Dublin may not be New York or London, but it still has so much to show off when you’re taking your family here. The city itself is full of history and is embellished with a culture that is difficult to find anywhere else.
It may not be the boiling hot beach destination that many desire for the warmer months but in terms of offering something new and exciting, well it almost certainly does that. From old castles to museums, galleries, parks, shopping streets and suburbs outside of the city that offer a new way to experience the capital, there’s much for all ages to see and indulge in.
Top 20 Things to Do in Dublin With the Family
1. Inspire the kids with works of artists in the National Gallery of Ireland
A bit of art is what the kids want. If any of them harbor ambitions to be creative or love to dabble with a paintbrush and crayons then it’s best to show them what real art looks like. Art is, after all, a visual image of our times as well as the human soul (bit deep there). However, like all national galleries, there are many treats here that include the works of Monet, Rembrandt, Turner and Picasso, plus Jack Butler Yeats. After a walk around here, your kids will want to enter the echelons of success in no time. Plus, they will feel a bit more mature having admired such pieces of art.
2. Walk around Dublin Castle together
The castle itself represents the British rule that ended after the War of Independence. Back in the times before then, this is where the might of the crown came from. The whole family will have much to learn on the tour and end up at one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, The Brazen Head. Its big structure is more than worth taking a snap against. History is always fun, and always better when the family is involved.
3. Explore Phoenix Park by foot or by bike
This 2.7 square mile park is where you can all chill and relax after long days going around the city. As one of the biggest urban parks in Europe, you could almost spend a whole day here. Have a walk around together or even hire bikes to cycle through the long lanes. There’s nothing quite like getting a breath of fresh air on a bike and cycling round together. Also, you can easily come here with a ball or something sporty and have some competitive play. Or a picnic may well be in order when the sun is out and shining.
4. Have a day out at Howth
A fishing village that sits just outside of the city, this is where you can have a quieter day out without the crowds that the center brings with it. While the kids may not like the seafood restaurants that place has, they will like the nature that can be seen along the coast. The atmosphere is still agreeable and will more than hit the right notes.
5. Spend an evening at the Abbey Theatre
A play may not be a big-budget blockbuster movie, but it can showcase to the young kids what drama and comedy are really made of. This theatre has showcased many great and controversial plays throughout its time and still does. While not all plays will be suitable for young eyes, there are still going to be a range of things to see that will bring the family together. Be sure to check what’s on before you arrive.
6. Treat everyone to some musical notes at the National Concert Hall
Get the kids away from their phones and Youtube videos and show them what a real musical experience is. The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is the ideal companion to take everyone on a journey that will have the best of high notes. Classical arrangements of Beethoven and Mozart, film scores by John Williams, and other musical highlights are here for all ages to enjoy. Forget spending the night in, head to the packed music hall and see what joys there are to discover.
7. Cross the Ha’penny Bridge together
One of the oldest pedestrian bridges in the city, most of the original structures remain which make it a remarkable piece of history and more than worth taking the kids to even if they do find it a bit boring for their sensibilities. It may not be a museum but there’s certainly much to admire about a 19th century construction that is still standing.
8. Get a family snap of The Spire
Standing at over 120m in height, this pin-like structure is magnificent to behold and belongs on every family album. In the old days, a statue of Lord Nelson stood here, much like the one in Trafalgar Square but it wasn’t destroyed in the 1960s. In its place is the structure that you see today. It may not have the historical significance that its predecessor had but it does have the architectural style that makes it long to be admired. The kids will also love a picture next to it.
9. Go to one of the top restaurants in Dublin for lunch
When it comes to eating out, there are many choices for you and your family to go for. Meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans - you’ll all be covered one way or the other. From Irish delights to restaurants that go far beyond the shore of the Irish republic, all palettes and tastes will be more than catered for. Even the fussiest of eaters will be happy one way or another. Some of the top restaurants to take the family include Clanbrassil House, Mr Fox, Pi Pizza, Featherblade, The Legal Eagle and Terra Madre.
10. Spend an evening indoors
Inside your Dublin accommodation will be all the amenities that you require for family stays. The free Wi-Fi will keep the kids and teenagers busy (social media, videos and all the rest that they get up to), while the flat screen TV will have many channels for the evening’s entertainment. Plus, the fully equipped kitchen that you’ll have access to will make home cooking and family meals all the more functional. Ideal.
11. Show the family how Guinness is made at the Guinness Storehouse
The proud drink of the Irish, this is what you will be keeping the teenagers in the group away from. However, the Guinness Storehouse boasts a long history of the drink, provides a tasting session and will be the ideal thing for you after when the kids have had free reign of the attraction picks so far. Time for mum and dad to have something that they will like too.
12. Delve into the turbulent independence movement at Kilmainham Gaol
Going to an old prison may not sound like the most thrilling day out for the family, but it will show the kids one of the most shocking periods of the nation’s history. Tours and guides will tell the story of some of the Irish republic’s heroes that had to do time here and others that will have been sentenced to death. Best to somewhere cheerful afterwards.
13. See the natural world at the Dublin Zoo
Found in Phoenix Park, this zoo has many animals that reflect the diversity of the natural world. The kids will surely love it, as will you if you’re wild at heart. The zoo is divided up into the following areas so you can all see the things that you want to; Asian Forests, Orangutan Forest, The Kaziranga Forest Trail, Fringes of the Arctic, Sea Lion Cove, African Plains, Roberts House, House of Reptiles, City Farm and South American House
14. Discover the Silicon Docks
It may be a corporate area but there’s still plenty to see here including The Irish Emigration Museum and Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre. Plus you can also take tours of the Dublin Docklands together and learn more about its history.
15. Weave through the long history of the nation at the National Museum of Ireland
What’s great about this attraction is that this is actually four museums in multiple buildings. They include the Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of Decorative Arts & History and the Museum of Natural History. You and the precocious lot of your group will love the historical artifacts, costumes and zoological models.
16. Admire the Christchurch and Saint Patrick’s Cathedrals
Christchurch is the cathedral founded in 1030 as a wooden Viking church that has added Romanesque and Gothic elements throughout the ages, while Saint Patrick’s is the one with the legend of the baptizing well. Regardless, both are more than worth a look in to admire the architecture and to the children what true beauty really is.
17. Uncover the Book of Kells
Found in Trinity College Dublin’s Old Library, this 9th century manuscript details the four gospels of the life of Jesus Christ is made from calfskin and pigments such as red lead, lapis lazuli and copper. Show the family what a real treasure looks like, after all this is Ireland’s top collectible.
18. Head to the EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
Showing what being Irish truly means, this museum is dedicated to those that emigrated far beyond the shores to become scientists, politicians, poets, artists and outlaws across the globe. Voted as one of the top attractions, it is very insightful and worth showing kids what can be achieved by those who leave home and dream big.
19. Take some time out in St Stephen’s Green
Another green space, it’s not quite the size of Phoenix Park but it is still very beautiful and can still be a relaxing time out from all the hustle and bustle. Bets to bring a few snacks, games and to discuss the Dublin adventure so far. A bit of fun competition is always a fun way for the family to unravel so have a small ball game or a running match.
20. Go shopping in the top streets in the city
Head to Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s prime shopping streets and grab a few gifts for everyone. Let the teenagers go off and find their tech and fashion staples while you head out to find a few mementos that will sit well on the shelf at home.
So if you’re thinking about heading to the Irish capital with your family, the attractions and ideas above will more than entice. Pack your bags, book your Dublin accommodation and head on out with your family in tow, ready for a short or long adventure.