Known for its lush greenery, bustling pubs, and friendly residents, Ireland is a popular destination for a variety of reasons. Among these are the stunning castles that dot its landscapes. If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, these are the best castles to see in Ireland.
Dublin Castle is an oasis in the heart of the busy city of Dublin. Built in 1204 as a defensive fortress, it’s now used as a conference center, government complex, and gallery space. For an in-depth history lesson, take a tour of the grounds. You’ll get an inside look at the Viking excavation sites, the former State Apartments, and the Chapel Royal. A reprieve from the city life, Dublin Castle lets you step back in time.
One of the most famous destinations in Ireland, Blarney Castle features the world-renowned Blarney Stone. Believed to bring all who kiss it the gift of eloquence, many visitors make the journey for that act alone. However, Blarney Castle has much more to offer. Dating back to 1446, its classic architecture and sprawling grounds make this castle worth any trip.
Overlooking Lough Leane, the largest lake in Killarney, Ross Castle stands picturesquely against the backdrop of nature. If you opt for a tour of this 15th-century castle, you’re sure to hear a few myths—including those of a ghost haunting the halls. Once you have your fill of this mythical castle, boat rides are available around the lakes of Killarney and to Innisfallen Island.
If you’re looking for a touch of art to go along with your castle expedition, Kilkenny Castle is just what you need. It has gone through many expansions since its completion in 1213, making it one of the most elegant castles in Ireland. On display in the castle are art exhibits for some the most impressive artists in the world. The perfect outing for family-friendly fun, Kilkenny Castle will provide hours of entertainment.
Among the largest castles in Ireland, Cahir Castle will give you a true idea of what the 12th century looked like. Its defensive structures, including the keep and tower, have been intact since 1142, giving visitors endless architecture to admire. In fact, if you walk over to the northeast tower, you’ll find a cannonball that’s been embedded in the wall since the 1600s. Equal parts enlightening and breathtaking, there’s a reason Cahir Castle is considered one of the best castles to see in Ireland.