The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest defined coastal touring route and passes through nine counties and three provinces through some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery. If you’re planning to travel the route with your family we have picked out 20 fun things to do with kids on the Wild Atlantic Way:
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#1. Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland. Situated in the Northwest of Co. Donegal, Glenveagh encompasses some 16,000 hectares in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. The award-winning Visitor Centre incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing minimum disturbance. The extensive displays contained within provide an introduction to the parks natural and built history as well as providing information on walking trails, events etc. Guides on duty will also be happy to provide visitors with information about the park and surrounding area.
#2. Donegal Castle
Donegal Castle, Donegal Town, was built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, beside the River Eske has recently been renovated.
It is open daily from Easter to mid-September, and Thursday to Monday for rest of year. Guided tours available.
#3. Slieve League Cliffs
Almost 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal reach to a height of almost 2,000 feet making them some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
#4. Enniscrone Beach
A blue flag beach, Enniscrone Beach is one of the safest and tidiest beaches along the west coast of Ireland, which stretches for an amazing 5km. The beach is ideal for walking and running, as well as relaxing in the sun and children playing in the sand. The waters are safe for swimming and very popular for surfing. Surf lessons are available from two local surf schools. Other activities include kite surfing and beach fishing, as well as horse riding and the annual horse racing event.
With 2 car parks, families can opt to leave their car at the lower level and walk the road to the base or drive along the winding road to the upper parking level.
#5. Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park, Mayo
There’s something for everyone in the family at Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park. Set on the 480 acre estate, explore the House and Gardens, or have some fun in the Pirate Adventure Park – a treasure trove of family fun with its Grace O’Malley-themed amusement park with rides and activities. Be sure to arrive early for a full day’s fun – and dress for the weather!
#6. Cycle the Greenway, Mayo
Enjoy the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in the country – The Great Western Greenway. The Greenway traverses Ireland’s Atlantic coast between Westport town and Achill Island and visits the picturesque villages of Newport and Mulranny.
You might also enjoy Cycling with Kids on the Great Western Greenway.
#7. Galway Atlantaquaria, Galway
The first time you venture through the entrance to Galway Atlantaquaria, Ireland’s largest aquarium, we guarantee you’ll jump! That’s because their first exhibit is Ireland’s largest “Splash” tank! You’ll also enjoy the ray pool, ocean tank, fin whale skeleton, touch pools and heaps of activities and fun things to do while you visit such as feeding the fish and touching starfish and crabs.
#8. Burren Nature Sanctuary
The Burren Nature Sanctuary, Kinvara, is an interpretive centre for the natural history of the Burren. There’s an Adventure Playground with excellent equipment, including a fantastic sand pit. Afterwards, take the 1K Nature Trail, a gentle loop walk where you can feed the sheep and see llamas. Kids can do a nature trail activity where they can make rubbings of leaves and other nature items on the way around and return their sheet for a “reward”. Indoors there’s an artisan cafe, and soft play area with slides, ball pool and climbing frames. Free for Adults. See our Family Trip to the Burren.
#9. Loophead Lighthouse
Visit the iconic lighthouse in Kilbaha, West Clare. From May to September, experience the remarkable panorama extending as far as the Blasket Islands in Co. Kerry and the Twelve Bens in Co. Galway from the top of the tower. A wonderful guided walk around the Loophead Peninsula will bring you by the fabled Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Leap. You might also spot some of the whales and dolphins along the Shannon Estuary too.
#10. Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach, in the heart of the Burren and near Ballyvaughan, is one of the best beaches in Clare.
The vast expanse of beach is ideal for races, running, walking and making sandcastles. Bring a picnic and a kite!
#11. Cliffs of Moher Cruises
Everyone knows about the Cliffs of Moher, but why not see the cliffs from a different perspective and book a one hour adventure on Cliffs of Moher Cruises?
The kids will enjoy the boat ride and you will be sure to get a new appreciation of these amazing cliffs.
#12. Kilkee Habitat Trail
The Kilkee Habitat Trail is a scenic walk which follows the beach and cliffs. There are six panels, each one themed to its location illustrating the diverse wildlife habitats of Kilkee. While you’re in Kilkee, take the nets and try to catch fish in the rock pools, or play the unique local game of Racquets (a form of outdoor squash) against the West End wall on the beach.
#13. Shannon Dolphin Trail, Kilrush
Start at the Shannon Dolphin Information Board in the town’s Market Square. Follow the trail markers and it will take you to the Shannon Dolphin & Wildlife Centre where you can listen to sounds from the bottlenose dolphins, see real skeletons of whales and dolphins, and many more dol-fun educational activities for children.
#14. Killarney National Park
A visit to the Killarney National Park is a must, if you’re in Killarney, with the focal point of the National Park for visitors being Muckross House and Gardens. Tour the house, or explore the beautiful gardens, step back into the past on Muckross Traditional Farms, stop off at the petting farm, or picnic and play in the Woodland Play Area. Torc waterfall is nearby.
#15. Find some Fairies
There are two magical fairy trails to be found in Kerry.
- one in the wooded surrounds of Derrynane House, Caherdaniel,
- the other in the woods of the Parknasilla Resort.
Both are free and open to all visitors.
#16. Inch Beach
Inch Beach in Kerry is a Blue Flag long sand spit beach backed by dune system reaching into Dingle Bay, popular with surfers, anglers and swimmers.
It has the most beautiful purple pebbles and a wonderful variety of shells to collect.
#17. Visit Fungie the Dolphin
Take a boat tour to hopefully see Dingle’s most famous resident, Fungie the Dolphin.
Dingle Dolphin Tours leave from Dingle Pier at regular intervals during the day, every day, all year round (weather permitting) on a 1 hour trip to see Fungie wild and free in his natural habitat.
#18. Dursey Island Cable Car
Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound and offers a truly singular experience. Ireland’s only cable car, and one of the very few cable cars that traverses seawater in all of Europe, it is one of the great attractions of the island and people travel from far and wide to give it a go! As long as you and the kids have a good head for heights, that is, as it can be a wild ride over the waves!
#19. Titanic Experience, Cork
The Titanic Experience, Cobh tells the story of a legend and her connection to Cobh. Situated in the original offices of The White Star Line, retrace the footsteps of the 123 Queenstown Passengers who boarded Titanic from Cobh. Check in at the White Star Line Ticket Office, experience life on board through the innovative audio visual technology, and replica set designs and discover the facts surrounding the tragic sinking of Titanic.
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#20. Model Railway Village
Visit the Model Railway Village to see the old West Cork Railway Line (miniaturised) as it was in the 1940’s. Depicting busy market days, this is a joyful discovery for young & old alike. Relax in the unique tea room set in authentic train carriages with a view of Clonakilty bay or take a magical tour of Clonakilty aboard the Choo Choo road train.
Over to you now. Have you travelled the Wild Atlantic Way with kids? Where did you enjoy visiting along the way? Tell us in the comments below.