Ireland is low-stress, high-energy and people here are very friendly to children. Just ask Miranda Krestovnikoff, who wrote an article in the UK newspaper The Guardian about bringing her kids on an Irish foodie adventure: “My kids have pretty good palates for a couple of under-fives. They've eaten falafel and calamari in Dahab market in Egypt... But nowhere has beaten the warm family welcome and the hands-on food education we had in Ireland.”
The blog IrelandWithKids written by travel writer Jody Halsted is also full of recommendations: “Ireland has so much to offer families. From faerie tale [sic] castles to magnificent gardens, wide open spaces to the bustle of international cities, breathtaking natural scenery to man-made megalithic structures, Ireland opens her arms and welcomes you to explore her ancient sites, traverse her green fields and discover her treasures.”
It’s safe to say, then, that Ireland gets the thumbs up from those who know what it’s like to travel with children in arms!
Out and about
While some restaurants and cafés will feature children’s menus, it’s still a good idea to check a website before booking, or give them a quick call if you’re in any doubt. Even if they do not provide a specific children’s menu, most will offer half-portions of dishes as an alternative. The Irish Hotel Federation displays a few sample kids’ menus so you can know what to expect from any of their members.
Changing areas for babies are widely available, especially at main attractions and wherever there are public bathroom facilities. Establishments are generally very welcoming to nursing mothers, and will be happy to help you feel more comfortable should you need any assistance.
Using trains and buses with children
In the Republic of Ireland
On Dublin Bus, one child under three is carried free in the company of a fare-paying passenger as long as the child isn’t taking the seat of another paying passenger. For children under the age of 16, the child or school fare applies, but it is a good idea to carry proof of age for teenagers. Dublin Bus also offers family tickets and, if travelling outside Dublin by bus, check out Bus Eireann for its child and family ticket prices.
On Irish Rail, children between the age of five and 16 will pay half the equivalent adult fare. Children under the age of five travel free when accompanied by a fare-paying passenger and if they are not occupying the seat of a paying passenger. Family rail tickets are available, too, with Day Return and Open Return options valid for one or two adults and up to four children under the age of 16.
In Northern Ireland
All Translink services (Translink includes NI Railways and all NI bus services) offer child fares and family tickets that cover travel on Ulsterbus, Metro and NI Railways services. Translink also offers a Family and Friends Ticket, which offers a day’s unlimited travel on bus or rail services in Northern Ireland for two adults and up to four children.
Useful websites for family activities in Ireland
Both Fundays and Family Fun are excellent resources for child activities on the island of Ireland. Day Out With The Kids has lots of ideas for child-friendly happenings specifically in Northern Ireland while Outdoor NI has plenty of active outdoor options.
Weather and climate
Maximum temperatures in the summer reach about 25 degrees in Ireland and winters are generally mild, meaning that you can easily spend a good amount of time outdoors. The weather is changeable, though, so it’s bring warm jumpers, Wellington boots for splashing and rainproof gear.
Check out the weather just before you travel, to make sure you can plan your travels and activities in the great outdoors.