- Explore the tragic history of the HMS Titanic at Belfast's Titanic Museum
- Learn to shear sheep and watch sheepdogs at their jobs on a working Irish farm
- Take in views of the magnificent Cliffs of Moher via sea cruise
- Ride Irish ponies along Galway's endless beaches
|Day 1||Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Belfast, Mourne Mountains||Belfast|
|Day 2||Explore Belfast, Titanic Museum, Peace Walls||Belfast|
|Day 3||Drive to Ballycastle, Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges & Antrim Waterfalls||Ballycastle|
|Day 4||Sheepdog & Sheep Shearing Farm Tour||Ballycastle|
|Day 5||Inishowen Peninsula, Drive to Londonderry (Derry)||Londonderry (Derry)|
|Day 6||Glenveagh National Park & Castle||Londonderry (Derry)|
|Day 7||Drive to Sligo, Leitrim & Enniskillen||Sligo|
|Day 8||Drive to Westport, Explore Westport||Westport|
|Day 9||Ballycroy National Park, Dark Sky Reserve||Westport|
|Day 10||Drive to Galway, Cliffs of Moher Sea Cruise||Galway|
|Day 11||Connemara National Park, Horseback Riding Beach Tour||Galway|
|Day 12||Drive to Dublin, Dublin Parks||Dublin|
|Day 13||EPIC Interactive Museum & Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship||Dublin|
|Day 14||Depart Dublin|
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Belfast, Mourne Mountains
Welcome to Ireland! Upon your arrival at Dublin airport, pick up your rental car and hit the road. Your destination today is the UK city of Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital and the birthplace of the infamous ship, the RMS Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank in 1912. The drive takes just under two hours, and you'll want to plan for some stops along the way, as there are several noteworthy sights to see during the journey.
Head north from Dublin toward Dundaik, then make your first stop at the Hill of Faughart. Part of County Louth, this historical region was once the only way in or out of Northern Ireland, and its strategic location made it the site of many battles. This is a great place for the kids to burn some energy as you hike to the main viewing point, where you'll see the remains of a fort from the Iron Age and the cemetery where High King Edward Bruce is buried, as well as the ruins of Castle Roche, which was built in 1236 CE and features expansive views of the countryside.
Drive through Ravensdale, a small hamlet near Mowry Pass, otherwise known as the Gap of the North and once an important military route. From here, head to Newry and to the Narrow Water Castle, which sits on the shores of Carlingford Lough Fjord. Stop at the castle (now a hotel) and take in the views of the Cooley Mountains to the south and the Mournes Mountains to the north. Have lunch in the town of Attcal, then drive into the Silent Valley, a reservoir area with stunning views and walking paths that are good for all ages and skill levels. Pass through the town of Rathfriland before arriving in Belfast.
Day 2: Explore Belfast, Titanic Museum, Peace Walls
Discover Belfast today, a thriving, vibrant city with a storied past and rich history. Once a busy port town and shipbuilding hub, it is known for its historic ties to the HMS Titanic. Belfast was also home to political unrest known as "The Troubles"—battles between Catholics and Protestants that took place from the 1960s to the 1990s. The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 brought an end to the violence, and the city has enjoyed growth and a stronger economy since then.
Start your morning with a walk through the lovely gardens of City Hall, then stroll along the River Lagan and stop in at Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the history of the ship that sits on the very grounds of where it was built. You can take a self-guided tour, where you'll find interactive exhibits, many of which are geared toward the kids, or enjoy a guided tour that takes you outside the museum and through the history of the shipyards and builders. You can also visit the Ulster Museum, part of the Belfast Botanical Gardens, with fun exhibits that include dinosaurs and meteorites.
Learn about Belfast's more recent history with a visit to the Peace Walls, a series of barriers originally built to separate Irish nationalist and British loyalist neighborhoods, now lined with colorful murals. For a more detailed history of the walls, take a Black Cab tour, where your guide will take you around the city and share insight into these somber times. Later, make the 2.5-mile (4 km) loop hike to Cave Hill Country Park and Belfast Castle for panoramic views of the city and coast. And older teens might like a visit to The Gobbins, a cliff walk with a metal walkway that takes you out over the open sea!
Day 3: Drive to Ballycastle, Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges & Antrim Waterfalls
Get ready for some magnificent scenery as you head into the far north Causeway Coast, one of the most beautiful parts of Northern Ireland. Your drive takes you by many historic sites, including Dunluce Castle, the scenic cliffs of Fairhead, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and the Mussenden Temple.
Your primary destination today is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Giant's Causeway—a rock formation of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that create a geometric pattern. This unusual sight is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption nearly 60 million years ago. Make the one-hour drive to the town of Bushmills, then park at the causeway's main gates and walk. The walk is roughly .5-miles (.6 km), and while it isn't strenuous, it can be slippery, so dress accordingly. There is also a shuttle that takes you right up to the rocks, a good choice if you have very small children.
