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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019

5 breathtaking road trips in Ireland that your kids will love

Here’s how to plan the perfect family day out.

shutterstock_616665140 Source: Shutterstock/Luca Fabbian

ALONG WITH THE SWEET relief of being away from the office for three days, bank holidays bring with them their own particular kind of pressure – how to craft the perfect day to spend together as a family.

After the inevitable stress of getting everyone ready without tantrums or fights and loading up the car with snacks, sun cream and toys, there always remains one very important question – where to?

Well, we’ve a few unforgettable ideas for you that they’ll love and even learn from.

1. Bring them to an ancient volcanic eruption

shutterstock_583870756 Source: Shutterstock/S-F

When Irish giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to fight Scottish giant Banandonner, he accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so the two giants could meet. Or so the story goes.

In reality, the Giant’s Causeway consists of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were formed as a result of ancient volcanic eruption – which is just as cool for a kid to hear. Challenge them to find the giant’s boot, eyes, harp and gate, all basalt structures that resemble objects after years of weathering.

Nearby plans for a rainy day: Why not bring the kids to the incredible Titanic Belfast and immerse them in the history of the world’s most famous ship?

The scenic route: It’s five minutes from the town of Bushmills along the A2. If you’ve time, there are nine coastal routes you can take instead, check them out here.

2. Take them onto an island filled with wild animals

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Along with the excitement of driving over a bridge and suddenly being on a beautiful island, Fota Wildlife Park has more than 70 species of exotic wildlife in 100 acres of grassland, with ring-tailed lemurs, wallabies and giraffes roaming freely around the park.

If you’re craving a well-earned break after a long day of strolling around the zoo, think about booking into one of the self-catering lodges at Fota Island Resort, where you and the kids can play in their 18m indoor heated pool.

Nearby plans for a rainy day: Experience how the other half lived in the sprawling, regency-style Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens.

The scenic route: The most direct route takes 10 minutes from Cobh along the R624 and hugs the coast, speeding past the River Lee.

3. Show them rare Irish species you can’t see anywhere else

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Even though it’s the smallest national park in Ireland, the limestone landscape Burren National Park is arguably one of the most spectacular of them all, and includes such rare Irish species that some are only found in this region, and three quarters of Ireland’s flowers are found here.

See if the kids can spot wild pine marten, beautiful wild butterflies (one species of which is only found in the Burren and Sweden), badgers, foxes, stoats, herds of feral goats and otters along the coast.

Nearby plans for a rainy day: Take them below ground to an entirely different world at Doolin Cave, featuring one of the world’s longest (7.3m) free-hanging stalactites.

The scenic route: It’s a 10-minute drive from Kinvara along via the N67, taking you to the coastal edge of the Burren. If you’d like to visit the Burren Centre, it’s 35 minutes from Gort along the R460 and R476.

4. Show them some of Ireland’s most beautiful views

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There’s a reason why hoardes of American tourists flock to one particularly beautiful area of Kerry each year – it’s because it is genuinely one of the most gorgeous spots on the island.

Extending over 179 kilometres, the Ring of Kerry runs from Kenmare all the way to Killarney taking in sights like Ladies View, Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe. If the weather is particularly nice, pack the swim gear and dip into a lake.

Nearby plans for a rainy day: Make an excuse to stop off in the picture-perfect charm of Dingle and see the sharks and penguins in Oceanworld Aquarium.

The scenic route: Killarney National Park is just 30 minutes from Tralee along the N22. Starting at Kenmare, it’s 45 minutes along the R569 and the N22, or drive along the N71 to pass through the heart of the park.

5. Chase them through sand dunes before a swim together

shutterstock_647279398 Source: Shutterstock/Alan Lee Miller

As a childhood favourite for a good majority of Dubliners, a good old-fashioned picnic and laze on the white sands of Brittas can’t be beaten. Surrounded by sand dunes, the beach was once the backdrop of The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Jim Caviezel.

Stretching over five kilometres, the beach has won a European Union Blue Flag for five consecutive years so is one of the cleanest on the East Coast. It also has particularly calm waters, owing to the lack of headlands nearby.

Nearby plans for a rainy day: Give them a spooky taste of what life was like in Irish prisons during the Famine, at Wicklow’s Historic Gaol in the centre of Wicklow town.

The scenic route: It’s 35 minutes from Bray along the N11/M11. If you’ve enough time, cruise down the coast road (1 hour), passing Greystones, Wicklow town and Three-Mile Water.

Ireland’s best-selling crossover of all time the Nissan Qashqai, has had an upgrade. So make your family road trips even smoother by checking it out here with prices starting from €26,070. For more on their brilliant family cars, have a look at their full range on Nissan.ie.

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