21 amazing things to do in Dublin with kids

21 amazing things to do in Dublin with kids

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I was really surprised at the amount of amazing things to do in Dublin with kids! And not only that, lots of them are free!

Despite it being a popular destination for drinking, it’s so much more than that and completely family-friendly with traditional pubs welcoming kids.

Dublin was everything I imagined and more with some of the friendliest people we’ve ever come across.

We completely fell in love with the traditional live Irish music being played in pubs, restaurants and streets all over the city.

It’s not all about pubs and Irish music though, there’s endless museums, historical buildings, shopping and parks to explore.

Below, we share our top 21 things to do in Dublin with kids, many of which are completely free. And if we’ve managed to encourage you to visit Dublin, keep reading for our recommendations on where to stay and how to save money in Dublin.

21 amazing things to do in Dublin with kids...

1. O’Connell Street

O’Connell Street is Dublin’s main thoroughfare and crammed full of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Right in the middle, you’ll find the General Post Office (GPO), one of Ireland’s most famous buildings. Inside is an award-winning museum focusing on the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish War of Independence and aftermath.

You’ll also be able to easily spot the Spire of Dublin, a 120-metre tall stainless steel pin-like monument that replaced the former Nelson’s pillar that was blown up by republican activists in 1966.

O’Connell Street is also home to some of the city’s most prominent monuments.

O’Connell Street – Free

GPO Museum – Adult €14, Family £37

Click here for up to date admission prices

2. River Liffey boardwalk

We were lucky enough to be in Dublin for New Year and watch the spectacular ‘Liffey Lights Midnight Moment’ – a magical display of fireworks, beams and lasers on the River Liffey.

Whatever the season, day or night, a stroll along the River Liffey boardwalk is a must.

Look out for the sculpture of a sailor pulling a rope out of the river. The girls enjoyed trying to give him a hand but didn’t get very far.

Cost – free

3. Ha’penny Bridge

Although we’ve seen more impressive bridges, this cast-iron pedestrian bridge is still worth a wander over. Perhaps more interesting is its story, having been constructed to replace ferries previously used to cross the River Liffey. The bridge was named after the ha’penny toll that was charged to anyone crossing it.

Cost – free

4. The Temple Bar Pub Dublin

This is what I was most excited about and gave me the real Irish experience. This is the one thing you have to do in Dublin… yes, even with kids!

The Temple Bar is probably Dublin’s most popular and famous bar, offering live traditional Irish music every day. I’d heard about the Temple Bar and wondered whether it would live up to its expectations.

Well, it certainly did and the slightly pricey pint of Guinness is worth every penny!

We found ourselves wanting to go back there every day to absorb more of the amazing atmosphere and brilliant live music.

The other great thing is that kids are allowed in until 9pm. Maybe you wouldn’t consider this as one of the top things to do in Dublin with kids but our girls loved the music and were dancing away.

However, bear in mind that this pub is always busy and it’s difficult to find a seat. Our tip would be to go before the music starts at 12pm and use the double door entrance on Parliament Row side. There is a little foyer down this entrance where you can safely leave buggies too.

Pint of Guinness – €6.90

5. The Cobblestone Pub

If you really want to experience traditional Irish music, then you MUST visit the Cobblestone Pub in Dublin’s oldest neighbourhood, Smithfield.

In this typically ‘local’ pub, the Mulligan family have been playing traditional Irish music for five generations. They sit drinking beer in the corner of the pub like any other group of friends and then all of sudden, spontaneously burst into music.

We got there about 3pm and found seats right next to them which was great. Freya enjoyed asking about their instruments which included the traditional Irish bagpipes (Uilleann), flute, concertina, banjo and more.

Pint of Guinness – €5

Things in Dublin with kids - Cobblestone Pub

6. Trinity College and the Book of Kells

Ireland’s oldest surviving university, Trinity College is located right in the centre of Dublin city. The grounds are free to wander around and the impressive buildings are worth having a look at.

But perhaps the main reason for tourists to head to the Trinity College is the beautiful Old Library, which houses the Book of Kells.

