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.

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

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European Travel Skills, Part I

The first episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London, these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

  • 2020-08-31T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

European Travel Skills, Part II

The second episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London, these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

  • 2020-09-01T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

European Travel Skills, Part III

The last episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London,these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

  • 2020-09-02T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Western Turkey

From the port of Kusadasi, we wander the streets of ancient Ephesus, soak in a natural spa at Pamukkale, learn why the dervishes whirl at Konya, munch lunch in a Turkish pizzeria, and cruise the Mediterranean on a traditional Turkish gulet from Antalya. Turkey is a mighty nation whose ancient heritage, Muslim faith, and western ways are coming together...and we'll see how.



  • 2020-09-03T02:00:00-07:00
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Central Turkey

We marvel at the fascinating landscape of Cappadocia from high above in a balloon...and from deep below, prowling an underground city where Christians once hid out. We'll join a circumcision party, explore troglodyte ghost towns, shop for sheep at the market, and chat with an imam. Then we enjoy the modern capital, Ankara, and pay our respects to the father of modern Turkey, Ataturk.

  • 2020-09-04T02:00:00-07:00
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France's Loire: Chateau Country

Along the Loire River Valley, the beautiful French countryside is studded with evocative chateaux. Home-basing in Amboise, we visit four unique castles: elegant Chenonceau, massive Chambord, stately Cheverny, and fragrant Villandry. Along the way, we tour Leonardo's home, feed hunting dogs, enjoy the local cuisine, and savor a princely garden.

  • 2020-09-07T02:00:00-07:00
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Paris Side-Trips

Side-tripping from Paris into the Ile-de-France, we indulge in the world of royal and aristocratic extravagance in the pre-Revolutionary playground of France's elite. We explore Versailles, Europe's palace of palaces; exquisite Vaux le Vicomte; and extravagant Fontainebleau, home to centuries of French rulers. We'll also marvel at the glass and statuary of Chartres cathedral and dine like kings.



  • 2020-09-08T02:00:00-07:00
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The Best of Israel

We start in Jerusalem, alive with religious tradition and passion - Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. We then visit cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, with its in-love-with-life beaches; ponder the sad fortress of Masada; and join pilgrims at biblical sights around the Sea of Galilee. We'll also pay our respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, drop into an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and savor the local cuisine.

  • 2020-09-09T02:00:00-07:00
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Palestine

Palestine is the Muslim and Arab half of the Holy Land. After visiting Jerusalem, we harvest olives near Ramallah, follow pilgrims to the place of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, approach Abraham's tomb - as both Jews and Muslims do - in Hebron, drop in on friends for dinner, and bob in the Dead Sea. We'll also learn about walls, Israeli settlements, and the challenges facing this region.

  • 2020-09-10T02:00:00-07:00
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Italy's Riviera: Cinque Terre

Exploring Italy's most remote and romantic stretch of Riviera, we visit five tiny port towns: dramatic Vernazza, surrounded by vineyards; reclusive Corniglia, high on its bluff; pastel Manarola; hardscrabble Riomaggiore; and the pint-sized resort of Monterosso. Fishing for anchovies, sipping wine out of rustic barrels, and savoring twinkling Mediterranean vistas, we enjoy the ultimate Riviera adventure.

  • 2020-09-11T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD