Compact Dublin is perfectly placed for young visitors—it’s easy to get around the city, and much of it doable on foot. Many of the kids’ attractions reflect the history of the city itself—such as its themed museums—so there’s a learning experience as well as a fun one. Dublin’s outdoor spaces are packed full of activities for the little ones.
Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in a European capital, covering a huge 1730 acres. It’s large for kids to walk around, but there cycle hire at the entrance of the park also has kids’ bikes, tandems and child seats with helmets. If it’s a sunny day, enjoy a picnic in the park.
It’s a thoroughly entertaining tour by land and water, on this ‘Duck’—a 7-ton amphibious tank from World War II. Costumed guides on the Viking Splash give an amusing history of the city, with a special focus on its Viking history—and yes, the kids get to wear Viking helmets. The splashdown into the River Liffey is always a thrill. Adults €22; child €12.
National Wax Museum Plus
Opened in 2009, the National Wax Museum Plus is part Irish history told through lifelike waxwork models, and part hands on science fun and themed attractions. Over its four floors, originally home to Ireland’s gold and arms store, you can see great Irish writers and hear quotes from their best works, discover the country’s best scientists, and venture into the vaults for animatronic models in the Chamber of Horrors.
It’s a fabulous day trip out to Powerscourt House, to see Ireland’s largest period doll house, with 22 rooms all furnished in superb miniature detail. The original Tara's Place was created in the early 1900s by master Irish craftsmen, and moved to England in 1978 and then to Denmark, when it was sold to foreign owners. It was rebuilt by master craftsmen, determined to recreate the glory of the original. It now takes pride of place in the Museum of Childhood.
The Dublin Zoo, a 28-acre site with fantastic creatures in their animal habitats, including the African Savanna, Gorilla Rainforest and Asian Forests. If getting up close to tigers and elephants is out of their reach, little visitors will love the Family Farm where they can meet the resident sheep, pigs, goats and chickens—even milk the dairy cow.
Head for a show at this purpose-build children’s cultural center, with regular performances, exhibitions and workshops. Weekdays, during term time, it’s often school groups only, but check out their program and book for top-class family-friendly shows, including literature festivals.
Dublinia is where Viking and Medieval history comes alive, right in the location where modern Dublin meets its old history. Children will enjoy the recreated ‘fairground’ and see the life of medieval toothache remedies. They can hop on board a Viking warship and try on Viking clothes, and get a feel of what it was like to be a galley slave.
St. Stephen's Green
Back in the glorious Georgian era, St. Stephen's Green was a popular spot for wealthy locals to push their prams. Now, the city’s bucolic space is loved for its huge duck pond, lazy willow trees and children’s playground. Look out for occasional summer performances in the Victorian bandstand.
Learn about food, farming and natural world at this 38-acre working farm, which was bequeathed by the Overend Family in 1974. Take a heritage tour to learn about the family, with photos, letters and toys. Don’t miss the garage with the two sisters’ vintage cars, including Letitia Overend’s 1927 Rolls Royce.
Natural History Museum
One of three national museums of Ireland, the National History Museum has a collection of two million exhibits of animals, hence its nickname of ‘the dead zoo’. Since opening in 1857 it’s been a favorite with kids, mainly for its stuffed or fossilized animals, plus they can handle taxidermy and bones. See the immense (giraffe) and tiny (insects) in a manageably sized venue.