Rick Steves

5 Family-friendly Stops in South Ireland

Vacationing with the kids in Europe can be a big hit, with some advance research and planning. And with its magical folklore, friendly locals, breathtaking scenery, and much more, the south of Ireland has all the ingredients for creating the family vacation of a lifetime.

On this episode of "Rick Steves' Europe," our travel guide teams up with his wife and kids to experience all the fun and adventure south Ireland has to offer families. Starting just south of Dublin, the Steves rent a car and road trip down to the Ring of Kerry, visiting a host of sites and towns as they go. Here's a small sampling of the incredible stops they made during the episode, perfect for an unforgettable family trip.

Check out all the places the Steves family goes in the full episode here. For even more European travel inspiration, watch the show on Monday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m.

1. Hook Head Lighthouse
Inspired by the lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt and built more than 800 years ago, County Wexford's Hook Head lighthouse is one of the oldest in operation in Europe. Visitors can join a guided tour and climb to the top the 110-foot structure for a unbeatable coastal view.

2. Waterford Crystal factory
Waterford was once one of the largest and most renowned producer of glassworks in the world. Though this factory closed briefly during the Great Recession (after this episode originally aired), it's now reopened to the public with a more intimate setting than before. Visitors can take a guided tour and see skilled craftsmen cut beautiful pieces of custom glass. You're encouraged to ask them all the questions you have about their craft.

3. Rock of Cashel
This is a must-see as it is one of Ireland's most spectacular archeological sites. For seven centuries, this was the seat of ancient Irish kings. It's also where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus thousands of years ago. Today, you get to wander through the ruins and Celtic-cross graveyard, and walk in the footsteps of St. Patrick. Its overall dramatic setting is one that the whole family will get a kick out of.

4. Blarney Castle
Located just five miles northwest of Cork, this site is best known for its giant block of limestone -- where pilgrims from all over come to give the wall a smooch. Doing so is believed to give the kisser "The gift of gab." While the castle's grounds may leave a bit to be desired, Steves says watching the ritual of tourists get belly up and head back to kiss the stone is worth the climb to the top. Plus, you and the kids can say you've been there and puckered up!

5. Muckross House
Set at the edge of Killarney National Park, this magnificent estate is perhaps one of the best Victorian homes you'll see in Ireland. Visitors approach the mansion on horse and buggy, and get a guided tour of this impressive house with the price of admission. The interior is furnished with elegant Victorian-era furniture and Waterford crystal chandeliers, while outside you get a glimpse of the lush Killarney countryside. Adults and children alike will appreciate the grandeur of this property.

Rock of Cashel | Photo: emmett.hume/Flickr/Creative Commons License

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