When you’re planning to visit Ireland, you can’t leave out Blarney Castle. This iconic 12th century castle, known for its famous Blarney Stone, the castle is surrounded by vast gorgeous green gardens. Located in Blarney near Cork City, this old fortress that is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Ireland. After fun day trips (trips, yes plural, Buddy and I visited separately) Buddy and I are sharing our tips that will make your visit to Blarney Castle an unforgettable experience. From the famous Blarney stone-kissing to exploring beyond the castle, we are sharing 5 Tips for a Fantastic Visit to Blarney Castle.
Buddy and I visited Blarney Castle on the same day, but at different times. Buddy visited when he toured Ireland with his choir. And Sal and I visited the castle when we road tripped around Ireland during Buddy’s tour. Having spent the night in Blarney, Sal and I visited Blarney castle early in the morning, arriving around 9:30am before the tour buses brought in the crowds. Buddy, on the other hand, arrived in Blarney in one of those said tour busses with his choir in the afternoon. He explored Blarney castle with his choir before heading off to Killarney for the evening.
Is Blarney Castle Worth Visiting?
Yes! We think so. And not just for the castle and the famous Blarney Stone, which allegedly grants the gift of eloquence to those who dare to pucker up and give it as a kiss. But for the beautiful Blarney Castle gardens as well!
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Blarney Castle: The details
Blarney Castle & Gardens is located in Blarney Village about 5 mi (8 km) from Cork in County Cork Southern Ireland. The stone tower-house was built in 1446. Although the castle and garden are open year long, the hours of operation vary depending on the season. If you are driving in for a day trip, please note Blarney Castle does charge for parking. For the most up-to-date information, visit the website.
Is Blarney Castle Free?
No. But you can buy tickets online in advance and it is highly recommended to do so if you are visiting during high season. Sal and I bought our tickets online months before our trip.
How much time do you need to explore Blarney Castle & Gardens?
The website officially recommends about 3 hours to experience Blarney Castle . I agree with this recommendation. Sal and I arrived at 9:30am and left at 12:15pm and that was with us arriving early at the castle and not having to wait in long lines. If you are arriving during a peak time and want to explore beyond the castle, budget for a minimum of three hours to explore the site.
5 Tips Visiting to Blarney Castle
1. Kiss the Blarney Stone, or not!
Let’s face it, the Blarney Stone is the main attraction of Blarney Castle. The long lines into the castle, that can be hours long waits, are all queue up to kiss the famous stone.
Why is the Blarney Castle in Ireland so famous? The Blarney Stone of course!
Kissing the Blarney Stone is a tradition associated with Blarney Castle. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you’ll get the “gift of gab” and who doesn’t want to be an eloquent speaker? But whether you kiss the famous rock or not, that is entirely up to you. If kissing the stone isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the stunning view from the top of the castle. But if you do give the rock a smooch, kissing a rock will undoubtedly be an experience you’ll never forget!
In order to reach the Blarney Stone, which is located between the battlements, you have to climb up winding narrow staircases, sometimes one step at a time if lines are long. And you will be up, high above the gorgeous Irish countryside below in the open air with the wind (and rain) on your face. Buddy will share more about that later.
Pro Tip: If you plan on kissing the stone, arrive early to avoid long lines.
Did we kiss the Blarney Stone?
Sal and I arrived at Blarney Castle early and headed straight for the castle and up the winding stone staircases to see the Blarney Stone. Even though we arrived early, and walked right past the signs that said, “wait from this point – 1 hour” there was still a line. We stood in the rain climbing up the castle step by step.
As we neared the stone, Sal decided not to kiss the Blarney Stone. It was not for him. I figured – why not? Life is short! I will kiss the stone.
I laid down and shifted back to kiss the stone and the way my waterproof clothes slid on the wet stones of the battlement, I felt as if I was going to slide backwards off of Blarney Castle. Laying backwards hundreds of feet in the air, and not wanting to slide closer to the edge, despite the fact that staff held me, I decided to air kiss the Blarney stone. So no, I did not kiss the famous rock. But in the photo, it looks like I did.
A Teenager’s Perspective
Buddy says, “It is just a stone. And you kiss it. There are very long lines to kiss the stone.
