A visit to Malahide Castle and Gardens is one of the most popular things to do in Malahide for good reason.
There’s a little bit of something here for young and old, with a plethora of walking trails on offer, a cafe, one of the most impressive castles in Dublin and more.
The castle is also home to a wealth of history (and a ghost, apparently!) and it’s a great spot to soak up some of the areas past.
Below, you’ll find information on everything from the fairy trail and the Butterfly House to the castle tours and more. Dive on in.
Some quick need-to-knows about Malahide Castle
Although a visit to Malahide Castle is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
It’s less than a half-hour’s drive from Dublin City Centre to Malahide village and a mere ten minutes from the airport. Two bus services plus mainline rail and DART services make it an easy place to get to – it’s a 10-minute walk from the village.
There’s lots of free parking available at the Castle, but you can also leave your car in the village car park or use the metred parking on the streets, and enjoy the 10-minute walk to the Castle.
3. Opening hours
The Castle and the Walled Garden are open all year round from 9.30am, with the last tour at 4.30pm in summer and 3.30pm in winter (November – March). The Butterfly House and the Walled Garden The last entry to the Fairy Trail is half an hour earlier, so 4pm in summer and 3pm in winter.
4. Gorgeous grounds
The vast grounds (including the children’s playground) surrounding Malahide Castle are free to the public so you can sit and admire your surroundings or have a picnic while the children play. With 250 acres, you’re not going to get to see everything, so you’ll have an excuse, if you need one, to come back.
5. Historic Castle
Malahide Castle dates to the 12 Century when Richard Talbot, as all good Normans were wont to do, built a castle on lands gifted by King Henry II. The Castle is unique in that the Talbot family owned it for almost (with one blip) 800 years.
Malahide Castle history
In 1174 King Henry II visited Ireland, accompanied by the Norman knight, Sir Richard de Talbot. When King Henry left, Sir Richard stayed behind to build a castle on the lands previously owned by the last Danish King.
These lands were gifted to Sir Richard by King Henry for his loyalty to the Crown and included the Port of Malahide. The Talbot family prospered until the English Civil War brought Cromwell’s men to their door.
They were sent into exile in the west of Ireland, the only time the Castle was out of Talbot hands. They remained there for 11 years until King James II came to power and restored their property.
Upon their return, Lady Talbot insisted that the Castle be stripped of its defences to make it less attractive to further invaders. The Talbot family was popular with the locals, and they owned the Castle was it was sold to the Irish Government in 1975.
Things to do at Malahide Castle
One of the reasons that a visit to Malahide Castle Gardens is one of the most popular Dublin day trips is down to the volume of things to do on offer.
Below, you’ll find info on the walks, the tours, where to grab a coffee and some unique things to do here with kids.
1. Walk around the grounds
Approximately 250 acres of land surround Malahide Castle, which is why it’s here that you’ll find some of the best walks in Dublin.
The grounds are a peaceful and beautiful place to go for a stroll, particularly on a nice day. We generally park in the car park just to the left of the main entrance.
From here, you can either follow the perimeter path the whole way around or you can set off into the field to the left of the car park and join the trail there.
2. Take the castle tour
The Malahide Castle tour is well worth doing. Especially if you’re looking for things to do in Dublin when it’s raining…
The tour costs €14 for an adult, €6.50 for a child, €9 for a Senior/Student and €39.99 for a family ( 2 + 3) and it’s around 40-minutes long.
The Malahide Castle tours are led by experienced guides that take you through the history of the castle along with it’s many interesting features.
The banquet hall is a gorgeous example of medieval design. Younger people might particularly enjoy finding out how people got on without indoor plumbing in the past. At least five ghosts are said to roam the Castle. Keep your eyes peeled!
3. See the walled garden
If you’re doing the Malahide Castle tour, entrance to the Walled Garden is included. Otherwise, you can get gardens-only admission.
The Walled Garden is beautifully laid out and has many nooks and crannies to explore and play hide and seek. Allow at least two hours to walk around. Many seating areas allow you to enjoy the view of the castle exterior.
The herb garden is interesting; many of the plants noted as poisonous are mainly used for medicinal purposes. Gardeners love investigating the plant houses scattered throughout the garden, and the Victorian greenhouse is gorgeous. Keep an eye out for the Peacock!
4. Visit the Butterfly House
The Butterfly House at Malahide Castle is housed in the Cambridge Glasshouse in the Walled Garden. Although it’s not huge, there are about 20 varieties of exotic butterflies fluttering around above your head and through the tropical plants.
You’ll be able to see all the stages that lead to these beautiful insects (or Lepidoptera) emerging into the Butterfly House.
You can pick up a leaflet at the Admissions area to help you to identify the different butterflies. This Butterfly House is the only one in the Irish Republic.
5. Hit the Fairy Trail
If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Dublin, look no further than the Fairy Trail at Malahide Castle Gardens.
Situated in the Walled Garden, the Fairy Trail is a must for the young and the young-at-heart. Make sure you pick up the little booklet which tells you which way to go and has clues and questions to answer as you go along.
Children (and older) love the sculptures and fairy houses, and it’s lovely to hear the children calling out for the fairies as they wander along the 1.8km trail. The consensus from visitors is that this Fairy Trail is very well done and one of the best around.
6. Visit the Casino Model Railway Museum
The Casino Model Railway Museum is home to the Cyril Fry collection, preserved for future generations per the man’s wishes. Many of his model trains were based on original drawings and plans from several railway companies.
The museum has an interactive display offering in-depth examinations of his work and historical information about the railway system in Ireland.
The museum is open April to September from 9.30 am-6 pm, and October to March 10 am-5 pm. Last entry at 4 pm.
Things to do near Malahide Castle and Gardens
One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Dublin.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Malahide Castle and Gardens (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Food in the village (15-minute walk)
No matter what type of food your tastebuds fancy, Malahide has it, as you’ll discover in our Malahide restaurants guide. It has lots of cafés, restaurants, hotels, and pubs serving food. In recent times, food trucks have become popular, and there are a number of these, serving different cuisines, in the village and marina.
2. Malahide Beach (30-minute walk)
3. DART day trips
The DART runs between Howth and Greystones. Buy a LEAP card and hop on and off all the way along its 50km length over 24 hours. It’s a fantastic way to explore Dublin, and in one day, you can swim in the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire, take a tour of Trinity College, and walk the clifftops at Howth.
FAQs about Malahide Castle and Gardens
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you go inside Malahide Castle?’ (you can) to ‘Is Malahide Castle free?’ (no, you have to pay in).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What is there to do at Malahide Castle and Gardens?
There’s the walking trails, the castle tour, the walled garden, the butterfly house, the fairy trail and the cafe along with a playground.
Is the Malahide Castle tour worth doing?
Yes. The guides are experienced and they do a great job of taking you through the Malahide Castle history and the different features of the castle.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.