Ireland vs Scotland with kids

We are in the very beginning stages of planning for a trip to Ireland/Scotland and possibly London in Aug of 2014. We will be traveling with kids (6, 9, and 11). They have traveled internationally and domestically. I'm interested in recommendations about Ireland vs Scotland (combining is a possibility). My major concern is if Ireland will keep them interested? Too much driving? These are kids that are very interested in history, but like to be busy. Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated!

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
192 posts

I've only been to Scotland with my then 7 year old last Summer. I can tell you that we had a great time in Scotland. We spent 2 weeks in Scotland. I think either place would be great. I don't know how much time you have. Places to Visit in Scotland with Kids: Edinburgh: Castle, Holyrood Palace, St. Giles, Britannia, National Museum Take a one-day Rabbie's Tour to Alnwick Castle (England) or Stirling Castle. OBAN: Boat day-trips to Inner Hebrides for wildlife, Fingal's Cave, Iona Abbey
Inverness (Nice, but not a must-see destination): Nessie boat trip, Culloden battlefield and museum. Hope this helps!

Posted by jen
Chicago, USA
2 posts

Thanks so much! We will probably spend about 10 days there.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Scotland is a great place for kids. Other Edinburgh locations to consider include Dynamic Earth. It's a bit like the Field Museum, but it's Scotland so they spend time on the ice age and Scotland. I particularly enjoyed the the bit about glaciation. You really had the sensation of swooping down the Glen with the Glacier. Also, it's always packed with Scottish children which might be interesting. Depending on your children, they might enjoy Georgian House. What I enjoyed was the way that museum showed how people lived in Georgian times. If you want to go back further, then take them to Gladstone's Land. You may not realize it, but Edinburgh had the first " skyscrapers". The location of the on the dyke of an extinct volcano facilitated this. There is a wonderful transportation museum in Glasgow. It just re-opened as the Riverside Museum. The adults will like to know that the museum was designed by Hadid as well as the exhibits which will interest the students. More to come.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

I would definitely take them north. Here are some more ideas. If the adults are interested in golf, then do go to St. Andrews. For the kinds go to the Castle. The mine is very cool as is the bottle dungeon. Do you have a Peter Pan fan? Head to Kirriemuir to visit JM Barrie's house. Also near by is Glamis Castle which is very impressive and has some great ghost stories. Beatrice Potter created Peter Rabbit while spending summer in Birnam. There is a nice little garden with statures of the favorite characters. The area is also good for walks. It's beautiful location. I've usually stayed in Dunkeld. There's a nice music bar. Kids can go early in the evening. If you don't go to Glamis, check out Blair Castle as another option. The Highland Folk Museum near Newton More is great. It has a of funky old stuff, but has black house and badzillions of rabbits. They evidently have a huge rabbit warren at the railroad side which is right next to the museum. So, unless they've done something about it expect to see lots and lots of rabbits. ; ) More.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Aviemore is not my favorite place to stay, but for a family it may be just the place. First, there is the Strathspey Steam Train. If you are in a need of a day of outside activity the Rothiemurcheus Estate has lots of activities. I prefer to stay in Inverness. I would recommend Culloden Battlefield. If you have a romantic among your kids, this of course, is where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated. The visitor center is very good, and you should take the guided walk. Nearby are other sites that may be of interest. First, there's Clava Cairns. Its like a stone circle. Also, check out Fort George. This is the Undiscovered Scotland site. Check out this site in more detail. Fort George is an active fort, so it has added interests. You might also want to go over to Chanory Point to check out the dolphins. Pam

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

A few more ideas for you.... If you do decide to head west I would go all they way and stay on Mull rather than Oban. You can spend one day touring Fingal's cave and Ionago on a nice day. And then another can be spent on wildlife boat tour. Also, Tobermory is the "location" of a UK children's program. If you have Harry Potter fans check out the Glenfinnan Viaduct.. This is not far from Fort William. It's also the location where Prince Charlie landed. Fort George is very touristy, but it's a beautiful location. It's where Ben Nevis is, the loch is beautiful. Just up the road is the Commando Memorial, which if you're driving down from Inverness you should stop and admire the view. During WWII the commandos were all trained in this area. There are other Harry Potter sites. Back to Edinburgh, I would recommend going to Stirling on your own. You don't need a guide. Either drive and stop off briefly at Bannockburn or take the train and walk up through the city. It''s up hill, but worth it. Stirling is awesome. Don check out the Historic Scotland website to look for family friendly events. THey do lots of things for children. One time at Stirling I saw a docent kit out a kid in a kilt the old fashioned way. PM if you have more questions. Pam

Posted by Barbara
Indianapolis, IN, USA
49 posts

We took our children to Ireland when they were about the same ages as your children. The Irish like children and were very accommodating to our children. We rented a house in Spiddal near Galway. Mostly, we explored the Connemara area and had picnics along the way. The manager of the house we rented had several children who took our children (and us) fishing, hiking, swimming (it was hot a few days during our trip). We invited the children to join us on a few day trips. My children remember this trip as one of the best ever. I think there is plenty to keep children engaged in activities which would interest them. If you limit the amount of driving that would help. For example, The Cliffs of Moher is a great place to visit and has a wonderful exhibit in the center. I think some filming for Harry Potter took place there. My children enjoyed exploring castles and there are quite a few in Ireland. There are pony cart rides at the Gap of Dunloe in Co. Kerry. Ireland also has water parks, which might be an interesting place to visit for a day. There are working farms where your family could stay if that interests you. Either country would be a great experience and I'm sure you will make the right decision.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2847 posts

Our kids enjoyed Ireland, but LOVED Scotland. Both are great places for kids. We 'did' Ireland as a big bus tour, but it was still nice. The tour guide made a point to really include our kids. We 'did' Scotland more independently. It has more esaily accessed public transportation. I agree that Aviemore, Inverness and Edinburgh would be excellent choices for kids. Glasgow - maybe. Depending on the amount of time you have, a split trip might be a good idea. Maybe rent a cottage in the Ring of Kerry area and do some day trips - and allow time for the beach or swimming in one of the many lakes. Then take the ferry to Scotland and have a few days each in several locations.