Probably one of Clare’s most famous sights are the Cliffs of Moher which can be seen in countless movies. You can visit on foot or enjoy them from a different perspective by booking an hour long boat trip on Cliffs of Moher Cruises. Near the cliffs, you will find Doolin, a lovely village famous for its traditional Irish music.
As you drive through County Clare towards Galway you will reach The Burren, a unique area of historic, cultural and geographic significance. The landscape has to be seen to be believed. It is made of limestone and crisscrossed with cracks and interspersed with rocks and plants. The Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara, is an interpretive centre for the natural history of the Burren. There’s an Adventure Playground with excellent equipment, including a fantastic sand pit. Here, you can take a 1 kilometre nature trail, a gentle loop walk where you can see the fairy doors in the trees and feed sheep, goats and llamas. Kids can do a nature trail activity where they can make rubbings of leaves and other nature items on the way around and return their sheet for a “reward”. Indoors there’s an artisan cafe, and soft play area with slides, ball pool and climbing frames.
Another fantastic place for kids in County Clare are Aillwee Caves and Birds of Prey Centre located high up in the mountains with a spectacular view of Galway Bay. Here you can see bridged chasms, icicle like formations and a thunderous waterfall which sometimes gently sprays the unsuspecting visitor. A tour of the caves takes 30 minutes. Bring a baby carrier for little ones and be aware that they switch out the lights at one stage so if you child may be afraid it might be better to skip the tour. You will find a restaurant at the end of the tour and there is also an outdoor terrace with views of Galway Bay. You can also enjoy a show at the Birds of Prey Centre and see epic displays of eagles, falcon, hawks and owls.
Clare and Galway have some fantastic beaches also. Fanore Beach, in the heart of the Burren and near Ballyvaughan, is one of the best beaches in Clare. Lahinch is a pretty seaside town on the coast of Clare, well known for its golden sandy beach which stretches for a mile. Popular with surfers, if you’ve a learner surfer in the family this would be a great beach for them. And the rest of the family will enjoy paddling or even a dip in the sea.
If the weather isn’t so great then stop into Lahinch Seaworld and Leisure Centre where you can while away a few hours having a splash in the swimming pool areas which include a 25-metre pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and kiddies pool. The beach at Salthill, near Galway city is very popular, especially during the summer months.
Galway City is a university city and during the summer months is a hub of activity. Street performers can be found along Shop Street and there are loads of fantastic restaurants and bars which are family friendly. Eyre Square in the heart of Galway is a handy spot to take kids. You can bring a picnic and settle on a grassy spot and then make a stop to the mini playground at the side of the Square. Galway Market is open on Saturdays and SUndays and is located off Shop Street near St Nicholas Collegiate Church. Here, you can find some fantastic outdoor stalls selling food and crafts. Galway Atlantaquaria is a fantastic spot for kids of all ages and is Ireland’s largest aquarium. There’s a splash tank, ray pool, ocean tank, fin whale skeleton, touch pools.
Just outside Galway city you will find Salthill, a beach area with a fantastic, long promenade. Kids will love the beach on a sunny day and there’s a fun fair, large swimming pool and planty of hotels and restaurants where you can enjoy a family friendly meal.
Connemara is a mountainous area just beyond Galway. The Sky Road is one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way and you can take a loop drive from Clifden and enjoy its breathtaking scenery. Clifden is a charming town with a playground which makes a great base for exploring the area. Mannin Bay is located nearby and has a beach. At Roundstone in Connemara you will find a pretty little fishing village with a busy little harbour, where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catches. There is a playground here and Dog’s Bay which is located nearby has a great beach. From Roundstone you can enjoy the views of the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic. Another great option is the 90 minute boat tour of Killary Harbour (kids go free) which leaves from Leenaun and enjoy the spectacular scenery and birdlife. If you’re lucky you may get to see dolphins.
