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Things to Do with Kids in Dublin

Updated: January 21, 2024

Dublin is a fantastic family-friendly city to visit with your whole group!

This post contains our top 10 list of things to do with your kids, as well as sections on free activities, nighttime suggestions, dining options, and museums and attractions to visit.

Our tour guides are always being asked about the best places to visit with a family, and we've used a lot of their recommendations below.

We've also included some seasonally appropriate activities in honor of the holidays that are fast approaching!


TOP 15

Here is our list of the best tours, museums, activities, and things to do with the whole family while you're in Dublin!


(1) Visit a Christmas Market

There are several excellent Christmas markets to visit in Dublin during the 2024 holiday season. Each one has a variety of market stalls selling either unique hand-crafted gifts or festive food and drinks.

Here are a few of the best locations:

  • Howth Castle
  • Dublin Castle
  • Swords Castle
  • Bremore Castle
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Rathfarnham Castle

As you can see, most of the best spots for holiday markets are actually in the shadow of historic castles, which means you can do some sightseeing while participating in a fun and festive activity!


(2) Go Ice Skating

This is one of the best winter activities for families, as there are typically quite a few ice rinks popping up all over the city between the months of November and February.

Here are some of our favorite spots to go ice skating in Dublin:

Some of these rinks are close to holiday markets, allowing you to enjoy both activities at the same time!


(3) See the Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo

As with many major cities around the world, the zoo in Dublin hosts a special event every holiday season featuring a variety of excellent lighting displays.

The Dublin Zoo's Wild Lights show actually includes a theme every year, and last year the theme was "The Enchanted Zoo."

Last Year, this event was on November 16th, and ran until at least the first week of January.

Tickets start at €24.50 for adults or €20 for kids, and must be purchased separately from daytime admission to the Dublin Zoo.


(4) Take the Kids to a Christmas Panto

What exactly is a "panto," you ask?

Well, it's shorthand for "pantomime," and it's a reference to a type of theatrical performance that is popular with kids in Dublin.

Several shows lined up for Christmas last year, including the following examples. Dates for 2024 will be announced in upcoming months.

Even though many of these shows are not holiday-themed, they're still excellent activities for young kids, and who doesn't enjoy classic tales such as Snow White and Cinderella?


(5) Attend the Dublin New Year's Festival

Taking place in 3 different locations across 4 days, this New Year's Eve festival is actually aimed at families, featuring a variety of great musical performances and other fun things to see or do.

2024 dates will be announced in upcoming months. Last year, you found the New Year's Eve Festival at the following attractions.

  • National Museum of Ireland
    • December 29th - 31st
  • Dublin Castle
    • December 30th - January 1st
  • Meeting House Square
    • January 1st

Aside from the live performances, you'll also find market stalls offering a variety of festive food and drinks.

Learn more about the Dublin New Year's Festival.


(6) Sightseeing Tours

From the ever-popular Big Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off tours to fun boat tours down Dublin’s main river, there are plenty of tours for you and the kids to enjoy!

This Viking Splash Tour in an amphibious vehicle is especially entertaining.

We also have some great self-guided tours you can complete any time of day or night.

If you’re looking for something a little different, or to see the President of Ireland’s residence, take a free guided tour of the historic buildings in Phoenix Park.  


(7) See the Natural History Museum

Most kids are fascinated by all of the taxidermy animals - several hundred of them are displayed throughout the museum, earning it the nickname, “The Dead Zoo.”

Kids can learn what each species looks like. There’s even a towering giraffe.

Dublin has a lot of other great family-friendly museums and attractions, like the Famine Ship and Imaginosity.

Check out our list of the best kid-friendly museums in Dublin below.


(8) Experience Music and Theatre

The Ark is a children’s theatre complex with an exhibition space.

It was built as a place to safely explore the imagination through theatre and culture for kids ages 2 - 12.

There are workshops for dance, acting, and more. Check out their events page to see what exhibitions, plays, and workshops might be on!

The National Concert Hall is another great place for kids to explore the arts.

