We Rocked 5 Days in Dublin with Kids!
This spring the family got a chance to take a few days of holiday. We decided to spend 5 days in Dublin with kids! It was actually a Christmas gift from our state-side family. Dublin’s been on our bucket list for years so we were pretty excited when we opened this present Christmas morning!
The kids are finally at the age where going out for nearly a week of sightseeing is a bit more doable. It did take nearly 3 days to recover when we got home, but don’t most vacations? If you are like me, you do a ton of research before any big trip. If you’re planning on Dublin, I’ve done most of the leg-work for you! I’m going to share with you all my tips and tricks! Read on to find out about the best prices on transportation, cheapest (but not scary) places to sleep and great places to explore as a family! Grab your passport! Here we go!
Air & In-Country Transportation.
In-country transportation is always a tough call for me. If we are staying in a big city, I don’t want to have to pay for parking, tolls, or deal with navigation in a congested, crowded city. So many big, European cities are so well laid out for train, bus, biking and walking. For us, a car only makes sense if our goal is to get out of the city and see the countryside. For this trip, I kept an eye out for a family pass that would work for bus & subway. London has its Oyster card. Ireland has its Leap Card. I bought my Leap Card online in advance (they will mail them to you – so plan ahead!) and it saved us a quite a bit of euro (that we would later spend at the Guinness gift shop). If you plan on seeing more of Ireland than just Dublin, check out the other city’s Leap Cards as well.
AirB&B.com. Yep, we used it for our first time & while the flat we rented was tiny; it was clean, well located in the city, and not too noisy. We didn’t care about the size because we were out most of the day and really just needed a good place to sleep and eat. We really enjoyed it! It was across the street from the bus stop into the heart of the city and a 3-minute walk to the city train. Ideal for using our Dublin Leap Card!
Where We Went & What We Did!
There is so much to see and do in for 5 days in Dublin with kids! I worked especially hard researching fun things that the kids will enjoy. After I’ve done a bit of research I sit down with the family and explain some of the options we have. On the list were: Dublin Zoo, Dublinia, museums, historic buildings, Guinness Storehouse, little cute towns outside of the city, cultural events, parks & play areas. I ask everyone, 'What is the one activity you would not want to miss while in Dublin?”Click To Tweet
After a bunch of dreaming and discussing, each person picks “the one thing”. Everyone knows that the parents probably don’t want to spend the entire trip at play parks, and kids don’t want to spend the entire trip in museums. So we strike a healthy balance and do our best to keep everyone happy and engaged in the activities. Believe it or not, we actually got to do almost everything on the list!
Day 1 Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe, and possibly the world. This was the top pick from my 8-year-old. Unlike many families, we haven’t actually done very many zoo trips (they always seem so expensive, compared to a museum). I’m so glad we did this on the trip! For us, it was really memorable. We got to see the zoo keepers feed the ferocious tigers. What a sight! We also got to see some of the smallest monkeys! No bigger than your hand! So cute!! And everyone like seeing the African savannah animals mingle together peacefully. There were several animal talks as well during the day where the kids go to ask all their questions. It was a great first day!
Day 2 Dublinia
This was my 11 year-old’s top choice. She loves history and really digs archaeology too! Who could resist a day in Medieval Ireland and hanging out with Vikings! Dublinia offers great activity sheets that correspond with each floor of exhibits. Europe is really big on activity sheets or packs for the kids. Most free museums have them, as do places like Dublinia where you pay to play. Since we home educate, we decided to start the learning packs to our school time the few weeks before the trip. Doing these pre-visit activities really helped get the kids excited to go.
So, before we left for Dublin, I printed out the activity sheets and tucked them into the suitcase. I didn’t want to chance them not having any since we were going in the off season. On “Dublinia Day” they were popped into the backpack and off we went. The museum attendants were especially helpful when they realized the kids were truly interested in completing the sheets and understanding everything the museum had to offer. We ALL learned so much about Ireland’s history that day! Great way to spend a cool morning indoors! When we got home from our trip we finished the post-visit activities in the learning packs and got to reminisce about our fab day.
Day 3 Bray Cliff Walk
After a couple days roaming around Dublin, we were ready to see some of the green hills of Ireland. We needed a break from the city. So off I went to talk to the guy at the train station down the street from our flat while everyone else grabbed dinner items at Tesco-Metro across the street. The station attendant was soooo helpful! I flashed my Dublin Leap Card and said, “Where can we go with this tomorrow to get out of the city for the day?” He pointed out several villages along the train line and made a point of telling me which Bono, The Edge & Sinead O’Connor lived in! Well, off we went the next day for a good hike and some celebrity hunting!
The walk along the coastline between Greystone and Bray was breath-taking! We had sunny skies and so little breeze we didn’t need our windbreakers! After a quick coffee, we were on our way. The walk was so close to the edge and so high up! There was even a guy rowing his boat with his dog in it. Pretty sure he went down and back between the 2 villages while we walked the path. At the end of the hike, we splurged on fish & chips for lunch.
After a quick walk around Bray,we were back on the train toward Dublin, but we took some time to see if we could spot any celebrities at their local hangouts. We stopped in Dalkey. What a great little village with cute pubs and shops, but no celebrities for us this time. We were back in Dublin in time for bed. Another perfect day in Dublin!
Day 4 Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol
On our last full day in Dublin, we had our booked tickets for the Guinness Storehouse. Some might think it’s not a place for kids. That’s what I thought before we got there and had an alternate activity just in case. I’m so glad we did it as a family! It was a day full of teachable moments! We talked science, chemistry, marketing, and we talked about wise decisions. Hubby took a lesson in how to pour (or pull, as they say) a Guinness properly and we all got to sip the drink of our choice at the top of the tower! Kids selected a soda, adults savored a cold Guinness. Truly the best Guinness we ever had! And the 360° view of Dublin from the top made it all the more memorable.
While I didn’t originally plan the day this way, it turned out that our next stop was the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) Museum. 2016 is the 100th anniversary of Easter Rising. If you are like me, you didn’t cover this in your history class. It’s definitely worth reading up on before you go. Since the whole city was celebrating we figured we better find a show or read some books before we got there! That’s just what we did! It was amazingly helpful in allowing us to understand a piece of modern history and how it shapes the Republic of Ireland we know and love today. We (the parents) watched this documentary narrated by Liam Neeson and this historical fiction series, Rebellion. The nationalists’ stories are heart -breaking and inspiring all at the same time. It was a sobering end to the day but created a great opportunity for discussion on the price of peace.
Day 5 Museum of Archeology
Like Dublinia, the Museum of Archaeology has activity sheets too. This museum is free, so of course. we wanted to check it out. Since we had an afternoon flight, we did this museum first thing in the morning with luggage in tow. Pro-Tip: Ask to store your luggage in the education are lockers provided for school – it’s free! Then we jetted to the airport; eating our lunch on the bus en route. This museum is near the main campus of Trinity College where the Book of Kells is located. If you want to poke around a really old university, and see the museum, allow for ample time.
I would have preferred lunch in the park rather than on the bus. This was not one of the activities that everyone voted for originally, but everyone was glad we did it in the end. We will do the Book of Kells next time!
Well, that’s Dublin!
We really enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back and see the things we couldn’t squeeze into five days. I’d love to explore the rest of Ireland too. What’s your next family adventure destination? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! When you sign up for my newsletter You’ll get my “Packing with Kids” printable for free! Frankly, I think it’s great for adults too!Unfortunately we don't have actual data for flights from to Dublin. Find tickets from to Dublin