Last May, Ben had a work trip to Dublin, Ireland and the kids and I tagged along (darn the luck!). We’ve been to Dublin a few times, but it wasn’t until this last trip that I found it to be extraordinarily family-friendly. I love that this visit changed my mind! We were in Dublin for a week, so we decided to venture just outside of the city for a day and escape to majestic Malahide. What a perfect day we had there!
We lucked out with amazing weather this time! The day we went to Malahide was sunny, 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with just a light breeze blowing through our hair. Perfect for a family outing, in my opinion!
We had read about Malahide in a pamphlet in our hotel that was promoting a day trip via bus. We found it was more cost effective to go by train and that it allowed us to go at a leisurely pace. There is a train that leaves from Dublin city center (Connelly station) to Malahide every 20 minutes and returns with similar frequency. The cost is 3.25€ each way. Although there are several stops along the way, there are no train changes.
When we arrived at the train station in Malahide, we walked uphill to the main road and turned left where we found the charming little church which hosts the towns information center, as well as clean restrooms (I always want to know where the restrooms are when kids are in tow!) and a little coffee shop. From there, we wandered down one of the quaint roads toward the seaside and picked up some fish and chips to eat on the grass next to the bay. It was relaxing, easy, and nice for the kids to be able to run around barefoot in a nice open space.
When we were strolling after lunch, we saw this adorable red “train” vehicle driving people around town. Of course, the kids were jumping up and down asking if we could ride it. The “Toots” train is a must with kids (or without!) in Malahide. It leaves from the train station and drives all around the town, making several stops, including the town’s lovely beach and Malahide Castle. We were on our way to the castle anyway, so we hopped on. The driver was hilarious and the ride around town was a nice break for our legs. Tickets for Toots are inexpensive and it’s an easy and fun way to see the highlights of this picturesque town.
When we passed the beach, we were surprised how packed it was with sunbathers, since it wasn’t exactly what I’d call bathing suit weather. I guess whenever the sun is shining you get your tan on as best you can! In any case, layering your clothing for whatever the weather might decide to do is a good rule of thumb in Ireland.
Malahide Castle is definitely worth a visit. The castle itself is not so large that it takes all day to go through, but rather visiting the castle and gardens can be done in just two hours. Of course, the grounds span 22 luscious green acres and boast plenty ideal picnic spots, so you could really make a day of just the castle and grounds if you wanted to. There’s a wonderful café and shop in the visitor center and an ice cream window in the courtyard during the warm months.
Here’s a little video about the castle and gardens from their site:
I loved the guided tour, because the tour guide really knew her stuff and was enthusiastic about the history of the castle and the town. It was obvious that she truly enjoyed sharing her knowledge with us, which we felt greatly enhanced the experience! I also liked that they allowed visitors to take pictures. In many castles and estates we’ve toured, photography inside is not permitted. Also, there are very clean restrooms located in the castle (you know, in case your two year old decides mid-tour that she just has to go potty right that instant.).
The castle gardens are just as beautiful and fun to meander through. There’s a little grass maze the kids enjoyed next to one of the green houses.
After our time at the castle, we hopped back on the Toots train and rode back to the middle of town. It was getting to be dinnertime and our kids were too tired to sit through a meal in a restaurant. There are so many little restaurants that looked incredible, so visiting them is tucked away on our agenda for next time. This time, however, we opted to drop into the gourmet food mart by the bay for some salads, sharp Irish cheeses, fruit, wine, and some snacks for the train ride back.
And that was that. We took the train back to Dublin and tucked happy kids in bed before enjoying some wine and cheese while we listened to live music outside our hotel window in Temple Bar. Next visit, we might consider staying in Malahide over Dublin.
- Toots Train
- Malahide Castle and Gardens
- Award Winning Restaurants
- Malahide Beach
- Sporting at Gannon Park
Helpful Things for Families:
- A stroller is a good idea for little ones- We brought our umbrella stroller and it was just right, as it folded up nicely in the back of the Toots train.
- The trip can be as inexpensive or expensive as you want- This was probably the least expensive day we had during our time in Ireland, since we didn’t eat in any sit-down restaurants and transportation didn’t cost much. The castle grounds are free as well, so if you didn’t think your kids would last through the tour, you could still enjoy a picnic, strolling the site, and visiting the playground. If you were to dine-in and shop all the darling boutiques, you could really drop some cash in this town!
- Restrooms are easy to access all around the town- We found all the bathrooms clean and easy to access no matter where we were.
- The train from Dublin was enjoyable, short, and scenic
When we told people we went to Malahide, they all said, “Oh, well if you loved Malahide, then you really ought to visit Howth!” So, on the agenda for next time (and there will be a next time), we will journey up another stop or two on the train and visit Howth, which apparently has quite the majestic reputation!