Best Family Holiday Destinations Under 3 Hours from Ireland

Flying with children can be trying at the best of times. Attention spans are short - as is the battery life on their i-pad! Here’s a list of five top family holiday destinations less than a 3-hour flight from Dublin:

1. Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve has the full package when it comes to a family holiday: sun, sea, sandy beaches, family friendly resorts and lots more. One of the most popular destinations for Irish holidaymakers, the Algarve’s beaches stretch uninterrupted as far as the eye can see. You’ll find restaurants and bars dotted along the coast serving fresh dishes made with the best locally sourced ingredients often showcasing delicious daily specials.

Top activities in the Algarve for kids:

  • Zoomarine Theme Park 

Zoomarine is home to a mini theme park, water park rides, marine animal shows and theatre performances. Children can whiz down the waterslides, swim with dolphins and experience the thrill of one of the park’s mini roller coasters. Sounds like the makings of a perfect holiday.

  • Krazy World Zoo

Children have the chance to interact with animals up close at Krazy World. They can feed the goats, llamas, deer and birds by hand and enjoy the many available activities such as go karting, mini-golf and pony rides.

  • Kayaking / Canoeing

The best way to experience the Algarve’s beautiful beaches is by taking a scenic boat trip in a kayak or canoe with your child. The boats are easy to use and available for rent on the beaches with life jackets supplied.

Just 2 hours and 40 minutes from Ireland, the Algarve is the perfect contender for your next family holiday destination.

Mallorca (Majorca) is one of Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

2. Majorca, Balearic Islands

Surrounded by stunning blue seas, charming Spanish culture and stone-splitting sunshine, Majorca is arguably the most popular of the Balearic Islands. Home to Alcudia, Cala Bona, Magaluf, Puerto Pollensa and Santa Ponsa resorts as well as the Serra de Tramuntana range, olive farms and ochre villages, Majorca is much more than a beach holiday destination. Although, its beautiful sand beaches are perfect for building sandcastles with the kids!

Things to do in Majorca with children:

  • Palma Aquarium

With more than 8,000 animals from over 700 different species, Palma Aquarium promises to keep you and the family entertained for hours. Visitors will learn about the Mediterranean, Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans through live exhibits and witness the ‘Big Blue’ enclosure - Europe’s deepest shark tank.

  • Western Water Park

Filled with exciting water slides, multiple pools and a younger-child-friendly water park, this place is a must for a holiday day trip you won’t forget.

  • Cabrera Island

Ideal for keen explorers, the small island of Cabrera is accessible daily by boat from Colonia St Jordi. Island goers can expect unspoiled nature, rare birds, quiet beaches and clear seas. Bring a picnic and your snorkelling gear and uncover what lies under the water.

With a flight time of less than 3-hours and cheap flights are often available to Majorca it’s sure to be top of your summer holiday destinations list.

3. Sardinia, Italy

Sitting off the west coast of Italy, Sardinia’s island coastline stretches for over a thousand miles revealing a multitude of sandy beaches. Less crowded than other popular holiday locations, Sardinia is a little slice of paradise. There’s a range of family friendly hotels on the island from 3 to 5 stars - most of which overlook the rugged coastline.

Family Activities in Sardinia:

  • Aquarium di Cala Gonone

Spend an afternoon with the children marvelling at the marine life and habitats at Sardinia’s Acquario di Cala Gonone. There you’ll see mediteranian fish, sea urchins and sharks, and you’ll have the chance to stroke the back of a stingray or the arm of a colourful starfish. Sounds fun!

  • Family hiking

Sardinia has several hiking trails located among its many nature reserves. You can expect lush plant life, scenic views and limestone hills. Most treks last around 3 hours for a round trip making them suitable for the kids too. Pack a picnic and enjoy a lunch like no other overlooking the wonderful island.

  • Horse riding

Horse riding tours can be arranged for your family that will take you on a journey through Sardinia’s country landscape. Geared towards beginner and intermediate riders, tour participants will learn of the history of horseback riding, the island and its agriculture.

  • The Sardinia Miniature Park

Full of magic and splendour, The Sardinia Miniature Park contains many fascinating attractions such as the dinosaur park, nature park, planetarium, aviary and aquarium. Visitors can walk with dinosaurs, get close and personal with lizards, frogs, parrots and other critters while surrounded by lush, exotic vegetation.

Less than 3-hours from Ireland and accessible by direct flights from Dublin, Sardinia is the island paradise you’ve been dreaming of.

Corfu, Greece is a much-loved holiday spot.

4. Corfu, Greece

Located just off the coastline of mainland Greece, Corfu is a much-loved holiday spot. South of the island you’ll find serene beaches while the north of Corfu is best known for its mountainous terrain. Corfu is greener than your typical holiday location - the island is covered in approximately 2 million olive trees. Stay by the beach or opt for a hotel where you can spend your days relaxing by the pool while the children attend kids club.

Family fun in Corfu:

  • Aqualand Corfu Water Park

Located in the heart of Corfu island, Aqualand’s attraction designers have created rides for both Disneyland and Universal Studios. The park is split into three areas: a children’s area for ages 4 to 8, a family area for ages 8+ and an extreme games area for children over the age of 12. Throughout the areas you’ll find slides, climbing frames, lounge areas and lots more.

  • Glass bottom boat tour

See Corfu’s exotic marine life in its natural habitat through the 3-metre deep glass bottom of a boat on the open waters. The tour will teach visitors about Corfu’s native creatures and historical sites before dropping the anchor allowing you to take a dip in the sea and relax on the deck soaking up those amazing views.

With a flight time of just over 3-hours, Corfu’s rich culture and history is out of this world.

5. Benalmadena, Spain

Benalmadena is located on the Costa Del Sol in Spain and is the ideal spot for an affordable and most enjoyable summer holiday with the family. Family focused hotels are in great supply with most hosting a daily kid’s club in peak summer months along with evening family entertainment on site. Head to the beach for seaside restaurants, water sports and lots more.

Things to do in Benalmadena for families:

  • The Butterfly Park

Benalmadena’s butterfly park is the largest in Europe and promises to be a hit with the whole family. Over 1,500 exotic butterflies live at the park and children must explore the area to identify the different types and tick them off a provided list - this makes for great fun!

  • Delfinarium

Divided into five sections: 'Los Trópicos', 'Antillas', 'Las Hondonada', 'Amazonia' and 'Isla de Hielo', Delfinarium is an exciting marine park. Guests of the park can see penguins, seals, tortoises and the hugely popular dolphins. Special encounters are available such as feeding the penguins and swimming with the dolphins.

  •  Tivoli World

No trip to Costa Del Sol is complete without a visit to Tivoli World theme park. With over 30 thrilling attractions to enjoy including rollercoasters and a giant ferris wheel, the kids will never forget the fun they’ve had at Tivoli World.

To travel to Benalmadena you’ve got to fly to Malaga airport which is a three-hour flight from Dublin Airport. We reckon the kids’ i-pad could last the whole journey!


Wherever you’ve chosen for your family holiday this summer make sure that you and your family are protected with a family travel insurance policy.


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