All Articles Dublin with kids: 7 unexpected, fuss-free ways to explore the city

Dublin with kids: 7 unexpected, fuss-free ways to explore the city

Vikings, hiking, and street performers.

Katie Gregory
By Katie Gregory14 Apr 2023 3 minutes read
The Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin
The Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin
Image: Peter Unger/Getty Images

Home to Europe’s biggest city park and first cultural center dedicated to children, Dublin isn’t messing around when it comes to child’s play. The Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best-winning city packs in a long list of things to do for kids of all ages, and it also benefits from being compact—you won’t spend your entire trip trekking from one must-see to the next with grumpy tots. Read on for a kid-friendly, parent-approved itinerary in the Irish capital.

Make your dose of culture an all-ages affair

Now, about that arts center for kids: It may sound too good to be true, but it's very real—and it's every bit as cool as you'd imagine. All of the activities at The Ark are geared toward kids, from daytime live music to art installations where young guests aren’t just allowed to touch the exhibits—they’re encouraged to. You can pre-book theater performances in the child-sized theater, or just show up for one of the (free) drop-in creative workshops.

Meet a Viking (and definitely snap some pics)

Viking at Dublinia
Viking at Dublinia
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Another museum encourages hands-on exploring, Dublinia shines the spotlight on Dublin's Viking and medieval history. Here, you can wander down a busy ancient street, dress up in Viking clothes, and wander the stalls of a recreated medieval market. Set in a prime location, Dublinia is connected via an archway to Christ Church Cathedral and at the crossroads of several important ancient streets.

Travelers say:Traveled with a 5- and 9-year-old and spent around two hours [at Dublinia] in an enjoyable morning. …Lots of very visual mockups and sets, which helped make the story come alive for the wee one.” —@MphsQueen

Catch the street buskers on Grafton Street

Grafton street in Dublin's Old Town
Grafton street in Dublin's Old Town
Image: arcady_31/Getty Images

Had your fill of museums? Saunter down Grafton Street for a spot of people-watching. Bookended by Trinity College at one end and St. Stephen’s Green at the other, it’s lined with the city’s best shops—but it’s the street performers that steal the show. From buskers to magicians, there’s lots to stop and see along the length of this pedestrian-friendly street. A quick detour to Murphy’s Ice Cream on Wicklow Street makes for a great pit-stop when the kids need a sugar boost.

Take a breather in the middle of the city...

At the south end of Grafton Street, you’ll find the leafy St. Stephen’s Green. Dotted with grassy lawns, the space is also ideal for picnicking, and there’s a fenced playground toward the center of the park that’s popular with younger kids. Try the food hall at upmarket Fallon & Byrne if you’re after a gourmet spread, or pick up lunch to-go from one of Dublin’s best sandwich spots.

...or just escape the city entirely

Laced with hiking trails and explorable hills and glens, the Dublin Mountains are a scenic spot to get a bit of a reprieve from the bustle of the city. There are various well-marked routes, including a handful that are manageable for children, and the views over Dublin Bay and beyond are well worth the effort. There’s parking available at various forests in the mountains, including Tibradden Wood, also home to Zipit Dublin. This high-ropes course for ages 7 and up takes you on an adventure in the treetops, with views that stretch out to Ireland’s Eye island.

Travelers say: “We left the car at the free parking at Ticknock Woods and ascended the slopes to Fairy Castle, the highest point of the Dublin Mountains. A fairly easy climb lasting 1-2 hours, suitable for kids…rewarded by fantastic views over the town and surrounding countryside.” —@ElSteveo82

Let kids be kids—that is, run wild

Deer at Phoenix Park in Dublin
Deer at Phoenix Park in Dublin
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

If you’re after a bit more space, head to Phoenix Park, just west of the city center. At 1,750 acres, this is Europe's largest enclosed city park, and you can try to spot the resident herd of wild deer; pay a visit to the nearly 300-year-old military fort; or stop by the playground near the Visitor Centre. Entry to the park is free, but you’ll need to pay if you want to include a visit to the Dublin Zoo, which is wrapped in greenery at the northeastern edge.

Cruise on any kid's dream vehicle: a boat-truck mashup

Fancy seeing the city from land and water in the space of one trip? Opt for a trip with Viking Splash tours, which are operated on an amphibious DUKW (essentially, a cross between a boat and a truck). You’ll take a drive through the city streets before setting sail on the Grand Canal Docks. An expert guide brings the craic via songs and stories all about the major sights, during an hour and 15 minute experience—an ideal length to keep kids engaged. Tours start and end at St. Stephen’s Green; children 3 and up are allowed onboard.

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Katie Gregory
Katie Gregory is a freelance writer based in the UK. Her editorial travel features have appeared in national titles including the Guardian, Evening Standard, Time Out London and Discover Britain, while her copywriting credits include household travel brands like TUI, easyJet and Kuoni. Katie also writes a family travel blog, There We Go, about trips she takes (mostly) with her kids.