4 days in Ireland with the kids
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4 Days in Ireland with Kids
When you only have 4 days in Ireland you need to move fast to make the most of them. ( But if your flight is canceled due to snow, 4 days in Ireland can seem like a luxury instead of a sprint. This happened to us recently!)
How our layover in Dublin turned into 4 days in Ireland
We flew through Dublin on our way to a week in Scotland. We love to find the cheapest flight to Europe and then fly Ryanair to our final destination. We spent a quick morning exploring Dublin before our flight to Glasgow and the kids loved it!
On our way back from Scotland we intended to spend the afternoon and evening just outside of Dublin and head home in the morning. But there was a huge snowstorm on the east coast, and we were stuck without a flight for 4 days. My husband and I rescheduled our work, and the boys skipped school, and we felt like we had won the lottery! We set out to enjoy the most of Ireland in 4 days, and we did a darn fine job.
If you only have a layover in Dublin, (and don’t get lucky with a snowstorm) this post will tell you how to make the most of it.
The best things to do in Ireland in 4 days
When our flight got canceled and we found ourselves “stranded” in Ireland we quickly made Airbnb reservations and planned a basic itinerary. We decided to spend a day in Galway and the western coast and 2 days in the Waterford Area, then the last day in Kilkenny on our way back to Dublin.
My husband and I and our oldest son had all been to Ireland within the past year. We wanted to see some new things but also take the younger boys to our favorites.
Cliffs of Moher at Sunset
Despite our previous visits, we had never ventured out to see the Cliffs of Moher. We had heard from a few people that they were overrated. I can’t imagine why anyone would think that!!! They were spectacular.
If you are unsure of how to pronounce the Cliffs of Moher pronounce it like the word “mower”.
How to get to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin or Galway
It is a fairly easy drive from Galway or Limerick. It is an entire day’s round-trip journey from Dublin.
We set out from Galway and drove along the Wild Atlantic way which is a really scenic drive. We loved having our own car and being able to stop and look at all the beautiful scenery.
But don’t despair, if you don’t have a car there are plenty of options to get your there by bus.
From Dublin you can take a great tour of Cliffs of Moher all while relaxing on the journey on a bus with WIFI and a tour guide.
From Galway there are shuttle buses and public buses depending on your wallet and time available. Check here for the most updated info.
Parking at the Cliffs of Moher
There is a large and well maintained parking lot available across the road from the Cliffs. You will pay a nominal fee of 8 euro per adult to park and get access to the visitor’s center. The walk to the cliffs takes you past a visitors center (not a must see) to multiple viewing locations.
The best time to visit the Cliffs of Moher
I’m sure the rugged cliffs are beautiful any time of year or any time of day, but if you can be there at dusk you are in for a treat. The sun setting and shining at a low angle made the entire area seem otherworldly.
We took picture after picture and failed to capture how beautiful it really was.
The cliffs are a great place to take energetic kids as there a lot of walking trails and tons of room to safely explore.
Plan on 2-3 hours depending on how much hiking you want to do.
Galway with your kids
Galway was another first for us, and we found that it wasn’t our favorite. If you are looking for a drinking scene or a party scene this might very well be your favorite spot in Ireland.
I thought is was very touristy and more gimmicky than any other town in Ireland. My oldest son loved it. Everyone is so different!
We did enjoy the live music on every corner and the fresh sea breeze that rustled the pennant flags that hung throughout the city. It is also a very walkable town which allows you to stretch your legs on the drive to the Cliffs of Moher.
Plan on 1-3 hours.
Things to do in Waterford, Ireland
Waterford crystal tour with your kids
If you follow our blog you may have read about our previous visit to the Waterford Crystal Factory. It was even better this time because we had our kids with us. The tour definitely caters to kids, and they got a front seat and lots of fun opportunities.
They were each able to smash a glass that wasn’t up to standards, they got to touch crystal as it was being shaped, and the tour guide made sure they knew what was happening at every step.
I highly recommend the tour with or without your kids.
If you are visiting in the summer, it is best to buy tickets ahead of time, so you don’t have to wait around for a long time for your tour time.
