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’ll definitely be back to explore deeper but for now, here are our top tips on things to do, 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.
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 weathers being kind) it’s well worth a trip to the top. It’s situated 4km west of Kilmacanogue and is easily recognizable by its conical shape. The upper parts can get pretty steep and could be considered dangerous, but it’s mainly an easy trek. 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.
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, as it’s super close to Greystones Station where the DART train travels regularly during the day.
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, 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, and a family ticket to the Bird of Prey center will set you back a further €25.
Please note, the main house is currently closed due to urgent maintenance and will reopen in March 2018.
If you fancy something indoors, the Sealife centre in Bray is a fun place to spend a few hours 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.
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. You can read our full review of the resort here but the highlights include:
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:
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.
Have you been to 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.
If you liked this, you may like our full review of Druids Glen Hotel and Golf Resort.