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15 great adventures to get the kids outdoors this summer

We live in a country with an abundance of great outdoor activities for kids. And, they all don’t have to cost a fortune either

While families all around the country are looking forward to the summer and the possibility of a bit of good weather, it’s hard to ignore the slight hint of dread that bubbles as the end of the school term approaches. Thankfully, we live in a country with an abundance of great outdoor activities for kids. And, they all don’t have to cost a fortune either – mix the odd big treat with back-to-basics beach days and walks. You can never go too far wrong once the children are outdoors.

Cycle a Greenway

Mayo, Waterford, Westmeath, Tipperary, Limerick, Kildare; free;

While the Western and Waterford Greenways are most well-known, the Suir, the Old Trail Greenway and Royal Canal are also great options for a family-friendly day out. All of the Greenways offer families a safe off-road environment to cycle. Bike hire and collection facilities are available and there are ample refreshment stops along the way. The Greenways are relatively flat so are ideal for those hoping to take a trailer with babies and toddlers, or for younger kids who are still relatively new to cycling.

Paddling on the river Barrow

Co Carlow; from €29;


The peaceful waters of the Barrow in Co Carlow are perfect for family-friendly paddling adventures. Go With the Flow offers fun-filled half and full day excursions. The water-based safaris will take you through dramatic landscapes, wooded valleys and the old navigations used by the Guinness barges to deliver Ireland’s favourite tipple. And, if that’s not enough to keep the kids entertained, trips also include a picnic stop and ample opportunities to swim in the river’s sheltered pools. This adventure is suited for ages seven and above.

Climb a mountain

Nationwide; free;

There is something so satisfying about reaching the summit of a mountain, no matter how big or small it is. And, your kids will experience that exact same feeling of satisfaction. Whether you opt for something small and achievable with younger kids like the Sugar Loaf in Co Wicklow or Diamond Hill in Connemara, or something a little more ambitious like Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, it’s guaranteed to be a great day out for the entire family – just be sure to pack plenty of snacks. A number of Ireland’s mountains are now very accessible, thanks to extensive works carried out to develop adequate parking and defined trails.


Co Roscommon, Dublin, Cork; From €18;

Nothing quite compares to the thrill of whizzing down a piece of wire suspended high in the air. It is thrilling, exciting and appealing to kids, both big and small. With three locations around Ireland – Lough Key in Roscommon, Tibradden in Dublin and Farran Park in Cork – Zipit is always a great day out. Climb high into the treetops, swing into cargo nets and ride a BMX across a bridge before taking to one of the many zip lines on offer. Kids as young as seven right up to adults will love this adrenaline-filled day out.

Coasteering on the Causeway Coast

Co Antrim; From £30;

Coasteering is about the most amount of fun that you can have. Jumping off cliffs into the water, whizzing down natural water slides and swimming from spot to spot through the crashing Atlantic is guaranteed to leave the whole family feeling exhilarated. And, it’s a great way to explore the Causeway coastline, too. Bobby from Coasteering NI offers a really great trip, departing from Ballintoy Harbour. The tours are available to kids from 10 years of age.

Mountain biking on the Mourne Coastal Route

Co Down; free;

The Mourne Coastal Route is home to not only one but two premier mountain biking destinations. Suitable for older kids and those with some mountain biking experience, Rostrevor is a bike lover’s dream come true. Both the 27km red route and 19km black route take you to the top of Slievemartin, where the effort of a long climb is rewarded with incredible views across Carlingford Lough. Another reward comes in the form of fast flowing single-track, jumps and high berms.

Castlewellan is just 30 minutes up the road from Rostrevor and also offers a wide range of trails, with a glorious blue route around the lake for younger children and those with less/no mountain biking experience. Access to the trails is totally free but both locations offer bike rental for those who don’t have their own. Cloughmor Extreme is offering bike rental at Rostrevor which starts at £30 for a half-day. Bike rental at Castlewellan starts at £7.50 for kids and £20 for adults.


