If you intend to make Dublin your base this summer, don’t forget all roads lead from the city. There is much to explore beyond the pale. We’ve dug deep and unearthed ten of the best family attractions to visit that are a comfortable hour or less from Dublin.
1: The Boyne Valley
When we think of the Boyne Valley, Newgrange tends to pop into our minds with memories of school tours and epic adventures on the solstice. However, the Boyne Valley is a perfect stretch that encompasses great family explorations and journeys and is only twenty minutes away from Dublin airport. The Boyne Valley is the birthplace of the Ancient East and home to some of the best myths and legends, not forgetting its incredible history and status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From eco-tourism, the Boyne Greenway, the Hill of Tara, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth to the Boyne Blueway in Trim, there are many things to do right along the Boyne Valley outside Dublin.
Powerscourt House and Gardens is a beautiful spot to visit and easily accessible in County Wicklow as it is a quick 20 minutes away from South Dublin. The gardens were originally designed in 1731 and have been nurtured and cared for with passion and love by its current team of gardeners. It is a spot worth exploring with walled gardens, a Japanese garden, an Italian garden and a pet cemetery all waiting to be explored.
Also in Wicklow and an hour away from Dublin, is Glendalough, also known as the valley of two lakes. This historical and breathtakingly beautiful area is a must-see with scenic drives, beautiful walks, and not to mention the kid’s adventure park, Clara Lara, just a couple of kilometres away from Glendalough itself. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Glenmacnass waterfall, a short drive away.
4: Tayto Park
Ireland’s only theme park is outside Dublin in Ashbourne, County Meath. A quick thirty-minute car journey and you will find the speed rev up a notch or two on Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, Cú Chulainn if you’re brave enough. Tayto Park is always a hit with plenty to do for kids and adults of all ages.
5: Causey Farm and Girly Bog
Causey Farm is a hit with kids and grownups with their events and seasonal activities. Located in Navan, Causey Farm is just 40 miles outside of Dublin and easy to get to from the M3. The closest town is Kells which is serviced by Bus Eireann. Not too far away from Causey Farm is Girly Bog, a rare habitat, raised bog, and conservationists’ dream. Both Causey and the bog are well worth visiting to round off an epic outdoor adventure.
6: Greenan Maze
Greenan Maze may be over the hour mark from Dublin, but the extra fifteen minutes added to the car journey is well worth it. Situated in the Wicklow hills, surrounded by beautiful countryside, the maze is one of those fun and memorable experiences with plenty of attractions to make for a long and satisfying family day out. From mazes, farm and nature walks, and of course, animals, there is plenty to do at Greenan Maze.
7: Irish National Stud Farm and Japanese Gardens
Located just 45 minutes outside of Dublin city, the Irish National Stud Farm and the adjoining Japanese Gardens are a must-visit when staying in Dublin. Taking the trip to the National Stud in Tully, County Kildare, is an easily navigated journey and well worth the “are we there yet?” questions. With guided tours of the National Stud available and a chance to meet the stallions, it will undoubtedly be a memorable visit, especially when you combine it with a trip to the stunningly cultivated Japanese Gardens.
8: Ardgillan Castle
Ardgillan is one of those magical spots with sea views, an award-winning playground, beautiful walks, and an 18th-century castle just twenty miles outside of Dublin in Balbriggan. With a rose garden, walled garden, and seasonal gardens, it’s the perfect day out on a summer’s day with a fresh picnic.
9: Carlingford Adventure Centre
An hour north of Dublin sits the Carlingford Adventure Centre, a guaranteed intense and fun family day out. From zip lining to paddling on the lough, the centre has activities to suit everyone and all out in the open air. With many different packages and activities available, be sure to put it on your summer itinerary if you haven’t been before.
10: Mount Usher Gardens
Just 35 minutes away from Dublin in Ashford County Wicklow, Mount Usher Gardens are an excellent spot to visit for the day with family as you can expand out to the seaside towns of Bray and Arklow. Considered one of Ireland’s most beautiful gardens, it’s well worth a visit for its Robinsonian style garden.