Ireland is home to over 30,000 castles and ruins, spread across every county, from north to south. You read that right. Over 30,000! So while you’re not going to be able to visit all the Irish castles, some of the best castle tours Ireland has to offer include a castle where ghosts roam freely, a castle which will give you the ‘gift of the gab’ and a castle which offers you a 5* nights’ sleep.

The best castles in Ireland

Whether it’s your first time in Ireland and you want to experience what it’s like to stay in an Irish castle, or you’re a local looking for a day out with the family, there’s a castle for everyone (pretty much, like I said, over 30,000!).

If you’re driving the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500 kilometre drive along the scenic west coast of Ireland (and I highly recommend it), stop off at some of these castles along the way to break up the journey.  

Here are my picks for the best castle tours in Ireland

Covid-19 Pandemic – Please ensure you take proper social distancing measures when visiting attractions. Some of the below may have varying opening hours, so please contact them before planning your trip.

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Castles Offering Tours

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Emily Miller from Pixabay

This medieval stronghold is famous for being home to the Blarney Stone. Located in Co Cork, it’s believed that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will get the ‘gift of the gab’.

To kiss the stone, which is located at the very top of the castle, you must lie on your back and hang your head off the edge. Luckily, these days steel bars have been placed to protect visitors from falling!

You can get your Blarney Castle tickets here.

Where: Blarney, Co Cork

Timings: 9am to 5.30pm (last entry 4.30pm)

Price: Adults – €16, Seniors/Students – €13, Children – €7, family tickets also available (online prices)

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Bunratty Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Bunratty Castle Facebook page

**Author’s Choice!

As far as Irish castles go, this is by far my favourite from my childhood. Bunratty Castle is one of Ireland’s most historic castles, located in Co Clare.

You could spend an entire day here at Bunratty Castle, taking in a tour of the castle itself or attending one of their evening banquets.

After touring the castle itself, head on over to the Folk Park where you’ll get to experience village life in the 19th century. There are 30 buildings to visit, including the school, doctors, pottery, hardware, pub and even a sweetshop selling boiled sweets.

You can get your Bunratty Castle tickets here.

Where: Bunratty, Co Clare

Timings: 9.30am to 5.30pm

Price: Adults – €15.25, Children/Students/Seniors – €11.50, family tickets also available (online prices)

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: NakNakNak from Pixabay

This thirteenth century castle located on an island on the River Suir, is one of Ireland’s largest castles which, at the time of building, was considered to have the best defensive castle design.

As well as the castle tour, you will also be treated to an audio visual tour about the history of the castle.

Cahir Castle has been featured on screen many times, including Excalibur and The Tudors.

Where: Cahir, Co Tipperary

Timings: 9.30am to 5.30pm

Price: Adult -€5, Senior – €4, Children – €3

Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Situated in Northern Ireland, on the shore of Belfast Lough, this Norman castle offers visitors either self-guided or guided tours (on occasion). You can also book it for small weddings.

After your visit to the castle, immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings by taking a stroll along the sea.

Every time I hear the name, Carrickfergus, I’m reminded of the Irish song with the same name by the Dubliners.

Where: Marine Highway, Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

Timings: 9am – 4.30pm

Price: Adults – £5.25, Children – £3.50, Seniors/Students – £3.95

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle - Castle Tours Irealdn
Photo credit: papagnoc from Pixabay

Originally a medieval fortress, Dublin Castle is the heart of historic Dublin. A fire in 1684 destroyed the original castle and it was rebuilt as state apartments. Only the tower and medieval undercroft remain in place from the original structure.

The State Apartments can be toured either by guided or self-guided tours, and you can book a guided tour of the medieval undercroft. While the tower is out of bounds for tours, it is most definitely photo worthy.

Get your Dublin Castle tour tickets here.

Where: Dame Street, Dublin 2

Timings: 9.45am to 5.45pm

Price: Guided Tours: Adults – €12, Seniors/Students – €10, Children – €6; Self-Guided Tours: Adults – €8, Seniors/Students – €6, Children – €4

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: John Callister from Pixabay

Referred to as the most photographed castle in Ireland, Dunguaire Castle sits on the shores of Galway Bay. You can visit the castle and climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top for breath-taking views of the bay. Banquets with live performers are also held at the castle twice nightly between April and October.

Where: Kinvara, Co. Galway

Timings: 10.0am to 4.30pm

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: NakNakNak from Pixabay

If you’re planning a trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, you should make a point of stopping off at Dunluce Castle along the way.

Built on Northern Ireland’s coastal cliffs in Co. Antrim, Dunluce Castle is one of the most scenic Irish castles.  Although mostly in ruins, you can still tour the inside of the castle and enjoy a presentation at the Dunluce welcome centre.

Where: Dunluce Road, Bushmills (near Portrush)

Timings: 9.30am to 5.30pm

Price: Adults – £5.25, Seniors/Students – £3.95, Children – $3.50

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century fortress located right in the heart of Kilkenny.

Previously owned by the Butler family, when they moved to England, Kilkenny Castle was left abandoned for over 30 years. Not wanting the castle to go into ruins, Arthur Butler sold it to the people of Kilkenny for a whopping £50 in 1967!

If visiting during the summer months, you will be able to take a self-guided tour, while during the winter months they offer guided tours.

Book your Kilkenny Castle Tour here. 