Afterward, drive back along the Antrim Coast and stop at the Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees that tower above Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum. Fans of the series "Game of Thrones" will recognize this as the filming spot of King's Road. You'll also want to visit the waterfalls of Antrim, with stops at locations such as Glenariff Forest Park, Dunseverick Falls, and Cranny Falls. From here, you'll drive to Ballycastle and overnight.
Day 4: Sheepdog & Sheep Shearing Farm Tour
Visit a working sheep farm today and learn the ins and outs of livestock care, sheep shearing, conservation, and the history of farming in Ireland. Drive to Glenshane Country Farm, located on Glenshane Pass, one of the highest mountain roads in Ireland. You'll enjoy stunning views of the countryside while seeing demonstrations of sheepdogs at work, and the kids will have the chance to try their hand at sheep shearing!
Later, head back to Ballycastle and explore more of this quaint seaside village. Let the kids run on Ballycastle Beach or visit the ruins of nearby Kinbane Castle, which was originally built in the 1500s and offers beautiful views of the coast. You can also walk along the harbor and enjoy dinner at one of the town's many local restaurants.
Day 5: Inishowen Peninsula, Drive to Londonderry (Derry)
Today you'll make the drive from Ballycastle to Inishowen, a peninsula in the northern part of County Donegal. This is the largest peninsula in Ireland, and it includes the country's most northerly point: Malin Head. Standing at the entrance of the peninsula is the Grianan of Aileach, a ringfort that served as the royal seat of the high kingdom of Ailech for nearly 500 years, and on a clear day, you'll get spectacular views.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Stop for lunch in Buncrana, the largest town in Inishowen, or take the Inishowen Scenic Drive (Inishowen 100), a 100-mile (160 km) circular route that loops around the peninsula with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views. Continue to Londonderry (Derry), where you can get settled in, then take a guided tour of the Bogside district. Kids can enjoy the colorful murals while you learn about the infamous events of Bloody Sunday. If that's too intense for the little ones, you can also take a paddleboarding cruise along the River Foyle or a bicycle cruise through the Foyle Valley.
Day 6: Glenveagh National Park & Castle
Strike out into County Donegal to discover the 35,000-acre (16,000 ha) Glenveagh National Park. Deep in the Derryveagh mountain range, you'll walk in the shadow of the park's highest point, the 2,464-foot (751 m) peak of Errigal. Explore the surrounding glens, native oak woods, and pristine lakes, either on foot or by bike. It's also a haven for wildlife, so tell the kids to look out for the large herd of red deer or golden eagles swooping overhead. There are various trails to choose from, with difficulty levels that can work for all ages and abilities.The focal point of the area is the impressive Glenveagh Castle. Take a wander around this mansion, which opened as a romantic highland retreat in 1873. It's hosted many famous guests over the years, including Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne. After exploring the grounds' Gothic Orangery, and Tuscan Garden, have lunch in the pretty tea room, then, if the weather is nice, end the day with a relaxing boat cruise on the lake. Later today, head back to Londonderry (Derry) to overnight.
Day 7: Drive to Sligo, Leitrim & Enniskillen
Drive to Sligo today, a town on Sligo Bay surrounded by rugged countryside and straddles the Garavogue River. This area is often referred to as "Yeats Country" as poet W.B. Yeats was a Sligo resident. While here, visit the hidden landscapes of Leitrim, with its mysterious mountains and lakes, the jagged peaks of Eagle Rock, and the sparse solitude of Glenade. Hike to the Caves of Keshcorran, a series of interconnecting limestone caves that the kids will love exploring. The trail is an easy one, with a distance of just .8-miles (1.28 km) out and back, making it accessible for all ages.
Before settling in at your hotel in Sligo, visit nearby Enniskillen and see the Clan Maguire Castle, originally built in the 1400s and the site of many fights and battles. Then, head to the Marble Arch Caves for a guided tour. These caves were formed millions of years ago and have become a popular tourist destination. The tour takes you below the surface, where you'll walk carefully constructed and well-lit pathways while you learn about the history of the caves and surrounding areas.
If you're really looking for a workout, take the Stairway to Heaven up Culcuigh Mountain. With a height of more than 2,000 feet (665 m), the mountain is one of the highest in the region. The trail consists of a boardwalk and stairs that take you on a steep ascent up the mountain, making it more suitable for families with older children. Relax in Sligo this evening with dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 8: Drive to Westport, Explore Westport
Continue to Westport, a charming village located on County Mayo's Clew Bay. Designated as a heritage town, Westport is well-laid-out, with tree-lined promenades that run along the Carrowbeg River. While the town itself is fairly small, you'll find no shortage of things to do here, as it's packed with shops, restaurants, cafés, and of course, Irish pubs! Immerse yourself in some of the local history with a visit to Westport House, an 18th-century home with acres of gardens and trails for the family to explore. You can even book an afternoon tea in their drawing room!
