Roll up, roll up, we're even closer to home for this week's Tuesday's Travels and hoping to give you a little staycation inspiration before the little ones head back to class later this month. We bring you Waterford, on a budget.
We love visiting the sunny south east and do so a couple of times a year. Since the recession has clipped our wings we do a lot of staycations with our little ones. There are lots of things to see & do with children in Waterford.
I’ll give you a quick rundown of what we got up to a couple of weeks ago. You hear a lot about rip off Ireland but there are bargains out there & with a little planning you can have a cheap as chips weekend in Ireland too.
Waterford Marina Hotel
We stayed in the Waterford Marina Hotel less than a 5 minute walk from the Viking Triangle in the centre of Waterford. They currently have a great offer of 3 nights B&B & 1 dinner for €119pp, children stay free and just pay for meals (well you pay for them, unless your babies are tycoons, in which case I'll bring them with me next time).
We got a large family room overlooking the river Suir, they had a lovely spread of everything you could want for breakfast & the children loved it. The only drawback is that they don’t have a swimming pool AKA every Mam & Dad's secret weapon in getting children to bed early on holidays.
House of Waterford Crystal Factory Tour
We started bright & early on Saturday morning as we had so much to fit in. First stop was the Factory tour of Waterford Crystal. The staff were fabulous & so friendly, they whisk you around the factory, telling you all about the history of crystal making in Waterford. You get to see the mould room, blowing department & cutting department among others, all the while watching the magic happen & a piece of crystal being made from start to glorious finish.
We had lots of time for photos & got one of the girls with the world’s largest champagne flute that holds a whopping 45 litres of the bubbly stuff. You’d also need a straw & a step ladder though. A family ticket is €30 & under 5’s are free.
|There's Cillain attempting to be King but thwarted by Orla & Aoife, taking after her Auntie Sue|
Waterford Crystal Shop
They have a shop & cafe onsite. Aoife was thrilled to see the vanity table, she is soooo like her Aunty CherrySue! Did you know that they make jewellery? I didn’t. The Celtic cross necklace was fabulous & I gave hubby enough hints to buy it for me for our anniversary!
One of my top travel tips is, when on holiday, buy a Christmas ornament to hang on your Christmas tree. I now have a travel tree that I put in my hall & love seeing all the decorations on it year after year reminding us of the places we've visited. Waterford Crystal has some really lovely Christmas ornaments & they have new additions each year.
All within the Viking Triangle you can visit Bishop’s Palace, Medieval Museum & Reginald’s Tower. We didn’t have time to visit Reginald’s Tower on this occasion but it’s run by the OPW so if you are in Waterford on the first Wednesday of the month it’s free entry but well worth a visit either way!
Bishop’s Palace is opulence at its finest, an authentic eighteenth century Georgian residence built in 1743. It houses some of Waterfords priceless treasures including the oldest piece of Waterford Crystal dating back to 1789.
Don’t miss the Telling Tales guided tour. You're escorted around the Palace by Mrs Rickards the housekeeper & Mr Whatwhy the butler, all the while they are regaling you with stories of a bygone era. My little ones were so engrossed in the tour & loved learning about the previous occupants. There is also a toy museum upstairs.
A couple of steps away is the Medieval Museum complete with a fifteenth century wine vault. Here you can learn all about the history of Waterford, the Vikings & medieval cloth of gold vestments are on display. A family ticket for combined admission is €20 & under 14’s are free.
Tramore is only a short drive from Waterford City centre, seeing as our hotel didn’t have a pool we drove out to bring the children to Splashworld. They had a blast & loved every minute, even after my smallest lad fell & bumped his head as the tiles are very slippery. They have two flumes for over 6’s & for under 6’s they have a pirate ship & smaller slide in the pool. In the main pool there is a wave machine that’s turned on every 20 minutes or so. A family ticket is €32 & under 3’s are free.
After our swim we headed over to the donut bar on the recommendation of a lady I met in the pool. OMG, they are gorgeous with nearly every flavour under the sun, made fresh. We got some hot donuts with hot chocolate sauce & ice cream, gone in seconds.
No trip to Waterford would be complete without having fish & chips in Dooly’s. To us they are the best you’ll find in Ireland, actually in the world & that’s not an easy feat. There are two in Tramore but we headed back to our hotel & had a stroll first before going to the Dooly’s just beside the Waterford Marina Hotel. We got one of their great value family meals so we fed & watered a family of 6 for just €25! Perfect for a taste of lots of things & fans of vinegary chips - Orla kept asking for more vinegar!
Tramore part two!
As we were on the way to a railway for our lads on Sunday morning we were flagged down & asked to join a vintage car rally in Tramore. Only in Ireland!! The joys of hubby driving a vintage Land Rover Defender. Our little lads are Mini mad & there were lots in the road run that had just passed us so we turned around & joined them.
Tramore wasn’t really our cup of tea so we let the children have a go on a few rides before we set off again. To stay within budget we told the children that they each had €6 and could decide themselves what rides whey wanted to spend their money on. The girls had a giggle at the boys who were frightened witless on the less than a minute ghost train. God only knows what could have frightened them so much in those few seconds but the girls thought it was hilarious.
Waterford & Suir Valley Railway
Seamus & Cillian are railway mad so we brought them out to Kilmeadan to have a ride on a heritage narrow gauge railway. It runs on the old Waterford to Cork railway line & the views of the Suir Valley are stunning.
There is even a magic wood where fairies live among the trees. It was so lovely to hear the excitement of the children pointing out fairies to their parents. The journey takes about 40 minutes to return to Kilmeadan station, where there is an old railway carriage converted into a shop & cafe. Family tickets start at €19 with each additional child only €2.
Summer Magic Events at Waterford & Suir Valley Railway
If you can, try to time your visit to coincide with one of their Summer Magic Events. Which take place on selected Sundays throughout the summer. They have different events such as teddy bears picnic, cartoon character meet & greets, even a birds of prey day. We were lucky that we visited on one of these magic days and got to meet some lovely owls & hawks from Mayfield Birds of Prey.
Seamus was besotted with Hiccup, as were the girls with Bailey & Muffin. There is no extra charge for these events. They also run a Spooky Express & Santa Express, hopefully we’ll get back for the Santa one.
We stopped in Donnacha’s Bar for Sunday lunch which is just up the road from the railway. Colin & I had a very filling Caesar salad each while the children had sausages & chips/nuggets & chips. The food was lovely & cost €35 for a family lunch with drinks. We filled our bellies and chatted about our favourite part of our little weekend escape.
So there you have it our budget, action packed weekend in Waterford. We will be back in the oldest city for our annual visit to Winterval in December. If you haven’t heard of it yet, I’ll tell you all about it closer to Christmas!
Have you been to Waterford, got any top tips of things to see & do?