Hop aboard a tea tour, search for minifigs in a famous library, and find the wild deer of Phoenix Park

Arguably one of the most kid-friendly destinations in the world, Ireland offers families a low-key vacation full of history, castles, music, and endless outdoor beauty. The odds are if you’re flying in on an international flight from North America, you’ll be landing in Dublin. While you may have plans to go further afield as you explore the Emerald Isle, don’t discount Dublin for tons of family fun that is surprisingly affordable. We’ve highlighted our favorite things to do with kids in Dublin, Ireland, including many free and cheap things to do. 

Amber Guetebier

1. Take a Vintage Tea Trip Around Dublin

A vintage double-decker bus that serves tea while you drive around seeing Dublin’s major cities? Yes, please! And in case you didn’t know, this isn’t just a cuppa: it’s a full tea with sandwiches, treats, scones, and more. They even have vegetarian and gluten-free options. Enjoy your sandwiches and treats along with tidbits of Irish history and local knowledge on an utterly charming alternative to a big tour bus. The restored vintage buses are decked out like Gran’s tea room in the best way possible. This is a great way to get some food in their bellies and get off their jetlagged feet while you get the lay of the land on your first day in Dublin. Spend a little more and get the VIP upstairs seats. While this tour is a little pricey, you do get a full Irish tea, a guided tour, and an unforgettable experience. 

Book in advance at: vintageteatrips.ie

Amber Guetebier

2. See The Book of Kells & Old Library at Trinity College

Located at Trinity College, the Book of Kells and Long Room Library is usually on every visitor’s must-see list. And for good reason: the 1200-year-old manuscript is a sight to behold, and the library itself is like a magical passage into another era. It is highly advisable that you make advance reservations for this exhibit. While adult tickets run around $20 USD per person, children have reduced admission, and kids five are free. 

If you have older kids, consider combining your visit to see the library and Book of Kells with a guided walking tour of the Trinity College campus to learn about famous alumni and see some of the hallowed halls. Family tickets include two adults and two children ages 13-17. Kids under 12 are free when accompanying an adult. The rate is €65/family, which is currently around $70 (subject to exchange rate). 

Learn more: visittrinity.ie/trinity-trails

Amber Guetebier

3. Discover the Secret of Marsh’s Library  

Whether you love books and libraries or you’re looking for a more affordable, less touristy alternative to the Long Room, don’t miss the spectacular Marsh’s Library. Established in the early eighteenth century, this magical gem is easy to miss from the street. But once you know, you know. Pass through an unobtrusive archway in a stone wall, and you’ll soon be immersed in room after room of gorgeously preserved library books. Admire the rotating displays of books from the collection and chat with the knowledgeable staff about the history of the library, which was established by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh in 1707. Kids will enjoy the scavenger hunt for a “book thief” in the guise of a LEGO minfigure. The hunt takes them around the library looking for cleverly hidden minifigs of famous Irish writers and scholars and other important figures associated with the library, including a mummy and Dracula author Bram Stoker.  Admission is affordable at just €5 for adults and €3 for students and seniors. Tickets can also be combined with admission to the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

Don’t miss the secret garden on your way out!

Visit: marshlibrary.ie

4. Stop By the LEGO Store Dublin

Speaking of LEGO minifigs, there’s a LEGO store in Dublin where you can customize a minifig all your own. The process doesn’t take long, and there are special Irish-themed choices exclusive to that store. A minifig including customizing will set you back around $15, but it’s an easy way to entertain the kids and let them make a souvenir they won’t forget. Be sure to pick up a passport you can have stamped on your way out! You can keep the passport and have it stamped at LEGO stores around the world.

The store is located in the heart of Dublin on Grafton Street, where you’ll likely find yourself at some point. This is a pedestrian-friendly shopping area where you’re sure to hear live music thanks to the wide variety of buskers. 

Learn more at: lego.com/en-ie/stores/store/dublin

Amber Guetebier

5. Dine in a Converted Church

There is no shortage of impressive churches in Ireland, where stone masonry is an art form. But an 18th-century church that has been converted into a gorgeous restaurant, one that features lively music and traditional Irish dancing, is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. About a five-minute walk from Grafton Street, The Church is a cafe, bar, and restaurant and also happens to be the wedding venue for Guinness forefather Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia Whitmore. Much of the original architecture is in place, including stained glass windows and a Renatus Harris-designed organ. Self-guided tours are available every day between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and music and dancing take place nearly every night between 6:30 and 7 p.m. You can make reservations, but the restaurant is huge so unless you have a very large group, you can walk in. Kids are welcome until 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, after which it becomes a 21 and up venue. Their website states that on Fridays and Saturdays kids are welcome until 5 p.m. 

Visit: thechurch.ie

6. Pop into a Pub 

Pubs in Ireland, particularly during daylight and afternoon hours, welcome children. In the Temple Bar district, pubs often have traditional music throughout the day (and well into the evening). Generally speaking, pubs allow children to be there before 9 p.m., though some may request children leave earlier. Temple Bar does have a reputation as the rowdy, drinking neighborhood for the twentysomethings, but it’s perfectly kid-friendly during earlier hours and can be a lot of fun. We loved the Auld Dubliner

Amber Guetebier

7. Take a Trek to the Dublin Zoo

Yes, it’s a zoo, and it may not be that different from the zoo in your hometown, but it’s also a zoo! And kids love zoos. One of the best parts about visiting a kid-centric spot like the Dublin Zoo is that the visiting crowds are full of locals, so you’re not only mingling with other tourists, but you’re also hanging out eating snacks by the meerkats with local Irish families. This zoo has wolves, tigers, and snow leopards among many other beautiful animals. 

Visit: dublinzoo.ie

Alex Lozupone via Wikimedia Creative Commons

8. Find the Deer in Phoenix Park 

Phoenix Park has a slogan: “Where Dublin goes to breathe” and it’s easy to see why when you see it. One of Europe’s largest enclosed parks, it’s home to the Dublin Zoo, Victorian Flower Gardens, a marvelous playground and so much more. When you leave the Dublin Zoo, head for a walk toward Phoenix Monument, a giant obelisk (you can’t miss it) and keep an eye out for the famous deer herd. 

The wild deer of Phoenix Park are a species of fallow deer, first introduced to Ireland in 1244 but brought to what is now Phoenix Park in 1662 to establish a Royal Deer Park for hunting. The deer are now protected with a population of approximately 600. Visitors should not feed the deer and should maintain a respectful distance of at least 50 meters (a little over 150 feet). 

Learn more at phoenixpark.ie

National Museum of Ireland

9. See the Bog Bodies at the National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland is actually four museums, three of which are located in Dublin: Natural History, Archeology, and Decorative Arts & History. (The fourth is Country Life, located in Castlebar, County Mayo). While they are all fabulous, kids will likely enjoy the flora and fauna at the Natural History Museum, and the impressive artifacts and preserved bog bodies at the Archelogy Museum. Admission is free, so it’s easy to wander in and out of each one without pressure to see everything. 

Visit: museum.ie/en-ie/home

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

10. Have an EPIC Experience at This Museum

Dublin has no shortage of museums and cultural sites, so it’s easy to spend a week just trying to see them all. However, a true stand-out is EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum. Full of interactive and fun exhibits, children and grown-ups alike will discover the lasting contributions and major impact on the world thanks to Irish emigrants. A visit here will help gain insight into the celebrated culture of Irish heritage around the world, and basically just why Ireland is so great! 

Visit: epichq.com

Dublin, Ireland with kids is an easy place to visit and a hard place to leave. These are just a few of the amazing things you can do with kids in the city of Dublin.

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