Yet Another Ireland Travel Question
May 30, 2018 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to a wedding in Northern Ireland in late July with my kids in tow. Wedding is in the Derry area on a Saturday; my flight out is from Dublin the following Wednesday. What would you do with 3 free days in Ireland?

We will be arriving in Belfast on a Friday, driving to the wedding location, and spending the next 24 hours teaching my toddler to grow flower petals while walking. From there, we're open to any route, as long as it's kid-friendly and the driving distances are manageable (ideally less than 1.5-2 hours). There will be 6 of us, so we'll have a large minivan. Kid are all under 8, and I've resigned myself to the fact that their needs are driving the itinerary. What would Metafilter do?
posted by snickerdoodle to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would probably go to the Giant's Causeway. Just because it's only about an hour from Derry and is such an icon.

Your profile suggests you're from the US so if you haven't been to a traditional British Isles seaside town then that might be a nice thing to do if the weather is good - get a bucket and spade for the beach, eat ice cream etc. I don't have any specific recommendations, but I expect there will be options within easy distance of Derry, Belfast or Dublin.
posted by plonkee at 3:10 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hang out near Derry for a couple of days, then drive to Dublin the day before your flight.

I second the recommendation of Giants Causeway. There’s some pretty nice beaches east of Derry, with lots of cows and sheep for the kids to look at along the way. Ask the Tourist Office for details.
posted by monotreme at 4:40 PM on May 30, 2018

Four kids under 8 - are they runners? You can spend most of one entire day doing the Giant's Causeway but if any of them are prone to wandering off or running away, you may not want to go there. The columns themselves are very slippery and there are drop-offs that could be dangerous. If they generally stay with you and listen, then you should be fine. If you do go, make sure to have cash for the bus: "Getting from the Visitor Center to the Giants Causeway is about 1km, and there is a bus that can drop you down and back £1 each way." Carrick-a-Rede is nearby but also includes a long walk out to a bridge and island where you would really need to keep an eye on the kids.
posted by soelo at 6:34 PM on May 30, 2018

Portrush is the classic seaside resort town in that area, and the villages either side are good alternatives if you want something a little less resort-y. That's all close to both the Causeway and to Bushmills, but the latter is not kid-friendly.
posted by holgate at 8:01 PM on May 30, 2018

I'd spend the time taking the slow road down the west coast as far as say, Galway before heading to Dublin [that bit is only ~2.5 hours]. Make sure you stop for food in a village pub somewhere along the way.

Giant's Causeway - I suppose it's a bit interesting if you've never seen columnar basalt before, but I found it underwhelming. Note that if you just want to have a look, you can do that for free by avoiding the over-priced 'visitor experience centre'.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 10:34 PM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

the slow road down the west coast as far as say, Galway

I agree -- the places where they still speak Irish.
posted by philip-random at 10:40 PM on May 30, 2018

If you don't fancy the Giant's Causeway Tourist Experience: an alternative a little further down the Antrim coast is the Gobbins Cliff Path. It's an old Victorian path built clinging to the side of the cliffs which fell into disrepair but was recently restored and reopened. I'm doing it next week and it's meant to be utterly spectacular. The walk is about 2.5 hours and guided, and there's the chance to see all sorts of seabirds and coastal wildlife as well as the fantastic landscape.

The drive from Ballycastle down to Larne, which is near the cliff path, is spectacular enough in itself - the road hugs the coast and runs along the bottom of the cliffs.
posted by winterhill at 2:42 AM on May 31, 2018

Seconding Portrush and adding Portstewart to the mix, which is only a very short drive away from Portrush and also has some fun seaside delights including (if it's still there) a very nice ice cream place I cannot remember the name of. Ballycastle is also gorgeous, so if you're already thinking about a nice trip to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, that's not a bad place to hang out for awhile.

Glencolumbkille is a Gaeltacht area that's a closer drive from Derry than Galway would be and has some really awesome ruins and probably enough goings on in the folk village that it would hold some sway for kiddos. It's also close to Malin Beg and Silver Strand Beach which are GORGEOUS. Donegal and Sligo are both fairly reachable from Derry as well.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:41 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

We took a tour that included the Giant's Causeway, and then on to Bushmill's Distillery. If you like Irish Whiskey, they have some great deals if you buy it there. I also recommend driving down to Galway City, lots to do, and then across to Dublin. It is easy to get from Galway to Dublin on the motorway, and you can stop along the way at many towns. Try to find out where are some kid-friendly places in Belfast itself. If you head right out to Dublin, their zoo is great and very kid-friendly, and there is Tayto Park, sponsored by Tayto Crisps, a kid amusement park.
posted by mermayd at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2018

In general I'd go with the Giants Causeway / Portrush recommendations above - I loved both as a kid. Portrush has a beach and loads of fairground rides and amusement arcades, and the Causeway is pretty breathtaking.

The Gobbins Path is gorgeous, especially if you get good weather, but I'm not sure it's worth a huge diversion just to see it on its own - note also that it's "not suitable for young children" and there are height restrictions. If you do wind up in that neck of the woods, Browns Bay is a quiet but beautiful little beach nearby, and Carrickfergus Castle (25 mins from the Gobbins) is one of the best preserved Norman castles in the UK, with loads of stuff for kids to do. The Antrim coast as you drive round from Portrush to the Gobbins is really pretty.
posted by doop at 2:06 PM on June 1, 2018

Just to eliminate any confusion, my suggestion for " taking the slow road down the west coast as far as say, Galway", was intended as a suggestion for a journey, rather than a specific destination.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:57 PM on June 5, 2018

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