The green, misty, and alluring island of Ireland boasts a treasure trove of castles and here is the selection of our favorite castles in the Emerald Isle, many of which you can visit inside and one of which is even a luxury hotel!
1. Lismore Castle
This stunning fairytale castle is surprisingly not on the main tourist path in Ireland, and thanks for that. Located in the southeast of the country close to both Cork and Waterford, Lismore is absolutely one of the prettiest castles and gardens in Ireland, if not greater Europe.
2. Ashford Castle
One of the most striking castles and grounds in Europe- and you can sleep here! Located in the west of the country in the atmospheric county Mayo, not far from where the Quiet Man was filmed.
3. Kilkenny Castle
One of our favorite towns in Ireland is also home to one of its loveliest castles.
4. Cahir Castle
Off the beaten track, this little secret corner of County Tipperary is delightful. There are some wonderful sights, restaurants, adorable B&Bs and heritage centers like the castle of Cahir here. Even if driving from Cork to Dublin, it´s worth a quick look and coffee, very picturesque.
5. Ross Castle
Think “Excalibur” as this is the kind of epic setting where you can imagine the sword rising from the lake. The backdrop of the purple mountains, smattered with snow in winter is just gorgeous. You can take boats here at Ross castle out to the meeting of the waters, and this whole part of county Kerry has wonderful uplifting landscapes.
6. Blarney Castle
The ultimate castle visit in Ireland. Yes, very touristy and the legend about kissing the Blarney stone sounds embellished, but the visit here is genuinely fascinating, and climbing to the rooftop overlooking the delightful wooded grounds is a major highlight. Love it and a “must do” while in Cork.
7. Classiebawn Castle
This striking castle is unfortunately privately owned (well, fortunate for the owners!) and not possible to visit, but if you happen to find yourself in the dreamy northwest of Ireland, this castle overlooking the village of Mullaghmore is worth seeking out to get a look at and a quick pic.
8. Johnstown Castle
This handsome castle in country Wexford in the southeast of Ireland dates back to the 1800s and sits amid splendid gardens and woodland. The castle cannot be visited but you can visit the gardens, complete with peacocks!
9. Trim Castle
Anglo-Norman castle located in a “heritage town” in County Meath, lovely.
10. Bunratty Castle
Your first impression is that it might be a tourist trap as it is listed in virtually every tour guide there is. What a nice surprise to discover that it is actually a tastefully restored medieval castle complete with a sympathetically replicated traditional Irish village. Recommended! And located within arms reach of the wonderful Adare Manor and Dromoland castle hotels. They do fun medieval banquets for dinner, too.