From glamping to greenways, castles to cruises, I’ve got five family activity breaks close to Dublin for the perfect overnight adventure.
I’m pretty sure when you think of the Boyne Valley that Newgrange is the first thing that springs to mind – at least it was for me, until my eyes were opened recently. I was asked by Discover Boyne Valley to look at some family activity breaks that might be of interest to me, and I was amazed by the sheer volume and diversity of activities available.
I’m not just talking about cultural attractions – even though it would be remiss of me not to mention that the Boyne Valley is the birthplace of Ireland’s Ancient East. But there is much more to discover in the Boyne Valley than mythical landscapes and Ireland’s legendary UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Did you know that Ireland has its very own Camino in the Boyne Valley, and that it is officially recognised and can be included in the 100km required to receive an official Compostela Pilgrims Certificate? – You can read more about this below.
It is also worth mentioning that Ireland’s longest greenway, the newly opened Royal Canal Greenway passes through the Boyne Valley too, a 130km walking and cycling amenity that stretches along the historic canal, with 22kms in Meath at Enfield, Longwood and Hill of Down.
The Boyne Valley is also home to some gorgeous beaches such as Baltray and Bettystown, and let’s not forget Ireland’s only theme park, Tayto Park is located here. I’m sure a visit to Tayto Park is a regular day out for many families in Dublin, but instead of visiting Tayto Park for a day, why not combine it with some of the other wonderful things to do in the Boyne Valley?
I’ve got boat trips, farm yard adventures, and forest trails, as well as cultural experiences and theme park thrills, all put together with hotel stays for the ultimate family activity breaks.
I have priced these family breaks in the Boyne Valley based on overnight stays during July or August for a family of four, but prices and availability can be checked for larger or smaller families by clicking on the links provided below. Note there may be restrictions in place so please check the latest facilities with hotels and attractions directly.
The hotels below have been chosen for close proximity to attractions, but if you prefer glamping to a hotel stay, or would like a hotel with a swimming pool or a games room, simply swap around the hotels and activities to suits your needs.
1. A Knight to Remember: Kayaking & Trim Castle With Knightsbrook Hotel & Spa
The Boyne Blueway has over 35km of rivers to explore. You can enjoy rafting trips or family kayaking, passing through medieval abbeys, castles and bell-towers. Boyne Valley Activities have a wide range of guided and self-guided activities available, most with no experience required. Kids will love listening to stories of brave knights, while passing through walled towns and floating under stone bridges – this is Ireland’s Ancient East at its best.
Price kayak rental: €130 per family including paddles, helmets and buoyancy aids. See website for prices on other activities.See more here
Why not start your river adventure in the town of Trim and enjoy the 30-minute Trim Castle River Walk, which provides a glimpse of life in the Middle Ages. You can visit Trim Castle too, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Europe, which also happens to be the location for the movie Braveheart.
After an action packed day, what better than a relaxing stay at the Knightsbrook Hotel. This multi-award-winning hotel won Hotel of the Year and Best Hotel Spa Ireland, at the 2019 Hotel Awards. It boasts an 18-hole championship golf Course, four restaurants and a leisure club and spa onsite. A kids club usually operates during school holidays, as well as a games room, and some of the family rooms can accommodate up to five.
Price: Overnight family break (2 adults & 2 children) with breakfast, and a 2-course evening meal, and full access to the leisure centre: from €199
2. Rollercoasters and Relaxation – Tayto Park With Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa
Tayto Park and Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa are two destinations that are worthy of a visit on their own, but combine the two and you have the holy grail of family activity breaks – one that both parents and children will love! Dunboyne Castle also offers two and three-night family activity breaks with meals included – this would allow you to enjoy some of the Boyne Valley’s other attractions, such as Trim Castle, Brú na Bóinne or the newly opened Royal Canal Greenway.
Tayto Park is Ireland’s only theme park, and is one of the top things to do with kids in the Boyne Valley. If you haven’t already visited, now is your chance. There are attractions for all ages, including Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, Cú Chulainn, and the Viking Voyage flume ride for thrill-seekers, as well as dedicated junior zone for younger guests.
There is also a fabulous zoo with a diverse collection of mammals, including big cats and farmyard animals. Children will love the World of Raptors display featuring birds of prey from around the globe, and depending on restrictions you also take the Tayto factory tour to see how Ireland’s favourite crisps are made.
Price: All access day pass €35. Junior zone day pass €31. Under 3 have free entry only.See more here
After a long day out at Tayto Park what better than a relaxing evening at the 4-star Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa. Set in 21 acres of gardens and woodlands, with fairy trails for children and a spa with outdoor hot tub for adults, it offers the best of both worlds. Family rooms are spacious with floor to ceiling windows, a HD TV with interactive entertainment system an tea and coffee making facilities. Interconnecting rooms are also available.
Children receive a welcome pack on arrival, and movie nights, family afternoon tea and picnics can be arranged. You won’t even have to leave the hotel for dinner, as the award-winning Ivy Restaurant is the perfect choice for an evening meal.
Price: Overnight stay (2 adults & 2 children under 12) with breakfast from €145. Two-night family activity breaks with breakfast and 3-course dinner on one evening: from €365See more here
3. Two-night Glamping, Boating and Camino Adventure
Always wanted to try the Camino in Spain? Try the Boyne Valley Camino instead! This self-guided, 25km looped walk is ideal for active families who are looking for a challenge, as well as stunning scenery. This can be walked on one day or over a few days, the choice is yours.
