Ireland is a land of green countryside, stone bridges, and fairytale architecture set in breathtaking gardens, and planning ahead will help you discover some of the best castles to visit during your Ireland trip.
Medieval estates, tranquil settings, and rich history begging to be discovered, whether eager to traverse dramatic ramparts or interested in learning the regal art of falconry, the many perspectives of the fascinating castles across Ireland make visiting the dynamic architecture and scenery a must for any Irish itinerary.
From east to west, north to south, and scattered in between, there are many castles and manors to choose from, and we have picked a few of the most popular and truly breathtaking castles to share with you.
The dramatically beautiful Donegal Castle is built on a steep hillside in the center of the town with the same name, a previously Medieval castle transformed into a luxury residence. Once left to ruins, the small castle was restored over time to its original magnificence and furnished with timeless pieces, tapestries draped on walls and Persian rugs lining the hallways, complementing its historic architecture. Wander the lush landscape and enjoy views over the River Eskie and Donegal Mountains surrounding the area.
Stunning views across the tranquil waters of Loch Sheelin, picturesque landscapes, and a location right in the middle of Ireland’s County Meath. It is said that the grand hallways of Ross Castle are haunted, many ghost stories shared with visitors as they walk through this intriguing castle. It is said that if anyone sees the ghost of O’Donoghue Mór, the builders of Ross Castle, come out of the lake on his white horse, they will experience good luck. The Castle boasts towering turrets, intriguing interiors, and some of the most beautiful gardens in Kerry County.
The most famous site at the Blarney Castle is no doubt the popular Blarney Stone, visited by thousands of tourists each year. Legend says that whoever kisses the Stone of Eloquence will never be lost for words. From the top of the Blarney Castle one can see for miles, breathtaking scenery far and wide, complemented by magnificent gardens and waterways within the castle walls, below. On the outside, the castle walls stand tall, inside take an adventure through the chambers and underground passageways of what was said to be the prison.
Kylemore Abbey is one of Ireland’s most popular attractions, located in the Connemara countryside. The castle is located on the edge of a tranquil lake, surrounded by a walled garden and green hillsides perfect for a woodland wander in a peaceful part of beautiful Ireland. Today Kylemore Abbey functions as a Benedictine monastery, open to visitors from around the world who come to marvel at the sheer elegance, serene setting, and intriguing history telling a tale of times both tragic and joyous.
The Rock of Cashel comprises a collection of medieval buildings including chapels, abbeys, and impressive towers. Cormac’s Chapel is known as the only Romanesque fresco still in existence in Ireland, a sarcophagus interlaced with serpents and beasts placed in a corner of the chapel. Medieval and Celtic history is perfectly present throughout, visible in the art and architecture of the buildings. The cluster is set upon a rocky outcrop of limestone and commands amazing views over the extensive walled graveyard and beyond to the hills and village below.
Set on acres and acres of well-kept landscape with woodlands, a man-made lake, and a beautiful rose garden, Kilkenny is one of the only castles in Ireland that boasts the longest period of continuous occupation. Restored in the Victorian style, the castle’s central building offers visitors a chance to see elegantly decorated bedrooms and the charming library, before moving on to the east wing of the castle to view an impressive art collection. Marvel at the grand staircase and tapestry tower before taking one last walk around the glorious grounds.
Ireland is full of medieval and elegant castles and manors and no matter where your Ireland journey takes you, you are bound to find one or more you can explore and enjoy. Spend a day reliving a rich past, feeling like royalty as you marvel at the dramatic architecture and take a stroll around perfectly manicured grounds. Find ideas for your trip with Zicasso’s Ireland castle tours sample itineraries and start planning your visit by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707 to speak with an Ireland travel specialist.