We parents often wish we could put our life on hold just for a few days and spend more quality time with our kids. Holiday you would say… well it can get kind of expensive and stressful.
When thinking of holidays, we usually imagine somewhere abroad. Budgeting a family holiday, however, is not an easy task (especially with kids).
It becomes a rush to the cheapest flight ticket, hotel booking, packing, managing annual leave at work and so on. It is feasible once a year, but it adds to the stress levels if we want to make multiple trips. Raise hands who doesn’t like flying with kids!
Let’s see then, we’re looking for low cost, minimal use of annual leave and no flights, but we still want to enjoy ourselves– impossible? Not at all.
With Ireland having such a rich heritage, there are plenty of beautiful and exciting places to visit and explore, while supporting our local businesses in the process.
In order to help you plan (and budget) a family break, in this article we will provide some suggestion on how to spend a long weekend (yes only 1 day of annual leave! Or even better you can use a bank holiday weekend) – no planes involved, just a great opportunity to explore and recharge your batteries.
For an Irish mini break, we invite you to county Kilkenny!
Somewhere to stay
As parents we know that there isn’t such thing as travelling light when you have kids, especially when they’re small, it’s more like: “Honey, should I pack the kitchen sink?”.
Therefore, sometimes it’s easier to rent a small apartment than to book a five-star hotel…
Have you ever been searching online for a place to stay and found a great place but too expensive… or just not family-friendly?
For some people this just kills the spirit, and many times makes them abandon the quest altogether… but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Finding a good place to stay is not an easy task, but we can happily say we have found something that may just blow your mind. Andrew and Martin own this great property right outside Kilkenny, in the village of Kells. A self-catering studio within a restored corn mill. The studio is super-equipped with everything you may need for a long weekend.
It’s best suited for two adults with a baby or a toddler, but it will also fit two adults with a young child and a baby (we’ve tried).
Andrew is a great host, on arrival we were surprised with a loaf of local soda bread with three different types of homemade jams, delicious!
Cost per 2 nights for the family – around €210
Drive time from Dublin – 1hr 30 mins
Travel cot is available on request. Check out the Airbnb listing here.
Lawcus Farm Guest House
This beautiful guest house came forth in Top 10 Irish B&Bs for 2019 as ranked by Tripadvisor.
They have a perfect family space – The Oak Family Room.
The downstairs of the Oak Room has a King-size bed, ensuite and a kitchenette area, with its own half-door entrance. Open-thread wooden stairs will lead you to a loft area with twin beds, skylight with black out blinds.
Family room rates start at €160-€210 per night including full breakfast
(€20 supplement for extra person per night)
Cot and high chair available on request.
Camping – Nore Valley Park
If you’re into comping, Nore Valley Park has a very well quipped campsite. The site is open from the beginning of March until the end of October.
All the rates can be found at the on the Nore Valley park website.
We give you more details on what Nore Valley Park has to offer under the “Things to do” section of this article.
Where to eat in Kilkenny
Eating out with kids is rarely easy. They order something and then they end up eating your food or nothing at all.
Given that the accommodation suggestions noted above have well-equipped kitchenettes, you can make some simple meals in the apartment, especially if your children are very young.
We’ve compiled a list of three great places to eat in Kilkenny, we hope you’ll like them (we did!)
Jen’s at the Mullin’s Mill
Just 5 mins walk away from the Kellsborough Mill, Jen’s Coffee Shop at Mullin’s Mills serves food that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Jen’s is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 am and serves both breakfast and lunch. As the name suggest the coffee shop is in an old mill and you can still see the old machinery – the kids will love it! It creates a great atmosphere. Jen’s is the perfect location for a relaxed breakfast or lunch with the family.
Downstairs you will find a small mill museum and a well-stocked craft shop.
Cost per Lunch (2 adults + 2 kids), about €35 including coffee / tea and drinks for the kids. The food is delicious, our little ones inhaled their orders!
Check-out Jen’s Facebook page for more information and contact details.
Aroi – Asian Fusion Restaurant
This restaurant tops the list of best places to eat in Kilkenny; located just 5 minutes’ walk from the Kilkenny Castle, in Aroi you will be able to enjoy a tasty and healthy dinner. Portions are generous and the kid’s menu offers a really good choice.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is casual and the staff was extremely polite and helpful.
The restaurant also offers a take-away option – sometimes this is the best solution when travelling with kids.