They offer 30-minute mini-workshops on weekends for kids between 3 and 8 years old. If you have a budding musician, they will love it!


(9) Sporting Events

Dublin is home to many entertaining sports, the two major ones being football and rugby.

Matches are the perfect family entertainment! If you’re in town at the right time, why not grab some tickets?

Football (Soccer)

Rugby


(10) Restaurants & Food

There are a lot of lovely restaurants in Dublin that feature kids' menus, high chairs on offer, and coloring books for the little ones who need to be entertained.

One such restaurant is Eddie Rocket’s, which is an Irish chain and has multiple locations across Dublin.

They make excellent burgers and mouthwatering milkshakes.

If you’re looking for more dining options, we have an entire section of restaurants and food experiences below!


(11) Explore the Free Parks

One of the most popular playgrounds within Dublin is St. Stephens Green. There are usually multiple other families enjoying the playground with a wide variety of equipment.

The kids can swing, climb, hang from monkey bars, slide, and explore throughout the park.

The rest of the park has plenty of open space for picnics and paths for walking or running.

Dublin has a multitude of parks - find more of them in our list of free things to do.


(12) Take a Ride on the Ghostbus

Dublin's Ghostbus Tours are popular with visitors of all ages - especially those who enjoy hearing about the spookier side of the city's history.

This specially-renovated bus is full of a ghostly atmosphere.

You'll have your own personal guide and storyteller showing you where well-known myths and legends started.

If you're interested in spooky stories and learning about things like how Bram Stoker actually invented Dracula, this is the tour for you!

It is suitable for older children who can handle some theatrical scary stories and props such as fake blood.

We feature more fun things to do at night in the section below! 


(13) Dublinia

This museum recreates the medieval world of the Vikings!

Kids will have a blast learning about the history of this famous group of warriors.

There is a fun medieval tower to climb, from which you can see modern Dublin.

In Dublinia, you can see what life was like on a Viking warship.

There are Viking clothes to try on and Viking houses to explore as well. Find more fun attractions in the museums section of this post


(14) Chocolate Warehouse

Who doesn’t love chocolate? At the Chocolate Warehouse, you can see how chocolate is made.

Kids will love the 2-hour chocolate workshop, which includes the history of chocolate and watching a demonstration of making chocolate and Easter eggs.

At the end of the experience, visitors can don their own aprons and try their hand at decorating and packaging up some chocolate to take with them as souvenirs.

If you can manage to not eat it right away!

If you're looking for more food-related activities, check out the dining options section of this post. 


(15) Use a Tourist Pass

Looking to see as much as possible while keeping the whole family on a budget? Utilizing a tourist pass, such as the Dublin Pass, is one of the best ways to do that.

For one price, you'll get entry into many of the most popular attractions and activities, as well as transportation with the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus!

And if there is something not on the pass you want to see, discounts are usually offered.

The Dublin Pass includes:

  • Dublin Castle
  • Dublin Zoo
  • Breweries and Distilleries
  • Irish Rock and Roll Museum
  • The Irish Emigration Museum
  • Jeanie Johnston Ship

FREE THINGS TO DO

Have fun while staying under budget!

Here is our list of parks, attractions, and activities you can see and do with the kids for free.


Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle is absolutely free to wander around the main areas and public exhibits!

And there’s plenty to see, from fully-furnished staterooms to architecture and artwork.

If you’d like to see inside some of the state apartments and the chapel, you’ll need to purchase a guided tour ticket.

Note: The ticketed sections of Dublin Castle are on multiple tourist passes


Dollymount Strand Beach

Dublin’s coast is beautiful! And has plenty of space for running and exploring.

There are sand dunes and a pier if you can manage to get away from the water for a bit.

On warmer days you’ll find locals and visitors sunbathing or participating in water sports or a game of football on the beach.

The whole family can enjoy exploring the dunes and digging their toes in the sand!


Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park is a massive urban park only a few miles from the city centre.

It was originally kept as royal hunting grounds but has been open to the public since the mid-1700s.

Both the trails and the grassy open spaces are perfect for running around.

And if you’re lucky, you might see some of the very large deer that still live in the park.