Day 9: Ballycroy National Park, Dark Sky Reserve
Spend some time in Ballycroy National Park for one of Ireland's best coastal hikes, with the Atlantic on one side and miles of rare blanket bog (a type of peatland) and mountains on the other. A series of boardwalks across the peat means you won't even get your feet wet! This otherworldly landscape inspired the myth of The Children of Lir, which tells the tale of four children turned into swans–the kids might enjoy reading more about this legend before you head out on your walk!Tonight, make your way to Dark Sky Park for an evening of stargazing. Covering 58 square miles (150 sq km) across Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin Wilderness, this gold-tiered dark sky reserve allows visitors clear views of the star-filled galaxies and constellations. Catch glimpses of the Milky Way, Orion, and Andromeda.
Day 10: Drive to Galway, Cliffs of Moher Sea Cruise
Head south to Galway today, which is considered Ireland's bohemian capital and is known for its art scene, street performances, live music, and buildings painted in primary colors. After your check-in at your accommodations, the kids can stretch their legs with a walk on Salt Hill Promenade, which leads to Galway Bay and offers incredible views of the surrounding areas. See the Spanish Arch along the quay, and visit the Claddagh Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Claddagh, a traditional Irish wedding ring that originated here.
Later today, visit the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. Forming a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the southern end of The Burren region, these iconic cliffs run for 5 miles (8 km) along the dramatic coastline. You can hike the cliffs or see them from a different perspective with a sea cruise around their base. The three-hour tour traces the rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way as you travel along the cliffs. Sea level is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the cliffs' height as you scan the massive walls and point out the ant-sized people on the distant trails to the kids.
Day 11: Connemara National Park, Horseback Riding Beach Tour
Get inspired by Ireland's natural beauty at Connemara National Park today. Encompassing almost 7,413 acres (3,000 ha), the park features a mix of mountains, lakes, beaches, lagoons, and endless coastal views. Enter via the visitor's center and choose your hiking route. There are four main hiking trails–the Ellis Wood Trail, an easy .30-mile (.5 km) path perfect for younger kids, the 1-mile (1.5 km) Sruffaunboy Trail, and the lower and upper Diamond Hill Trails. While the upper Diamond Hill Trail is the most strenuous and often windy, it does have the most rewarding views at the end!
Those interested in the region's flora and fauna will enjoy the Tree Trail, which starts at a kiosk in the parking lot and takes you on a route that showcases some of the diverse trees and foliage here. And older kids and teens might like the Inspirational Poetry Trail, accessed via the nearby village of Letterfrack and consisting of strategically placed plaques with words from some of Ireland's most esteemed poets. Afterward, visit Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian walled garden for a quiet wander and some lunch.
If the family is looking for beach adventures, take a guided horseback riding tour along one of Ireland's most famed shorelines, Trá na mBán. Located just outside of Galway in the picturesque village of Spiddal, Trá na mBán offers spectacular views and is perfect for horseback riding. The four-hour tour accommodates riders of all levels and offers a variety of treks in a beautiful area with beaches, mountains, and turf terrain. More advanced riders can add a visit to the 13th-century Renvyle Castle, or "Sea Pirates' Castle," which has a dark history to match its evocative name.
Day 12: Drive to Dublin, Dublin Parks
Drive back to Dublin, where, after returning your rental car and getting settled at your hotel, you can explore all the amazing things Ireland's largest city has to offer! Dublin, which has been a government seat for over 900 years, is steeped in history and offers an abundance of activities, including museums, memorials, cathedrals, and plenty of family-friendly fun.
Start in the Medieval Quarter, where you'll find St. Audeon's Park, which sits next to an ancient church and the old medieval walls of Dublin, and St. Patrick's Park, which is right next door to St Patrick's Cathedral, founded in 1191, and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Visit the old graveyard at St Kevin's Park, part of the St. Kevin's Church, then stroll through St Stephen's Green, a Victorian park with beautiful flower beds, a lake, and resident swans that the kids will love.
Visit Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed public parks in Europe and encompassing more than 1,700 acres (700 ha). The park is home to more than 500 wild deer, and you're quite likely to see them grazing around the grounds. There is also a children's playground, beautiful Victorian gardens, and the Dublin Zoo. Founded in 1830, the zoo provides education on conservation and animal awareness, with residents that include elephants, big cats, primates, and marine animals. You can also visit the quiet Bullies Acre park, or Croppies Acre, dedicated to the armies of the Great 1798 Rebellion.
Day 13: EPIC Interactive Museum & Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship
Immerse yourself in Irish history with a visit to EPIC, The Irish Immigration Museum, where you'll learn about the Irish people and how they've contributed to the world through art, music, sports, and science. The museum has interactive exhibits and a "passport" book that the kids can stamp as they move through the various rooms. Nearby, you'll find the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship, where you can learn about the more than one million Irish who fled during the great famine, seeking refuge in the United States.
Travel back in time at historic Dublin Castle, and stop in at Trinity College to see the centuries-old Book of Kells and the beautiful Long Room library. Then, walk along the River Liffey and cross Ha'penny Bridge for views of the waterfront. And if the kids are interested in getting out on the river, take a Viking Splash tour, an amphibious bus that transports you across both land and water, while sharing fun and informative stories about the city's history. End your last day in Ireland with a walk along the very popular Grafton Street for shopping and dinner.
Day 14: Depart Dublin
It's time to say farewell to Ireland today. Take a taxi or rideshare to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!
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