Blarney Castle in Ireland is famous for the Blarney Stone legend, and visitors flock to the castle to stand in line and kiss the blarney stone. However, there is much more to Blarney Castle then I expected, so take your time here and explore Blarney Castle Gardens too. I visited Blarney Castle as part of my Shamrocker Adventures 5-day tour around Ireland, but you can also visit Blarney Castle from Dublin on a day tour or spend some more time in the area and visit nearby Cork as well. Here’s the lowdown on taking a Blarney Castle tour and how to get to Blarney Castle.
Where is Blarney Castle?
Blarney Castle, or Blarney Castle and Gardens, to give it its full name, is in the tiny town of Blarney, about 20 minutes’ drive from Cork in southern Ireland. It is about 3-4 hours’ drive from Dublin so Blarney Castle tours from Dublin are quite popular.
How to Get to Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle was included on my Ireland tour itinerary with Shamrocker Irish Adventures. We spent a couple of hours at Blarney Castle, which was enough to queue up and kiss the stone, and have a wander around the gardens. There was still plenty to see that I didn’t have time for though, so you could easily make a day of it, and come on a day tour from Dublin or Cork.
Getting to Blarney Castle from Dublin
If you are in Dublin and want to take a day trip to Blarney Castle, you could either take a day tour, or go independently.
Blarney Castle Tour from Dublin
There are several companies which offer day tours to Blarney Castle from Dublin. Typically, these usually include a short stop in Cork and a visit to the Rock of Cashel as well. The good thing about the tours is that they take care of everything for you, and they are great value – in some cases actually working out cheaper than going by yourself. However, you will be limited with the time at Blarney Castle, and may not have time to fully explore once you’ve kissed the Blarney Stone. Waiting times for the stone can be up to two hours, so bear that in mind.
Getting to Blarney Castle from Dublin Independently
Driving from Dublin to Blarney Castle should take around 3-3.5 hours, or more with poor traffic. There is free parking close to the entrance of Blarney Castle, but it does get very busy at the weekends.
There are buses which go from Dublin to Cork every couple of hours, however, they take around 4 hours to get to Cork, then you’d need to take another bus for the 30-minute journey to Blarney. The first bus is due to arrive in Cork at 11.45am, so you would only arrive at Blarney Castle about lunchtime. It is possible, but you would spend more time sitting on the bus than you would at the castle, especially if you plan to return to Dublin that evening! Check the bus times here.
If you take the train from Dublin to Cork, the earliest you would arrive in Cork is 9.30am, and you’d need to take the bus from Cork to get to the castle. Trains start from €19.99 each way. Check train times here.
If you are backpacking in Ireland on a budget, then a tour would probably work out cheaper, unless you choose to spend the night in Cork and take your time visiting the castle and the city itself.
Getting to Blarney Castle from Cork
There is a regular bus service from Cork to Blarney Castle, leaving every 30 minutes. The journey takes about 30 minutes from Cork to Blarney Village, and it is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop by Blarney Woollen Mills to the Blarney Castle entrance. Check Bus Éireann for the Blarney Castle bus times here.
Blarney Castle Admission Charges
Regular admission to Blarney Castle costs €18 per adult, €8 per child from 8-16 years old, and children under 8 have free admission. There are discounts available for family tickets (€45 for 2 adults & 2 children), students and senior citizens. You can buy the tickets at the gate when you arrive or get a discount if you buy your Blarney Castle Tickets online.
Buying Blarney Castle Tickets Online
If you know you are definitely going to visit Blarney Castle and Gardens, you can save some cash by buying your Blarney Castle tickets online. Adult tickets bought online cost €16 instead of 18, and children’s tickets cost 7€ instead of €8, and you save €5 on the family ticket if you buy them online instead of at the gate. The tickets are open and are valid for 6 months from the date of issue, so you don’t need to specify a set date to visit the castle. You must remember to print the tickets to present them at the entrance when you arrive. For full details, check the terms and conditions on the Blarney Castle Website here.
Blarney Castle Opening Hours
Blarney Castle and Gardens is open all year round, and only closes on the 24th & 25th December. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year and on Bank Holidays, and the opening times may also change in severe weather. Check the Blarney Castle website for up to date opening hours.
|Monday to Saturday|
|Jan – Feb||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|Mar – Apr||9.00am to 6.00pm (Last Admission 5.00pm)|
|May||9.00am to 6.30pm (Last Admission 5.30pm)|
|June – Aug||9.00am to 7.00pm (Last Admission 6.00pm)|
|Sept||9.00am to 6.30pm (Last Admission 5.30pm)|
|Oct||9.00am to 6.00pm (Last Admission 5.00pm)|
|Nov – Dec||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|Sundays & Bank Holidays|
|Nov – Feb||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|Mar – Oct||9.00am to 6.00pm (Last Admission 5.00pm)|
Blarney House is open from June 1st – August 31st from 10am to 2pm Monday to Saturday.