Where: The Parade, Kilkenny

Timings: 9.30am to 5.00pm (October to March) and 9.30am to 5.30pm (April to September)

Price: Adults – €8, Seniors – €6, Students/Children – €4 (self-guided); Adults – €12, Seniors – €10, Students/Children – €6

King John’s Castle

King John's Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Sandra Moreno from Pixabay

Sitting on King’s Island in the heart of Limerick City’s medieval quarter is King John’s Castle.

With over 800 years of local history, King John’s Castle offers an unforgettable experience to visitors. Take a stroll through the new exhibition centre and interact with the exhibitions. Explore the cannons in the courtyard and head on up to the top for 360 degree views of Limerick City and the River Shannon.  

Book your King John’s Castle tour tickets here. 

Where: King’s Island, Limerick City

Timings: 10.00am to 5.00pm

Price: Adults – €9, Children €5,25

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Manor - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: UkyoKatayama from Pixabay

Nestled away in Connemara lies the picturesque Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. This castle is truly stunning.

There is so much to see at Kyelmore Abbey and your ticket includes access to the visitor experience and restored rooms in the Abbey, the Victorian Walled Garden, the Neo-Gothic Church and any performances that might be scheduled, the Mausoleum, the woodland and lakeshore walks and guided garden tours during the summer months.

Book your Kylemore Abbey tour tickets here. 

Where: Connemara, Co. Galway

Timings: 9.00am to 5.30pm

Price: Adults – €12.50, Seniors/Students – €10

Leap Castle

Leap Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Leap Castle Facebook page

Leap Castle is known to be the most haunted castle in Ireland! The story goes that Leap Castle, otherwise known as Leim Ui Bhanáin, was built by the O’Bannon clan in the 16th century. The two O’Bannon brothers who were competing against each other decided that they would leap from the castle and whoever survived would become chief.

This will not be your typical castle visit. Leap Castle is privately owned by Sean Ryan but you can still visit and tour the castle. You may be lucky enough to have him play some traditional Irish music while you’re there.

While there are stories of numerous spirits who roam the castle, visitors often feel the presence of the spirit of a lady who touches off people.

Where: Roscrea, Co. Offaly

Timings:  10.00am to 5.00pm

Price: Donation only

Ross Castle

Ross Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: JNOT from Pixabay

Ross Castle is a 15th century castle, built by O’Donoghue Mór, which sits on an inlet of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park.

It’s said that every seven years, on the first morning a May, O’Donoghue Mór comes out of the lake on his striking white horse and rides around the lake. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him, you’re in for some good fortune for the rest of your life!

Where: Ross Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Timings:  March to October – 9.30am to 17.45pm

Price: Adults – €5, Seniors/Students – €4, Children – €3

Stay in an Irish Castle

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Ashford Castle

Once home to the Guinness family of Ireland, Ashford Castle is a 5* castle hotel situated on 350 acres in the West of Ireland.

While staying at Ashford Castle, you can partake in some unique experiences such as visiting a blacksmith, stone carver, textile designer and carpenter. There are also activities on the grounds themselves, so whether you’re looking to stay active or relax, there is a myriad of options available.

Ashford Castle is regarded as one of the world’s leading hotels. And that doesn’t come cheap. You can pay up to €5,000 a night for the Presidential Suite! Don’t forget your full Irish breakfast in the morning!

Where: Cong, Co. Mayo

Price: From €325 to €5,000 a night

Blackwater Castle

Blackwater Castle - Castle Tours Ireland
Photo credit: Sheila Nordstrom, Blackwater Castle

**Author’s Choice!

If you’re looking for something a little more intimate, then award winning Blackwater Castle in Co. Cork is for you. You’ll find the castle nestled away in the picturesque Awbeg River Valley. Home to Sheila and Patrick Nordstrom, your wonderful hosts are on hand to offer assistance and guided tours during your stay.

With quite an extensive history going back 10,000 years, the castle sees visitors from all around the world. In fact, some of the guests to this beautiful castle are famous, most recently the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins!

You can rent the castle for special occasions, extended family get togethers and it sets the perfect scene for outdoor (and indoor, given Irish weather!) weddings. For the kids (and big kids), there are activities such as ziplining, fishing, hiking, to name a few.

Where: Castletownroche, Co. Cork

Price: Contact for more information

Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle - Rent a castle for the night
Photo credit: Sonya Brady on Unsplash

Home to the Duke of Devonshire, you can rent this gothic style castle exclusively for family events and weddings.  

Lismore Castle lies on eight acres of scenic landscape in the heart of the Blackwater Valley in Co. Waterford.

When you rent this castle, you can enjoy activities such as fishing, hiking, kayaking and even a hot air balloon ride over the Irish countryside.

Where: Lismore, Co. Waterford

Price: Contact for more information

So there you have my pick of castle tours in Ireland. As I mentioned before, with over 30,000 castles and ruins in Ireland, it would be impossible to write about them all. Perhaps a follow up post with more Irish castles is necessary! What do you think?

Are any of these castles on your Bucket List? Have you ever visited a haunted castle before? Or stayed in a luxurious castle? Let me know in the comments below!

Ellie-M

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16 Comments

  1. I love this! I definitely want to see the Blarney stone. My grandfather went there and had a great time and it would be cool to walk in his footsteps. Nice post.

  2. These all sound really interesting, however, you totally sold me on Leap Castle. I have a fascination with the idea of hauntings and haunted buildings. Before this post, I had never heard of that castle. That being said, it’s now on my ‘must-visit’ list! We’ve been talking about taking a trip to Europe in the near future and I will have to make a point of including it in our plans.

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