You can visit the gift shop immediately after the tour. It is a great place to buy Waterford Crystal as there is no duty charge. We ended up buying this vase as a Christmas gift for my mother in law and a small nativity made out of crystal to add to my nativity collection.
Plan on 2 hours including shopping in the gift shop.
King of the Vikings VR Experience
We always try to give each of our kids some say in what we do each day. It may be as simple as somewhere to get a snack or picking out an attraction during our planning phase.
This time it was a little more spur of the moment. It was pouring rain in Waterford on the day we visited. We went to the Crystal tour and when we saw the rain, we re-thought our walking tour.
My 11-year-old son got on Yelp to look for something to eat and came across this new Virtual Reality experience right around the corner from Waterford Crystal.
We were led by a Viking to a reconstructed Viking shelter. We put on virtual reality headset and learned all about the Viking’s history in Ireland. If you have never experienced Virtual Reality before this is a great way to get your feet wet. This interactive learning experience allows you and your kids to understand the past in a new and exciting way.
It is also a fairly inexpensive family outing. For updated prices and more information check here.
Plan on an hour.
Things to do in Cork Ireland
Cork, Ireland is the second largest city in Ireland. It is built on a harbor in the southern part of Ireland. It was an important trading center during the reign of the Vikings.
The city itself is substantially smaller than Dublin, but I find that there is just as much to do. Be aware that public transportation in Cork isn’t as extensive as Dublin’s and would be better visited with a car.
While technically not in Cork, it is very close. Blarney castle is one of the largest and best-known tourist attractions in the south of Ireland. The castle itself is old and less well maintained than castles like Bunratty or Kilkenny, but the grounds are very beautiful and well kept.
There are tons of steps to get up to the famous Blarney Stone. If you want to kiss it you will be in line for quite a while (even in March.) Kissing the stone is said to bring you the gift of flattery and gab.
It is also an expensive stop. Prices at the time of publication are 18 Euros per person. If you have always wanted to see Blarney castle, pay the fee and enjoy it. If you just want to see a castle, I would pass on it.
Plan on 2 hours.
The English Market
I highly recommend the English Market if you are paying a visit to Cork. We were unlucky and found it closed when we arrived, but if you want some info on it, check out our blog post about a different Ireland trip.
Plan on 30 minutes to an hour.
This pedestrian high street is the center of life in Cork. Street musicians, restaurants, shopping, and some pretty cool light fixtures. Patrick street is worth a walk down. Stop for food at Market Lane for the best dinner you will have in Ireland. Do some window shopping or stop and enjoy the beautiful weather. Patrick Street will be one of your faves.
Plan on an hour.
Kilknenny is a different kind of town as far as Irish towns go. It is a medieval city with narrow streets that turn and twist. You will feel like you have been transported to an old English town, as this part of Ireland was settled by the Normans.
This well-preserved castle is a great example of a building that has changed as its use changes. Kilkenny Castle began as fortress in 1195 when it was a stronghold for the Normans. It adapted into a Victorian castle as the needs of the owners changed. Learning about the extensive renovations and additions was one of my favorite parts.
Guided tours are offered during the winter months, and you can also take self-guided tours. I recommend the self-guided tours if you are here with kids as you can get through them more quickly.
The gardens are very beautiful as well. Even in March, the layouts of the beds, paths, and walls is majestic and gorgeous.
The Rock of Dunamase
If you only have one day to spend in Ireland, don’t miss this fabulous castle that lies in ruins at the top of a hill. It might be my favorite attraction in Ireland. The scenery that surrounds the rocky peak is breathtaking and you will feel like you are on top of the world. I also love it because we have had the place to ourselves every time we have gone!
The ruins of a castle from the 12th century are littered across the mountaintop, but enough remains intact for you to visualize what the structure must have looked like.
My boys loved this place!! They scrambled up rocks, had sword fights, pretended to be Vikings, and generally felt like they could run free. I can’t recommend it more highly.
The Rock of Dunamase is in the town of Dunamaise in County Laois (pronounced leesh) and is about an hour’s drive from Dublin.
Plan on an hour.
Of course, there are dozens of other sites we could have chosen for this unexpected 4 days in Ireland trip, but the kids were thrilled with the trip we created on the fly. If you are interested in other things to do in Ireland check out my blog post on a week in Ireland.
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