Recently we paid a “blink and you’ll miss it” visit to County Wicklow in Ireland for a family gathering and really can’t believe we’ve left is so long to get there. It was Piper’s first visit to Ireland (she’s now 7!) and we all fell in love with the place and loved touring where Mr AWTYK holidayed as a child – apparently it’s changed quite a lot since then! We found so many fun things to do in Wicklow with kids. Here are our top tips.
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We’ll definitely be back to explore deeper but for now, here are our top tips on things to do in Wicklow, where to stay and where to eat.
Top Tip: I highly recommend you hire a car (if you haven’t driven over) as some places would be tricky to access by public Transport.
Things to do in Wicklow with kids
Great Sugar Loaf Mountain
Wicklow is full of amazing scenery and family friendly hikes and the drive up to Sugar Loaf will be enough to take your breath away but if you have time (and the weather’s being kind) it’s well worth a trip to the top. It’s situated 4km west of Kilmacanogue and is easily recognisable by its conical shape. The upper parts can get pretty steep and could be considered dangerous, but it’s mainly an easy trek.
If you are visiting Wicklow with toddlers or babies then a carrier is probably your best way to get them all the way up. From the top on a clear day, you can even see across to the mountains of Wales! If you drive up to the free car park on the Southern side of the mountain, it will take you about an hour to get to the top with kids.
Visit the beach
Irish beaches can be brutal, especially if you’re visiting out of season, they are rugged, windy and often deserted – I have to say, having spent many a day sunning myself on white sandy beaches (pre kids) these were such a refreshing change, the beauty really will blow you away (literally sometimes!)
I recommend a visit to Greystones Beach, a mixture of pebble and sand, located at the southern end of the town of Greystones. This is one of those seemingly unforgiving Irish beaches you’ll be thankful you wrapped up warm and made the effort to visit. When we arrived (in deepest darkest winter), hardy locals were still stripping down to their swimmers and jumping into the sea. We chose to enjoy a bracing walk and practiced our stone skimming. There’s also a childrens play area next to the beach if you need to burn off some more energy!
Dogs are allowed on the beach but must be kept on a lead. There are a couple of toilets available and lifeguards will be on duty during typical swimming season, June until September, although I would only recommend competent swimmers give it a go. And as if you needed more reasons to visit, this beach was awarded an International Blue Flag award in 2017.
This beach is popular with daytrippers from Dublin. It’s super close to Greystones Station where the DART train travels regularly during the day.
Explore the sweet towns of Wicklow
Wicklow is full of delightful little towns and villages. Many of which have had a recent make over due to them being within commuter distance to the city of Dublin on the Dart train. We love Greystones with its hipster cafes, bars and boutiques. And the fact it manages to retain its old Irish charm.
We also loved Bray, the oldest seaside resort in Wicklow. Again this is serviced by the DART so gets pretty busy in summer. Or for any TV cop show fans, head to Kilcoole where the Irish soap opera Glenroe is filmed.
Hiking in Wicklow
As previously mentioned, Great Sugar Loaf Mountain is a brilliant place for a family hike in Wicklow. But there are plenty of other routes you could choose across mountains, over streams and through forests. Wicklow also has miles and miles of rugged coastline. These are my favourite kind of hikes, just head towards the sea and choose a path that takes your fancy.
Outsider has a wonderful list of family friendly walks in Wicklow to suit most skill levels.
This can get a little creepy so not one for the tiny tots. You’ll be taken on an interactive tour through the jail. Learning about the prisoners who were kept in the cells during Victorian times and the potato famine in the mid 1800’s. The tour is led by amazing actors who really bring the history to life. Their stories will stay with you long after you leave.
Wicklow Gaol is said to be one of the worlds most haunted buildings. Believer or not, it does feel very spooky.
Russborough house is so much more than a beautiful stately home this is a great day out for all the family. Home to over 200 acres of countryside and housing many family friendly activities. You will be spoilt for choice of how to spend your day. There’s a wildlife trail, a beech hedge maze (open March-November) a National Bird of Prey Centre, an amazing childrens play area and the main attraction for my daughter – a woodland fairy trail.
You can buy an outdoor family pass from the reception area which includes most of these activities for just €15. A family ticket to the Bird of Prey center will set you back a further €25.
If you fancy something indoors, the Sealife centre in Bray is a fun place to spend a few hours. It’s out of the rain as it’s all completely undercover. It’s home to over 1,100 underwater animals including sharks, moon jellyfish, seahorses and octopus (octopi? Octopuses?!). Kids will love the regular feeding sessions, quiz trail, and indoor play area. You can book online and save yourself a few Euros off the walk up price.
Where to stay
If you fancy more of a city feel for your visit, you could base yourself in Dublin, you’ll have to drive an hour (tops) to most parts of Wicklow but we decided to stay at the amazingly family friendly Druids Glen Hotel and Golf Resort right in the heart of Wicklow.
Click here to read our full review of Druids Glen here but the highlights include:
- Large family rooms
- Family games and DVDs available to keep you entertained in the evening
- A lovely family friendly pool
- Delicious food including one of the very best hotel breakfasts I’ve eaten
- It’s pretty close to many of the best things to do in Wicklow with kids.
Where to eat in Wicklow with kids
We mainly ate at our hotel, the Druids Glen, and were really impressed with the food. But if you’re heading out for the day we can also recommend:
The Burnaby lounge and Bar in Greystones which offers all the usual classics in a friendly and cosy environment.
Box Burger in Bray will be sure to delight little carnivores but they also have an impressive veggie selection and plenty of tasty salads on the menu if you’re counting the calories.
Another favourite is the Happy Pear in Greystones you wont be able to miss this healthy café and food store due to its huge queue, the super tasty and nutritious food will make it well worth the wait!
Top Tip – whilst you’re in Greystones, the kids will be forever grateful for a trip to the traditional sweet shop. Packed full of old school family favourites.
If you have extra time then there is so much more to see in Ireland with kids and you could easily spend a few weeks touring the country, something we plan to do in the next few years. When we do, I’ll be following this Ultimate Ireland Bucket List from the fabulous Passports and Adventures which has got me aching to explore the rest of the Emerald Isle.
What are your favourite things to do in Wicklow with kids? Do you have any recommendations for places we could visit on our next trip? Let us know in the comments below and as always, any questions you have, I’ll try my hardest to answer.
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