3 Irish city breaks with the kids in tow
Think ‘city break’ and you think of the cobblestoned, croissant-scented streets of Paris. Or the meandering, gondola-filled waterways of Venice. Or perhaps the neon-flooded, yellow cab-lined blocks of New York.
These are big, international cities that beckon with historical sights, gastronomic cuisine and shopping opportunities. They are the perfect destination for a romantic interlude - but for a holiday with a fussy three-year-old or a seven-year-old who likes to run off in crowds? Not so much.
Taking kids on a city break changes everything. You don’t want a lengthy flight. Or too much trudging around monuments. You don’t want a city that never sleeps. You just want your little ones to sleep through the night.
So forget the bright lights of big places (well, until your children are older at least) and look a little closer to home. It is possible to do a city break that won’t involve you tearing your hair out or your child sulking.
Derry, Belfast and Dublin have lots to keep kids (of all ages) amused. Plus, they’re compact enough for little legs to explore. And the best part? There are kid-friendly Maldron Hotels in each of these centres, so you can end a day of activity with a comfy bed and delicious food. Perfect.
Here are some of our top picks for an Irish city getaway.
The second-largest city in Northern Ireland, Derry is renowned for its friendly people and for playing host to one of the largest Halloween festivals in the world. Here are a few things to check out on your stay in this beautiful walled city.
Ulster American Folk Park
Just a 40-minute drive from Derry you’ll find the Ulster American Folk Park. This open air museum really brings history to life for the little ones and uncovers the story of three centuries of Irish emigration. See the thatched cottages, clamber aboard a full-scale emigrant sail ship and journey to the log cabins on the American frontier. The park guides are all in authentic costume making this an immersive – and informative – experience for visitors.
Hop on, hop off sightseeing bus
Hop on, hop off buses are a great way of getting your bearings in a city. They’re especially great for children. Hop off when they’re tired, bored or hungry. And hop back on again to take in some more sights. In Derry, this sightseeing bus gives a wonderful overview of the city’s history. Not to mention panoramic views from the upper deck.
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital city. It has enjoyed a recent resurgence in tourism and boasts fantastic food, pretty streets and cultural attractions children will love – like the statues that pay homage to the chronicles of Narnia. Don’t miss the following:
The ill-fated Titanic was built in Belfast at the height of the city’s booming ship industry. Delve into Belfast’s maritime history and learn about Titanic at this heritage attraction on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter.
Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory
One of Belfast’s oldest sweet shops, Aunt Sandra’s is a wonderland of fudge, chocolate, lollipops and sugary, colourful treats of all shapes and sizes. They host tours and candy-making workshops for kids who want a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque glimpse into the world of sweets.
The country’s capital is a vibrant, fun-filled city framed by mountains and the Irish sea. There is no shortage of things to do here, and plenty that your mini-me will enjoy.
Viking Splash Tour
For sheer fun, the Viking Splash Tour is hard to beat. We’d even wager it will be the highlight of your child’s trip. A sightseeing tour with a difference, you’ll whizz through the main sights of Dublin city by land – and then plunge into the River Liffey to continue the tour by water! Unsurprisingly, given the name, the focus is on vikings. You’ll don viking helmets throughout and even roar at passers-by.
Leprechaun museum Dublin
Children will love getting a leprechaun’s eye view of Irish culture and mythology at this very special museum. Expect oversized furniture (so you can see the world as a leprechaun would), imaginative storytelling and lots of fun. Who knows - maybe you’ll even find that pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.
Wherever you journey to in Ireland, with Maldron Hotels you’re bound to have the perfect, family-friendly city break. You can now save €10 per room, per night with Make it Maldron.
Maldron Hotels have 16 hotels across eight locations throughout Ireland. For more information about their hotels and their other amazing autumn offers, check out the website.