Nationwide; price varies;

There are hundreds of sailing courses taking place around the country for kids this summer, all of which are held by Irish Sailing affiliated clubs and centres. You don’t need to be a member and the club will provide everything your kids need to get started. The instructors are all trained on Irish Sailing courses so you can rest assured that they will be in safe hands. Most sailing courses start at age six but there are some courses available to younger kids such as the Sea Explorers in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, which takes kids from four years of age to explore the habitats of marine life creatures which is followed by arts and crafts and lively games.

Blessington Lakes Greenway

Co Wicklow; free;

Kicking off from the Avon Activity Centre, the Blessington Greenway walk links the historic town of Blessington with the Palladian mansion at Russborough House. The trail itself covers a distance of 5.8km along forest tracks, boardwalks and tarmac, making it suitable for both walking and cycling. Once at Russborough House, kids can explore the expansive grounds, take to the maze or burn some energy in the playground. There is also a cafe on site.

Glenveagh National Park

Co Donegal; free;

Offering jaw-dropping scenery and abundance of activities to keep the whole family entertained, Glenveagh is always a great day out. You can choose to walk through the historic castle gardens or take on one of six easy walking trails. Alternatively, you can bring or rent bikes (prices start at just €5 for three hours). There are family friendly events throughout the summer months which include children’s story time, birds of prey displays, medieval weaponry displays and more.


Co Antrim; £15;

Aquaholics runs a fantastic boat trip from Ballycastle out to the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Kids will be kept entertained as they look out for dolphins, whales and even basking sharks. Older children and adults can also opt to hop off the boat and into the North Atlantic Ocean swimming right underneath the bridge. It’s a great way of ticking off some famous sites along this amazing coastline without having the kids cooped up in the car.

Loughcrew Estate

Co Meath; free;

The Fairy Trail at Loughcrew Estate is an exciting treasure hunt style trail that will provide hours of entertainment for the little ones. Equipped with an activity booklet and map, kids have to solve clues and answer questions in order to get to the next part of it. There is also plenty of room for children to play on the garden’s lawns at Loughcrew as well as a great playground. Children are welcome to bring their bikes and if they get a little peckish, there’s a coffee shop on site too.

Surfdock Summer Camps

Co Dublin; €148;

The Surfdock kids camp offers a great way to burn some energy this summer. Taking place in Grand Canal Dock, the focus on these weeklong camps is fun. Open to children and teenagers from eight to 16 years of age, the camp offers sailing, kayaking, wind surfing and stand up paddle boarding. No previous watersports experience is necessary. The camp runs on a half day basis from either 9.30am-12.30 or 1.30pm-4.30pm from June 6th.

Avondale Forest Park

Co Wicklow; free;

While the treetop walk has garnered a lot of press since its opening (and for good reason), it is a relatively pricey day out at €40 for a family of four (and that’s without the additional charge for the slide). Avondale Forest Park has so much to offer with its six walking routes and one cycle trail set across 500 acres. Our favourite is the 5km River Walk which is very manageable for all ages. My son loves a spot of stone throwing and paddling in the river, which also offers a great spot to stop for a picnic. The on-site cafe is also very good and is located beside a large state of the art playground so parents can enjoy a coffee in blissful peace and quiet while the kids are still in view.

Belmont Demesne

Co Wicklow; €3 per car;

Located just 15 minutes from Dublin at the foot of the Little Sugar Loaf, Belmont Demense offers a great day out for the whole family. Cycling enthusiasts are catered for on 15km of mountain biking trails set among the woodlands. There are also two pump tracks, one for small kids with balance bikes and the other for older kids and adults. Walkers can take on one of three routes, the longest of which includes a hike up the Little Sugar Loaf offering stunning views across Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Mountains. There’s a great restaurant on site too for post-activity refreshments. Entry to the estate is free but there is a parking charge of €3 per car.

Organise a beach clean

Nationwide; free;

A beach clean is a great way to open your kid’s eyes to the environment around them. And, you’ll be surprised how much fun your children will have when you challenge them to see how much they can find on the beach over the course of an hour or two. You can really make an event of the clean up by inviting family and friends to join you. Litter collection packs are available free of charge from Clean Coasts.