It’s a misbelief that Harry Potter was filmed in the Long Room of the Old Library here, but it certainly comes very close to resembling the Hogwarts Library. Vaulted ceilings with oak panelled walls and thousands upon thousands of books.

One of those books includes the famous Book of Kells, a 9th century manuscript containing the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ.

We chose not to visit the Old Library during our visit because the Book of Kells was not on public display due to ongoing conservation plans. In hindsight, I wish we’d have gone just to experience the magnificent Long Room but you can’t do everything!

Trinity College grounds – free

The Book of Kells Exhibition & Old Library – €11-14

Click here for up to date admission prices


7. Merrion Square

Make sure you visit this beautiful Georgian square when you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

The main part of the square is dominated by the immaculate gardens and park. The other part is a great playground to treat the kids to after all of that sightseeing.

Take a walk around the outside of Merrion Square to see the impressive Georgian houses. Many of which are houses previously owned by the rich and famous including Oscar Wilde, whose statue lies on a rock in the Merrion Square.

Cost – free

8. National Gallery of Ireland

Whilst 3 sides of Merrion Square are lined with Georgian townhouses, the fourth side is home to the National Gallery of Ireland, Leinster House and the Natural History Museum (National Museum of Ireland).

Although art exhibitions are not normally our thing, this beautiful, big building invited us in for a quick wander around. If art is your thing, I’m sure you could spend days here and if you have kids, Sunday is the day to go with drop-in workshops and tours especially for younger visitors.

Cost – free

Things in Dublin with kids - National Gallery

9. Natural History Museum

This is one of four museums that make up the National Museum of Ireland. There are two more in Dublin (Archaeology and Decorative Arts & History) and one in Mayo (County Life).

The Natural History Museum (also known as the Dead Zoo) is a really fun thing to do in Dublin with kids. It has over 2 million items on display including a polar bear, a humpback whale and a dodo. The huge number of mammals, birds, fish and insects is fascinating and our girls really enjoyed it.

Cost – free

10. St. Stephen’s Green

Another great place for kids to burn off steam in Dublin.

With 3.5km of pathways and 22 acres of park, St. Stephen’s Green is Dublin’s largest Georgian Square and a real green oasis right in the city centre.

Enjoy the beautiful gardens, lake and waterfall, sculptures and of course, a playground for the kids.

If you visit during lunchtime in the summer you’ll find concerts being performed on the bandstand.

Cost – free

11. The Little Museum of Dublin

Just across the road from St.Stephen’s Green is The Little Museum of Dublin.

We didn’t get chance to visit as we ran out of time and prioritised other attractions first.

The tours involve the museums knowledgeable and humorous storytellers using the famous memorabilia to talk you through the history of Dublin.

Apparently they do a great job of interacting with kids. However, it’s worth considering whether younger children will be able to hold their attention during the tour.

Cost – Adults €10, Family €20

Click here for up to date admission prices 

12. Molly Malone Statue

You can’t visit Dublin without paying a visit to meet Molly Malone and actually, it’s considered rude not to pay your respects.

Many will know the famous Molly Malone song which has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin.

The song tells the story of the 17th-century fictional character – a fishmonger who wheeled her ‘cockles and mussels’ around the ‘streets broad and narrow’.

Unfortunately, poor Molly died prematurely of a fever but her statue keeps her spirit very much alive in the city centre of Dublin.

Cost – free

Things in Dublin with kids - Molly Malone

13. Shopping in Dublin

If you love retail therapy then Dublin will not disappoint.

There are plenty of shopping malls, high street retailers, boutiques and markets both sides of the River Liffey.

On the south side, Grafton Street is the main shopping street with the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre on its doorstep.

Also nearby is George’s Street Arcade – one of Europe’s oldest city markets and Ireland’s first purpose-built shopping centre.

On the north side, Henry Street is the main shopping area with the Jervis and Ilac Shopping Centres. Henry Street is also home to Arnotts – Ireland’s oldest and largest department store.

Cost – as much as you wish to spend

14. Dublin Castle and the State Apartments

When we visited, the castle and its grounds were still dressed for Christmas. The entrance was lined with beautifully lit Christmas trees which looked magical.

