Ireland is a totally incredible country to explore, with so many gorgeous places to see. That being said, there’s also a shed load of history to explore, with some of the best castles in Ireland dotted around the whole country.
You see, Ireland has had a really long history, and with most castles being made out of stone, they’ve stood the test of time. This all means that’s it’s pretty easy to find some of the best castles in Ireland in any corner of the country. Even just outside Dublin, there are a few beautiful castles to visit on a day trip from the city.
So, with that in mind, I wanted to show you some of my very favourite and best castles in Ireland to visit on your next trip. You can even stay in a few of them if you like?
Take a look, below, at the best castles in Ireland to visit. Have the best time exploring!
1.) Ashford Castle
On the western fringes of Ireland, Ashford Castle dates way back to the thirteenth century. It’s one of those fairytale-like castles that is so stunning to see.
Nowadays, Ashford Castle is no longer used for protection but as a beautiful five-star hotel where you can stay. You can even book yourself into one of the staterooms or hideaway cottages that are incredible for a weekend retreat.
Plus, if you’re looking for some nearby sites to see, drop into Cong Abbey (about 10-minutes away) and the gorgeous Hackett Castle that’s about 35-minutes away.
2.) Blarney Castle
With well over 500 years of history, Blarney Castle is totally unique and one of the best castles in Ireland to explore.
Once here, make sure you climb the steps of the castle, explore Rock Close and kiss the Blarney Stone itself. It’s one of the most famous things to do in the region and it can’t be missed. By kissing the stone it is said you give you the gift of eloquence.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Poison Gardens within the grounds where the likes of ricin and opium, as well as cannabis, grow. Just don’t touch them! 😉
3.) Malahide Castle
Only nine miles north of Dublin, Malahide Castle’s 13th-century history makes it one of the best castles in Ireland to visit. Better still, it can be seen in a morning from the city itself.
Once here, make sure to explore the 800 years of history, see the medieval rooms and antiques. Plus, watch out for the ghosts that are said to haunt the castle itself. If you visit on a sunny day, make sure to explore the Walled Garden and the butterfly house that’s in the grounds of the castle itself.
It really is a beautiful place.
4.) Kilkenny Castle
Originally conceived in 13th century Ireland, Kilkenny Castle was once a heavy armoured fort and castle that would protect its local residents. Nowadays, none of that matters, of course, but all that fortification has meant the castle has always been well-preserved.
Once here, take a peek into a marvellous piece of Irish history and the significance of Kilkenny Castle in the Irish civil war in the 1920s. It really is one of the best castles in Ireland to explore.
5.) Birr Castle
Birr Castle is still a functioning family home, or castle, to the Earl of Rosse and one of the best castles in Ireland to see. Now, the castle itself isn’t open to the public, so if you’re wanting to explore inside, Birr Castle isn’t for you.
Now, even though you can’t go inside, you can still wander around the grounds and see the beautiful castle from the outside. It’s a perfect place to stop on a road trip around Ireland.
6.) Ross Castle
The history of Ross castle dates back over 500 years and it’s still one of the best castles in Ireland to visit.
Once here, pay attention to the small details of this amazing place and remember to ‘watch your step’ – the castle stairs are all varying heights and levels to disorientate historic attackers that may have been looking to overthrow the castle inhabitants.
Sitting on the edge of Killarney Lake, it’s a gorgeous place to stop when also exploring Killarney National Park.
7.) Enniskillen Castle
Based in Northern Ireland, Enniskillen Castle is easily one of the best castles in Ireland to visit when exploring the north part of the island.
Now home to the Fermanagh County Museum it is a great place to explore the rich heritage of this beautiful region. Plus, it’s a really good starting point before exploring all the other incredible places in Northern Ireland.
8.) Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle is a beautifully maintained castle that you have to visit when in the area. Take the opportunity to explore its fascinating history and learn more about this 15th-Century tower house. It really is one of the best castles in Ireland that’s easy to visit.
Don’t forget to take a peek at the Bunratty Folk Park that is an open-air museum of more than 30 historical buildings from across Ireland. Plus, they’ve got a medieval banquet hall where you can enjoy a three-course meal.
The spiced parsnip soup is yummy!
9.) Doe Castle
Doe Castle might look a little different to some of the other best castles in Ireland, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a truly gorgeous castle to explore.
Even now, Doe castle is considered one of the best examples of how a ‘working castle’ would historically operate.
10.) Doonagore Castle
Traditionally used a navigation point by weary sailors Doonagore Castle is a picturesque example of a tower house or castle that sits on the west coast. It’s truly magnificent to see and perfect when the sun starts to go down. The colours here are amazing.
Just make sure to spend some time exploring the Wild Atlantic Way whilst you’re here. This whole region of Ireland is just too beautiful to miss.