Dublin is an incredibly family-friendly city, with so much on offer for all ages. With so much to choose from, the costs can rack up pretty quickly, so you’ll definitely want to make full use of our guide to 40 fun and FREE things to do in Dublin as a family!
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As a mum of five, finding something new to do with the kids can be an absolute minefield especially if you’re living off a strict budget.
As you know visiting the same park or playground day in and day out can get rather boring for both you and the little ones, so get out and explore some new spots with these ideas for FREE things to do in Dublin with kids.
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Fun and FREE Things to Do in Dublin
#1. Visit the President
Áras an Uachtaráin is the official and private residence of the President of Ireland and is open to the public for hour-long tours every Saturday morning.
Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and can not be booked in advance. The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre is a separate heritage site, located outside of the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin, which has a children’s playground and café.
#2. Go To the Movies
Enjoy free movies from the archives each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at the Irish Film Institute, simply book tickets online in advance.
#3. Visit the Dead Zoo
Wander the Museum of Natural History, also known as the Dead Zoo. The Irish Room on the ground floor is dedicated to animals native to Ireland, while on the upper floor you will find an elephant, polar bear, lions, an array of monkeys, apes and lemurs which make up the Mammals of the World collection.
#4. Travel Back in Time
Travel back in time and learn all about 1,000 years of dramatic and colourful history at the interactive Round Tower, Clondalkin exhibition.
#5. Go to Jail
Delve into revolutionary history with a visit to Kilmainham Gaol. Tours are free for all on the first Wednesday of every month, although booking in advance is highly advised.
#6. Pack the Buckets and Spades
Since Dublin is a city by the sea, head to one of the many beaches with your buckets and spades.
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#7. Choose Culture
Explore a world-renowned collection of rare artwork, manuscripts and books from all over the world at Chester Beatty Library.
The Library offers regular family-friendly events, so check what’s on before visiting. Creative Spaces also feature specially designed activities for ages 3+, 5+ and 8+, including puzzles, crosswords and colouring books. Teenagers and grown-ups can explore their artistic side with a drawing booklet, or pick-up an adult colouring postcard.
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#8. Go to College
Stroll the grounds and cobblestones of Trinity College, and admire the elegant courtyards and stunning architecture.
#9. Get Artistic
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.
#10. Head to Howth
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.
#11. Walk the Waterways
Wrap up warm and walk the waterways to Poolbeg Lighthouse. The walk will take about an hour, and the red lighthouse makes a great photo opportunity for your views out to see.
#12. Find the Deer
The Phoenix Park was established as a Royal Deer Park in 1662 by James Butler, Duke of Ormond and fallow deer have been in the Park ever since. Today, the wild deer herd in the Park reaches about 600 deer.
Remember – do NOT feed the deer! Their natural diet consists of grass, seeds and leaves, so any ‘human’ food is not suitable. Similarly, do not try to get too close. While the deer are increasingly used to humans in ‘their’ Park, they are still wild and can be unpredictable.
#13. Go Bird Watching
Head to North Bull Island and discover an extraordinary wealth of wildlife within the many different coastal habitats found here. At times this tiny manmade island, just 5km in length and 1km wide, plays home to up to 180 different bird species. This was the first bird sanctuary in Ireland and the first National Special Amenity Area in Ireland.
In addition to birds and other wildlife, you can find over 300 species of plants, including some rare and officially protected species. These in turn provide food and shelter for rare insects (such as butterflies and bees) and birds.
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#14. Look at Modern Art
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.
#15. Smell the Roses
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.
#16. Cycle in the City
Rent one of the 450 bikes in Dublin City for 30 minutes for free – just be careful you track your time otherwise you will be charged if you go over.
#17. Take in the Street Art
Go sculpture and street art hunting through the city streets. Do you know where Molly Malone resides? Or maybe run your hands through the bullet holes in the GPO.
#18. Learn About Archaeology
Visit the National Museum of Ireland – Archeology on Kildare Street and get lost in the many artefacts from the times gone by.
At the Museum you can discover gold, bog bodies, ceramics, glass, Viking artefacts and many other archaeological objects found in Ireland and around the world.