Official Camino Passports (order in advance) can be used to collect beautiful stamps created by local artists en route, and if you continue the Camino in Galicia, from A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (75km), you will complete the 100km required to receive an official Compostela Pilgrims Certificate. Download Boyne Valley Camino Map & Guide here.
If the Camino is a stretch too far for you or your children, Littlewood Forest is a great alternative. This gorgeous family-friendly walk dates back to the retreat of the glaciers from Ireland. The forest has diverse woodland areas with huge varieties of trees, fungi and plants – you may even spot the rarest of all orchids – the Broad-leaved Helleborines. You are also likely to encounter some red deer and maybe a rare Pine Marten – a small cat with a bushy tail that were almost extinct in Ireland.
Swap the walking boots for wellies this time, and enjoy an afternoon along the Boyne River. Paddle the route that Stone Age farmers travelled, in a traditional Irish currach – incidentally these are the same boats that were used in Game of Thrones series.
You will be accompanied by Ross, a legendary boat-builder and storyteller who will share insights into the making of Game of Thrones. He is brimming with stories and will also recount tales from the battlefield during the Battle of the Boyne. This fascinating tour combines outdoor activity, mythology and history into one magical family experience.
Price: Family of four €79, or €99 for family of six, for a 90-minute tour.See more here
Complete this outdoors family adventure with a two-night stay at Rock Farm Slane – one of Ireland’s most popular glamping sites. Stay in one of the five yurts or two shepherd huts on their 150 acre farm along the the banks of the River Boyne. Children will love the chill out zone with iPad docking station, as well as the wood burning stove, clay pizza oven, and large communal fire pit.
If you fancy a dip, you can choose the private river access for wild swimming, or the outdoor hot tub for a more relaxing experience. Surrounded by a wild meadow and overlooking Slane Castle, it is a wonderful ecotourism destination that will give you a back to nature experience in the Boyne Valley.See more here
4. Ice Cream Adventure at Causey Farm & Girley Bog Eco Walk With Headfort Arms Hotel
Causey Farm is renowned for its family-friendly events at Halloween and Christmas time, but their Ice cream Adventure was also a great success last summer. Reopening in July and August, families will follow the trail, solving puzzles and playing games along the way, as well as meeting some of Causey’s farm animals. Of course an Ice Cream Adventure has to have ice cream too!
Prices are €11 for adults and children, under 2 are free.See more here
Located just eight minutes from Causey Farm is the Girley Bog Eco Walk. This 5.6 km walk is ideal for children of all ages, where they will discover forest and raised bogland – a habitat that is becoming increasingly scarce in Ireland and the E.U. Watch out for a variety of animals, birds and plant life, and there are interpretive panels along the walk. Walking boots or wellies are recommended!
The family-run 4-star Headfort Arms hotel is located in the village of Kells, just 10 minutes drive from both Causey Farm and Girley Bog, and is an ideal choice for family activity breaks in the Boyne Valley. It has an award-winning restaurant, as well as its own Wood Fired pizza oven, so you have the choice of casual or fine dining. You will also find treatment rooms if you need some pampering.
Price: Overnight family stay (2 adults & 2 children) with breakfast from €149See more here
5. The Cultural Choice – Brú na Bóinne With Trim Castle Hotel
Brú na Bóinne is one of only three Unesco World Heritage sites we have in Ireland – Skellig Michael and the Giants Causeway are the other two. We should feel duty bound to visit. I mean, when we go abroad we visit the world’s top attractions, so why not do the same at home?
Brú na Bóinne means ‘mansion’ of the Boyne and refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes.
The new state of the art, immersive visitor centre transports visitors back 5000 years to the pinnacle of passage tomb building, when Brú na Bóinne contained some of the largest buildings in the world. In case you didn’t already know, Newgrange pre-dates the pyramids of Giza by 400 years and Stonehenge by 1000 years!
Over three hundred decorated stones make up Knowth which represents the greatest concentration of Megalithic art in Western Europe. The lesser known Dowth makes up the third site, but you are unable to access its interior.
The visitor centre is the starting point for all visits to Newgrange and Knowth – you can not gain entry to the monuments without visiting the centre first. Tickets are limited so it is vital you book in advance.
Prices: Family tours from €28 – €48 depending on whether you want to visit the interior of the Newgrange tomb or the exterior.See more here
To complete this cultural activity break why not pay a visit to Trim Castle? It is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Europe, and also happens to be the location where the movie Braveheart was filmed. After your visit make sure you take 30-minutes to enjoy the scenic Trim Castle River Walk too.
Price: Family admission to the castle: €13. No charge for river walk.See more here
Finish off your day with an overnight stay in the highly rated Trim Castle Hotel. With a choice of dining options and free access to the Aura Leisure Centre located just five minutes away, this four-star hotel is a super choice for family activity breaks close to Dublin. Some of the family rooms can also accommodate up to two adults and four children.
The Boyne Valley is a land of legends filled with round towers and ancient castles, but it is also full of family adventures that are waiting to be discovered. Book one of these family activity breaks this summer and go experience them – I might see you there!
This post was sponsored by DiscoverBoyneValley, but all views are as always, my own.
Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.