What to do on a weekend in Dublin with children - 48 hours in Dublin
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a beautiful city to visit for a long weekend. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, or a family-friendly holiday, there’s something for everyone here.
The travel links are excellent, and the flight from Heathrow takes just 50 minutes for example. Not even time for a drink on the plane! Short travel times increase the appeal of travelling to Dublin with children.
It’s a well-known destination for stag dos due to the volume of pubs, but I recently travelled there with my husband and our 6 month old baby and we found it very accommodating.
The Irish are fantastically friendly and will give you a warm welcome to their country; it was easy to feel at home here. Dublin is lively, vibrant and full of interesting history and places.
You could easily spend more than 48 hours here, but hopefully this article gives you some good ideas of what to do on a weekend in Dublin. The focus is on family-friendly activities however you’ll find that the majority of recommendations are fun regardless of age.
At the time of writing, there was no requirement for Covid-19 testing due to Ireland’s participation in the Common Travel Agreement. This adds to the appeal of travelling here, and it feels very safe due to the requirement to show your Covid passport upon entry to restaurants and bars. Always check the latest government advice before travelling.
Friday afternoon in Dublin
If you’re arriving into Dublin airport then the easiest way to get to your hotel could be by bus. You’ll find a couple of companies outside the terminal building, Airlink and Aircoach. Choose the one which stops closest to your accommodation. Alternatively there are plenty of taxis.
Once you’ve checked in and dropped off your luggage it’s time to hit the streets and get your bearings. If you want to check out the Temple Bar area and you’re travelling with children then it’s a good idea to do this before it gets busy in the evening.
Yes, everyone will tell you that Temple Bar is a tourist trap, but it’s popular for a reason. It’s bustling and interesting and packed with cosy pubs and bars. The Temple Bar Pub is the most well-known of these, with its iconic red exterior. It’s worth popping in for one drink, just to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy an Irish tune or two. Be sure to escape before the rowdy stag dos descend!
Friday evening in Dublin
Head to one of many family-friendly restaurants in Dublin for your dinner. There’s Gaillot et Gray serving woodfired pizzas alongside an array of kids books and colouring pencils. Neon in Camden Street is well equipped for families and there’s a free ice cream cone policy too.
It’s probably time to return back to your hotel to get some sleep before a busy day tomorrow. Take the scenic route by walking if you can because Dublin looks beautiful at nighttime. If you’re there in winter you’ll see the spectacular Winter Lights illuminating the main landmarks.
Saturday morning in Dublin
Get up early because there’s a lot to pack in on your main day here. If your kids are like mine I’m sure that won’t be a problem! There is plenty to see and do in Dublin with children, it’s up to you how to utilise your time there.
Although much of Dublin is walkable, even with a pushchair, a fun way to get around is by bus. There are two main tour bus companies; Big Bus Tours and Hop on Hop off. It’s worth researching to see which fits your needs best as you can pair them up with discounted tickets to certain attractions. Sitting on the top deck of the bus is also a great way to see some of the landmarks you don’t have time to visit properly. There is usually an entertaining tour guide too!
One recommendation is to ride to Dublin Zoo which has been open since 1831. It’s now Ireland’s biggest family attraction, and is well laid out with a one-way system in operation. Last admission is 1pm so an early visit is best. There is a wide variety of animals here, separated into habitat areas. The African Savanna is one of the largest, stretching around a lake, and you can see giraffes, rhinos, zebras and ostrich. The Orangtuan Forest has a spectacular feature where you may be fortunate enough to see the orangutans trapezing right above your head. Other highlights were some playful red pandas and loud sealions.
An alternative attraction is Kilmainham Gaol Museum. This was the county jail between 1796 and 1924 and remains open for guided tours. It isn’t recommended for children under the age of 6 but older children may find it interesting to see where many rebellion leaders were held and sometimes executed. Though it’s free to visit; you must pre-book onto a 90 minute tour in advance. You should check availability at least two weeks before you intend to visit.
Saturday lunchtime in Dublin
If you visited the Zoo then you’re on the edge of Phoenix Park – a huge 1750 acres to explore, including wild deer. It’s also the residence of the President of Ireland and home to the Garda HQ. There are hundreds of trails you could wander here where the children can let off some steam.
For lunch, I’d suggest a short walk to Hole in the Wall which holds the accolade of ‘longest pub in Europe. With sections dating from 1651, it’s quirky and cosy and has a good lunch menu. If you’re visiting near Christmas then it’s transformed into a grotto with decorations hanging off every nook and crevice. Alternatively there’s the Victorian Tea Rooms near the Zoo entrance which has a family-friendly menu.
Saturday afternoon in Dublin
If you’re travelling to Dublin with children then you may think you’ll miss out on its most famous attraction – The Guinness Storehouse. Fortunately children are welcomed at the brewery and entry for under 5s is free. It’s set over 7 floors with escalators and lifts inbetween each floor so it’s pushchair accessible as well.
You’ll travel through each floor, learning the Guinness story as you go. There are a few interactive elements such as the smelling room, and in the advertising area. Adult entry includes a free drink at the Gravity bar where you can sit and enjoy panoramic views of the city. At the time of my visit there were some restrictions in place meaning that we were unable to try our hand at pouring the perfect pint, but I’ve heard that this is usually a highlight of the tour.
If Ireland’s most famous beverage doesn’t interest you then you could visit EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum which is hugely interactive. You’ll discover the stories of over 300 Irish people and some of the greatest achievements in sport, music, art and science. For children there’s a souvenir passport trail, interactive sports table and the opportunity to try out some Irish dancing.
Whilst you’re in the area you could also visit the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship where you’ll learn the stories of the thousands of Irish people who fled the Famine to America.
Another Saturday afternoon suggestion is the General Post Office museum, located on O’Connell Street. You will find out about the 1916 Easter Rising as well as more modern Irish history.
Saturday evening in Dublin
The activities don’t need to stop at nighttime even if you’re exploring Dublin with children. How about a Ghost Walking tour? The guide keeps things from getting too scary with lots of jokes and entertaining stories as well.
Alternatively you could try a Grand Canal dinner cruise which includes a 3 course dinner. You’d need to book in advance for this.
Sunday morning in Dublin
It’s almost time to leave this beautiful city, but there are more sights to squeeze in! One option is Dublin Castle which has free entry although the timed tickets do sell out well in advance.
My personal recommendation would be to wander around one of the shopping areas, in and around Grafton Street. There are lots of street entertainers from musicians to mime artists. At one end of the street is St Stephen’s Green. This could be a calming escape for children as there’s lots of green space to run around. You might want to feed the ducks and swans and there’s a large play area here as well.
There are hundreds of pubs and restaurants to grab lunch before you leave; Dublin is famously home to over 750 pubs alone! And you’ll want to include a visit to one of many Carroll’s stores to pick up any souvenirs.
As you can see, there is lots to do in Dublin with children, and many more attractions which I haven’t mentioned. It’s a bustling capital, full of history and friendly faces – one to add to your list of places to visit!