From dolphin sightings to stories of pirates, sleeping in castles to family cycling, the array for activities alongside the culture of traditional storytelling of Ireland captures the imagination and interest of all ages. Together you will feel the wind in your hair and discover a country that takes you back to the basic joys of life with an emphasis on family and togetherness. Handcrafted for travel with young children, this luxury tour is all about uninterrupted time together in a country that...
Dublin – Taking it Easy in the Irish Capital
Dublin is a great city to visit with your kids as it is friendly, interesting, and full of secrets and stories to uncover. Dublin is not the biggest of cities either, so you will not feel too overwhelmed. Touch down in the Irish capital, and you will be transferred to a small family-run hotel in the heart of the city. There is a lot to see and do on the streets around the hotel, not least a grand introduction to Irish accents and humor. Many child-friendly restaurants can be found on the streets nearby, and the local food tends to excite most kids as potatoes are ubiquitous to the Irish experience. Over the next few days, you will explore and experience Ireland with local guides, but for today you simply take a stroll and enjoy your first immersive experience in the Emerald Isle.
Dublin – Literary Dublin and Child-Friendly Storytelling
One day is enough to see the significant Dublin monuments, especially when you are alongside your children. It is good to have a lens from which to view the city, and today that will be provided by James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You will not need to have read their works to explore the city, and with these authors providing a cue you go exploring, you will first stop Trinity College and the legendary Book of Kells. In St Patrick’s Cathedral, your guide will bring up stories from 1,500 years ago, while down O’Connell Street you hear the craic, or humorous chat, that Dublin is known for. Move next to look through a lens of history that is a little more evocative for the children, that of the Vikings that were here more than a millennia ago.
Dublin’s compact size means it is easy to get around, and you will not need to rush between the sights. You can choose to visit Kilmainham Gaol in the afternoon, or skip the spooky prison and head straight to one of two legendary places, the Old Jameson Distillery, and the Guinness Storehouse. While only the adults can drink famous alcohol, both places have created educational exhibitions for children. They can smell and feel their way through the whiskey or stout process, then taste the non-alcoholic versions. Spend the evening in an old pub, experiencing the storytelling tradition, tales of Celtic warriors, and fairies making this a great evening for the kids. The tales are unbelievable at first, but the cadence and skill of the seanchai, or storyteller, makes any fairy come alive.
Dublin – Beaches and Wild Deer
Escape from the city center, and it is only 30 minutes before you are walking along the waters of the Irish Sea. Quiet beaches are back-dropped by picturesque villages where the townhouses are now home to fish and chip shops as well as small cafes. There is so much space on the golden sand that you have space and freedom to come together as a family. You can take a local train out to these beaches then return to the city and go searching for wild deer. Choose to walk or bicycle through the park, perhaps the kids trying to run and chase the deer who elegantly skip off into the distance.
County Galway – First Night in a Fairytale Castle
Driving across Ireland, you will have the chance to break up the day with a couple of famous Irish stops. Perhaps go to kiss the Blarney Stone, which will give you the gift of the gab according to folklore. The experience involves leaning over backward to, yes, kiss a magical stone. Stop at a small village for a hearty lunch, then continue to County Galway and you can either go straight to the castle or take some time in the most Irish of all cities, Galway itself.
Bohemian lanes of bright colors and strange accents will greet you at street corners, castle ruins abound and fishing boats lull in the harbor. This will be a perfect place to walk with an ice cream cone, perhaps sit on a bench with world-renowned fish and chips, or simply walk around and use all your senses. Your accommodations are nearby, a castle from a fairytale looking out over the Emerald Isle. It will seem as if you have stepped into Ireland’s medieval era and the kids will love checking out all the castle’s features, from the slits for archers to the dungeon behind bars. Dinner at the castle’s restaurant is included, and it also feels like a medieval affair.
County Galway – Dolphins and Seals and Pirates
A relaxed morning is yours as you enjoy breakfast, hopefully outside on the terrace, to give the kids some time to explore the castle grounds. Then onto a boat, as you take a ferry onto the Irish Sea, searching for the telltale signs of dolphins and seals. The seals usually bask on rocks along the shore, but you can also see their heads bopping up and down through the water. Dolphin sightings are less predictable but still common here, a pod of fins rising and falling to get the heart fluttering. Spend the day on Inishbofin, a small island of Bronze Age remains a Cromwellian Fort and a treasure hunt in the style of pirates. A Spanish pirate was once marooned here, and it is said that his ghost lives on. Make of that what you will, but there is no doubting Inishbofin’s otherworldly feel, along with its vast open fields and coastlines you can discover.
County Galway – Drumming Workshop Plus Cycling or Horseback Riding
Roll out from the castle and find the Ireland you likely imagined. Fields of emerald and lime are set like a patchwork separated by dry stone walls with flecks of sheep in the distance, along with strange rocks and a village. There are no vehicles, and really nothing but landscapes, and this will make for a memorable bicycle ride. If your family is feeling adventurous, you can ride to the port of Roundstone, or you could be driven here in the morning before cycling in the afternoon. Once there, you can bang on drums and learn the best of Irish tradition, this being the place of the bodhran. It’s an iconic Celtic drum that most kids want to take home.
From here, you can cycle along the coast to Ballyconneely Beach, a serene stretch of sand that is usually without footprints. The waters are cold here, but the atmosphere is warm, loads of space for kids to run and make sandcastles and do whatever else children like to do on the beach. You might even go for a horseback ride here, a leisurely walk, and trot running onwards across the sand. Cycling back to the castle, you may begin to realize it has been a long day, but there are plenty of memories and a happy lethargy to take in to dinner.
