Top 5 castles to visit in Ireland

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Ireland is famous for many things cliffs plunging into the ocean, literature, that delicious black concoction called Guinness and of course Irish castles. From medieval forts to elegant manor houses, Ireland counts no less than 30.000 castles in a different state of conservation, many of which open to visitors. Let us explore my Top 5 Castles to visit in Ireland.

Such a wide choice poses quite a challenge to Castle seekers? what are the best castles to visit in Ireland? What Irish castles should be on your must-see list? In this article, I narrowed down the choice to 5 Irish castles that should not be missed. Chosen for their beauty, historical importance and natural setting. One can go on an Ireland castle tours or visit these Ireland attractions at your own pace

How many of these Irish castles have you heard of?

castles to visit in Ireland

Top 5 Best Irish castles to visit – Dublin Castle

Let us start off with maybe the most well-known castles to visit in Ireland. Dublin Castle opens this list because of the unparalleled role it had in the course of the history of the Republic of Ireland. Located in Dublin city centre, it almost hides under the modern buildings, but if you follow narrow ‘castle street’ it soon reveals its imposing towers and bastions. The castle was first built in 1204 by order of King John of England.

Where is Dublin Castle

It is easy to visit one of the most famous castles in Ireland. Dublin Castle location is at the very heart of Dublin, within easy walking distance of many top tourist attractions.

By Bus

There are plenty of bus options that will get you close to the Dublin Castle Buses stopping on nearby George’s Street: 9, 14, 15, 15A, 15B, 16, 65, 68, 83, 122, 140.
Buses stopping on nearby Dame Street: 13, 27, 40, 49, 54A, 56A, 77A, 123, 150, 151, 747.
To plan your route with Dublin Bus, please click here.

By Tram

The closest Luas stops are St Stephen’s Green on the Green Line and Jervis on the Red Line. To plan your route using the Luas, please click here.


You can drive but you will find there is no visitor parking available on site. The nearest public car parks are Q-Park Christchurch car park and Park Rite Drury Street.

It’s strong walls protected the King’s treasure and the offices from which he administered the city. The castle original design went through many alterations over the course of the centuries.

Its role as a bastion of the English crown in Ireland remained until 1922 when the Irish free state was proclaimed. Nowadays it is open to the public for visits, it serves as a beautiful backdrop to cultural events and it is used for State ceremonies.

Features of the Dublin Castle

  • Viking Excavation
  • Medieval Tower
  • State Apartments
  • Chapel Royal
  • Castle Gardens
Entry costs for Dublin Castle (2021)
Adult €12
Senior €10
Student (valid student ID required) €10
Child €6
Family (max. 2 adults & 5 children €30

For more information check the Dublin Castle website >>Here<<

Top 5 Castles to visit in Ireland – Kilkenny Castle

castles to visit in Ireland
Castle yard at Kilkenny

Another inner-city castle, this time located in Kilkenny, a medieval city in the heart of Ireland. Kilkenny castle was originally built like Strongbow and remained inhabited from medieval times to the XX century. The castle was built during the first decade of the 13th century. It was sold to the city of Kilkenny for 50 pounds sterling!

The castle is now open to the public and part of it has been fully refurbished to operate as a hotel.  For the lucky ones who can afford a night, Kilkenny is a castle in Ireland to stay in. The castle offers elegant rooms and a rich breakfast overlooking the stunning inner courtyard. This makes Kilkenny one of the best castles to visit in Ireland

Visitor information for Kilkenny Castle tour

A Kilkenny castle tour is available with a guide for free during the months of November to January. Guided tours of the Period Rooms take approximately 45 minutes.  The guided Kilkenny castle tour to visit the Castle Kitchen Tea-Room, Butler Gallery and Medieval Room are free

During the months of February to October, a self-guided tour of Kilkenny Castle is available with a map and information booklet.

Entry cost for Kilkenny Castle

As of 2021 the price for tickets to Kilkenny Castle were as follows

Senior (60+)€6
Child (12-17)/Student (with valid ID card)€4
Children Under 12Free
Where is Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is situated in the centre of the city and is a 15-minute walk from McDonagh Railway Station. Find the best hotels in Kilkenny Ireland here with Trip Advisor

Do I need travel insurance in Ireland?
We always say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Get your travel insurance now to protect your epic holiday in Ireland from any small hiccup.
For Australian travellers, we recommend Fast Cover Travel Insurance
For worldwide travellers, we recommend Visitors Coverage Travel Insurance

Castles of Ireland – Blarney Castle

castles to visit in Ireland

One of the most famous castles in the whole of the country, Blarney is located in the south of Ireland, near the city of Cork. The castle dates back to about 600 years ago while it is less ancient that many others in the Republic. Blarney gained worldwide fame thanks to the eponymous blarney stone.  The Stone said to bestow the gift of eloquence to anyone daring enough to kiss it!

