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Things To Do In Carlow

The 22 best things to do in County Carlow, one of the most beautiful and tranquil places to visit in Ireland.

However, it has plenty of things to do for tourists and when its location alongside other Irish counties is considered, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, Laois, Kildare it provides ample opportunities for a good Irish road trip.

However, in this section we concentrate on where to go and what to do in Carlow itself. As you will see there is no shortage of places to visit in Carlow, its just that they are not as well known as they should be.

Historic Brownshill Dolmen

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A Dolmen is a megalithic, burial chamber, constructed over-ground using very large rocks, (megaliths) resting on small upright rocks.
Brownshill Dolmen is Europe’s largest dolman and is a ‘must see’ place in Carlow. This ancient grave site is believed to be over 5,000 years old.

The capstone in this dolmen is estimated to weigh over 100 tons. Approximately 4 miles outside Carlow town on the Hacketstown Road, R726.

Visit Beautiful Borris House

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Borris House, Borris, County Carlow.

The site of the former Kings of Leinster, the MacMurrough Kavanaghs. The house and gardens are open May to September, fees apply.

A guided tour is available which covers the history of the house, walks are available through its woodland walk and lace gardens.

The interior of the house contains some glorious stucco plasterwork by Michael Stapleton, this man’s work can also be seen in Powerscourt House, Co. Wicklow and Trinity College in Dublin.

Guided tours are the only option for visiting and must be pre-booked. Tours begin at 2pm.

Altamont Garden

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Magnificent Altamont Gardens, over 40 acres and views of the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains. Altamont Garden, County Carlow.

Altamont Garden is another place to visit if you enjoy lavish gardens, ancient and huge trees, walled gardens, wooded walks, this is the place to visit for you.

Many rare trees, some dating from 1750, shrubs and a beautiful river walk and a walled garden.

Excellent quality plants can be bought, as well as some scrumptuous cakes and coffee from the garden shop.

It does not have an admission fee but pre-booked guided tours are available for a small fee as is the carpark.

Open to the public every day, except Christmas day. Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow.

Ducketts Grove House

Ducketts Grove House Ruins Carlow
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Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens and Pleasure Grounds is well worth considering to add to your list of things to do when visiting Carlow.

Admission is free and it is open during daylight hours. it’s the former home of the Duckett family during the 18th, 19th and early 20th century.

The house was once at the centre of a 20,000 acre estate. It is now in ruins but its turrets and towers make it an awesome sight and, well worth a visit if you are looking for some ‘wow’ photographs. Ducketts Grove, Rainestown, Co Carlow.

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The image above is the Yew Tree Walk at Huntington Castle. These trees are over 500 years old.

Huntingdon Castle and Garden is another option to consider visiting. Built in Clonegal, County Carlow in the 17th century it is still occupied by descendants of the original owners, tours of the castle are available.

Huntington Castle also contains, gardens, adventure playground, woodland trail, tea room and gift shop. Gardens are open everyday from May to September from 12.00 to 17.30.

However, the house itself is only open daily during June, July, August, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, it is only open on weekends during May and September, as it is a working family home.

Visit Rathwood House and Maze. A great place to visit in Carlow that might please both adults and children is Rathwood Home and Garden World in Rath, Tullow, County Carlow.

If you’re looking for things to do in Wicklow you’ll also find this place there. Why? The postal address is Carlow but the location is actually Wicklow. It is a combination of boutiques, showrooms, garden centre, woodland walks, children’s playground and restaurant.

Beautiful Barge Trips

Larry’s Barge can be found at the lock in St. Mullins Village, County Carlow.

Hire the barge, sit back and drift along the river Barrow on your way through woodland trails, historic sites enroute to Graiguenenmanagh.

You can avail of a day trip with the skipper Larry, maximum ten passengers, or you can choose the 3 day overnight cruise, four people maximum.

Larry organises an itinerary to local attractions for the overnight option and Georgina looks after the food, using only the best of local produce.

