Dublin: there’s isn’t a better welcome anywhere in the world. I found it so good, I moved here! The city has as much to offer little ones as it does adults. Irish people love kids, so the capital caters in a big way to keeping them entertained – maybe even tire them out so the city’s more grown-up visitors can enjoy the world-renowned nightlife? Let me give you a tour of my adopted home town, with some of my niece and nephew’s favourite things to do.
First stop if it’s sunny (which, unfeasibly, gloriously, it is while I write this) is a park bigger than Central Park in the middle of New York, where the US Ambassador and the Irish President live. It’s a beautiful place, handy for the city, and there’s plenty more to see than just some trees.
- Head to Áras an Uachtaráin (and have fun pronouncing it!), see if you can see Michael D Higgins
- There’s a monument to Wellington surrounded by sprawling lawns
- …and a Victorian flower garden
Top Tip: See if you can spot the Park’s other famous inhabitants: the free-roaming deer.
As if that wasn’t enough, also within Phoenix Park is Dublin Zoo, which is a perennial favourite with kids. The African Plains exhibition opened recently and proved a hit, and you may even see some other new arrivals: three sea lion pups were born this summer. A huge array of wildlife strut their stuff here, including elephants, giraffes, big cats, exotic birds, and countless reptiles and invertebrates.
Top Tip: Dublin Zoo is particularly committed to conservation and creating the most natural habitats possible for its residents. They pride themselves on their ethics, and it shows in the welfare of its residents.
If you prefer a little human history, delve into Dublin’s Viking past with one of its premier attractions for young and old. Situated on the south side of the Liffey beside Christ Church (just behind Temple Bar), Dublinia is a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition that takes you through well over 1,000 years since the city’s foundation by Nordic travellers.
- Hear the myths and stories that are soaked into the walls of the city
- Check out exhibits like a reproduction Viking longboat, complete with authentically dressed raiding party
- Visit the seventeenth-century St Michael’s Tower, and over the Gothic-Revival arch into the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, the oldest structure in Dublin
Top Tip: If you’re peckish (or thirsty), Dublin’s oldest pub is close by. The Brazen Head serves an amazing Guinness in the shadow of the brewery. The head chef Stephen is a family friend – tell him I sent you!
“As if Dublinia wasn’t Viking-heavy enough!” I hear you cry. But worry not: despite the name and the theme of the headgear, this tour is more like the sadly-defunct Duckmarine tour up the Mersey in Liverpool.
Hop aboard an amphibious yellow tour bus with some of the best guides in the city, and hear about Dublin’s maritime heritage, and how a certain “black pool” came to be the city it is today. A whistle-stop trip from medieval times to Norman and English invasions, right up to the present day.
Fittingly named for the aquatic theme – but this Temple Bar cultural centre is something a little different. Dublin is world-renowned for art of all kinds, from literary figures like Joyce and Beckett to musical icons like U2 and the eponymous Dubliners. The Ark specialises in getting young folk from 3 to 14 involved in drama, animation, arts and crafts. So if you’ve got a budding Brian Friel travelling with you, check out some of the heaps of events The Ark is holding throughout the summer
Top Tip: Speaking of which, the centre offers week-long classes where kids can stage a play or make a movie, or daily classes in circus skills. If you think about it, this could free up some time for the big folks to enjoy some big people fun…
And by the way, don’t go to Temple Bar for a Guinness – go to Grogans off Grafton Street. Your wallet and tastes buds will thank you.
Where to Stay
Phoenix Park Fresh Air – Suitably handy for attraction #1, these apartments give you your own space to set your own schedule. Well-appointed, and handy for the airport.
Eccles Townhouse– This beautiful Georgian townhouse is close to the Irish Writer’s Museum (a favourite of mine, if you’d got a little scribbler with you) – this hotel also rents bikes, a perfect way to explore the city.
The Croke Park Hotel – Another hotel with bike rental, this place is right next to one of the biggest sports stadia in Europe, Croke Park – where we play our national games, hurling and Gaelic Football. Huge, and well worth a look. The hotel’s not half bad either!
How to Get There
Dublin Airport (DUB) is only about 14km from the middle of town, but there isn’t a train connection and the buses are handy enough, but busy, as are the taxi queues. My advice would be a private transfer with Shuttle Direct for the best mix of keen price and hassle-free convenience.
About Shuttle Direct
With local, experienced drivers right across Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct are the professional to trust to get your holiday off to the right start. At Shuttle Direct, we get you moving.