Cong – Benedictine Monks and Learning to be a Sheep Herder
Kylemore Abbey stands dramatically on a green hill in County Galway, hidden away above a river. It looks more like a palace than an abbey, a majestic work that seems many centuries older than when it was built in 1920. Spend the morning learning about the Benedictine community here before visiting a sheep farm nearby for a chance to learn about shepherding with sheepdogs, an activity that is tailored for children to get involved. Lunch is nearby with a seafood feast with local shellfish farmers for a chance for kids to try foods they may never have contemplated eating before. After lunch, you are transferred to Cong and the second of your castles, a five-star property even more imposing than the last. If the County Galway castle evokes the medieval and fairytales, the castle in Cong makes it feel like you are princes and princesses or a rich emerald land.
Cong – Incomparable Landscapes on a Journey Through Ireland
Spend the day on the coast and drive to towering cliffs and look out onto the Atlantic, waves crashing loudly down below. Spot rocks standing isolated in the ocean, like fingers left behind by a giant. Get to know Joyce Country as you travel along Loughs Mask and Corrib, sweeping vistas and pastures to one side as salty sea air perforates the nostrils. Take a picnic lunch with you and choose where you dine, perhaps on a cliff overlooking the water, if the wind is not chilly, but also a park or fishing village seafront. You have got all day to explore, and that exploring does not stop back in Cong, where the village is a charm, and the castle has many nooks and crannies. Dinner is an old-world affair, complete with dancing and singing, and all those Gaelic quirks that Ireland is all about.
Cong to Shannon – Departure
It is a short drive back to Shannon, a regional airport that makes for a more leisurely departure from the Emerald Isle. It is a far change from busy international airports like Heathrow, with nothing but a small terminal and a couple of planes on the runway. From Shannon Airport, you will fly to Dublin and meet your international departure.
- Go on a safari looking for dolphins and seals along Ireland’s wondrous Atlantic coast
- Learn about the Vikings in Dublin and how to be a sheepherder in County Galway
- Spend quiet family time on remote, windswept beaches, such as Ballyconneely
- Sleep in two mythical castles as your children live out their imagination as if from a fairytale
- Go cycling and horseback riding across the incomparably green landscapes of rural Ireland
- Spend a day on the island of Inishbofin, where there are tales of forts, pirates and remains from the Bronze Age
- Listen to one of Ireland’s traditional storytellers as they weave a captivating tale enjoyed by children and adults alike
- Explore literary Dublin and follow in the footsteps of Joyce, but also explore some more child-friendly sights in the capital
Ireland brings a lovely balance if you are traveling with children, and there is a variety of things to do and enough to keep different ages interested without being too focused on the kids. Locals are warm and welcoming, the country is small and easy to get around, and while it may appear exotic, Ireland is not a threatening otherworldly destination when you have the eyes of a young child. The cities are small, the landscapes are open, and you are never far from a place where you can be alone as a family. Time together is what this handcrafted vacation is all about. Taking you back to basics, the tour ensures the space and the freedom needed so that your family can come together, away from the stresses of every day and the rest of the world.
Imagine lonely beaches where you can play in the sand and dip your toes in timid Atlantic surf, and think of cycling through green valleys and walking around ruined monasteries. Your days can include picnic hampers and leisurely nights in castles, learning to be a shepherd, and searching for dolphins and seals, and when you do spend time with other people, the Irish add something new to the experience. Listen to storytellers in traditional venues, experience folk music, and dancing, learn to play the drums, and meet people in small villages. By taking it slow and keeping it easy, you will likely meet with Irish families before retiring to the private world of castle accommodation and rural Ireland.
This vacation for families is designed across three distinctive bases. Begin as you spend several nights in Dublin, and then travel to County Galway. Enjoy the next few nights in a legendary Connemara castle before a short ride to Cong, on the border of County Galway and County Clare. Here you will enjoy another castle with your experience including falconry on the lawn as well as a gala dinner. If you are with kids, then the next few nights will be enough to take in the capital city of Dublin, and then the remaining five nights are spent in rural Ireland, where there is a wide choice over what you do and experience. You can escape as a family and life is so much simpler when there is nothing but you and your loved ones.
Tour Dublin the next day with a James Joyce inspired walk followed by a more child-friendly way of discovering the capital, Irish storytelling. Wake the next morning to find out about the Vikings, visit a quiet beach, and walk or cycle through a city park looking for deer. From there, it is just over a three-hour drive across Ireland to County Galway, the only significant amount you will spend in a vehicle, but with this being Ireland, there are some beautiful places to stop on route to your castle. Dolphins and seals and pirates are the focus the following day, with a boat tour and trip to Inishbofin Island. Move next to a day spent at a drumming workshop, and then an afternoon of horseback riding or cycling, or both if you would like.
By now, you will have all settled into the rhythm of the experience. There are activities to enjoy and many things to do, but nothing is rushed in Ireland, and your itinerary will run at your pace. Stories of Benedictine monks and shepherds abound as you switch castles, with hawks and eagles now part of the daily scenery. This part of Ireland is famous for its coastline, and there will be time to visit the legendary cliffs, as well as to step onto the golden beaches with your footprints the only ones seen. As you take a picnic to a viewpoint and feel the wind through your hair, you’ll know that Ireland has provided one of the best feelings in life, just you and your children and not another care in the world.
$3,595 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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