Ireland is an amazing place to visit, full of historic castles and ancient mythology combined with modern art and architecture. Most hotels are family-friendly, offering children's menus in the restaurants, fun activities and special amenities for kids. Our list of top 10 family vacation ideas in Ireland includes historic castle hotels, grand estates and modern city hotels. Many offer incredible golf, relaxing spas and pools, letting you relax and rejuvenate in a beautiful setting.
Dromoland Castle is a historic castle hideaway, surrounded by green pastures, forests and historic attractions. The estate features a spectacular 18-hole golf course, a luxurious spa and a number of outdoor activities. The 16th century baronial castle traces its history back to Gaelic royal families. The gardens on the 410-acre estate feature a formal rose garden and lily pond. Enjoy golf, tennis, fishing, clay shooting, boating, and biking. At the end of the day, soothe your muscles with a relaxing massage at the spa in swim in the indoor pool.
The golf course features 18 scenic holes surrounded by the beautiful Irish countryside and spectacular views of the 16th century castle. The 2003 golf course renovation retained the original layout and added new tee boxes as well as firm, fast putting surfaces. The course is open to players with a certified playing handicap of up to 28 for gentlemen and 36 for ladies.
The Golf Club has a restaurant, exercise equipment, a sauna, a steam room and a swimming pool. From March through October, golf rates start at £ 110; from £ 50 in low season. Check for stay and play packages when making your reservation.
The hotel has 87 individually decorated guest rooms and 13 luxury suites with antique furnishings, damask wall coverings and custom carpeting.
At the Earl of Thomond Restaurant, guests can have an elegant meal featuring locally grown ingredients and music by a resident harpist. Afternoon tea is served in the Drawing Room; the Fig Tree Restaurant at the Golf Club serves meals in a more informal setting. Room service is available 24-hours per day. Dromoland Castle is located 8 miles from Shannon Airport, Ireland. Rates start from £ 417 per night from May to September; and from £ 225 during low season. Read more
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From interconnecting family-friendly rooms to great activities, Hayfield Manor is a fantastic holiday destinations for families. Swim in the indoor pool, play in the gardens and tuck in at night with milk and cookies. The estate has a putting green, rabbits and an aviary. In the guest rooms, children find mini bathrobes and a selection of DVDs and games.
Hayfield Manor’s Beautique Spa offers seven treatment rooms and a diverse menu of therapies which incorporate Elemis Spa essential oils. The hotel is located within walking distance of the Cork city center where you will find shops, restaurants and tourist attractions. Have a picnic in Fitzgerald Park, visit Blackrock Observatory and Fota Wildlife Park. Rooms at Hayfield Manor start at 179 GBP per night. Photo:
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»Killarney Park Hotel
Explore the historic town of Killarney and rejuvenate at the European spa while you stay at the stylish Killarney Park Hotel.
The hotel spa has eight private spa treatment suites, a fitness club and an indoor swimming pool. Choose from a variety of massages and other therapies on your spa vacation. Other spa facilities include Jacuzzi, bubble pool, outdoor hot tub, plunge pool, spa relaxation room, caldarium, and sauna.
When booking your stay at the hotel, first consider whether you prefer classic or contemporary decor because the hotel offers a choice of both. The second thing to consider is the view. Some rooms have a view of the hotel gardens while others overlook the historic town of Killarney. Junior Suites with a fireplace are especially cozy.
The hotel offers several dining options, from fine dining in the Park Restaurant to great Afternoon Tea and the casual Garden Bar.
Room rates at the hotel start at 232 Euro per night. Photo:
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»Aghadoe Heights Hotel
The Aghadoe Heights Hotel is a five-star getaway overlooking the Lakes of Killarney. The hotel has a spa which offers an array of Aveda treatments as well as lifestyle packages ranging from yoga and Pilates to learning how to quiet your mind and relax through meditation.
Room choices include Classic Rooms, Lake Side Rooms, Deluxe Garden Rooms, the Aghadoe Suite, Garden View Suites, Lake View Suites, and the Penthouse. The rooms all have crisp modern interiors and wireless internet access. If you want to have scenic views of the lake, book the Aghadoe Suite which features a four poster bed, private kitchen, a balcony and a separate sitting room. Lake View Suites, although smaller than the Aghadoe Suite, also overlook the Lakes of Killarney. They have a free standing bath tub, Aveda products and walnut wood interiors.
The Lake Room Restaurant Restaurant has been awarded the AA Triple Rosette for its culinary creations. The abundance of fresh produce and the panoramic views make the meals at the Lake Room Restaurant quite memorable. The hotel is reachable by car from Cork or Limerick. Rates range from €200 for a Classic Room, €330 for a Garden View Suite, and €2,000 (in the high season - June to September) for the Penthouse (+ 353 64 31766,
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»The Conrad Dublin
Overlooking the National Concert Hall, the Conrad Hotel Dublin enjoys a central location in the heart of Dublin. Whether you are interested in exploring Dublin's cultural heritage with your kids or shopping on your city honeymoon getaway, the hotel is a great starting point for exploring the city. The hotel has 191 guest rooms, including nine suites with scenic views. All rooms are equipped with executive desks, three direct dial telephones and dataports. The hotel offers a fitness center, and distributes jogging maps of the city.
