Family Friendly Ireland - One Week Itinerary

Our family had long wanted to visit Ireland.  All of us have some Irish ancestry and our vision of the beauty that is Ireland really appealed to us.  We didn’t need much convincing to book a trip to the Emerald Isle!  With this itinerary, we share how to have a fabulous one week in Ireland.

The hardest part about booking the trip was deciding where to go.  It seemed everywhere was a “must see”.  With just a week we knew we needed to really narrow down the “must sees” with what appealed to our family.

I started by printing out a map of Ireland and highlighting the location of the sights that we wanted to see.  I then researched the approximate driving time between destinations.  One thing to note is that many times the estimated travel time in Ireland is underestimated.  The roads in Ireland can be a lot slower than we are used to at home in the US, especially in more rural areas.  Not to mention you may need to stop for sheep crossing the road!  Once we settled on the actual destinations, we then planned out how many days we would spend in each area, and finally it was time to book our lodging.  We did a mix of Airbnbs, hotels, and a bed & breakfast.

When we visited 

We visited Ireland in late July.  We had pretty typical weather during our time.  We had periods of sun, periods of rain, and lots of cloudy skies in between.  The temps were generally in the 50s-60s, which was great for exploring outdoors.

Map of our driving route through Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Where we stayed 

Airbnb city apartment | 2 nights | Dublin, Ireland

We flew into Dublin and had booked an Airbnb apartment in the city.  We wanted a central location so that we could easily explore the sights in Dublin.  The location ended up being perfect for two days of city sightseeing.  We took a taxi from the airport to our apartment and got settled before heading out.  We were lucky in that a small grocery store was just a few doors down from our apartment so we could stock up for our few days in Dublin.

Open-Top Bus & Guinness Storehouse

Being our first day in Ireland, we knew we had to try to beat jet lag by getting out into the sun and fresh air.  We spent the day taking an open-top bus tour around the city.  We love to do the hop on/hop off bus when we arrive in a new place to get the lay of the land a well as to seek out spots we want to get off at and explore further. 

The first place we visited was the Guinness Storehouse.  We have taken our kids to wineries, distilleries, and now a brewery!  Well, technically the Guinness Storehouse is not a brewery – that is off site.  At the Storehouse we learned about the process of brewing this famous Irish lager and I admit to being a Guinness convert.  They had me at “it contains chocolate and coffee notes”!  One great feature of the Storehouse is the complimentary beverage and view at the top of the building once you are done touring.  Although it was quite crowded at the top, we still enjoyed our complimentary Guinness half pint (the kids enjoyed their complimentary sodas) while we checked out the 360° views of Dublin below.  The windows are labeled so you know exactly what you were looking out at below you.

Happy to be trying some of Ireland’s finest export!

Trinity College Library & The Book of Kells

The next day we visited Trinity College and the Trinity College Library, which holds the Book of Kells. 

TIP:  We booked our tickets for this ahead of time online and I highly recommend doing so – the line for purchasing tickets was very very long!  We were able to skip right past that due to having pre-purchased our tickets.

The Long Room of the library itself is a work of art, holding rows and rows of books.  It is a must see, especially for any book lover!  We then made our way through the library to The Book of Kells which is a 9th century medieval manuscript, the world’s oldest.  The Book of Kells contains four Gospels of the life of Jesus, crafted by monks, with beautiful illustrations illuminated with real gold and vibrant colors.  The Book of Kells miraculously survived many centuries, including periods where Ireland was invaded by Vikings who pillaged villages.  Very few relics survive from that time period.  This is said to be one of Ireland’s greatest treasures.

The incredible Trinity Library

Kilmainham Gaol

We also visited a jail in while Dublin!  Kilmainham Gaol is a very important part of Irish history.  It is a former prison which held several Irish Revolutionaries who revolted against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916.  The Revolutionaries were then executed here by the British.  The tour was very interesting and a must do if you have older kids or teens.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilkenny, Ireland

Where we stayed

The Lyrath Estate | 1 night | Kilkenny, Ireland

From Dublin, we picked up a rental car and started our journey west.  We spent just one night in Kilkenny, which was a good stopover point for us.  We stayed at a lovely country estate, The Lyrath.  With rolling hills, sheep grazing, walking paths, and a beautiful garden it was so quintessentially Irish.  We relished our time here and wished we had had more time at this peaceful country estate.

The medieval town of Kilkenny is a great place to stop on a journey out west. 

Lovely Kilkenny

Kilkenny has wonderful shops and Kilkenny Castle to explore.  The great thing about Kilkenny Castle is that it is self-guided, so go at your own pace.  This is especially nice with children as some things warrant a longer look while others things might not hold their interest.  The vast castle grounds invite kids to run around and explore. 