This barge is available year round, is furnished to the highest standards with the best of sleeping and catering facilities. On barge cooking is available by prior arrangement.

Borris Viaduct Walk
Stunning views of the Blackstairs mountains and Mount Leinster along the Old Railway Viaduct outside Borris on this 2 mile walk.

Other things to do in Carlow which will get you up close and personal with the hidden beauty of this region is canoeing and kayaking and angling on the River Barrow.

Walking and hiking continues with the energetic theme of things to do and encounter some of the very best places to visit in Carlow, you might consider a longer walk/hike, all free of charge. Everyone from the casual walker to the experienced hiker is catered for.

Flat walking routes are on the Barrow Way and stiffer routes on the South Leinster Way and Wicklow Way.

The South Leinster Way approximately 70 miles long and runs from Kildavin, Carlow to Carrick-on-Suir in Tipperary.

Barrow Way actually starts in Kildare but takes in the mountains and woodlands of Carlow as it heads towards the monastic village of St. Mullins in south Carlow.

The Autumn Walking Festival in Carlow is in the first week of October and provides a superb range of walk for all levels, that guide you through thousands of years of history and heritage with the River Barrow and Blackstairs Mountains as a back stop. Fees are very reasonable for such high quality guided walks.

11 More Things To Do In Carlow

Visit the Chocolate Garden of Ireland, a modern day chocolate lovers paradise where you can make your own chocolate. has play zones to keep the children happy.

Now that you have started on sensory overload, why not consider visiting the Delta Sensory Garden. This is a Trip Advisor Excellence winner. Beautiful gardens covering 2.5 acres of land that was originally a centre for people with intellectual disabilities. Also contains a craft shop and cafe.

Fancy a beer? Visit O’Hara Brewing Company, take a tour, taste the beers and discover Ireland’s passion for craft beers.

On a similar vein, another place to visit is the Royal Oak Distillery where they pot still, malt and grain whiskey. You can learn about the process by taking the immersive tour.

Go to The Visual Centre for Contempory Art. If contemporary art is on the agenda, visit the largest art gallery in Ireland for the best of local, national and international contemporary art.

The centre hosts events, talks, theatre and pernmanent free facilites for familes to create art, relevant to the gallery’s theme at any particular time.

Free admission. Located in Carlow College Complex, open Tuesday to Sunday, parking available in town council car park.

Visit Carlow Town and discover its history on your own self-guided tour using the town’s map boards and finger post signs.

Visit St. Mullin’s Heritage Centre, the location of any early monastic settlement with a round tower and monastery. St. Mullins, Co. Carlow.

Visit the Weavers Cottages in Clonegal, County Carlow, built in the 17th century by Alexander Durdin, where you will see an impressive of artefacts and pictures from bygone eras.

Carlow County Museum is well worth visiting. Located just off the town’s Main Street, in the cultural quarter, it contains four galleries.

Here you will find an astonishing piece of craftwork, a six metre high hand carved pulpet from the 19th century. if that makes you feel a little ordinary.

What about the Carlow man killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn? His wooden smoking pipe is in the museum and his name was Captain Myles Byrne. Here you will also be able to stand under the original trapdoor from the gallows at Carlow Gaol.

Feeling the effects? Discover about the scientist who discovered the greenhouse effect, John Tyndall. You will find this museum directly beside Carlow’s Cathedral, just off the main street, which is called Tullow Street. It’s open all year round.

Carlow College – St. Patrick’s is located on College street in Carlow town. It’s within ten minutes of the Visual centre for Contemporary Art. This is a magnificent public building and it’s fabulous gardens is host to the public Carlow’s Arts Collection.

No admission fees, car parking adjacent to building, open Monday to Friday. Although there is no admission fee, it is a voluntary, collective venture and a voluntary donation is always welcome. It all adds up!

The last of these things to do in Carlow on this list is a visit to County Carlow Military Museum at the Old Church, Athy Road, Carlow. Here you will find a large selection of items relating to conflicts national, international and even local. Read about other counties in Ireland.