The state apartments can be viewed by either a self-guided tour or guided tour. If you want to really learn about the history and bring to life each room, a guided tour is the best option. However, with young children we chose the self-guided tour and there is a booklet which provides information on each room.

The castle is definitely one to add to the list of things to do in Dublin with kids but it’s perhaps more suitable for older children who will understand and appreciate the information provided.

Castle grounds and gardens – free

State Apartments – Adults €8 – €12, Family €20 – €30

Click here for up to date admission prices 

Things in Dublin with kids - Staircase at Dublin Castle

15. Dublin City Hall

Right next to Dublin Castle is the City Hall which is free to wander around and admire the beautiful main hall. There was a wedding on when we tried to visit so were unable to look inside but downstairs in the vaults is a free exhibition which delves into the history of the city.

Cost – free

16. Christ Church Cathedral

The oldest of the two cathedrals in the city (the other being Saint Patrick’s Cathedral).

Entry into the cathedral is via self-guided or fully guided tours.

As part of your visit, you can enter the crypt to see the ancient cathedral’s treasures and artefacts including the mummified cat and rat! Apparently the cat chased the rat into a pipe of an organ and got stuck.

If your feeling energetic, you can take a steep climb, 86 steps up to the Belfry (12 years and over). If you’re lucky you may even get to ring the bells.

Cost – Adults €6.50, Family €16

Click here for up to date admission prices 


17. Dublinia

This museum is probably one of the more exciting things to do in Dublin with kids but unfortunately it was lower down on our list and we just didn’t get round to visiting.

Dublinia will take you back to the Viking times in Dublin, immersing you into interactive and multi-sensory exhibitions. You’ll even get to walk along a medieval street.

Cost – Adults €11, Family €28

Click here for up to date admission prices 

18. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Not the oldest but the tallest cathedral in Dublin.

We stopped here to take photos but didn’t go inside. It’s worth having a look if you’re on your way to Marsh’s Library.

There’s also a little playground for the kids to enjoy.

Cost – Adults €7.50, Family €18

Click here for up to date admission prices

19. Marsh’s Library

Next to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the first and oldest public library in Ireland.

We took photos from the outside and walked up to the entrance where you can see inside but we didn’t pay to enter.

If you love libraries and want to spend some time in there with the kids, then it may be worth the fee (plus it does support the conservation and running of the library).

For us, the quick glimpse was enough.

Cost – Adults €5, Under 18’s free

Click here for up to date admission prices

20. The Guinness Storehouse

We weren’t sure whether this would be our thing or not but we felt obliged to visit given that Dublin is the home of Guinness. It recommendeds 90 minutes to complete the Guinness Storehouse tour but we ended up spending over 3 hours there.

The experience takes you up seven floors where you learn about the ingredients, how Guinness is brewed, the history of the Guinness family and the advertising through the years.

Things in Dublin with kids - Guinness Storehouse

There are multi-sensory tasting rooms and you can learn how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness. To finish off, you can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar whilst overlooking a 360-degree view of Dublin. As for the girls, they enjoyed their fizzy orange.

Although you might not think it, the Guiness Storehouse is a great thing to do in Dublin with kids because there are lots of interactive parts and the information is displayed in a simple and easily digestible format for older children.

Make sure you book online for cheaper tickets and visit early in the morning or later on in the day when it’s less busy.

Cost – Adults €19.50, Child €5

Click here for up to date admission prices

Things in Dublin with kids - The Perfect Pint of Guinness

21. Kilmainham Goal

The name of this place confused me until I found out that gaol is the old-fashioned way of spelling jail.

Entrance to Kilmainham Goal is by guided tour only and can be booked online to guarantee entry.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get tickets as they’d sold out but you can visit the museum for free. The information inside is so interesting, focussing on the political history of Ireland, the Great Famine and the War of Independence.

Even though we didn’t have tickets, for some reason we were lucky and got a sneaky peek into the incredible prison, which was an amazing experience.

Freya enjoyed hearing about the children which had served time there including a 5-year-old girl who did 7 nights for begging.

We walked to Kilmainham Gaol from the city centre but it takes approximaely 45 minutes. If you’d rather not walk you can take a local bus or the Hop On Hop Off Bus.

