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. Following on from our 20 Fun things to do with Kids on the Atlantic Way, we have picked out 20 more fun things to do with kids on the Wild Atlantic Way:
You might also enjoy our 100 of the Best Ideas for Family Holidays in Ireland 2015 & 36 Fun Things for Kids On Ireland’s Ancient East
#1. Clonakilty Beaches
There are 5 beautiful beaches near Clonakilty: Inchadoney, Long Strand, Red Strand, The Warren and Owenahincha. It’s hard to pick one favourite but we love the Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island, just a few miles from Clonakilty.
It’s not only family friendly but very beautiful, with plenty of sand dunes and a long stretch of sand ideal for flying kites, paddling or even surfing for the more adventurous.
#2. Seafari Kenmare
Seafari Cruises are a great way to explore the wildlife of Kenmare Bay. You go out on the bay in a comfortable and sheltered passenger vessel, out to one of the largest seal colonies in Ireland. See if you can spot Kathleen, a stunning seal with a red coat. The rumour is that Kathleen is a selkie, a seal which was once human according to legend.
You may also get to see otters, white-tailed sea eagles and other sea-birds. Humour and fun are part of a Seafari cruise and whilst the boat is not often rocked by waves in the calm waters of the bay, it is frequently rocked by laughter. Tea, coffee, squash and biscuits are offered on all cruises and for those feeling a nip in the air there is a medicinal shot of rum.
#3. Valentia Island
Valentia Island is well worth a stop on your travels on the Wild Atlantic Way. Valentia Island lies at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry. You can drive onto the island at one end via a bridge and stop at the Skelligs Experience to find out about the amazing islands that you may have seen in the latest Star Wars movie.
Then drive around this small island enjoying the scenery, go see the prehistoric Tetrapod footprints and enjoy some Valentia Island Icecream before taking the ferry off the island back to the mainland.
#4. Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium is situated in Dingle town in County Kerry and hosts Ireland’s largest collection of Sharks as well as
- A Gentoo Penguin display, the fastest swimming penguins
- Amazonian Displays with creepy crawly exhibits
- Touch Tank
- 9m Underwater Tunnel and much more.
Book your tickets online in advance to get 10% off.
#5. Tralee Aquadome
The Aqua Dome in Tralee is one of Ireland’s largest indoor waterworlds with tropical temperatures all year round, making a good day out option if the weather is a bit iffy.
- Swim with the current
- Surf the Waves
- Wrestle the River Rapids
- Relax in the Lazy River
- Ride the Sky High Flume
- Plunge down the Outdoor Falling Rapids
- Enjoy the Whirlpool spas, Bubble seat, Sprays, Cannons, Gushers, Geysers, Children’s pools, Spa pools
#6. Foynes Flying Boat Museum
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is the only aviation museum in Ireland and the only dedicated flying boat museum in the world.
This unique attraction preserves the rich history of aviation and the development of passenger travel. It takes you back to that nostalgic era when Foynes became the centre of the aviation world between 1937 and 1945, and you will enjoy
- an authentic 1940’s cinema
- the Radio and Weather Room—complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment
- the Brendan O’Regan restaurant
- the only full sized replica B314 flying boat in the world
- try your hand at flying the B314 on the flight simulators with amazing visuals.
You can also visit The Maritime Museum which showcases the Shannon River from the pilots who raced in their rowing boats to be the first to guide large sailing ships up the estuary to the many lighthouses that guided mariners up the river. You’ll also find out about the tragic story of the Colleen Bawn and all about the story of the Windsor Castle Ghost Ship, which sailed up the Shannon in 1843.
#7. Ferry from Kerry to Clare
Catch the ferry from Killimer in Kerry to Tarbert in Clare. It is a 20 minute journey across the estuary linking the iconic tourist destinations of the Kingdom of Kerry to the Banner County of Clare. Ferries leave every hour during winter months with extra half hour ferries during the summer.
You will enjoy views of the majestic Shannon Estuary and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the dolphins, which in the summer, can sometimes swim so near the ferry, as if just to entertain you. The captain will announce if he spots dolphins so keep an ear and your eyes out!
Popular with surfers, if you’ve a learner surfer in the family this would be a great beach for them. And the rest of the family will enjoy paddling or even a dip in the sea.
If the weather isn’t so great then stop into Lahinch Seaworld and Leisure Centre where you can while away a few hours having a splash in the swimming pool areas which include a 25-metre pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steamroom and kiddies pool.
#9. Cliffs of Moher
A must see on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher stand 214m (702 feet) at their highest point. On a clear day you will be able to see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins and Maum Turk mountains in Connemara to the north, Loop Head and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry to the south.
Be warned that due to the popularity of the Cliffs of Moher as a tourist attraction, during the months of July and August the Cliffs can become quite crowded during the peak times of the day, 11am- 3pm. Here is some advice on planning your visit:
You will want to allow some time to visit the Cliffs Experience to take in the exhibits about the Cliffs, and be sure to stop at Postcard from the Edge, where you can choose a backdrop and make a short movie of yourselves which you can email to friends and family. There’s also a kids area where children can play a fun game and learn more about wildlife at the Cliffs and create some digital artwork to email home.
We recommend a stop at Ballyvaughan to enjoy the shops and cafés or pick up a picnic to enjoy at Fanore Beach which is one of the best beaches in Clare. The vast expanse of beach is ideal for races, running, walking and making sandcastles.