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#19. Reflect and Remember
Why not pay your respects at the Garden of Remembrance located on Parnell Street? The garden, open daily throughout the year, is dedicated to the memory of all who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.
The garden was designed by Daithí Hanly and the large sculpture by Oisin Kelly is based on the theme of the ‘Children of Lir’.
#20. Discover Our Past
Look at Ireland through the ages at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History – Collins Barracks. It is free to visit and home to an amazing collection of artefacts and memorabilia from our past with everything from tanks to airplanes, armour to clothes, decorative art to clocks from a bygone era and plenty of interactive displays to keep the kids happy.
It is also the largest barracks in Europe and dates back to the early 1700s.
#21. Take a Stroll Through Merrion Square
Merrion Square is one of the best maintained Georgian Squares in the heart of Dublin city centre. It is home to some important and impressive buildings and there are lots of free things to do here with the family, including statue-spotting – don’t miss Oscar Wilde, who resided at 1 Merrion Square from 1855 to 1876.
Merrion Square also plays home to numerous family festivals and events throughout the year.
#22. Go On a Walking Tour
Join in on one of the many free walking tours in the streets of Dublin. Sandemans offer free wheelchair-accessible tours of Dublin’s most visited attraction with a local guide daily.
#23. Find the Pixies and Fairies
Find pixies at Tymon North Park at the Enchanted Fairy Walk which is open to the public all year round.
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#24. Visit the Library
Keep it simple with a trip to your local library and check out out their events guides – all manner of events from storytelling and craft sessions to language classes and coding take place in libraries around the city.
#25. Try a Family Festival
Plan in advance and schedule some of the many free events and festivals that take place each year such as the Dublin Kite Festival, Culture Night, Crunniú Na nÓg, Festival of Curiosity, Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, Bram Stoker Festival and National Heritage Week.
#26. Hike to the Hell Fire Club
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.
#27. Get Your Skates On
Go rollerskating, scooting or skateboarding at Bushy Park skate park – and while you’re there, enjoy the newly refurbished playground suitable for children up to the age of 12.
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#28. Be a Science Whizz
Drop by the non-profit Science Gallery and browse one of the ever-changing and exciting exhibitions.
#29. Explore a Castle on the Sea
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.
#30. Go For a Run
parkrun organises really well attended events in local parks all over the world, with many Dublin locations to choose from.
Kids aged 4-14 can also go for a run with the weekly 2km Junior parkrun events.
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#31. Visit Dublin Castle
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.
Dublin Castle is open seven days a week from 9:45am to 5:45pm (last admission at 5:15pm).
#32. Visit the Legends
Pay your respects at Glasnevin Cemetery, a graveyard rich in history and home to many Irish legends including Michael Collins, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and Countess Markievicz.
Guided tours can rack up a cost, but you are free to roam the grounds as you please.
#33. Explore the City
Take an audio tour around the streets on Dublin at your own pace by using one of the many free audio tours such as GPSMyCity.
#34. Discover New Art
Every weekend, you will find numerous artists displaying their creative works along the railings at Merrion Square and Stephen’s Green. From contemporary to classic, the drawings and paintings are definitely worth a look and a fun way to pass the time.
#35. Feed the Ducks
Feeding the ducks is something kids really enjoy. If you’re looking for some Dublin duck spots, try Stephen’s Green, Phoenix Park, St Anne’s Park, Bushy Park, or Herbert Park.
Remember, bread is not a great option for ducks. Porridge oats, sweetcorn, bird seed, and defrosted frozen peas are all recommended.
#36. Walk the Pier
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.
#37. Climb Killiney Hill
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.
#38. Try Geocaching
Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt game using GPS. Just download the app and off you go – and a word of warning, it is highly addictive!
#39. Visit Malahide Castle
Head to North Dublin and visit the extensive grounds of Malahide Castle. 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.
#40. Go On An Interactive Fairy Trail
Enjoy the fun and interactive fairy trail at Lucan Demesne home to 17 fairies. Families can use their smartphones to scan the doors and find out more about each fairy who lives there.
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What are your favourite free things to do in Dublin? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!