Cost – Adults €8, Family €20

Click here for up to date admission prices

Things in Dublin with kids - Kilmainham Gaol

Other helpful information…

The Dublin Pass

The best way to work out whether the Dublin Pass is worthwhile is to compare the cost of all of the things you want to do in Dublin against the cost of the Dublin Pass for your family.

The cost of two adult passes and one child pass (aged between 5-15 years old) for 3 days would have cost us €233.

Based on the things we wanted to do in Dublin with the kids, we worked out that the Dublin Pass wasn’t going to save us money. The attractions we visited that are included in the Dublin Pass were the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Castle and these attractions cost us a total of €60. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many attractions offer family tickets at a slightly reduced price. It’s also, almost always cheaper to buy tickets online too.

We love to walk lots when we’re exploring but if you’d rather get the Hop On Hop Off Bus, this is also included in the Dublin Pass. This is also a great thing to do in Dublin with kids with little legs that get tired quickly.

To get the most out of the Dublin Pass I would recommend staying for a longer period of time and obviously visiting as many of the attractions included as possible.

Cost – 1 Day Adult Dublin Pass €62, 1 Day Child Dublin Pass €33

Click here for up to date prices and a list of attractions included in the Dublin Pass

Where to stay in Dublin

You can get cheap accommodation if you look a little further out and don’t mind getting the bus into the centre. We paid a little bit more as we wanted to be central and stayed New Year’s Eve and the three-nights after.

Our top recommendation – Maldron Hotel Pearse Street

We certainly made a good choice with this hotel. Our room had two double beds and was clean, comfortable and modern with everything we needed. The breakfast was delicious and the location was perfect with just a 15-20 minute walk from the centre.

The total cost for four nights including breakfast was £604.55

Luxury recommendation – The Shelbourne Autograph Collection

Quirky recommendationJacobs Inn Hostel (private pod rooms)

Budget recommendationTravelodge Dublin Phoenix Park (8km from city centre)

How to save money in Dublin

I’ve always wanted to go to Dublin but everyone told me that it was expensive. So when I found return flights from Manchester for all four of us for just £136.46 (that’s just £31 each plus one 10kg bag), I booked without hesitation.

Use our guide on how to book the cheapest flights to make sure you get the best price.

I’ve already recommended our accommodation, the Maldron Hotel Pearse Street and I’d highly recommend booking accommodation which includes breakfast. That way you can make sure you have a really good fill at breakfast and then just manage on snacks until your evening meal.

Alcohol is expensive in Dublin so why not save your pint for the pub and just have tap water (which is completely safe to drink) with your evening meal.

Try and eat out early doors and take advantage of early-bird set menus. On that note, we highly recommend eating at the Church Café, Late Bar & Restaurant, which is a converted church on two floors.

It’s not the cheapest place but it’s well worth it for the amazing food, buzzing atmosphere and live Irish music and dancing. We paid €59.90 for two 2-course set meals and two kids meals but the food and entertainment were worth every penny.

Try searching Groupon Ireland for meal vouchers. We dined at Al Vesuvio (Italian restaurant) one night. We bought a Groupon voucher for a two-course Italian meal for two for €33.50 (plus we got another 20% off with a code). Then we just added another pasta dish on for the kids to share.

The cheapest way from Dublin airport to the city centre is by bus. But don’t take the Airlink Express bus (number 747 or 757) unless you don’t mind paying more at €7 per person.

Instead, the city bus (number 16 or 41) is less than half the price at €3.30. You can buy tickets at the bus stop or onboard the bus but the driver will only accept change, no notes.

The bus takes approximately 40-45 minutes from Dublin airport to the city centre and the driver will tell you the best stop to get off at if you ask.

Our final thoughts...

Hopefully, you can see that there are lots of really great things to do in Dublin with kids. You don’t have to spend a fortune as many activities and attractions are free. Food and drink can be expensive but if you follow our tips, you can save a lot.

We spent four days in Dublin with our girls and didn’t manage to get everything done that we’d have liked to. We certainly fell in love with Dublin and would love to return and tick a few more attractions off the list, as well as explore the Irish countryside.

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