Merrion Square Park

This garden square was designed in Georgian times, with lovely tree-covered paths and natural features - like large rocks - to climb on.

This square is popular with local children and adults. On one end, you can find the interesting remains of an air raid shelter.


National Botanic Gardens

The National Botanic Gardens are well known for its beautiful glass greenhouses and a wide variety of plant life.

Kids can play in open green spaces and marvel at the temperature differences from inside and outside the beautiful greenhouses.  


St. Stephen’s Green Park

If you’re looking for some space to run and play or just relax, St. Stephen’s Green is perfectly situated in the middle of the city centre.

The playground is very popular with both local and visiting families. It is large and fenced-in with plenty of equipment to climb, swing, slide, and play on.


NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES

You don't need to send the kids to bed immediately after dinner. Why not explore Dublin a bit more?

Here is our list of places to explore and tours to take after dark in the city.


Take a Ghost Walking Tour

This fun, 90-minute haunted walking tour will get a bit spooky! Learn about Dublin’s darker past and hear ghost stories.

Your entertaining guide will keep things from getting too scary with plenty of jokes along the way.


Ha’Penny Bridge

The Ha’penny Bridge was built in 1816 to replace using ferries to cross the river. It originally cost a half penny to cross, hence the nickname!

The owner of the bridge made enough money on this bridge to stop his own ferry service. Visit at night for some pretty views of the city.


Dublin Castle

What is better than a beautiful castle? Dublin Castle really shines at night, literally and figuratively!

The lighting gives it a mysterious air. Kids can still run around the grounds during the evenings.

Note: The ticketed sections of Dublin Castle are on multiple tourist passes, but this is only available before 5:00 p.m. 


Audio Tours

What do you do if you want to take a tour after all the tour guides have gone home? Or if your little ones just can’t keep up with a full tour?

Free audio tours, like these from GPSMyCity, are the perfect way to walk around Dublin on your own time.

And night - with fewer crowds - is a perfect time.


Grafton Street

Grafton Street is one of the main shopping streets in the city. It sits between College Green and St. Stephen’s Green and is packed with shops and people.

Bring the kids along so you can do some shopping and they can be entertained by street performers!

You could potentially find singers, musicians, and optical illusion human sculptures.


Seasonal Activities in Dublin

Apart from the activities listed above, Dublin offers a variety of seasonal events that you shouldn't miss:

  • St. Stephen's Day Celebrations: Special parades and shopping events happen on December 26th.
  • Dublin Chinese New Year: A colorful event with family-friendly activities and workshops.
  • Christmas Swim at Forty Foot: A chilly but invigorating tradition.
  • Winter Solstice Festival: Offers storytelling and an ancient vibe, fitting the holiday season.
  • Dublin New Year’s Day Concert: Enjoy live music to kick off the new year.

RESTAURANTS AND FOOD

Looking for family-friendly dining options?

Here is our list of eating establishments and experiences that will offer great food as well as fun entertainment.


Brother Hubbard North

Perfect for bringing the little ones along, Brother Hubbard North is open for every meal of the day, every day of the week.

They have delicious coffee and food, plenty of space, and offer kids menus and high chairs.


Rascals

Rascals Brewing is a fun restaurant that has good beer, fantastic pizza, and a kids’ play area!

The play area allows kids to play games and color. What more could you want in a restaurant in Dublin?  


Fallon & Byrne Rathmines

This restaurant is a cute self-serve cafeteria-style dining room. It is full of natural light!

They offer half-portions for the children, high chairs are available, and the staff are very helpful for families with small children. If the weather is nice, why not sit on the terrace?


Fish Shack

Is it possible to go to Ireland and not have fish? The Fish Shack has fresh seafood on the adult and kids’ menus.

They even have supplies for the children to color while they eat!

They serve lunch and dinner and are located close to the Malahide Castle.


Afternoon Tea on a Double Decker Bus

Looking for a fun afternoon tea? Look no further than this vintage double-decker bus tour! It is suitable for guests aged 6 and up.

There is seating on both levels and a live, English-speaking guide.