The Plurabelle Brasserie at the hotel is a fine restaurant with wood
paneling and comfortable armchairs. After dinner, visit the hotel's traditional
Irish Pub Alfie Byrnes. Room rates start at € 220 per night, depending on availability. The hotel is 15 minutes from Dublin International Airport. Taxi fares from the airport start at about € 15 (+353-1-602-8900, website). Photo:
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»Sheen Falls Lodge
Sheen Falls Lodge is a privately owned country estate in Kenmare, South West Ireland, surrounded by scenic mountains, waterfalls and woodlands. Get pampered at the spa, play golf on one of the courses in the area or hike on the 300-acre estate. From April through September, Wild Atlantic Salmon and Brown Trout fishing are offered along the 15 miles of private river bank at the lodge. Other summer vacation ideas include tennis, clay pigeon shooting, bicycling and horseback riding. The spa at the hotel offers an array of treatments, including massages, aromatherapy, Reiki, and facials. After your treatment, relax next to the indoor swimming pool, in the sauna or in the Jacuzzi. Guests who like to stay active on their summer vacation can work out at the hotel gym.
The hotel offers 75 luxury guest rooms, suites and cottages with custom made beds and en suite marble bathrooms with a twin vanity. Before you arrive, the lodge librarian will place a customized selection of books in your room. If you are a returning guest, the hotel will add other personal touches to accommodate your preferences. Ask for one of the rooms with a view of the falls.
The lodge has two restaurants: the elegant La Cascade restaurant where you can have a romantic dinner. Or head to Oscar's bistro for a casual meal. The Sun Lounge serves tea and coffee, and light snacks throughout the day, while the Cocktail Bar offers drinks in a club-like atmosphere. The Wine Cellar is stocked with 13,500 bottles in 950 bins from 17 countries.
Fly to Kerry Airport (Killarney) which is located 35 miles from the lodge. Daily flights are available from London Stanstead, Frankfurt Hahn and Dublin. Room rates start at € 280 in low season; from € 425 in high season (+353-64-41600, website). Photo:
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»The Morgan Hotel
The Morgan is a modern city hotel, located in the center of Dublin. The hotel is near the shops of Grafton Street, theaters, historical sites and the International Financial Services Center. The hotel is stylish and the staff is helpful, ready to offer their recommendations for dining, shopping and clubbing. To relax after a day out and around the town, request a massage in your room on your romantic getaway. The Morgan has 121 guest rooms which
have broadband internet service, wireless access and voice mail. The walls
are decorated with paintings by Irish artist Siobhan McDonald.
The Penthouse Suite offers panoramic views of Dublin from its roof top terrace. If you are planning an engagement party or a special celebration, book this scenic suite. Room service is available from 7am to 10:30pm.
The Morgan Bar is a sophisticated meeting place in Dublin. Featuring soft brown leather seating, wide mirrors and comfortable red sofas, the bar serves wines, beers and exotic drinks, such as the Morgan Mai Tai. Guests receive complimentary access to a nearby fitness center where you can relax in the sauna, steam room and next to the pool (+353-1-6793946, themorgan.com). Photo:
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Check into this grand estate to enjoy massages, scenic golf, fishing and beautiful gardens. Click here to read our review.
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»The Westin Dublin
Following a renovation of its guest rooms, the Westin Dublin unveiled nine rooms named after Irish writers. The idea was inspired by its location at the heart of a UNESCO City of Literature in Europe.
Each of the Writers' Rooms has a quirky layout, a balcony and a scenic view. Choose from rooms with names like Patrick Kavanagh, Bram Stoker, Flann O'Brien, John Millington Synge, Sean O'Casey, Dion Boucicault, Jonathan Swift, Edmund Burke and Maria Edgeworth.
The hotel has 163 guest rooms decorated in either a modern or more traditional style. The renovation of the Contemporary rooms on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th floors was overseen by leading interior designers HBA London. The hotel is home to four luxury Library Suites named after famous writers: George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde.
Dining options include The Exchange Restaurant and The Mint Bar serving classical dishes and healthy menu options. Guests can indulge in in-room spa treatments and work out at the gym. The hotel concierge can help you plan your visit of Dublin. The hotel is located directly opposite Trinity College, just minutes away from Grafton Street shopping and the River Liffey. Nightly rates start at Euro 185 (thewestindublin.com). Photo:
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10 Great Kid-Friendly Getaways in Ireland
Must-see on Your Family Trip to Ireland
Start your trip in Dublin before heading to one of the country estates. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Ireland.
Dublin is a lively city with a compact historic center which makes it easy to see many things in a day or two. Visit the 13th century Dublin Castle where you can tour the royal chapel and state apartments. Dublin Zoo is a favorite with families who flock here to see tigers, hippos, red pandas and other animals. This zoo is one of the oldest in the world. Admission is free at the National Gallery of Ireland where you can view contemporary Irish art as well as Renaissance and Baroque pieces. Book of Kells in Trinity College is known as one of the most beautiful books in the world, created by monks in the 8th century. Saint Patrick's Cathedral dates back to the 12th century.
The Rock of Cashel
Located in County Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is a huge historic structure where the King of Munster was converted by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD.
Giant's Causeway on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland consists of 40,000 basalt columns which were created by a volcanic eruption. Enjoy spectacular sea views as you tour this unique attraction which was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The volcanic columns have inspired the imagination of story tellers for generations and are a fun spot to visit with kids.
Built for kings over 5,000 years ago, Newgrange is an an ancient tomb and the world’s oldest solar observatory, the perfect place to learn about Celtic culture.
The Blarney Stone
The myth has it that kissing The Blarney Stone gives you the gift of eloquence and flattery. It is located at Blarney Castle which also offers beautiful gardens, perfect for a romantic stroll.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry in southwestern Ireland is the most scenic drive in Ireland – follow the 179 km circular loop and enjoy the views.