A bunch of kids that I traveled with chickened out of kissing the stone right at the top of the castle. I did not chicken out and I did it! I said oh this is a stone, and they disinfect the stone.
So, you lay down, hold onto the bars, and the personnel says ‘kiss the blarney stone’ and you kiss it. Then you get back up and that is it.
For my friends that chickened out, I thought, why wait in the long line to chicken out? But they feared falling down. They thought they were going to fall off the edge. I mean, it was slightly scary, but typical for building for that time.
On top of Blarney Castle are a bunch of areas where you can look down. At some places, it looked like you will fall to your death, but it was completely safe. However, some of the kids I traveled with were scared because it was so high up. In comparison, skyscrapers are way taller than this. I was excited to be there, but all my friends were scared of the heights. At first, they joked about being scared, but then they got legitimately scared.”
- Family travelers, children under the age of 8 may kiss the stone only at the staff’s discretion.
- If you are not a big fan of heights or if tight spaces make you squeamish, climbing to the top of the castle to kiss the stone might not be for you.
So, there you have it! Out of the three of us, only Buddy kissed the Blarney Stone.
2. Arrive early to beat the crowds
Blarney Castle is an incredibly popular tourist destination, and it gets very crowded during peak season. To avoid the crowds, arrive early in the morning, or visit at the end of the day. This way, you are more likely to avoid tour buses bringing in loads of people.
When we visited on a Friday in early July, Sal and I arrived early in the morning. Although there was a short line to kiss the Blarney stone, the line moved relatively fast. After visiting Blarney Castle, we explored the extensive gardens. There were few people on the trails and exploring the Blarney Castle gardens. It was lovely to have the stunning gardens all to ourselves!
Buddy says, “I visited in the afternoon and waited in line for about an hour to see the Blarney stone. From what my parents say, it seems like the lines were much longer when I visited.”
3. Explore beyond the castle
Let’s face it, Blarney Castle is the main attraction. However, it is not the only thing to see. It is Blarney Castle & Gardens after all!
The castle is just one part of a larger complex that includes the Blarney House, a lake, walking trails, and the garden. The gardens surrounding the castle are vast and breathtakingly beautiful, with unique species of plants and flowers. Don’t forget to explore the many garden walking trails like the Board Walk and Water Garden. Or for more adventurous visitors, explore the Poison Garden and the Carnivorous Courtyard.
Some of the Blarney Castle grounds attractions include:
- Rock Close, thought to be built by the Druids
- Seven Sisters, a stone circle comprised of nine stones total with seven standing and two fallen.
- Blarney House, an estate built in 1874 which you can visit on a guided tour
- The Wishing Steps, where if you can walk down and back up with your eyes closed, your wish will come true.
Take your time to stroll through the different areas, and you’ll discover hidden gems and beautiful views.
When Sal and I visited, after air kissing the Blarney stone, we explored the castle grounds visiting the gardens and the walking trails. We visited the Seven Sisters the Rock Close, the Wishing Steps, the Druids Circle, Fairy Glade, Sacrificial Altar, Witch’s Stone, the Fern Garden, and the Lookout Tower to name a few. Sal and I even walked to the Blarney House but did not have tickets for the guided tour. But, my favorite was the Poison Garden!
We loved the Blarney Castle gardens and could have explored there longer. However, with limited time, we left after about three hours to drive the Ring of Kerry. Also, it rained the entire time we explored at Blarney Castle! So, we also wanted to get out of the rain rather than spend more time outdoors.
A Teenager’s Perspective
Buddy says, “Unfortunately, me and my friends and I only had time to explore Blarney Castle and visit the gift shop. I did not get to see the gardens and walk the castle grounds and see the many things that my parents saw.”
4. Be prepared for rain
Rain, drizzle, and mist are common in Ireland, and Blarney Castle is no exception. Make sure to bring appropriate rain gear in case you are caught in the rain. A rain jacket, waterproof boots or shoes, waterproof pants to go on top, and a sturdy umbrella can make a big difference in keeping you dry and comfortable.
When Sal and I visited, it rained and drizzled during our entire visit! Fortunately, we planned ahead and wore waterproof clothes and shoes. We even brought an umbrella. We stayed dry, especially my toes for which I was very grateful!