Kilkenny Castle

The Rock of Cashel

We left Kilkenny the next day and continued our drive out west with one stop along the way, The Rock of Cashel.  This was one of our favorite things we visited during our entire trip to Ireland.  The imposing medieval fortress sits high up on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Plains of Tipperary.  It reminded us of Hogwarts as we approached.  We viewed a short film, walked the grounds, and checked out the old cemetery.  The ancient cemetery was very intriguing to walk around.  The Rock of Cashel is definitely a must see!

View from The Rock of Cashel

The Dingle Peninsula

Where we stayed

Airbnb cottage | 2 nights | Castlemaine, Ireland

Staying on the Dingle Peninsula allowed us some time to relax as we had been busy our first few days in Ireland.  We all relished our time in the country and staying in a country cottage was such a great way to experience Irish country life.  The home we rented had an amazing view of the hills and a pasture right in front of our cottage where we were visited daily by donkeys!  Our kids especially loved the donkey visits and running around the property.

During our time here, we opted to drive the Dingle Peninsula as a day trip.  The Dingle is smaller and less crowded than the popular Ring of Kerry, which is south of the Dingle.  We knew that, with kids, we wanted more time out of the car than in and to avoid traffic as much as possible.  It was the perfect choice!

Our first stop on the Dingle was visiting Inch Beach.  We watched surfers catching the waves and took in the vast expanse of beach. 

Surfers at Inch Beach

Our next stop was a sheep farm!  This was a delight for the kids who enjoyed petting and feeding the sheep. 

The kids loved this sheep farm

From there we checked out the “Beehive Huts”, which are stone walled cylindrical shaped huts estimated to be 1000-1300 years old.  After that we continued driving along Slea Head Road and made our way to Dingle Town.  Dingle Town is a quaint, waterfront town with shopping and restaurants.  We stopped for lunch here before continuing our drive of the Dingle.

One thing to note about the Dingle Peninsula is that the far west of it is a Gaeltacht Region.  This means that the Irish government is working to keep the Gaelic culture and language alive and does so by recognizing Irish Gaelic as the first language, with English second.  This was a treat to hear and witness as this part of Ireland really felt tied to its Gaelic roots.

Bunratty, Ireland

Where we stayed  

Bed & Breakfast | 1 night | Bunratty, Ireland

After our country time on the Dingle Peninsula, we headed north to Bunratty.  We had two major sites we wanted to visit here:  Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and The Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher

Once we got settled in our B&B, we drove about an hour west to the Cliffs of Moher.  The Cliffs are an absolute must see.  The jaw-dropping cliffs rise about 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.  The beauty here is unsurmounted and even though we were caught in wind and rain (which is pretty typical weather here) we couldn’t get enough of the scenery.  They do have a very nice visitor’s center with exhibits as well as a lovely gift shop selling high quality Irish made products.

 The epic Cliffs of Moher

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The next day we set out to explore Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.  We loved exploring the folk park, which has over 30 buildings exhibiting what Irish life was like in the last century.  There is a farm with animals, a blacksmith shop with a live demonstration, an estate house and lovely walled garden, and a 19th century street.  Living history at its finest!

We also visited Bunratty Castle which is one of the oldest and longest occupied castles in all of Ireland. 

Bunratty Castle

We loved checking out the interior as it is authentically restored with all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore.  One thing to note is that you can actually attend a medieval banquet right here in the castle!  Had we had more time we definitely would have done so.

Back to Dublin

Where we stayed

The InterContinental | 1 night | Dublin, Ireland

Our Irish vacation was coming to an end and we had to drive back to Dublin for our last night before our flight out the next morning.  We stayed at the Intercontinental as we wanted to splurge on a very relaxing stay before our long flight home.  On this last day, we opted to take advantage of this luxury hotel’s amenities.  We worked out in the gym, swam in the pool, and enjoyed a lovely meal and drinks in the hotel restaurant.  It was the perfect relaxing end to the trip before our trek back home the next day.

Ireland has so much to offer and is a very family friendly destination.  The people were wonderful, the scenery incredible, the sites so much fun to explore.  We only scratched the surface and can’t wait for a return visit to explore further.

Dietary Notes

As always, everyone’s needs are different.  At press time my husband is grain-free and two of our kids are allergic to nuts and eggs.  Although we encompass a fair amount of dietary restrictions, we can only offer advice as to what pertains to our own family, as that is where our expertise lies!

Having a car in Ireland meant relatively easy access to grocery stores and markets along the way.  We could always find fresh produce and meats, cheese, and snack items.

We were overall very impressed with how Ireland handles allergies as a whole.  Every restaurant we went to had a binder or at the very least a one-page paper listing all the allergens and/or ingredients.  We had to leave a small café in a very small town as they were not able to ensure safety regarding my kids’ nut allergy, however it was easy to find out.  We simply tried another restaurant, which ended up working for us.  The U.S. has a lot to learn from the transparency of Ireland’s approach to food allergies.

For more on traveling with dietary restrictions, be sure to check out our guide:  On the Go with Allergies.