The Burren Birds of Prey Centre and Ailwee Cave are worth a short detour. At the Cave you can take a 30 minute stroll through caverns seeing all the unusual formations underground including a waterfall. Then enjoy the dynamic flying displays learning about different birds of prey.
#11. The Burren
As you drive up County Clare towards Galway you will reach The Burren, a unique area of historic, cultural and geographic significance. The landscape made of limestone is crisscrossed with cracks and interspersed with rocks and plants. Kids will enjoy clambering about the landscape.
Here are some of our favourite attractions as you make your way through The Burren:
- The Burren Centre – explore the flora, fauna, geology, legends, archaeology and natural history of the Burren.
- Burren Perfumery – perfumery, tearooms and lovely gardens to wander around;
- Hazel Mountain Chocolate – need we say more 🙂
- Burren Nature Sanctuary, on the outskirts of Kinvara which has an Adventure Playground, Nature Trail, cafe and soft play area.
#12. Rinville Park, Oranmore
One of our favourite family friendly spots near Galway, Rinville Park has a beach walk or a forest walk with a playground located in the original castle orchards with some excellent play equipment, suitable for different age groups.
There is plenty of parking as well as designated picnic and barbecue areas. Public toilets are situated near the playground.
Often during the summer months you will find a visiting ice cream/coffee van but do bring a picnic to enjoy the great facilities on offer here.
#13. Eyre Square, Galway
Eyre Square in the heart of Galway is a handy spot to take kids. Pick up a picnic at a nearby shop, settle on one of the grassy areas to have your lunch, then make a stop to the mini playground at the side of the Square.
If the weather is warm the fountains at the top of the square may be on, they switch off and on a timer, and the kids will enjoy running about (and in and out of the water).
Afterwards you can always drag them away by promising them a visit to another playground (by the Cathedral) once you have stopped at our next stop Galway Market.
#14. Galway Market
Open on Saturdays and Sundays, my kids always enjoy a visit to Galway Market, located off Shop Street near St Nicholas Collegiate Church. The narrow space with stalls either side makes it a busy spot so hold tight to small hands, but see if you can find the doughnut stall where you can buy a freshly made doughnut dusted either with sugar, cinnamon or cocoa (or all 3!).
You can pick up the makings of a delicious lunch to enjoy at the nearby Claddagh – check out all the swans! – or by the canal at the Cathedral – where you can feed ducks, both nice spots to enjoy on a fine day with kids.
At Roundstone in Connemara you will find a pretty little fishing village with a busy little harbour, where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catches. You will also enjoy the views of the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic. There are cafes and craft shops and a playground to stop at too.
Nearby beaches at Dogs Bay and Gurteen Beach have pure white sand and clear waters, ideal for a splash and some beach time.
There’s also a playground at the nearby Connemara National Park, and the route up and back from Diamond Hill offers even smaller kids an easy climb and you will find they will enjoy themselves. The route loops back again to the start. It takes about 3 hours to do the route.
Check out What’s on for Families in Galway during your visit
#16. Killary Harbour
Take a 90 minute boat tour of Killary Harbour (kids go free) leaving from Leenaun and enjoy the spectactular scenery, with mountains and water and birdlife. You may even get to see some dolphins!
Westport is a lovely town to visit with the family. With lots of family friendly accommodation options, this is a nice spot to stop off and spend some time enjoying the town, the shops and surrounding attractions. During your Westport stay we would recommend:
- 18th century Westport House and its adjoining Pirate Adventure Park
- Westport Skate Park & multi-use Games Area
- Westport Leisure Centre for a family swim
- Cycle the Great Western Greenway
- National Museum of Ireland: Country Life as you head out of Westport again to continue the Wild Atlantic Way.
You might also enjoy Top Family Things to do in Westport.
Check out what’s on in the Northwest for Families during your visit
#18. Strandhill Beach
Strandhill Beach is an area of great natural beauty located 5 miles west of Sligo town with panoramic views of Knocknarea and Benbulben. As well as being an extremely popular surfing spot, there are some great walks to Culleenamore Strand and also to Killaspubrone.
N.B. Due to dangerous currents and tides, it is advisable not to swim from this beach but you will still enjoy your time at Strandhill, especially during the summer months, when dolphins and/or porpoises can sometimes be seen jumping from the waves at sea.
Be sure to stop at Shells Cafe & Little Shop, the perfect beach cafe, bright and airy with wooden floors and fabulous (organic, fairtrade) coffee, plus delicious eats for all the family.
#19. Bundoran Waterworld
Bundoran Waterworld is an indoor aqua adventure playground, located on the seafront in Bundoran, County Donegal.
It currently has the fastest slide in Ireland, The Whizzer (9.2 degree drop), a Tornado slide (50m long) and a Twister slide for the younger kids. There are two 24 metre swimming pools, one is a slide pool (the slides finish into this pool) and the other is a wave pool.
You’ll also find a multi slide, a toddlers’ pool, a pirate ship, a speed slide and good changing facilities, snacks and drinks, and picnic tables in the adjacent playground.
#20. Tropical World, Donegal
Tropical World is Donegal’s very own family friendly mini zoo. Opening seasonally, you can see beautiful butterflies in full flight, lemurs, owls, meerkats, parrots and many more tropical birds and reptiles.
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.