Ireland’s fascinating history unfurls in the form of ancient burial mounds and once-mighty castles. Here are four tours from Dublin that get up close and personal with the past.
Ireland has plenty of castles. Some of them are entrenched in folklore, some are in a state of decay, some are still inhabited and all of them offer memorable excuses to explore the Irish countryside from Dublin. These top tours visit at least one major castle, while packing in other great sights, including historic Celtic burial mounds, natural wonders and quaint little villages. All of the following tours were selected based on multiple factors, including the itinerary, value for money and comfort of transportation.
Howth and Malahide Castle tour from Dublin
Not far north of Dublin along the coast, there’s a promontory containing the pleasant fishing village of Howth. This whole area of Ireland is thick with castles, including Howth Castle and, further north, the impeccably preserved 12th century Malahide Castle. This seven-hour trip takes you on a guided tour inside Malahide Castle, as well as various stops at beaches and villages nearby. This tour runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. From €39 per person.
Cahir and Blarney Castle full-day tour
Although it involves quite a bit of driving from Dublin, this air-conditioned coach tour wends its way through the stunning Irish countryside of County Kildare and the Galtee Mountains to reach Blarney Castle in County Cork. Climb to the top of Blarney Castle for a chance to kiss the infamous Blarney Stone, which bestows upon the kisser a “gift of the gab”, or the ability to speak convincingly and with eloquence. Take in other top sights including the Rock of Cashel cathedral and Cahir Castle. Daily departures. From €65 per person.
The Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle rail tour
No form of travel is quite so elegant and enjoyable as taking the train. On this day-long tour, guests get to sit back in comfort and watch the countryside slip on by, on their way to Limerick from Dublin. From there you’ll take a coach tour of the city and then head out to Bunratty Castle and Folk Village. The current castle was built in 1425, replacing a wooden fortress and moat from the 13th century. You’ll then explore the stunning Cliffs of Moher and return to Dublin by train. From €119 per person.
Full-day Cork, Cobh and Blarney Castle tour
Colourful Cobh is a seaside town packed with charm. It’s just one of a series of top sights in Ireland that is crammed into this efficient day trip from Dublin. You’ll save time by travelling between the Irish capital city and Cork by train. From there it’s time to explore the city of Cork, kiss the Blarney Stone at its namesake castle and visit the Queenstown Story Heritage Centre in Cobh to learn all about the emigrants who left Ireland on that spot for a new life in the Americas. From €119 per person.