Kylemore Abbey is situated near Renvyle. This stunning property is set among the mountains and thick lush trees. THere’s a walled garden a playground and two cafes where you can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea. There is plenty of space for kids to run around here. Connemara National Park is another great place for kids with a playground, mountain and wooded hikes – many of which are suitable for kids over 3.
Family Friendly Hotels in Clare & Galway
The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, County Clare
Located close to Lahinch, this hotel has an indoor pool and an outdoor hot-tub overlooking the River Inagh. There are also 2 restaurants within the hotel and spacious rooms. This is a perfect spot for families and the hotel is surrounded by 50 acres of woodlands and there are donkeys in the field just outside. There is also a kids games room and a kids club for kids aged between 4 and 12.
The Trump Hotel, Doonbeg, County Clare
The spacious 5-star suites are equipped with a kitchen, living area with fireplace, Wi-Fi and marble bathrooms with walk-in rain showers. You will be able to order healthy kids meals in both of the hotel’s restaurants. The hotel also has a lovely garden and kids playground and kids can also enjoy rock pool fishing at the beach. Family rooms are available.
The Station House, Clifden, County Galway
The Station House offers rooms and family friendly serviced apartments. There is also a swimming pool and Connemara National Park is only a 15 minute drive away.
Renvyle House Hotel, Renvyle, County Galway
This fabulous family friendly hotel is a fantastic place to take younger children. A snug conservatory provides a relaxing place to admire the view of the gardens and dark beams, rug strewn floors and open fires create a cosy atmosphere and a haven after a day of sightseeing and activities. There is a heated outdoor swimming pool in summer and some excellent facilities for kids including a playground and a kids club in summer.
Delphi Resort, Connemara, County Galway
Delphi offers the perfect getaway for families with young kids. The resort is set on a 300 acre site located in the heart of the scenically breathtaking Delphi Valley, near Leenane. You can stay in the hotel, the lodge or opt for self catering accommodation in cottages. Either way you will be able to use both the spa and the facilities within the Adventure Centre. The resort also has a free kids club for kids aged 3-7.
Family Friendly Campsites in Clare & Galway
Acton’s Beachside Camping Park, Galway
Set on a private beach within walking distance of Omey Island, Acton’s is one of the few eco-campsites in Ireland, with low-density plots set between grassy sand dunes and wind generated electricity. The campsite has all the safety and facilities of a modern camping park. Pitches cost €26 for a unit for two adults and two children.
Nagles Campsite, Doolin, County Clare
Nagles is set close to the picturesque village of Doolin and is close to Lahinch, the cliffs of Moher and Ailwee Caves. The campsite has a playground for kids, a shop which sells essentials such as bread and milk and the toilet and shower facilities are very clean. This campsite is all about location and if you are looking to tour the area it’s close to all major sites.
Family Friendly Restaurants in Clare & Galway
Randaddy’s, Lahinch, County Clare
Randaddy’s offers fantastic food at a fantastic sea front location in the town of Lahinch. You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a fantastic kid’s menu with absolutely no preservatives or additives.
Brigit’s Garden, Just Outside Galway City
Brigit’s Garden is an ideal spot for kids located close to Galway. It is a perfect place to stop for lunch when driving from Galway to Connemara. There are large gardens decorated with trees, water wheels and traditional Irish buildings. The cafe has a kids play area and delicious artisan food.
Guy’s Restaurant, Clifden, County Galway
Guys is a family friendly, cosy restaurant situated on Main Street in Clifden Town. You can get seasonal seafood and enjoy traditional Irish music in the evenings. The restaurant does not take reservations so get there early to avoid disappointment.
Milano’s, Middle Street, Galway City
(a chain of Italian Restaurants) is located on Middle Street in Galway City and is very family friendly. There is plenty of space and changing facilities.
The Three Towers Eco House and Organic Kitchen, Loughrea, County Galway
The Three Towers serves delicious organic food. It has a beautiful dining room or you can opt to enjoy the views sitting outside with a blanket, a fire and a hot drink. There is also a nature trail nearby if you feel like a walk after eating.