A Full Guide for Tourists – BEST THINGS TO DO in Carlow & Accommodation

Table of Contents

an old ruined irish castle and ducketts grove building in carlow ireland

In this post, we are going to look at the best things to do in Carlow. Carlow (Ceatharlach Gaelic spelling) is a small town located in the southeast region of Ireland. The town has a rich history dating back to the prehistoric era, as evidenced by the presence of ancient burial tombs and standing stones. In the early Christian period, the area became an important religious centre, with the establishment of a monastic settlement by St. Comgall in the 6th century.

A Brief History Of Carlow

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the area continued to grow and develop, with the establishment of several important industries, including textiles, engineering, and agriculture. Today, the area is a thriving town with a rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors from all over the world who are interested in exploring its history and natural beauty.

Importance Of Carlow As A Tourist Destination

Carlow offers a unique and charming experience for visitors with a wide range of things to do. The town’s rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant cultural scene make it an important destination for tourists looking to explore Ireland’s southeast region.

The town is surrounded by numerous hiking and walking trails that provide stunning views of the area. The River Barrow and other waterways in the area offer excellent opportunities for water sports and fishing, making the region an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Where Is Carlow

Map of Ireland showing carlow in it
Map of Ireland Showing Location Of Carlow

Carlow is a town located in the southeast region of Ireland, in the province of Leinster. It is situated approximately 50 km southeast of Dublin and 60 km northwest of Kilkenny. Carlow town is easily accessible by road, and rail, making it a convenient destination for visitors to Ireland.

What Are Your Getting In This Article

In this article, the reader will get an overview of the best things to do in Carlow, Ireland. The article includes some really cool things to do in Carlow, historic sites, outdoor stuff to see and tourist attractions. This guide will help you along the way if you are visiting Carlow.

Map Of Carlow

detailed map of carlow ireland
Map of the Local Area And A Few Attractions

A map of the area can be a very useful asset for visitors, providing you with all the information you need to make the most of your trip to this charming town in the southeast of Ireland.

Practical Tips And Advice For Tourists Visiting The Area

  1. Plan your itinerary: Research and plan your activities in advance to make the most of your time in the area.
  2. Rent a car: Renting a car will make it easier to explore the county and visit its various attractions.
  3. Visit historic sites: Visit historic sites such as Duckett’s Grove, and the Brownshill Dolmen to learn about the county’s rich history and heritage.
  4. Enjoy the outdoors: The area has some very nice parks and gardens, including the Carlow Garden Festival, where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  5. Try the local cuisine: Try traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew and colcannon, or sample local produce such as cheese and beef from the county’s agricultural sector.
  6. Attend cultural events: Participate in cultural events such as traditional music sessions, dance performances, and storytelling events to experience the country’s rich cultural heritage.
  7. Be respectful of the local culture and traditions: Observe local customs and be mindful of them to ensure a positive and respectful experience for everyone.

5 Facts And Stats That You Need To Know

The population of the area is around 60,000 people (Census 2021).

The county is known for its history and heritage, with several historic sites such as Duckettts Grove, St. Mary’s Church, and the Brownshill Dolmen.

The region is home to the Institute of Technology (University) which was established in 1970 and has over collage 7,000 students.

The county has a strong agricultural sector, with dairy and beef farming being the main industries.

The area has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional Irish music, dance, and storytelling still being practised today. The county also hosts several annual festivals and events, such as the Carlow Arts Festival.

History And Culture

Ancient History

The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and there are several megalithic tombs and burial mounds, such as the Brownshill Dolmen, that attest to this history.

Norman Invasion

In the 13th century, Carlow was invaded by the Normans and became an important centre of power and influence. The county’s main town, also named Carlow, was established during this time and a castle was built to defend the town.

Rebellion and War

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the region was a centre of political and military conflict, with several rebellions and wars taking place in the county.


In the 19th century, the area saw significant growth and development as the county underwent industrialization. The development of transportation links, such as the arrival of the railway, helped to boost the local economy.

Cultural Heritage

Despite its history of conflict, this part of the Emerald Isle has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional Irish music, dance, and storytelling very much loved in the area. The county also has a strong tradition of craftsmanship, with local craftsmen producing handmade goods such as pottery, textiles, and jewellery.

17 Of The Best Things To Do In Carlow

There are a heap of cool things to do in Carlow so let’s jump into it and explore the best things to do!

1. Carlow County Museum

One of the top things to do in Carlow is to visit the Carlow County Museum. The Carlow County Museum is one of the top cultural attractions. The museum is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building and provides visitors with a comprehensive look at the history and heritage of the area.

You can see fascinating artefacts and displays, including prehistoric tools and weapons, medieval manuscripts, and 19th-century clothing and household items.

2. Pop Over To Check Out Ducketts Grove


Duckett’s Grove is a historic site located near the town. It is a former mansion and estate that was built in the 19th century and is now a popular tourist attraction. Duckett’s Grove is a picturesque and peaceful spot to visit in Carlow.

The mansion was built in the Gothic Revival style and is surrounded by well-manicured gardens and parkland, making it one of the top things to do in Carlow.

3. Explore Huntington Castle

Huntington Castle is a unique and fascinating attraction in Carlow that combines elements of history, architecture, and spirituality. Built-in the 17th century and set in the picturesque countryside, the castle is surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens and parkland, making it one of the top things to do in Carlow.

The castle is also known for its spiritual and esoteric collections, including an extensive collection of crystals, tarot cards, and other esoteric artefacts.

4. See The Prehistoric Wonder That Is Brownshill Dolmen

Brownshill Dolmen is a prehistoric monument. It is one of the largest and most impressive dolmens in Ireland and is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in ancient history and archaeology. This is arguably one of the best things to do in Carlow.

The dolmen is thought to have been constructed in the Neolithic period, around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, and was used as a tomb for the local community.

5. Take A Few Pic’s At The Nine Stones

The Nine Stones is a prehistoric monument located near the town. The stones are located in a very scenic location making it one of the best things to do in Carlow.

The Nine Stones is thought to have been used for astronomical or religious purposes and is considered to be one of the most well-preserved stone circles in Ireland. The stones are arranged in a circular pattern and are thought to have been placed there over 4,000 years ago.

6. Sip A Few Tasty Cocktails At The Library Cocktails Bar

margarita-cocktail in a nice glass with ice

The Library Bar Cocktails Bar is a stylish and sophisticated bar. It is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a relaxed and intimate atmosphere for enjoying a few cocktails or drinks with friends.

If you’re looking for things to do in Carlow, a visit to this bar should definitely be on your list. The bar is known for its creative and innovative cocktails, which are crafted using the finest ingredients and mixology techniques.

7. Take A Wander Around A Medieval Castle

Carlow Castle is a medieval castle that was built in the 13th century and has a rich history and is one of the best things to do in Carlow.

The castle has undergone several renovations and additions over the centuries, and today, it stands as a well-preserved example of medieval architecture.

8. Grab A Few Craft Beers At The Carlow Brewing Company

The Carlow Brewing Company is a craft brewery. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a wide range of hand-crafted beers and ales.

The brewery offers a range of IPA beers, as well as stouts, pilsners, and other styles of beer., this is another one of the best things to do in Carlow.

9. Travel Along The River Barrow

a large tree and timber bench and a lake in view

The River Barrow is a scenic and tranquil waterway that runs through the heart of Carlow. It is a popular destination for visitors seeking a peaceful and relaxing experience.

Along the river, visitors can also discover a variety of local attractions, including historic landmarks, nature reserves, and cultural attractions. Some popular stops along the River Barrow include the Nine Stones, Brownshill Dolmen, and Huntington Castle, making it one of the best things to do in Carlow.

10. Get Cozy In A Few Traditional Irish Pubs

Tourists can experience the traditional Irish pub scene by visiting popular establishments such as Tully’s Bar, The Irishman, or The Thatch Bar.

When it comes to things to do in Carlow, there are many traditional Irish pubs in the town that belt out live music sessions, offering you an opportunity to experience traditional Irish music and dance.

11. Spend A Few Hours Taking A Look At Carlow’s Military Museum

One of the top things to do in Carlow is to visit the Irish Military Museum. The Carlow Military Museum is great for visitors interested in the history of Ireland’s military. The museum showcases a range of military artefacts, including weapons, uniforms, and equipment, as well as photographs, maps, and other historical documents.

You can learn about the role of the Irish military throughout history, including the country’s involvement in various wars and conflicts.

12. Recharge The Batteries With A Good Feed

2 meals one of lasagne and second of fish and chips

There are plenty of things to do in Carlow, including enjoying a fine dining experience at popular establishments such as Reidy’s of Carlow and Neko Asian Street Food.

If you are seeking a more casual dining experience, you will be able to try some traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew, colcannon, or bangers and mash, or try something new and different from the international menu offerings.

13. Try Out The Leighlinbridge Self-Guided Historic Town Walk

Leighlinbridge is a historic town that offers people a unique opportunity to explore its rich history and heritage through a self-guided historic town walk.

This walk is arguably one of the best things to do in Carlow, it takes visitors through the streets and alleyways of Leighlinbridge, providing an in-depth look at the town’s architecture, history, and cultural heritage.

14. Have A Picnic Along The Clashganny Forest Looped Walk

two people having a picnic and a glass of red wine

The Clashganny Forest Looped Walk is a popular walking trail. The trail also provides opportunities for picnicking, bird watching, and fishing, making it a perfect destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Clashganny Forest Looped Walk is a well-maintained trail that is suitable for walkers of all levels, from casual strollers to experienced hikers. Don’t forget to add this scenic trail to your list of things to do in Carlow!

15. Take A Wander Around The Delta Sensory Gardens

The Delta Sensory Gardens are a sensory-rich experience, where you can explore and engage with nature in a whole new way. The Delta Sensory Gardens, located in Carlow, is a must-visit destination and one of the top things to do in the area.

The gardens are comprised of a range of themed areas, including a herb garden, a rose garden, and a Japanese-style garden, each of which has been carefully designed to evoke specific sensory experiences.

16. Attend A Few Funky Festivals

Festivals provide a unique opportunity to experience different cultures and traditions, as well as to learn about the history and heritage of a particular place.

Attending one of these festivals is definitely one of the top things to do in Carlow, as it allows visitors to connect with the local community and experience the unique spirit of this beautiful region.

See Some Exhibitions At The Carlow Art Festival

The Carlow Arts Festival is an annual event that takes place in the town. It is a celebration of the arts, with a range of performances, exhibitions, and events taking place throughout the town.

The festival showcases the best of local, national, and international talent, making it a must-visit to check out for anyone looking for the best things to do in Carlow.

Stroll Around The Pan Celtic Festival International Festival

This festival is definitely one of the top things to do in Carlow for anyone who is interested in Celtic culture and traditions. Pan Celtic Festival is one of the largest cultural festivals in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world.

The festival is a celebration of the Celtic heritage and the unique cultural traditions of each of the Celtic nations, including Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man.

17. The Best Things To Do With Kids In Carlow

If you are searching for the best things to do in Carlow with Kids? Sometimes you need an engaging visitor centre to keep the kids happy, the area has a really cool little attraction that is designed to keep your kids busy, busy, busy!!!

Rancho Reilly

Rancho Reilly is one of the best things to do in Carlow, it is kinda unique and a pretty popular attraction for kids to enjoy. The park offers a unique and unforgettable experience. This Western-style ranch is a must-visit for those who love adventure and outdoor activities.

At Rancho Reilly, children can enjoy a range of activities, go karting, a pet farm and an obstacle course, kids just love this attraction.

The BEST Outdoor Activities To Experience

wooden-track-in a forest

Carlow offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, there are lots of things to see and do.