Other Useful Information for Visiting Blarney Castle
Dogs are not allowed, except for guide dogs and care dogs.
A Blarney Castle tour probably isn’t necessary, with the maps and information plaques you can explore the castle and gardens at your own pace.
As the Blarney Stone is at the top of the castle, people with limited mobility aren’t able to climb the castle steps and kiss the stone. However, there is wheelchair access outside the castle so you’ll be able to see the stone up on the wall of the castle and enjoy the surrounding gardens.
Most of the castle and gardens are in the open air, so if it is raining, prepare to get wet!
There is a café in the grounds, the Stable Yard Café which serves cakes, snacks and some hot meals. You can also grab a sandwich from here or bring your own picnic and sit in the grounds to enjoy it. I didn’t eat here but was recommended the pub at Blarney Woollen Mills in Blarney if you want a sit-down meal.
What to do at Blarney Castle & Gardens
Kiss the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone is usually top of everyone’s list when they visit Blarney Castle! The legendary Blarney stone is said to grant the ‘gift of the gab’ or great eloquence to whoever kisses it. The challenge though is that the stone is at the top of Blarney Castle, and you have to hang upside down to kiss it. To reach this magical Stone of Eloquence, you have to climb 127 steps to the top of the castle, up some narrow, winding staircases which can get claustrophobic at times as you stand in the queue! When it is your turn to kiss the stone, you have to lie down and tilt backwards (with the help of a local strong chap) to reach the stone and give it a smooch. I spent over an hour waiting in the line to kiss the Blarney Stone, but when it came to it I got dizzy as soon as I tipped upside down and couldn’t reach to kiss it! You don’t get much time to kiss the stone, it is a very quick peck!
The queues to get inside Blarney Castle itself to kiss the Blarney Stone can be up to 2 hours long. Arrive early if you can!
Why Kiss the Blarney Stone?
The Blarney Stone legend says that whoever kisses the stone will be blessed with the gift of the gab – eloquence and flattery to allow you to talk yourself out of or into any situation! However, there are also rumours that locals pee on the stone, and that the Blarney Stone used to be at the bottom of a toilet – but I’m hoping that they’re not true!
As the Blarney Stone is inside Blarney Castle, you will see the castle as you wait in line for the stone. The stairs inside the castle are steep and winding, and there are information panels to explain what each of the rooms in the castle was used for.
Blarney Castle Gardens
When you get your Blarney Castle tickets at the entrance, you can also pick up a map of Blarney Castle and the surrounding gardens. Alternatively, you can check out the Blarney Castle map online here.
Blarney Castle Poison Garden
The garden next to the castle has a fascinating collection of poisonous plants (so keep your children close!). Each plant is labelled with the name, toxicity and uses for the poisonous part, including common British plants like foxgloves, and more exotic Harry Potter-esque plants like Wolfsbane and Mandrake!
The Rock Close
This part of the gardens is said to be the site of an ancient druid settlement, and you can feel the magic in the air. Explore the pathways to find a waterfall, the Witch’s Stone and Fairy Glade, as well as the Wishing Steps, where all your wishes will come true if you walk down the stairs backwards with your eyes shut – another risky premise just like hanging upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone!
Blarney Castle Arboretums
The arboretums are collections of rare and unusual tree specimens. New specimens are added every year, so while there are some younger trees, some are up to 600 years old.
Walks Around the Grounds
The map also has different trails that you can take to further explore the grounds, depending on how much time you have to explore. Along the Riverside Walk, you can spot all kinds of wildlife, including kingfishers and otters if you are lucky. The Lake Walk takes you up and around the Lake, where you can get nice views of Blarney House across the water. The Woodland Walk takes you through the trees where you have the chance to see red squirrels and plenty of birds.
Blarney House is within the castle grounds and is a Scottish baronial-style mansion that was built in 1874. It is also open to the public during the summer. If you’d like to visit the house I’d suggest calling in advance as I haven’t been able to find much information about it online. It appears to be open for tours booked in advance between 10am and 2pm in June, July & August, but do call +353 21 4385252 for more information.
Blarney Woollen Mill
Once you have finished inside Blarney Castle and Gardens, have a stroll around Blarney Village, and pop into the Blarney Woollen Mill shop for all sorts of knitted garments to take home, or to keep you warm on a chilly Irish day!
Accommodation in Blarney
If you decide to spend the night in Blarney there are several hotels and bed and breakfasts in Blarney village, including the very highly rated The White House B&B in Blarney and the popular Blarney Castle Hotel. Check availability and rates for all hotels in Blarney here.
Or check the options on Airbnb. If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $40 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
Have you been to Blarney? Any more tips for things to do in and around Blarney Castle? Would you kiss the Blarney Stone? Leave your comments below.
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