Exploring Ireland With Family, From The Wild Atlantic Way To Dublin - My Family Travels

The winding road beckons and the scent of adventure hangs in the air as you explore Ireland with family. Taking generations to the Emerald Isle is sure to be an unforgettable experience, and the perfect chance to bond. 

Ready for a grand exploration of hidden gems through Ireland and Northern Ireland? Starting in Dublin, the journey takes you along an ancient route that meanders through picturesque small towns and iconic fishing villages. Then the dramatic cliffs of Sligo Bay provide breathtaking views over miles of white sandy beaches.

Buskers performing on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland.
Buskers performing on Grafton Street entertain visitors to Ireland with family. Photo c Nicky Omohundro

In this article, we’ll guide you on a remarkable adventure, weaving through the heart of Ireland’s culture, history, and landscapes. We’ll take you from the vibrant streets of Dublin to hidden gems like Carlingford and Enniskillen. We’ll explore the rich history of Armagh County and delve into the subterranean wonders of Fermanagh. And, of course, we’ll set our sights on the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, where the rugged coastline and dramatic cliffs will leave you in awe.

Multi-Generational Adventure: In Ireland With Family

Ireland is the perfect destination for multi-generational trips because it has something to offer everyone in the family. From grandparents to parents and children alike, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Grandparents can explore historic sites such as Dublin Castle or take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, while parents can take in stunning coastal scenery or bike through charming villages. Meanwhile, active children and teens will love kayaking past castles or problem solving in an escape room-like experience with no rules called Boda Borg.

There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from hiking and biking trails to pubs and restaurants serving up delicious traditional Irish cuisine. Ireland’s friendly people make your family feel right at home as you explore off-the-beaten path.

Get ready to be inspired by the beauty of the Irish landscape and discover what awaits you on your next trip. Our adventure begins in Dublin, where history, culture, and laughter await.

Start Your Ireland Family Trip With Dublin Delights

As we set off from Dublin on this incredible journey, you’ll quickly discover that the Irish capital is a delightful melting pot of history, culture, and good old-fashioned fun. The city pulses with life, and your children ages 12 and up will be captivated by the vibrant streets, small parks and lively atmosphere.

Trinity College

Bell tower of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
The campus of Trinity College Dublin is a must-see when in Ireland with family. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

A visit to Trinity College will transport them back in time as they gaze upon the ancient Book of Kells. You will be the first and last person in your century to see the particular page on display as staff carefully turns the page every few months. During my visit, I saw a page from the Book of Luke (cameras weren’t allowed).

Avid readers appreciate that Trinity College is that alma mater of Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and Bram Stoker. It’s impossible not to be inspired as you explore the grounds, where students have been coming to study since 1592.

The Long Room Library offers an impressive collection of books and artifacts. Wander spellbound under the library’s towering arched ceiling to see busts of famous authors. Old wooden furnishings add to the atmosphere of mystery and wonder.

Take a guided tour of the campus to hear stories of its history or stop and take in the atmosphere sitting on the common area lawns. You may even get the chance to watch a rugby match on College Park — a unique experience for visitors and students alike!

Guinness Storehouse Is A Memorable Irish Sight With Family

The Guinness Storehouse is a must-see for adults and kids will love it too. Discover how Guinness ale is made, learn about the history of this famous Irish beer and discover some quirky facts along the way. Kids are sure to take away lots of interesting information.

Visit Grafton Street To Shop And Dine With Kids

Flower stand outside shop on Grafton Street, Dublin.
Flower stand outside shop on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

Grafton Street is the perfect place for families to explore Dublin’s vibrant city center. From street performers, to shopping, to ice cream stands, there’s something for everyone on Grafton Street.

Kids can get up close to the lively street performers, take a break and enjoy a sweet treat. Adults discover unique items that they won’t be able to get anywhere else. Grafton Street offers an amazing atmosphere where you can spend time as a family. Grafton Street is also a great place to visit and distract yourself from jet lag. For more ideas, see this what to do in Dublin Ireland your first day.

And what’s an adventure without good food? Dublin’s eateries cater to all generations. From traditional Irish pubs serving hearty stews to trendy cafes with global flavors, there’s something for every palate in this area.

The Road to Northern Ireland With Family

The ancient Book of Kells on display at Trinity College Dublin.
See the ancient Book of Kells on display at Trinity College Dublin. Photo c Nicky Omohundro

Leave the vibrant streets of Dublin behind and hit the open road. Venture into the heart of a country where history, culture, and natural beauty blend seamlessly. The journey from Dublin to Northern Ireland is not just about miles covered but the stories you’ll gather along the way.

