Consistently ranked as one of the best places to visit in Ireland, you absolutely cannot miss Blarney Castle. Dating back to 1446, thousands of tourists make their way here each year to kiss the renowned Blarney Stone. Rumor has it if you climb the 10 stories to the top then hang upside down to kiss the stone you’ll be fortunate enough to get the gift of eloquence. Once you’ve kissed the stone and explored the castle be sure to take some time to admire the 60-acre floral garden.
The fourth castle to be built on this site, Bunratty Castle sits on a 970 AD ancient Viking trading camp. The castle was opened to the public in 1960, and a tour around the castle shows off art, furniture, and tapestries from the 15th century. You can also take part in a traditional medieval feast, where you’ll be served all types of deliciousness like turkey legs, potato soup, goblets of mulled mead, and fresh bread by women in medieval gowns. For a true medieval experience, Bunratty is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland.
Cahir Castles is easily one of the best Irish castles. You can still see the defense structures, keep, and tower that have remained intact since its construction in 1142; and if you head to the northeast tower you can see the cannonball that’s been stuck in the wall since the Nine Years’ War. While you’re exploring the castle, check out the amazing countryside views from the top of Cahir Tower, and catch a 15-minute film that teaches about the function of Ireland’s fortresses.
If you’ve always wanted to stay in a castle in Ireland, then Ashford Castle is ready to make your dreams come true. Built in 1228, this Victorian castle has been expanded upon several times and is now both a five-star luxury hotel and a popular wedding venue. Outside you’ll see the gorgeously manicured lawns while inside you’ll be wowed by the spectacular gold interior. The castle has also hosted its fair share of celebrities from US President Ronald Reagan and John Wayne to England’s King George V and John Lennon. If you too want to live like royalty (at least for a day or two :D) make sure to book a stay at Ashford Castle, one of the best castle hotels in Ireland.
Once you’ve experienced the best of Dublin, head nine miles north to the 12th-century Malahide Castle. In addition to the castle and gardens, the parklands are full of things to do for the whole family. A tour of the castle will give you glimpses of beautiful rooms like the Oak Room and the Gothic Great Hall as well as a substantial painting collection and gorgeous period furniture. After you’ve toured the castle, take your pick of everything from shopping around the museum shop and retail store to exploring the walled Talbot Botanic Gardens or taking a bicycle tour.
Home to an extensive collection of medieval architecture and Celtic art, this enormous compex has everything you could want in a castle experience. Along with the 90-foot round tower dating back to 1100, some of the other structures you’ll see are the 12th-century Cormac’s Chapel that’s home to one of the period’s best-preserved Irish frescos and the 13th-century cathedral.
Said to have a ghost roaming the halls, this 15th-century castle is loaded with historic myths that you’ll be sure to hear about on your guided tour. Ross Castle is also known as one of the last significant strongholds to fall to Cromwell’s forces in the 1650s. Along with touring the castle and wandering around the grounds, you can even take a boat ride around the Lakes of Killarney and to Innisfallen Island.
Completed in 1213, this Anglo-Norman stone castle has become one of the most famous castles in Ireland. Kilkenny Castle has lasted through many changes and expansions, but it’s a must-see because part of the National Art Gallery is on display here, and its beautiful ornamental gardens.
Located on a bend along the River Eske, the castle was built in 1474 by one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland at the time, the O’Donnells. It was once said to be one of the finest Gaelic castles in Ireland, but because of the Nine Years’ War it was nearly destroyed. Soon after its attempted destruction by the O’Donnells, English Captain Sir Basil Brooke quickly rebuilt the castle in a Jacobean style and today it’s surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall.
Created to be a defensive fortification in 1204, today its a conference center, government complex, and it highlights the best castles of Ireland. When you take a tour, you’ll be guided through the medieval Dublin and Viking excavation site, the former viceregal State Apartments, and the Gothic Chapel Royal famous for its galleries and vaulting. Right near many of Dublin’s best hostels and hotels, it should be a super easy walk to the castle if you’re staying in the city.