The guide at Blarney House even mentioned that we dressed for the weather, which was a huge compliment for us as lifelong desert dwellers who are not used to rain and did not own anything waterproof until this trip! The only thing that got wet was my travel crossbody bag, and it held up well! None of the contents inside the bag got wet.
We did see some fellow tourists in shorts, sandals and flip flops, with plastic ponchos. They were drenched! So if you want to stay dry, make sure you plan accordingly.
Below is what I wore in case it is helpful!
- waterproof Columbia Hiking Shoes
- merino wool socks
- a North Face woman’s jacket that I could layer a Columbia rain jacket on top
- REI Co-op waterproof pants
- And a base layer of dark colored pants, a tank top with a long sleeve shirt layered on top. All from Stitch Fix
A Teenager’s Perspective
Buddy says, “It did not rain when I visited Blarney Castle. I missed it. I did not get rained on like my parents did. But I did get soaked the day before when we visited Glendolaugh on a day tour. We wore rain jackets, but the choir did not ask us to bring waterproof shoes and my feet were pretty soaked.”
5. Consider spending the night in Blarney (or Cork)
If you are road tripping around Ireland. Or if you have some flexibility in your itinerary, consider spending the night in Blarney or nearby Cork. This way, you will have enough time to visit the castle and gardens at your leisure. In addition to the castle, with the many gardens and Blarney Castle House onsite, you could easily spend a day at Blarney Castle.
Cork is another excellent option for a place to stay nearby. Especially if you are looking for a move upbeat and lively place with a wider variety of restaurants, pubs, and nightlife. However, if you are looking for something a bit quieter, Blarney is a great place to rest your head.
Overnight in Blarney
When Sal and I visited, we opted to spend the night in Blarney the night before our visit to Blarney Castle. We wanted to get an early start. Arriving in Blarney late in the evening after a full day exploring Kilkenny, we checked in at the bar with only a few minutes left to spare on our check in window. We opted to stay at the Muskerry Arms Bar and B&B.
Our overnight stay in Blarney was perfect for us! After a long day of site seeing, we relaxed in the quiet town. We stopped at the local grocery store to buy snacks, walked around the square, and filmed a Movement Postcard. Later, we grabbed a drink at the B&B bar and played some darts. It was a nice quiet way to spend the evening.
Pro Tip: When road tripping around Ireland, make sure you stop in a local grocery store to get some Irish yogurt and bread. It is really good! Also, try the green apples if they are in season. They are nice and tart and would have paired well with some Tajín. Next time!
We stated at Muskerry Arms Bar and B&B is located at The Square, Monacnapa, Blarney, Co. Cork, T23 XE95, Ireland. We enjoyed the hotel and the breakfast was excellent! I did not book the breakfast option when I made our reservations, but we ended up eating breakfast there anyway. If I paid for our breakfast when I made the reservations, the meal would have been less expensive. So, if you think you might dine at your B&B, go ahead and pay for breakfast when you make your reservation!
That said, staying in Blarney or Cork is not necessary to visit Blarney Castle.
A Teenager’s Perspective
Buddy says, “The day we visited Blarney, we woke up in Duhttps://mpaproject.com/one-day-in-dublin-9-interesting-things-to-do/blin, then drove to Cork where we ate lunch at the English Market. Then after that, we drove to Blarney Castle. Everything is pretty close by and it only took a few hours or less to get from place to place.”
Would we visit Blarney Castle again?
Absolutely yes! I would definitely spend more time exploring the gardens. Here is what Buddy says.
“I recommend Blarney Castle for teenagers. If you are a younger teen, your first kiss might be a stone. That is what happened to me and my friends. But I do recommend it for teens.”
Well, there you have it! Blarney Castle is a great stop for families traveling with teens!
Visiting Blarney Castle?
Visiting Blarney Castle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From kissing the Blarney Stone to exploring the lush gardens, there’s plenty to see and do in this magical castle. We hope these tips for visiting Blarney Castle will make your experience even more memorable.
We hope this blog post gave you enough tips and tricks to plan a fantastic trip to Blarney Castle.
Have you kissed the Blarney Stone? Have you visited Blarney Castle? Let us know in the comments below!
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
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