail walk, a Giant’s Lair, Woodland walks and a Walled Garden to explore while strolling, running and having fun.
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Hazelwood Demesne, Sligo
The Hazelwood Demesne offers picturesque walks, suitable for all the family, around the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo. There are several different walks, including the ‘Sculpture Tour’ where you will find wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists running alongside the track.
During Autumn, the children will love to kick their way through the fallen leaves and you can enjoy watching the ever changing reflection of trees and clouds in the waters of Lough Gill. While you are there, you can also see how many islands you can spot! It is free to visit Hazelwood Demense.
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Coole Park, Galway
Home to the Autograph Tree, a beautiful walled garden with a sun dial and the remains of Coole House the ancestral home of Lady Gregory, Coole Park and the Garryland Nature Reserve are a delight to visit at any time during the year.
There are 7 woods to explore and designated walkways with distances shown for each one.
The woods themselves are a traffic free zone, so the kids can roam freely and there are public toilets near to the visitor centre. The paths are suitable for buggies and bicycles.
When the visitor centre is open, you can enjoy a free tour giving you a brief history of Coole Park and learn about Lady Gregory and her family. The museum is full of beautiful artefacts and nature objects. And there is also a cafe.
Look out for the deer in the enclosure near the visitor centre, and you may be lucky enough to spot some of the swans Yeats immortalised in his poetry on the Turlough. Coole Park is free to visit and park at.
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Land of the Giants, Claremorris, Mayo
Within walking distance from the town of Claremorris, you will find the Land of the Giants. It is an amazing park set around a lake with ducks (so be sure to pack some bread). It is always recommended when we ask our parents for ideas on days out.
For the perfect family walk follow the 4k route past a giant chair, giant wellies, giant keys hanging from a tree, a giant chair, knight a train and a maze. A real wonder for children of all ages and totally free to visit.
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Portumna Forest Park Loop Walk, Galway
“Perfect for a family walk” says Mum Denise “as the paths are wide and mostly flat and in places there is a timber boardwalk. It winds through the trees and along the way there is a great wooden viewing deck overlooking the shores of Lough Derg. From here you can see some of the islands on the lake and get a sense of the size of the lake too”.
On the way back to the car park, you will pass the duck pond, so be sure to pack some bread to feed the ducks on your family walk. The loop is approximately 1.5km, short & easy with good access for buggies.
Be sure to stop in for a visit to Portumna Castle after you have done your walk and visit the kitchen garden and the castle. There is a small cost for a castle visit.
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North Bull Island, Dublin
With the addition of a paved promenade and cycle lanes from Sutton Cross to Clontarf, you will not be short of places to enjoy a family walk on Dublin’s Northside.
I love St Anne’s Park with the duck pond, folly, playground and plenty of trees to climb. But the jewel in the crown for me is North Bull Island which is home to a nature reserve that leads on to Dollymount Strand.
Arrive by car, bus or dart and enjoy all this unique island has to offer. With a family walk through the marram grass where you will spot all manner of wildlife, go to the north point of the island, returning by walking along the beach to where you began your journey. On windy days you will see kite surfers, beach buggies and kites flying around in the breeze. A pure delight and all easily accessible from Dublin city centre and free to enjoy.
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Design Your Own City Walk, Nationwide
We sometimes forget to enjoy what is on our doorstep. Why not do a bit of research and create your own interesting walk around your local city or town? Pick out historical landmarks and places that have an interesting story to tell. Maybe your city has some unique statues, plaques, homes or places to enjoy nature? Or you could visit all the playgrounds, bridges or parks on a particular day.
Over to you now. I hope this has inspired you to enjoy some new family walks in Ireland. If you have a particular walk you enjoy with your family, please let us know in the comments box below, so other families can enjoy them too.