Cost for Dinner (2 Adults + 2 Kids) about €35.
This is the link to Aroi’s Kilkenny Menu; the restaurant also runs lunch deals, so worth checking it out.
Located in the heart of Kilkenny, it is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland (est. 1324). You will get a chance to enjoy a delicious dinner while listening to live music.
Cost for Dinner (2 Adults + 2 Kids) about €40+.
Keep in mind that Kilkenny can be very busy if there are events happening. We advise you to either book a table in advance or consider a take away, otherwise you may set yourself (and your hungry children) for a disappointment.
Things to do in Kilkenny
The Priory is located a stone’s throw away from Kellsborough Mill. A path running along the river King and a little bridge will lead you right to this spectacular place.
Kells Priory is one of the finest examples of a fortified medieval monastery, the kids will love exploring the grounds.
Useful tips: Limited mobility due to steps and uneven stone paths. Depending on the weather, wellies might be a good idea.
Admission is free. Latest guided tour starts at 16:30.
When looking at things to do in Kilkenny with kids, the castle, of course, tops the list. This is a must see; the kids will love it. We advise you to take the castle leaflet offered at the ticket office -you will need to to answer all the curious questions from your children!
Kilkenny castle tours run all year round. Guided tours are available during the winter months (November to January); a tour takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
For the rest of the year, both guided and self-guided tours are available, which will allow you and the family to explore at your own pace.
The average length of a visit to the castle if 45 mins to 1 hour.
Before leaving the castle, make sure to visit its park and gardens; 21 ha of park should be enough for the kids to use up some energy.
Kilkenny Castle Opening Hours vary by month:
|October to February||09:30 – 16:30|
|March||09:30 – 17:00|
|April and May||09:30 – 17:30|
|June to August||09:00 – 17:30|
|September||09:00 – 17:30|
The castle is open every day except 24th (closes at 1pm), 25th and 26th of December.
Kilkenny Castle ticket prices:
|Family Ticket 2 + 3||€20|
National Reptile Zoo
The Zoo includes over 50 exhibits, Animal Encounter Zone, Tropical Walk-through Habitat, indoor and outdoor Picnic Area, Snack Bar, Souvenir Shop and Soft Play Area, to keep the entire family entertained and educated all at once!
During the Animal Encounter, your children will get a chance to meet and learn about one of the zoo’s residents. These are really well done and are bound to keep your child entertained.
The animal encounters take place every day.
The Tropical Walk-through Habitat is another wonderful feature of the zoo. The animals are roaming free in there and children (and adults) can see them from up close and pet them. The ‘mysterious’ difference between turtles and tortoises will also be explained as the area includes both.
The National Reptile Zoo is a must on your list of things to do when visiting Kilkenny!
National Reptile Zoo ticket prices
|Family of 4||€35|
Open 7 days a week from 10 – 6 (except for 24th, 25th and 26th of December)
Address: Demesne Road, Gowran, Co. Kilkenny
Useful tips: Due to condensation, the soft play area might be a bit damp. It would be best to take spare socks or agree with your child on an alternative entertainment.
Check-out The National Reptile Zoo website for more details and information.
Nore Valley Park – Pet Farm
The range of animals at the Nore Valley Park is incredible. They have everything from chicks and bunny rabbits through baby deer and lambs to ostriches! And you can feed most of them!
When arriving at the reception, together with your tickets you will receive a bag of animal feed. The kids will love the baby deer licking their hands!
There is also an outdoor playground, pedal go-karts, tractor & trailer ride, picnic area.
Right next to the reception there is a small shop with refreshments and home-baked goods; perfect for getting a light lunch or snack.
The Pet Farm also has a two-mile (3 km) river walk and nature trail, which gives plenty of opportunities to consume energy.
Useful tips: The toilets include disabled access and baby-changing area; depending on the weather, we would advise you to bring wellies and spare clothing.
Open – March to October
Nore Valley Park ticket prices
|Over 60 and Students||€7.5|
|Under 2s||Free Admission|
Extra activities include:
Check-out the Nore Valley Park’s website for more details and information on the farm and camping.
This brings us to the end of our little adventure in county Kilkenny; this is a fascinating place and you will find yourself falling in love with it. We hope you will find this article helpful while planning your next family break.
You know of other great places in Kilkenny or perhaps you have another idea for a great Irish mini break? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!