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.

cashel_600
Rock of Cashel | Photo: emmett.hume/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Southeast England

Arcing along the southeast coast of England, Rick travels from Canterbury (with its famous cathedral) to Dover (stoutly fortified from Roman times to the Battle of Britain). Then he hikes the trails that top the towering chalk cliffs of the South Downs, wander into the beachy resort of Brighton (England's Coney Island), and push on to Portsmouth, whose naval heritage has left it with the best collection of historic sailing ships anywhere.

  • 2020-07-27T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

England's Cornwall

The far southwest of England is a world unto itself, with a persistent Cornish culture. He explores a world of flowers springing from towering hedges, a tin-mining heritage going back to biblical times, salty pirates' towns and fishing villages, and the Land's End of England. Then, side-tripping deep into the vast and mysterious Dartmoor National Park, he hikes to forgotten stone circles and chase wild ponies.

  • 2020-07-28T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

The Heart of England

The heartland of England has sights that put the "Great" in Britain - its venerable universities, its royal heritage, and reminders of its industrial might. At Oxford and Cambridge, see where kings and prime ministers studied. At Blenheim Palace - Winston Churchill's birthplace - Rick connects with English aristocracy. At Ironbridge Gorge, he fires up memories of the Industrial Revolution. And all along the way, Rick drives on the left and polishes his pub etiquette.

  • 2020-07-29T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Lisbon

Lisbon, built with the riches of Portugal's New World discoveries, has a rustic charm. Great navigators are remembered. Rick eats lots of cod, enjoys pastries hot out of the oven, strolls the city's back lanes and its reinvigorated waterfront, marvels at an exquisite church built with spice taxes, and listens to some soulful fado music. Then he takes a side-trip to Sintra to explore the fanciful castles of Portuguese royalty and climbs hilltop ramparts with grand views.

  • 2020-07-30T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Portugal's Heartland

Portugal has an oversized history, fascinating culture, and boatloads of sardines. Saving the capital city of Lisbon for another episode, Rick dances on the beach at Nazare, marvels at a medieval abbey in Batalha, visits a royal library and revels with university students in Coimbra, savors port wine with the people who made it along the Douro River, and gets to know Portugal's gritty and fascinating second city, Porto.

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

Travel Skills: Cruising

Setting sail on the Mediterranean, Rick explores the ins and outs and pros and cons of cruising. He learns how to get the most out of a cruise, and exercises his independence to make smart use of limited time on shore by planning well, avoiding lines, and eating quick-but-local meals on the go. Along with the joys and efficiencies of cruising, Rick considers the downsides, including the inevitable congestion and commercialism that comes with mass tourism.

  • 2020-08-03T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Greek Islands: Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes

Rick island-hops through the Aegean, sampling three classic Greek getaways - Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes - and basking in their dramatic beauty. He tours ancient ruins, traces the vestiges of the Crusaders, samples rustic cuisine, savors classic Greek-island views, and compares beaches - from the ultimate party beach to idyllic quiet hideaways. And he shows how a cruise ship can be an efficient way to link up great island stopovers.

  • 2020-08-04T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

European Festivals I

In this first of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, Rick cheers with the masses at Siena's crazy Palio horse race, tosses a caber at a Scottish Highland Games, dons a mask for Carnevale in Venice, and celebrates Easter in Greece. Dropping in on some of the Continent's top parties, he discovers that each one is a celebration of traditional culture, and all of them are full of opportunities to sing and dance, feast on traditional food, and party with locals.

  • 2020-08-05T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

European Festivals II

In this second of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, Rick dances with Spaniards at Sevilla's April Fair, celebrates Bastille Day in Paris, runs with the bulls at Pamplona, and hoists a frothy stein at Munich's Oktoberfest. And he celebrates a traditional family Christmas, browsing the holiday market in Nurnberg and sledding down alpine slopes by torchlight in Switzerland. With the entire Continent as his playground, fun is his mission.

  • 2020-08-06T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

The Best of Sicily

This tour of Sicilian highlights starts in Palermo, where Rick sings with the merchants in the markets, joins locals in their passeggiata, drops in on a contessa, and marvels at the Romanesque cathedral of Monreale. Then he sips wine on the slopes of Mount Etna, munches cannoli, ponders Greek temples at Agrigento, admires Roman mosaics at the Villa of Casale, and marvel at the view from the Greek theater in Taormina.

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

Sicilian Delights

Sicily serves up a full-bodied and tasty travel experience. Rick dines on fresh seafood at the fisherman's harbor in Cefalù, ponders ancient Greek greatness in Siracusa, communes with monks - alive and departed - in a Capuchin crypt, sleeps in an olive orchard at an agriturismo, and eats his way through a classic Sicilian banquet with a famous chef.

  • 2020-08-10T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Scotland's Highlands

The Highlands stoke kilted dreams of Scotland...where legends of Bonnie Prince Charlie swirl around lonely castles. Rick visits the "Weeping Glen" of Glencoe, bustling Inverness, and the battlefield at Culloden. Then he makes a pilgrimage to the spiritual capital of a major clan, and goes prehistoric at Stone Age burial grounds and Iron Age island forts. Venturing along the Caledonian Canal and watching for Nessie at Loch Ness, Rick watches a sheepdog demonstration and enjoys traditional folk music.

  • 2020-08-11T02:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD