Read on to find out the spots you can’t miss on your next visit to County Carlow.
Explore beautiful nature in Carlow
Begin your adventure at the gorgeous Altamont Gardens, just 10 minutes outside of Tullow. Spread across a 16-hectare estate, no matter what time of the year you visit, you can expect a little slice of heaven, with a spectacle of flourishing flora through every season.
Plan a visit for February to experience the Snowdrop Gala, where the dainty white flowers can be found in abundance. There are 200 varieties planted on-site and visitors can take a guided tour and learn all about the Snowdrop Collection in their famous walled garden.
Huntington Castle and Gardens
Less than 15 minutes away, explore the Fellowship of Isis temple at Huntington Castle and Gardens. Built in the 1970s as a place of worship of the Egyptian Goddess Isis, guided tours include the sacred well of St Brigid, the main altar to Isis, and altars reflecting the zodiac signs. Get a sense of the castle’s previous occupants on the tour, which now includes the old kitchens and drawing room.
Allow enough time to stroll around the gardens – from the French lime trees bordering the avenue to the ornamental lawns and fish pond, each is a destination worth visiting. Stop by the lake to see one of Ireland’s earliest water turbine houses, which once powered the castle.
Blackstairs Eco Trails
Discover the secrets of the Blackstairs Mountains on an eco-trail guided walk. Meander through lovely lanes, lowlands, bogs and streams on a unique rural experience in the foothills of the mountains. Take the Tree Trail to discover the seven Noble Trees of our forebearers The Celts, and see the birds, mammals, flora and fungi that make up this wonderful ecosystem. Extend the journey south along the river if you have the time, on part of Barrow Way which takes you down to the village of St Mullins. It is a peaceful route through a quiet wooded landscape, with the constantly expanding river, growing more majestic every mile, for company.
Clogrennan Wood Loop
Blow off those cobwebs on the Clogrennan Wood Loop Walk, on Carlow’s border. A serene, gently sloping trail that covers 4km of forest roads, you’re rewarded with magnificent views of nearby Carlow Town and the River Barrow. Discover a huge variety of trees in the old wood, as you walk, with beech, spruce, larch and oak most common. You won’t have to look too hard to spot the abundance of bluebells, ferns and even wild garlic.
Enjoy a drink in Carlow
Carlow Brewing Company
After a few hours out on the hills, unwind at the home of O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Curim Gold Celtic Wheat Beer and Molings Red Ale – Carlow Brewing Company. Within these walls, you’ll see exactly how these beers are made and more importantly, taste the results. With a focus on the ancient craft of brewing, this multi-award-winning brewery played a key role in reviving the craft beer scene in Ireland. Take a tour and be inspired by the story behind the beloved drinks.
Royal Oak Distillery
Carlow has a rich history in food and drink, and five minutes away from the brewery is a world class distillery, The Royal Oak Distillery, on an 18th-century estate that produces three styles of Irish whiskey. It’s the only one in Ireland where pot still, malt and grain are distilled in the same room. This fascinating distillery is manually controlled under the expertise of 12 local distillers. Immerse yourself in every step of the whiskey-making process – and taste it at every stage, as you learn about how they can produce 8 million bottles a year in the relaxed setting.
Discover Carlow's culture and heritage
Carlow County Museum
Head into Carlow Town to the Carlow County Museum where you can explore the local heritage and unravel the county’s history. Exhibitions like the 19th century hand-carved pulpit of Carlow Cathedral and the original gallows trapdoor from Carlow Gaol provide visitors with a fascinating snapshot into the past. Get a unique Carlow-specific view of history, from learning about the great scientists John Tyndall who discovered the greenhouse effect, to hearing local narratives on the 1916 Rising.
Carlow Food Trail
There’s lots of tasty delights to try along the Carlow Food Trail. Whether you visit a local chocolatier, organic farm, food and craft shop, brewery, artisan cheesemonger, small bakery or whiskey distiller, the trail will take you off the beaten path to uncover some local favourites. Pick up the food trail catalogue to bring the full story together and start your journey off right.
VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art
In the heart of Carlow Town, the VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art is an iconic space in the George Bernard Shaw Theatre. Explore the four gallery spaces that have been designed to allow artists to flex their creativity and expand the scale and materials used in their work – there’s always something intriguing going on in the space to immerse yourself in. Stop for a bite to eat at LENNONS @ VISUAL, where local food will fill up hungry parties. Diners can enjoy a delicious meal in an eye-catching setting with views of the Carlow Cathedral.
Just a 20-minute spin from Carlow Town is Duckett’s Grove, a ruined 19th-century house sitting on what was a 12,000-acre estate. This once great house still holds some of its former splendour in its walled gardens which are brimming with historical varieties of roses, peonies, perennials and flowering shrubs. Learn the origins of the Duckett family and the people who worked for there on free guided tours.
If you have time in Carlow…
South Leinster Way
For an exhilarating day out, grab your walking boots and tackle part of the South Leinster Way. The long-distance walking route runs from Kildavin to Carrick-On-Suir, and the Carlow stretch covers 106km. Follow the route between lofty summits, along the River Barrow and through medieval towns and ancient sites. Mount Leinster dominates this landscape and is the highest hill in the Blackstairs Mountains, so you won’t be short of great views along the way.
With outdoor fun, local food finds and contemporary art all in the mix on a short break to Carlow, you’ll be booking your return trip before you even leave.