Dublin to Carlingford: A Scenic Drive

Leaving Dublin, you family heads through the tunnel under the city and north towards Carlingford, a hidden gem nestled on the Cooley Peninsula. The drive itself is a scenic adventure, with lush landscapes and winding roads that make you appreciate the beauty of the Emerald Isle.

The journey from Dublin to Carlingford is full of  experiences to share along the way. Conversations flow naturally, landscapes inspire awe and everyone anticipates what lies ahead. This is the essence of multi-generational travel, and you’re just getting started.

Note about border crossings: The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is difficult to see as there is no physical designation or border checkpoints. Once you cross over, you’ll just notice the road signs switch from kilometers to miles and vice versa.

Carlingford: Medieval Charm

Cycling the Carlingford Greenway Trail in Ireland with famliy.
Cycling the Carlingford Greenway Trail in Ireland with famliy. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

As you arrive in Carlingford, the family will be greeted by medieval charm. This town seems to have emerged from the pages of a storybook. The winding streets where history and myth come alive are perfect for leisurely strolls.

Hike And Bike To Appreciate Ireland With Family

For the more adventurous members of the family, consider tackling the Tain Way. The hiking trail winds through Carlingford and offers spectacular views of the Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough. Your teenagers, in particular, might love the sense of exploration and achievement as they conquer the trail.

For something less strenuous, rent e-bikes from Carlingford Greenway Bike Hire (30€ for 4 hours) and pedal along the Carlingford Greenwat trail to or from O’meath along the lough. This is a perfect activity for all ages, as it’s flat and full of natural beauty.

If the family would prefer to stay in town, there are plenty of attractions to keep everyone entertained. Start the day with a visit to King John’s Castle (admission is free) and learn about the history of Carlingford while taking in panoramic views of the town.

Afterwards, enjoy lunch at one of the town’s many restaurants or pubs. PJ O’Hare’s is a classic pub serving fresh seafood and traditional Irish fare.

Slieve Guillon – Mountain of the Dead

The perfect view of the moors and fields of the Emerald Isle from Slieve Guillion in Ireland
Share the perfect view of the Emerald Isle from Slieve Guillion in Ireland with your family. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

Just outside Carlingford is Slieve Guillion, a flattop mountain in the Ring of Guillon. At 573 meters above sea level, it is the highest point in the county and from the peak, hikers can enjoy stunning views of Carlingford Lough, the Mourne Mountains and Cooley Peninsula.

Hikers can also see a passage through a tomb that dates back to 3000 BC. It’s an interesting stop for history and archaeology buffs. It is similar to Newgraves Passage Tomb, but reservations aren’t required and it’s free to hike.

Slieve Gullion holds the legendary origins of the heroic figure Cú Chulainn, also known as Cuhullin, who earned his name and spent his childhood as Sétanta in this very place. According to myth, the mountain draws its name from Culann, a skilled metalsmith. Culann graciously invites Conchobhar mac Neasa, the noble king of Ulster, to a splendid feast at his humble abode nestled amidst the majestic slopes of Slieve Gullion.

Top Off Your Ireland With Family Trip With A Castle Estate Stay Experience

Stay with your family in Ireland at Killheavy Castle Estate.
Stay with your family in Ireland at the new boutique hotel at Killheavy Castle. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

After a full day of outdoor activities, you’ll arrive at nearby Killheavy Castle Estate. This private estate is home to the Killheavy Castle and new boutique hotel located amidst the beautiful Irish countryside. The family-run business offers unique self-catering stays and a warm welcome for each and every guest.

The on-site spa and thermal suite provide a luxurious retreat and the perfect way to recover from a day full of adventure. Guests can also explore the grounds with landscaped gardens and an enchanting woodland garden walk. Enjoy a meal in the castle’s atmospheric restaurant before turning in for the night.

If you’re looking for a memorable stay full of charm and character, Killheavy Castle Estate is perfect for any special occasion. The estate team have tailored packages to suit each individual needs so your break away can be as unique as you are.

County Fermanagh – Lakes, Caves, and Green Spaces

Lesser-known treasures often don’t make it onto the usual Ireland with kids tourist itineraries. Yet, County Fermanagh is the perfect destination. From lakeside strolls to hidden caves, there’s plenty of adventure and exploration to be found in this rural part of Northern Ireland.

Todd’s Leap Activity Centre

Try the Lough Key canopy walk with family members in Lough Key Forest, Ireland.
Tour natural Ireland with family on the Lough Key canopy walk and climb the 30+ foot observation tower. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro.

Todd’s Leap Activity Centre is a great spot for multi-generational families to visit. This family-friendly destination offers lots of fun activities like ziplining, off-road driving, and safari rides to get the adrenaline pumping. The centre also offers lunch packages for groups so everyone can refuel before tackling more adventures.

