Staggering scenery, ancient landscapes, and tiny towns where tales are told - this is the Ireland the rest of the world longs to visit, and it’s right here at home ready to explore on your next family break in County Clare.
Discover Clare's stunning coastline
A great base for a family break, Lahinch is a lively seaside town at the head of Liscannor Bay, beside a 2km stretch of glorious sandy beach. It’s paradise for surfers who come from all over Ireland (and the world) to ride Lahinch’s world-class Atlantic breakers. Sign the kids up for a lesson or take them swimming, sailing, kayaking or kitesurfing.
The Cliffs of Moher
Just a 15-minute spin up the road from Lahinch is Ireland’s most visited natural attraction, The Cliffs of Moher. The sheer drop of jagged rock into the choppy surf below is almost theatrical, with cries of nesting birds, carried on the wind providing the epic soundtrack. Take a buggy-friendly stroll up to O’Brien’s Tower where the views are their most impressive, or marvel at the 214 metres of cliff from the sea on a boat tour. Your little Harry Potter fans will be excited to learn that one of the movies was filmed here.
Doolin Cave and Farmyard Nature Trail
Another 15 minutes in the car brings you up to Doolin Cave - home to the Northern Hemisphere’s largest stalactite. While you’re there, make sure to walk the Farmland Nature Trail, a 1km leisurely loop that is perfect for little ones. Get them to spot the rare breeds of cattle and pygmy goats and explore the enchanted fairy village.
Visit famous Lisdoonvarna
The Burren Storehouse
We all know Lisdoonvarna for its matchmaking festival. But when you have kids in tow a real fire pizza is a match made in heaven! The Burren Storehouse is only ten minutes away from Doolin Cave, so you can sing ’that’ song (about Lisdoonvarna) the whole way there.
Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory
Half an hour up the road from Lisdoonvarna you can finish your lunch with the perfect dessert. Hazel Mountain Chocolate at Bellharbour is a boutique bean-to-bar producer that’s amongst the smallest and most remote chocolate factories in the world. They had us at chocolate.
In this part of the country, the quiet roads are flanked with drystone walls, and most of them eventually lead to the sea. There’s a great short walk down Ballyvaughan Road to the shore where the kids can spot seals and magnificent sea birds.
Explore the Burren National Park and more
In the heart of the Burren you can take the family on an underworld adventure in one of the oldest caves in Ireland. There’s something really magical about the 30 minute tour of Aillwee Cave. Explore caverns, dodge the spray from the waterfall or search out the bones of the brown bear who lived here over 10,000 years ago. Later, take the hour-long ‘walk with a hawk’ through hazel woodland and across the Burren’s limestone pavement.
Dromore Wood Nature Reserve
From Aillwee it’s well worth the journey inland to discover an unexplored treasure of the County, Dromore Wood Nature Reserve. (Ten minutes out the road - keep an eye out for the impressive Poulnabrone Dolmen). Once you reach the nature reserve you can spot badgers, stoats and shrews, as well as rare species of birds and butterflies. History fans and kids alike will love seeking out the two ring forts and ancient lime kiln.
Lough Avalla Farm Looped Walk
If you’re travelling with older children, make time for the magical walk through an old Celtic farm, the Lough Avalla Farm Looped Walk. It’s 6km route (which will take little over an hour) sweeping the shores of Lough Avalla in the beautiful Burren National Park — pack your walking shoes and snacks.
Jump, slide, climb and bounce around the inflatable obstacle course on the water at the West Coast Aqua Park at the marina in Kilrush. Or make memories by including a nearby bottlenose dolphin watching trip.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
You’re forgiven for thinking Bunratty Castle is just for our American friends, but what’s said to be the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in the country is something every family should experience at least once. Step back in time in the Folk Park’s immersive ‘living’ village; a reconstruction of rural farmhouses, village shops and streets of an Ireland long gone.
If you still have time in County Clare
Sign the kids up for a course at Nevsail Watersports, based at the promenade in Kilkee. Activities include kayaking, canoeing, rock-climbing and stand-up paddle boarding. You’ll get some downtime and they’ll love telling you all about it over dinner.
Spoiled by epic scenery, fascinating histories and world class surf, whatever adventure you and your family choose, you’re sure to leave Clare with rosy cheeks and full hearts.