Hiking and Walking Trails

With its large hills and green countryside, the area offers a range of scenic walks and hiking trails, including the Leighlinbridge Self-Guided Historic Town Walk, and the Clashganny Forest Looped Walk are definitely one of the best outdoor things to do in Carlow.

The Barrow Way

For outdoor enthusiasts, walking the Barrow Way is arguably one of the best things to do in Carlow. The Barrow Way, a 120 km long-distance trail that follows the River Barrow, it is arguably one of the best things to do in Carlow. The Barrow Way is a scenic and peaceful trail that takes walkers through rolling mountain ranges and picturesque villages.

The Blackstairs Mountains

For those looking for some of the most challenging things to do in Carlow, the Blackstairs Mountains offer a range of trails that take walkers through the rugged and remote landscapes of the Blackstairs Mountains. These trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and are a popular destination for hillwalkers and mountaineers.


Fishing is a popular activity in the area, and there are several locations where you can cast a line. The River Barrow, which runs through the county, is well-known for its fishing opportunities.

The River Barrow, there are several lakes and reservoirs in the area that offer fishing opportunities, including the Lower River Barrow, the Upper River Barrow, and the River Burren, making it one of the best things to do in Carlow.

Barrow Fishing Tackle Shop

Address: 2 Maryborough St, Graiguecullen.

Postcode: R93ET80

Phone: 085 274 7542

Horse Riding

There are several stables and riding schools in the area that offer lessons and guided rides. You can choose from a range of riding options, including scenic rides through the countryside, beach rides, and cross-country rides. Horse riding is just another one of the best things to do in Carlow.

MPM Equestrian Centre offers a range of horse riding experiences for visitors of all abilities.

MPM Equestrian Centre

Address: Rahill, Rathvilly

Postcode: R93 A376

Phone: 085 889 4237


green on a golf course surrounded by mountians

There are several golf courses in the surrounding area, including the Borris Golf Club, which offers a challenging 18-hole course set in scenic surroundings.

If you’re looking for things to do in Carlow, golfing should definitely be on your list. Whether you are a seasoned golfer or a beginner, golf in the area is sure to be an enjoyable experience.

Borris Golf Club

Address: Borris, Carlow

Phone: (059) 977 3310

Water Sports

Carlow is not just limited to golfing, but also offers a range of exciting things to do in Carlow. One of the most popular water sports are kayaking and canoeing. Watersports enthusiasts can rent kayaks and canoes and explore the River Barrow, which is known for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife.

Tullow Kayak Club

Address: Ballymurphy Rd, Tullowphelim.

Phone: 087 643 5892

Do A Bit Of Wildlife Watching

The green lush surrounding countryside is also a great place for wildlife watching, with opportunities to see species such as deer, foxes, and badgers, it is arguably one of the best things to do in Carlow. There are a number of walking trails and nature reserves that offer easy access to the local countryside, allowing visitors to explore the local flora and fauna at their leisure.

One of the best places for wildlife watching is the River Barrow.

Wildlife Sanctuary

Address: 1, Dunleckny, Muine Bheag.

Post: R21 H504

Get A Bit Of Food And Drink Into You

lot of alcoholic beverages bottles behind a bar

One of the best places to experience the local food and drink culture is at one of Carlow’s many traditional pubs, which are renowned for their hearty pub food and local beers. You can sample classic Irish dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, or try more contemporary options, such as locally-sourced salads and grilled meats.

Good Pubs To Check Out

The town is known for its vibrant and lively pub culture, with a range of traditional and contemporary pubs to choose from.

Here are some of the best pubs to visit in the area.

The Library Bar

This stylish bar is famous for its expertly crafted cocktails and relaxed atmosphere, making it a popular spot for both locals and visitors. This bar should definitely be on your list of things to do in Carlow.

Carpe Diem

This retro Irish pub with a warm and friendly atmosphere is a great place to sample a traditional pint of Guinness and enjoy some live music.

Harry Burkes Bar

If you’re looking for [things to do in Carlow], a visit to Harry Burkes is a must. Harry Burkes is known for its live traditional music and hearty pub atmosphere, this is a popular spot for visitors looking to experience a classic Irish pub.