For those looking for something a little different, there are archery and airsoft games as well as paintballing available. With so many activities on offer, Todd’s Leap Activity Centre can be a great reward for children and young adults to look forward to after a few days of sightseeing.

Enniskillen – Island Magic

Enniskillen, situated between the Upper and Lower Lough Erne, is a haven for nature-loving families. The surrounding lakes create a unique and peaceful atmosphere that’s perfect for a tranquil family escape. Boat rides offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside, while visitors can take a guided tour to the local castle or explore Enniskillen’s vibrant cultural scene.

Devenish Island Kayak Experience

Devenish Island ruins in Ireland - Photo Credit Nicky Omohundro
Explore Ireland’s Devenish Island ruins and let your family discover their history. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

For a unique experience, book a kayaking experience with Blue Green Yonder and paddle out to Devenish Island, located in the middle of Lower Lough Erne. The island is home to a medieval monastic settlement founded by St Molaise and now contains interpretive plaques, ruins, and graveyard. After a picturesque paddle to this historic site, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the lake and countryside.

Blue Green Yonder also offer a range of other activities as well such as bike hire, fishing trips, and boat excursions. So whatever your interests, there’s something to suit everyone.

Lakeside Resort Stay

When touring Ireland with family, enjoy a stay at Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges. Located on the banks of Lower Lough Erne, it offers a range of activities and facilities. Enjoy a swim in the indoor pool, take advantage of the watersport center, relax in one of the spa treatments rooms or try your luck at fishing for pike. Kids will love playing in the children’s play area and taking part in organized kids’ activities.

Marble Arch Caves

Limestone formations in the Marble Arch Cave, Ireland.
Discover limestone formations in the Marble Arch Cave near Florencecourt. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

The Marble Arch Caves are an underground limestone cave network located near the village of Florencecourt. As one of Europe’s finest showcaves, these caves offer an incredible opportunity to explore a subterranean river system as well as a boat ride to the entrance.

Guided tours of this cave system run all year round, so it’s the perfect activity whether you’re looking to explore the area or just getting some fresh air. You can also join a guided tour of the arch caves and learn from knowledgeable guides about the history of this fascinating area, discovering the unique flora and fauna as well as plenty of interesting facts.

Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture those special moments along the way. The amazing views from the caves are some of the best in Europe, so you’ll want to make sure you take plenty of pictures. Whether you’re a photographer looking for a unique experience or just an avid explorer, these caves will not disappoint!

The Wild Atlantic Way Unveiled

Finally, we continue west and reach the crescendo of this adventure – the Wild Atlantic Way. This breathtaking coastal route is not just a place; it’s an experience that will bond generations even further.

Whether you’re gazing at the cliffs, hiking along the rugged coastline, or simply enjoying the endless sea views, the Wild Atlantic Way offers something for everyone. Kids aged 12 and up will love the outdoor adventures, from birdwatching to water-based fun. Grandparents can appreciate the raw beauty of the landscape and share stories of their own travels.

This journey, through Dublin, Carlingford, Enniskillen, Armagh County, Fermanagh, and the Wild Atlantic Way, is a testament to the magic of multi-generational travel. And while the scenery is stunning, don’t forget to explore the culture and history too; from ancient castles to majestic cathedrals, charming villages and vibrant cities – there’s something for everyone! So join us as we discover all that this remarkable adventure hasl

Strandhill Beach

The rocky coast of Strandhill Beach in Ireland.
Families of all ages can stroll, swim and surf on Strandhill Beach. Photo c Nicky Omohundro

Strandhill Beach is great for multi-generational groups on an Ireland with family trip. Its long strip of sand provides plenty of space to spread out and relax, with stunning views across the Atlantic Ocean. Kids can build sandcastles and even take a surfing lesson if they’re brave enough. Grandparents can enjoy a stroll along the shore or take in a long soak in a seaweed bath.

Surf Destination in Ireland

Strandhill Beach is a great destination for surfers in Ireland. Discover waves crashing against the shoreline, and plenty of options for different levels and styles of surfing. Even beginners can find surf schools like Sligo Surf Experience operated by Seamus McGoldrick which is voted the best school in the area.  Experienced surfers also can find plenty of great spots to take on the waves.

There is also a new National Surf Centre that offers changing areas and an area information center. The beach is stunning in its own right, with the cliffs adding to the picturesque view. Strandhill offers plenty of amenities for families and visitors, including cafes, restaurants and pubs. Shells Café & Little Shop is a great spot for lunch or dinner after a day of surfing.