You can choose traditional, gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian tea.   


Grand Canal Dinner Cruise

Glide down the Grand Canal while eating dinner on a small cruise boat!

The tour lasts for two hours and they serve a 3-course dinner. It can get a bit busy, so make sure you book in advance.


Take a Food Tour

If you want to taste a wide variety of Irish food in Dublin, a walking food tour is a great option!

This is perfect for kids who'd rather not sit still for a tour or longer meal, and they can expand their palates!

Or just grab their favorites over and over again.


MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS

There are so many museums in Dublin and so little time.

So where should you take the kids? Here is a list of history museums, art galleries, and other fun attractions for the whole family.


Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship

This authentic replica of the Jeanie Johnston ship that made 16 journeys to North America during the great famine will allow you to see what it was like for the Irish people who were fleeing the country at that time.

Note: This attraction is on multiple tourist passes


Dublin Zoo

Love animals? Take a trip out to the Dublin Zoo!

The Zoo has multiple habitats for mammals, birds, reptiles, and other groups.

Kids will love seeing the animals interacting with their habitats and special enrichment toys!

Note: This attraction is on multiple tourist passes.


Rainforest Adventure Golf

The whole family can enjoy Rainforest Adventure Golf!

It is a bit of a trek south from the Dublin city centre, but they have Amazon-themed mini-golf courses as well as arcade games.

There’s also a cafe for pizza and chicken and beer for the adults.


Malahide Castle

The Malahide Castle is nine miles north of Dublin’s city centre, but a great place for a fun and educational day trip.

Learn about medieval castle life, enjoy the parks and Butterfly House, and walk down the interactive Fairy Trail.

Note: This attraction is on multiple tourist passes.


Imaginosity

Dublin Children’s Museum, Imaginosity, is the perfect place to introduce children to art, theatre, and the world around them.

There are exhibits for the youngest of visitors up through school-aged children.

Everything is interactive - so much so that they suggest purchasing your timed entry ticket in advance.


National Concert Hall

Introduce your children to music early with these year-round weekend mini-workshops at the National Concert Hall.

Kids between 3 months and 8 years can participate in a 30-minute music session to learn about instruments, rhythm, and singing.


St Patrick’s Cathedral

If you want to purchase a ticket to see all there is to see of St Patrick’s Cathedral, the good news is that kids get in for free at all times.

Adults only get free entrance during worship times and if you participate in the worship service.


Natural History Museum

This fascinating museum is also nicknamed “The Dead Zoo” for its hundreds of taxidermy animals on display.

Kids will have fun finding species they know and learning about new ones.

Note: This attraction is on multiple tourist passes.


Family-Friendly Hotels in Dublin

If you’re visiting Dublin with your family, you'll want a comfy place to stay.

Areas such as Ballsbridge, Rathmines, and Ranelagh are often cited as family-friendly and safe neighborhoods in other sources.

These areas are well-lit, populated, and close to family-friendly activities and amenities.

Here are some family-friendly hotels you might consider:


The Westin Dublin

Located in the center of the city, this hotel offers convenience.

You can walk to major attractions like the Dublin Castle and the Dublin Zoo.

The rooms are spacious enough to accommodate a family comfortably.

There's also a kids' menu in their dining options, so little ones can eat what they like.


Clontarf Castle Hotel

Your family will feel like royalty in this unique setting. The hotel combines historic elegance with modern comfort.

They offer suites that are perfect for families, ensuring you have plenty of space.

Special activities, such as treasure hunts, can be organized to keep the kids entertained.


The Shelbourne

This hotel offers a mix of old-world charm and modern amenities.

Its central location means you're close to shopping, dining, and attractions.

Family rooms have all the conveniences needed for a pleasant stay.

Babysitting services are also available if the adults want an evening out.


The Gibson Hotel

Being close to the city center provides easy access to a range of family-friendly activities.

Public transport is nearby so that you can explore even more.

The hotel's family rooms are designed for comfort and ease.

On-site parking is also available, adding an extra layer of convenience for those with cars.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: January 21st, 2024
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