At Wilderness Ireland, we’ve compiled a list of top family travel activities and experiences for Ireland family vacations. Each one is based on the intriguing and colourful characters and dramatic landscapes you’ll encounter on the Emerald Isle.
Explore our exciting Family Adventures to inspire you for your next family vacation. Consider a tailor made trip incorporating these experiences and more a la carte or book one of our Ireland family trips. See below for our top 12.
What child – or adult! – doesn’t dream of finding pirates or lost treasure? In 15th century Ireland, Galway Bay and Clew Bay were under the control of the infamous Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley. The whole family will love to take part in an exciting treasure hunt on Clare Island, following clues to locate an old pirate’s map. Work together to decipher the map to solve the puzzles, leading to buried treasure at the end! Then, explore the Pirate Queen’s castle yourselves. For families searching for adventurous family travel activities, explore the Pirate Queen’s former empire by stand up paddle on our new family-friendly itinerary, Paddling & Pirates.
Ireland’s landscape may be dotted with sheep, but goats are just as fun and family-friendly! One of southwest Ireland’s best-kept secrets is located on Cape Clear Island. A rugged little island with a pronounced Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) community, Cape Clear’s most famous resident is a blind goat herder who will not only introduce you to his goats, but give you a taste of his delicious, homemade goat’s milk ice cream – a fantastic culinary family travel activity! While there, skip the hotels and instead opt to go glamping in a luxury yurt for a night to remember!
If you’re visiting Connemara, be sure to hop over to the Aran Islands. Full of ancient forts and cliffs as well as a thriving Gaeltacht community, get your goat’s cheese fix on Inismore. Meet the hardy island goats and learn how to make homemade goat’s cheese before sampling some of it yourself!
Fun fact: Leprechauns are technically protected under the European Habitats Directive, and have a picturesque sanctuary on the Cooley Peninsula! For a day of unusual family travel activities, families visiting the region can head off into the hills in order to search for the roughly 230 leprechauns supposedly living on the peninsula. Learn about local legends such as the magical bull from the mythical tale of The Tain and admire Carlingford Lough, an inspiration for CS Lewis’ Narnia. Afterwards, head to the family-friendly pub, PJ O’Hare’s, to look at leprechaun artefacts found in the area by PJ himself. If you’re intrigued by Narnia, find places that inspired the mythical land on our Family Adventure – Giants, Myths and Legends.
The elegant Ashford Castle Hotel is the epitome of Irish luxury, and welcoming to families looking for high-end holidays in Connemara. While at Ashford Castle, enjoy an exciting lesson in the ancient art of falconry. The whole family can learn how to care for the birds before embarking on a hawk walk where you’ll get to see the birds in action! Then, it’s your turn – you’ll get to learn how to properly hold the bird on your arm, how to fly the bird and call it back to you!
Alternatively, if you’re in the northwest, stay at the Gothic-style hotel, Mount Falcon Estate, where true to its name, you can meet their resident falcons as well as other birds of prey, learn to handle the birds and hunt with them and their hounds on an immersive hawk walk.
Fancy an exciting family bike ride in Ireland, but worried about safety? Look no further then the wild, new Great Western Greenway, a 42-km path from the bustling town of Westport and to the beautiful Achill Island. Following what once was the railway, which closed in 1937, the track was recently turned into the exceptional Great Western Greenway. Rent bikes for the whole family in Westport and pedal at your own pace to Achill Island. There’s plenty to see and do along the way: lovely beaches, the archeological Ciede Fields, the eerie Deserted Village – left over from era of cattle herding – dramatic cliffs on Achill Island and the elegant Westport House. Choose to do part of the Greenway, matched with your family’s ability levels, and get a lift back to town on our exciting new Family Adventure – Paddling & Pirates!
Mix education with the great outdoors by spending a day on a working farm in the Lost Valley, a remote part of western Ireland, and one of the last true vestiges of Irish wilderness. Meet Farmer Bourke to learn about the Irish Famine, mass emigration to North America and visit 19th-century cottages to learn what life was like in remote regions. Learn how farmers work in alongside with their sheepdogs, how to sheer sheep, and cuddle with little lambs while you learn how to feed them. Cuddle with Irish lambs on our Family Adventure – Paddling & Pirates while exploring western Ireland with your whole family.
Under the expertise of a local artist, try your hand at family pottery-making on the tiny island of Inishbofin. Learn about pottery-making techniques, as well as how to texture and decorate your pieces as Lol, your host, spins tales about western Ireland and island life. In creating your pottery, get inspired by the rugged island landscape around you – the rocky cliffs, bird colonies, ruined Cromwellian castles, quiet coves and white sand beaches. At the end of the day, each family member will bring home a pottery piece to act as souvenir to your Ireland adventures!
By day, Kinsale is a bright, colourful and fun town – but by night, the spirits and phantoms of Kinsale roam free. Once darkness falls, join an interactive ghost tour to learn about Kinsale’s vibrant history while you meet the colourful characters of Kinsale’s past as they come alive during an entertaining evening stroll about town. Excitement for the whole family! Meet Kinsale’s spirits of old on our new 2018 Family Adventure – Legends of the Southwest.
On a guided coastal walk on either the Ivereagh Peninsula (also known as the Ring of Kerry) or the shores of Connemara, forage for seaweed with your host, a local legend and expert chef. Splash in the waves along the coast as you forage for this exciting product of the sea. Your host will explain to your family about the superfood of seaweed, how to find it and various ways to cook it. Afterwards, its time to eat one of his delicious seaweed and seafood inspired dishes! Seaweed spaghetti, anyone? Adults may want to escape in the evening for a relaxing seaweed bath in one of seaside resorts. Go seaweed foraging on our Family Adventure – Paddling & Pirates.
At an off-the-beaten-path toy factory, kids and adults alike will enjoy participating in a specialised workshop where you’ll learn how toys are created… before sitting down to make your very own! Enjoy family bonding time while finding your inner artist as you each paint your own toy – and at the end, you’ll have a little souvenir to bring home! Also, take the time to visit the world’s largest model battle scene, depicting the Battle of Waterloo. Create your own toy on our Family Adventure – Legends of the Southwest.