Pamper Your Ireland Family With A Seaweed Bath

Enjoy a soak in a Voya Seaweed bath tub with gorgeus views outside in Ireland with family
A detoxifying soak in the Voya Seaweed baths is a treat for the entire family in Ireland. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

If you prefer to pamper yourself, schedule a soak at Voya Seaweed Baths. Here, enjoy a unique experience of relaxation and detoxification with wild harvested seaweed from the Atlantic waters.

Book a room and enjoy a sauna and soak at the spa. The rooms are perfect for couples or individuals.

In Ireland With Family? Pause In Sligo

Four people in wet suits walk to the surf of Sligo carrying surfboards.
Sligo is known for its many surf schools and a lesson guarantees lasting memories. Photo c. Nicky Omohudro

With its picturesque architecture, ruins of the 12th century Abbey of Drumcliff, diverse shopping options, and tasty restaurants, there’s something for everyone. Learn about the history of William Butler Yeats through a journey to his birthplace at Coleman’s Rock and take in the stunning views.

Spend time exploring the streets and shops around Sligo Town. A centrally located hotel is The GlassHouse Sligo, offering modern rooms with views of the city and the river.

No matter what your preference, you’ll be sure to find lodging to suit. From romantic getaways nestled in nature at hotels like Strandhill Lodge & Suites to the bustling vibrancy of Glasshouse Sligo, there are plenty of accommodation choices that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to explore.

Ireland’s Forest Paths and Problem Solving

Today we start the trek back towards Dublin and the airport. About 45 minutes east from Sligo is Lough Key Forest Park, where you can find some of the best forest walks in Ireland. Enjoy a lazy stroll along woodland trails and across open meadows.

Rowboats docked on Lough Key Lake outside the adventure center in Ireland.
Rowboats docked on Lough Key Lake outside the adventure center in Ireland. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

Lough Key Forest Park

The 350-hectare Lough Key Forest Park sits on the grounds of the former Rockingham Estate and offers a unique blend of natural and man-made features. Take in stunning views, explore the 800-year-old castle ruins, admire beautiful lakefront scenery, wander through ancient forests and solve problem solving activities along the way.

The adventure playground offers zip-lining, a tree-top walkway, underground tunnels, and a 9-meter-high observation tower. The lake offers boat rentals and relaxing views for a peaceful moment during your travels.

Boda Borg

A great indoor, rainy day activity here is Boda Borg, a problem solving experience and team building activity. Take your time and get creative with problem solving as you traverse the spectacularly crafted Boda Borg mazes. Here you’ll need to work together with family and friends to advance through a series of puzzles — physical and mental — with a group of three to five people. It’s more than just fun!

Stay In Malahide And Learn How Affluent Dubliners Live

Malahide is a coastal village located just north of Dublin and makes for a great stopover before you head to the airport. As one of Dublin’s most affluent suburbs, Malahide is an ideal spot to explore and experience some local culture.

Not only are there some beautiful beaches here, but also many historic sites including Malahide Castle and Talbot Botanic Gardens. The area is full of pubs, restaurants and cafes, so you can enjoy the nightlife while savoring some traditional Irish fare.

For a peaceful place to stay, the stunning Grand Hotel Malahide is a great option. The hotel overlooks the marina and sea and is perfectly situated for you to explore the area while still being close enough to Dublin City Centre.

The classic stone architecture of Sligo is typical of Ireland's towns.
The classic stone architecture of Sligo is typical of Ireland’s towns. Photo c. Nicky Omohundro

A Journey of a Lifetime

As your adventure through Ireland and Northern Ireland comes to a close, you’ll realize that this journey has been about much more than just sightseeing. It’s about the laughter, the shared experiences, the bonds forged between grandparents, parents, and children.

Multi-generational travel is a unique opportunity to bridge generations, learn from one another, and create a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime. It’s about appreciating the diverse interests and passions of each family member. Celebrate the beauty of exploration as a collective endeavor.

So, whether you’re standing at the edge of Strandhill Beach, gazing in awe at the wonder of nature, or simply sharing stories and smiles over a meal in Dublin, remember that you’re not just on a journey through Ireland and Northern Ireland.

You’re on a journey through time, creating moments that transcend generations.

Acknowledgment: Thank you to Tourism Ireland for inviting us on this grand journey through the island of Ireland! Accommodations and travel were provided for editorial purposes. All opinions are our own.

Nicky Omohundro is the editor of LittleFamilyAdventure.com, an online resource for families who are passionate about exploring the world. She and her family live in Oklahoma and love to take as many adventures as possible.

Nicky’s goal is to show her children that the world is filled with beauty, wonder, and joy and that everyday life should be celebrated, explored, and cherished. She also hopes to inspire others to explore the world around them through her stories and photos.

Find her on Instagram at @lilfamadventure or Facebook.

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