Scraggs Alley

This Irish pub to sample some of the local beers. It is one of the top things to do in Carlow to get a taste of the local culture and experience the authentic Irish pub scene. This historic pub is known for its friendly atmosphere, good food, and live music, making it a popular choice for tourists and locals alike.

Traditional Irish Cuisine And Fine Dining

There are many restaurants and pubs that serve traditional Irish cuisine, each offering its own unique take on classic dishes.

Here are a few popular options to consider.

Clashganny House Restaurant

Clashganny House Restaurant is a popular dining destination. There is a fine dining menu, which features contemporary Irish cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients. The restaurant is located in a beautiful 19th-century country house and offers a cosy and intimate atmosphere.

The Clink

The Clink is a fantastic option when considering things to do in Carlow. The Clink is an upmarket restaurant that is known for serving delicious cuisine in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The menu at The Clink may feature a variety of dishes, including seasonal ingredients and local produce. It is a popular dining destination for both locals and visitors to the area.

Here’s A Few Fancy Hotels To Consider

hotel-room with a large bed and lamps

All of the hotels in this post typically offer basic amenities such as private rooms with en-suite bathrooms and continental breakfast options. The rooms are spacious, luxurious and fitted with all modern amenities. The quality of hotels in the area varies, but there are options available to suit different budgets and preferences.

Seven Oaks Hotel

Seven Oaks Hotel is a grand hotel for you to consider. Seven Oaks Hotel features rooms equipped with all the necessary comforts. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, and fitness centre, making it a great option for both business and leisure travellers.

Talbot Carlow

The Talbot Hotel Carlow is a 4-star hotel. It offers elegant and comfortable rooms, equipped with modern amenities, such as flat-screen televisions and private en-suite bathrooms. The Talbot Hotel Carlow is a great option for business and leisure travellers alike, offering a convenient location.

Bed and Breakfasts

These B&Bs offer comfortable rooms with a homely atmosphere and usually include a delicious breakfast made from local ingredients. B&Bs are a great option for travellers looking for a more relaxed and personal experience and offer a great way to experience the local culture and hospitality of the local area.

Avlon House Bed and Breakfast

Carlow Guesthouse – Bed and Breakfast

Corriebeg Cottage

Final Thoughts

Carlow is a beautiful and charming town located in the southeast part of Ireland. You can explore the lush countryside or wander around the city’s many museums and cool attractions. There are plenty of things to do in Carlow, that will satisfy your curiosity and sense of adventure.

And with its vibrant food scene and lively pubs, there is no shortage of options for dining and entertainment in the area.

So why not pack your bags and explore this beautiful area for yourself?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What are the best things to do in Carlow, Ireland for tourists?

Some of the best things to do in Carlow, for tourists include visiting Duckett’s Grove, touring the Carlow County Museum, and hiking the Blackstairs Mountains.

Q2: Can you tell me more about Duckett’s Grove?

Duckett’s Grove is a historical estate located in Carlow. It was once a grand mansion and is now a ruined castle with a walled garden that is popular for picnics, tours and outdoor events.

Q3: Is the Carlow County Museum a must-visit for tourists in Carlow, Ireland?

Yes, the Carlow County Museum is a must-visit for tourists as it offers a unique insight into the history and heritage of the area. The museum features interactive exhibits, artefacts and displays on the local history, geology, and archaeology of Carlow.

Q4: What are the Blackstairs Mountains like for hiking?

The Blackstairs Mountains offer a beautiful and challenging hike for tourists. The area features breathtaking views, scenic trails and diverse wildlife. It is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the region.

Q5: Can you recommend any restaurants in Carlow, Ireland for tourists?

All Things Ireland recommends two restaurants for tourists, the Clashganny House restaurant and The Clink. These restaurants offer a range of cuisine options and a memorable dining experience.

John C

Hey, my name is John Conway and I love travelling around Ireland. I have a passion for All Things Ireland. I love the Emerald Isle! I love Guinness and green fields!

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