Chelsey recommends you:
An Affordable European Vacation? It’s Possible!
Myself and my #family (including 3 kids!) were able to stay in a real life castle in #Ireland for seven days. This extremely #affordable trip included #museums, tours of a classic Irish farm, trips to the cliffs, and more. None of us will soon forget Ireland's beauty.
The mindset that Europe is too expensive to visit as a family is simply false. Our family of five had a truly magnificent time, for a price not beyond a middle-class family’s budget. Ireland is affordable, yes - but also stunningly gorgeous, and its residents are some of the friendliest people on the planet!
Its residents are some of the friendliest people on the planet!
The island of Ireland is small enough to stay in one location and take day trips to any sightseeing endeavors. We chose to stay at a restored castle, Waterford Castle. The castle is actually located on an island just off the mainland, accessible via a fun ferry ride. Of course, this only built the excitement more. The island is over 300 acres of beauty.
Hotel Waterford Castle
King John's Castle Tour
There’s a gourmet dining room inside the castle, a charming Irish pub, and a more casual restaurant near the golf course that we frequented as well. For breakfast, we were able to eat a lot - our bellies full from a buffet that included several Irish favorites.
I can’t describe how welcoming, yet elegant our room felt. We stayed in the Presidential Suite, so it was gigantic. The bathroom even had a vintage club foot bathtub. The view overlooked acres and acres of green.
We had enough time in Ireland to spend some days touring and some days relaxing. Our first day out of Waterford Castle took us just across the channel to Waterford City’s Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum. This was exactly the educational and spellbinding experience we were looking for out of Europe. For a very small entrance fee, we were able to be face-to-face with artefacts that were hundreds of years old. Inside are things like the Cloth of Gold Vestments; the Great Charter Roll, which was viewed by Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Ireland; and The Cap of Maintenance, which is the only piece of clothing to survive King Henry VIII’s reign. Our children were able to see these priceless pieces of history without paying anything at all, since visitors under 14 are free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
This was exactly the educational and spellbinding experience we were looking for out of Europe
There are actually three museums in the area. These very different museums, all located within a few paces of each other, tell the 1100-year-old story of Waterford, from its foundation in 914 by Viking sea pirates to the late 20th century.
Next, we chose to spend time in Killarney National Park. The weather in Ireland was so agreeable that we were able to spend all day hiking, with the children, without getting overheated. We brought a packed lunch and ate sandwiches on a giant flat rock just off the trail. Bicycles and boats can be rented, although we chose to walk. After enjoying our day so much, we decided to revisit the next day and do more sightseeing.
The Muckross House is centrally located within the Killarney National Park and is the very definition of a mansion. The nineteenth century Victorian home is on the shores of Muckross Lake and nestled in three large gardens. Across from the Muckross House are the Muckross Traditional Farms. This tour showed our children where Irish farmers lived, worked and went to school a hundred years ago. The three separate working farms are each complete with animals, poultry and machinery. The farm dwellings are furnished in the traditional style, complete with dressers, settlebeds, and mealbins. There is also a laborer's cottage, a carpenter's workshop and a blacksmith's forge. We spent the rest of the day petting animals.
After a few days driving around Ireland, we decided to let someone else take the reigns so we could all enjoy the passing scenery. We took a professional bus tour that departed from Killarney, a short trip from Waterford, and navigated the Ring of Kerry. This tour circled the magnificent MacGillycuddy Reeks, running through valleys and along the shore of Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay.
Full day Ring of Kerry Tour
Cliffs of Moher Ferry Tour
King John's Castle Tour
Many say this is Ireland’s most beautiful region because of its unspoiled nature. I would have to agree. I couldn’t get over how green the grass was, how blue the sky was, and how many sheep scattered across the landscape.
I couldn’t get over how green the grass was, how blue the sky was
We enjoyed more time relaxing at Waterford Castle and the surrounding areas. By staying for seven days, it allowed us to have a more relaxed attitude and not force overtired kids to keep going. All five of us enjoyed the trip immensely, and our bank account didn’t mind it much either.