HomeAway travel expert
Ireland is a country rightly revered throughout the world for its friendliness and joviality: in no country in the world can you be more certain of receiving a fond welcome. Travellers go there in droves to experience firsthand the famous “craic” that is all but guaranteed up and down the country, as well as the luscious scenery that adorns countless postcards. Understandably given its spirit, the Emerald Isle is usually considered a hotspot for anyone who enjoys a raucous night on the tiles: unfortunately, what most people don’t seem to recognise is the nation’s qualities for a family visit.
Away from the Guinness, whiskey and general St. Patrick’s Day debauchery lies a peaceful yet vibrant land, ideally suited for both children and adults looking to make the most of their family holiday. From Dublin to Galway, Dundalk to Cork, there is a plethora of hidden attractions to be found if you take the time to find them. To get you started, check out our quick guide to a selection of accommodation available to you. When your mind is set on jetting out to this unforgettable land, look no further than HomeAway to find the best rental accommodation for your stay.
Ireland family holidays: top attractions
As is often the case with nation capitals, Dublin is a bustling hub of activity by day and night. The Temple Bar region is, of course, popular with party-goers, but explore the area and there’s plenty to keep both adults and kids entertained. The impressively comprehensive zoo in opulent Phoenix Park is a superb place to spend a day, as is the playground in St. Stephen’s Green. One of the best ways to view the city is on the Viking Splash tour, a bizarre amphibious enterprise where riders are encouraged to don helmets and roar like their hairy Nordic ancestors at random intervals.
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Over on the west coast lies possibly the most visually stunning town in Ireland. Galway sits on the bank of a sweeping bay overlooking the mighty Atlantic, and as such has something of a seaside atmosphere in places. Take the kids down to the promenade for a day at Leisureland, a water park that incorporates a 65m slide, an outdoor amusement area for when the sun rears its head, and a host of fitness facilities for mum and dad to enjoy. Kylemore Abbey is an achievement of architecture, resplendent with walled gardens, crafts and homemade delicacies in the castle tearooms.
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As any heat-starved Brit knows, only the most fleeting glimpse of the sun is required to justify a jaunt to the beach. OK, it’s hardly Mediterranean temperatures, but these fair isles boast more than their fair share of sandy retreats. Rest assured that Ireland is no exception to this rule. Enniscrone in County Sligo is a favourite haunt amongst surfers, while Tramore on the south-east coast has become increasingly popular with families. The latter is the choice of the locals, famed for its scenic Atlantic viewpoints and horse riding opportunities. The Splashworld leisure complex is another great option to keep the children amused.
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The southern city of Cork is a terrific hub of culture, architecture and tradition that you can’t help fall in love with. The place emits a certain charm that endears it instantly to anyone visiting for the first time, old or young. One centuries-old tradition is to ring the famous Shandon Belles, achieved by ascending the bell tower of St Anne’s Church. The noise is deafening, but the satisfaction of making the likes of Amazing Grace echo over the city is irresistible. For a slightly more peaceful venture, take a stroll through the English Market, thrust into the limelight when the Queen paid it a visit in 2011.
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One of the beauties of Ireland is that, even though it is for all intents and purposes a foreign country, crossing the border is as trouble-free as possible. That in mind, the chance to take in the Northern capital of Belfast is not to be missed if you’re based on the east coast. The whole family will adore a visit to the award-winning W5, an extensive science centre based within the impressive Odyssey Arena. Those with a sweet tooth will be naturally drawn to Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory, whilst the Botanic Gardens make a perfect destination to relax in when the weather is balmy.
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Ireland Family Holiday Homes
Ramharc na nOiléan is a charming character cottage with traditional features, set in a peaceful position less than 2 miles from Kincasslagh in Co. Donegal. Set over the ground floor, with three bedrooms, one twin and two doubles (one with an en-su...
Bay View is a single-storey, detached cottage situated two miles from the village of Allihies, County Cork. Boasting sea views, this cottage sleeps five people in two bedrooms, consisting of one double and a family room with a single and bunk bed,...
Silver Strand Cottage is a pet-friendly single-storey cottage a few minutes' walk from the beach in Malin Beg, near the village of Glencolumbkille in County Donegal. The cottage has two double rooms and a bunks room, a bathroom and an open plan li...
Clogher Cottage is a welcoming detached cottage only a couple of minutes' walk from the shore, in a quiet rural setting three miles from the village of Doonbeg. The cottage is set mainly over the ground floor, with a double room with en-suite, a f...
Shraigh Beach is a wonderful single-storey, detached cottage situated a minute walk from a sandy beach, seven miles from the town of Belmullet, County Mayo. This cottage sleeps four people in two bedrooms with en-suites, consisting of a super king...