The stone sits below the battlements and to reach it requires some skill.  The motivated visitors have to lie on their back and bend backwards (literally) over the parapet to get their lips anywhere near the stone!

Originally it was only possible to do so with a reliable friend holding you by the ankles. However, nowadays health and safety procedures imposed the fitting of a railing. Thus making the whole operation more secure.

Things to see at Blarney Castle
  • Badgers Cave
  • The Court
  • The Dungeon
  • The Witch Stone
  • The Estate
  • The Battlements
  • Wishing Steps
  • The Witches Kitchen

For more information on the above features at Blarney click >>Click Here<<

How to get to Blarney Castle

Dublin to Blarney Castle – By Car: It takes 3-4 hours to get from Dublin to Cork. Take the N8 motorway and follow the signs south for Cork, then on to Blarney.

Shannon to Blarney Castle – By Car: Follow the road to Limerick. Then follow signs for Mallow and take the turn off before Cork City to Blarney.

Admission prices to Blarney Castle (2021)
Adult €18
Student €14
Children (8-16 years / under 8 free)  €8
Family (2 adults + 2 children) €45
Souvenir Audio Guide €6

Ireland Castles – The Rock of Cashel

castles to visit in Ireland

The Rock of Cashel is an ancient fortress perched on a hill overlooking the town by the same name. Located in County Tipperary. The rock is now a ruin, but as such, it is very well preserved and an incredibly atmospheric site. Constructed mostly between the XII and XIII century. It sits on a high hill overlooking the otherwise flat land and immediately casts on the visitor a sense of power and might.

Stepping in leaves you no doubts about the ancient origins of the rock and it is easy to believe the legend that says that this is the location where St Patrick converted to Christianity the then Kings of Munster! The rock is enclosed by high walls and it is made of a gothic cathedral, a chapel and a complete round tower.   

Rock of Cashle Tour

Looking to learn more about this location. A Rock of Cashel tour is available onsite running every hour its opened on the half hour,

Rock of Cashel entry prices (2021)
Group / Senior€3.00
Child / Student€2.00

Find more information about the Rock of Cashel >>Here<<

Best castles in Ireland – Trim Castle

I couldn’t conclude this list without mentioning Trim castle. Trim Castle Ireland is recognised across the world as the backdrop of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. It is easy to understand the choice of Trim as the location for such an epic drama.  The castle very much embodies the image of the medieval castle as we know it from Celtic tales and legends and sits with regal might amidst green, windswept lawns.

Jawed Karim [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Trim is the largest Normal castle in Ireland. Trim is now a ruin but its grounds are open to the public and can be visited paying a small fee.

Trim Castle Tours

Guided Tours of the grounds only, are available weekdays November to February by members of the Trim Living History community. These guides live and breathe the history of the castle

Trim Castle entry prices (2021)
Adult: €5.00
Child/Student:  €3.00
Family: €13.00

We hope this article on the best castles to visit in Ireland has provided you with some great inspiration to start planning your vacation to Ireland. Ireland castles are some of the most picturesque in the world.

Our good friend Marta penned this post on the best castles to visit in Ireland. Marta and her family live in Dublin Ireland. Marta showcases her travels at her ever-popular website Learning Escapes.

More castle travel inpiration for your next trip

Top 5 castles to visit in Ireland

6 thoughts on “Top 5 castles to visit in Ireland”

  1. I love the castles in the UK and Ireland – such an interesting time in the worlds history and now they stand as memorials to those bygone time and show us how far we have come! I didn’t realise there were so many beautiful ones in Ireland though – Kilkenney & Blaney are my favorites!

  2. I’m planning a short trip to Dublin next year so I’ll definitely visit the Dublin castle, but now I’m sad I probably won’t have time for the Blarney castle, as it looks great!

  3. I have to get back to Ireland – we really want to fly in, rent a car and just drive to explore. I’ve visited before, though was on a Paddywagon tour so at 18 our main priority was experiencing the local pub culture 😀 I’m sure we probably did take in many of these amazing castles, though on the next trip I hope to be sober enough to remember it :D!!!

  4. I spent six weeks in Ireland, and, of course, castles were on the itinerary. Great list! I wish I had visited Dublin Castle when I was hosteling there. Next time!


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