If you’re visiting Dublin and want to experience the city from a different vantage point, there is no better option than the water. The city is divided by the 125km River Liffey, which supplies much of the county’s water, and also home to the beautiful 7km Dublin Bay, a c-shaped inlet on the Irish Sea.
Dublin boat tours for families
Offering the best of both worlds, the Viking Splash Tour is a great way to see the sights of Dublin from land and on water. The tours are conducted on an amphibious vehicle dating back to World War II and take visitors through the city’s historical streets to see sights, such as Christchurch Cathedral and Trinity College before entering the water in the Grand Canal docklands for more.
The tours take place daily and depart from St. Stephen’s Green North starting at 10am and running approximately every half hour.
Viking Splash have temporarily canceled all tours. Visit their website for any updates.
Choose from seven different trips with Dublin Bay Cruises between Dun Laoghaire, Dublin Port and Howth Harbour to see the sights of the city from a different perspective. Each cruise offers a unique collection of the sights of Dublin, showcasing panoramic views and the many wonderful wildlife reserves along the bay from north to south.
The cruises operate seven days a week all summer and can be boarded at Dun Laoghaire Harbour in South Dublin, the Convention Centre in the city and Howth Harbour in the North of the city. The three departure points are all connected by Dublin Bay Cruises and allow you to see all of Dublin.
Dublin Bay Cruises will take sail again on 17th March 2022.
Take a trip down Dublin’s canals and aqueducts on a lovingly restored barge. BargeTrip.ie offers three cruise options and four departure times daily during peak season and the barge trip is suitable for all ages. You can cruise over the Leinster Aqueduct, through a 250-year-old canal lock or visit Sallins to see where trade on the Grand Canal first began when passenger and cargo barges started hauling their horse drawn loads between Kildare and Dublin in 18th century and finish the day off with some waterfront dining, which is an optional add-on.
Watersports for families in Dublin
Harbour Splash is an inflatable aqua park on the water at the Old Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour offering activities for the whole family. Designed as an obstacle course over water, it includes trampolines, climbing frames, slides, monkey bars and more.
Children from age 8 can take part in the full suite of activities, while smaller children from the age of 6 can avail of specially tailored “slow fun” sessions alongside their parents. The park opens again this year from May – September and visitors can avail of wetsuits, vests and helmets onsite free of charge.
Wakedock is the country’s first cable wakeboard park, located in the heart of the Dublin Docklands area. Cable wakeboard parks use a cable course in place of the traditional boat to guide the rider through a course. This means that if you fall, the controller can send the handles your way so you can easily get back up and carry on, instead of having to swim to the quayside.
Wakeboarding is suitable for adults and children of all levels. Throughout the month of May, Wakedock also hosts two-hour jam sessions for children aged 8-16 years every Sunday morning.
Grand Canal Dock is easily accessible by car, walking or on public transport from anywhere in the city. All the equipment you need is available to rent for free and there are changing and shower facilities onsite.
Wakedock is closed until further notice. Follow their Instagram for updates.
Rafting is an invigorous way to experience the River Liffey. Combining adventure with a hint of exercise, the whole family can climb aboard a raft upstream and navigate through the beautiful Strawberry Beds traveling downriver through four weirs, passing stunning scenery and historic sites along the way.
Each trip lasts just over two hours and advanced booking is advised because each raft can only take a maximum of seven people at a time.
Take in the city at your own pace aboard one of City Kayaking’s double seater sit-on-top kayaks, which are known for being very stable. Boarding at the base of the famous Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship, City Kayaking is the only adventurous activity currently being operated on the River Liffey in the city centre. This gives you a great chance to take in the uninterrupted views of the city above as you pass by its landmarks, like the Ha’Penny Bridge and the Customs House.
If you’re lucky, you might even catch one of their Music Under the Bridges gigs during the summer months, where some of the best musicians in Dublin to perform under the Bridges for paddlers.
Finish your family bonding activity with an overnight stay at the family-friendly Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane. There are a range of special offers on family packages and as a guest, you’ll get access to one of Dublin’s largest city-centre hotel pools.