In this guide, we’re going to be taking you through loooooooads of things to do in Carlow to keep you occupied during your visit.
‘Eh, sure why would I bother visiting Carlow, there’s nothing to do in the place?!’
If you’ve ever found yourself saying (or thinking) the above, then I’m going to try and convince you that taking a trip to Carlow is well worth it.
From scenic walks and old-world pubs to breweries and one of the best views in Ireland, there’s something that’ll tickle every fancy.
What you’ll get from reading this guide
- Advice on what to do in Carlow (at any time of the year)
- Recommendations of pubs to nip into for a post-adventure pint
- A dash of inspiration on where to eat and chill for the night
Things to do in Carlow in 2020
There’s no better place to start your journey around Ireland’s Ancient East than in County Carlow.
Ready to go? Let’s dive in!
1 – Kick-start your trip with a coffee by the river at the Mullicháin Café
At the start of every guide on this website, we make a coffee or breakfast recommendation.
Why? Because, if you’ve an adventure-wedged day ahead, you need a bit of fuel to keep you going.
Take a spin out to the little village of St. Mullins. It’s here, right on the Banks of the River Barrow, that you’ll find the Mullicháin Café.
Situated in a carefully restored 18th-century canal storehouse, this cafe is the perfect place to kick-start your visit to Carlow in Style.
2 – Catch one of the best views in Ireland at the nine stones (one of the best things to do in Carlow that’s often missed!)
This hands-down one of the best places to visit in Carlow if you fancy catching a view that’ll knock you sideways.
Welcome to the magnificent Nine Stones Viewing Point.
From here, you can admire an unrivaled vista of the lush, colourful Carlow countryside.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to see eight different counties… yes eight!
Get yourself here, gulp down lungfuls of fresh air, and enjoy the view.
3 – Have a ramble around the Brownshill Dolmen
You’ll find the ancient Brownshill Dolmen a stone’s throw from Carlow Town.
This prehistoric Dolmen dates back over 4,900 to 5,500 years. It also weighs an estimated 103 tonnes…
Which is pretty mental when you consider that it’s manmade.
Surrounded by quiet meadows, this place is a must if you’re looking for somewhere to visit that’s a little off the beaten path.
4 – Sample the wares at the Carlow Brewing Company
My God look how creamy the head is on that pint!
The brewery tour at the Carlow Brewing Company takes you on a journey through Ireland’s craft brewing history.
Beer fans will be taught about the brewing process and how the O’Hara’s (the beer brewed here) award-winning beers are produced.
You’ll also have the chance to taste the special malts, smell the hops, and, of course, taste the beers that are masterfully brewed on-site.
5 – Dive into a bit of history at Carlow Castle
Although Carlow Castle is now a ruin, you’ll still get a solid idea of how it would have looked when it was built during the early 12th century.
Many years ago, when Carlow was a significant military fortress, this castle withstood repeated attacks, two of which took place in 1494 and 1641.
Visitors to Carlow Castle can check out the two remaining towers and a section of an intervening wall that still remains standing.
6 – Kick-back in Mount Wolseley for a night
Looking for somewhere to chill for an evening?
The Mount Wolseley Hotel is a solid option for those looking to visit Carlow for a break away from it all.
You can stay indoors and flake out in the spa, or you can take some time to ramble around the beautiful private garden and lake.
Expect grand sweeping staircases, Italian marble floors and regal furnishings throughout this gorgeous resort.
7 – Glide along the River Barrow (perfect if your visiting and wondering what to do in Carlow with kids)
If you’re looking for places to go in Carlow and tours that’ll keep kids amused and occupied, then this family-friendly option will be right up your street.
The lads at Go With the Flow offer a family tour that’ll take you along a gorgeous canoe trail with lots of things to see and do en route.
According to the organisers, ‘On the trail there are weirs and rapids so expect a few spills and thrills but nothing scary. There are old lock keepers cottages, scenic waterfalls, and old castle and eel weirs and of course breathtaking views.’
There are also tours offered for adults and large groups.
8 – Step into another world at Huntington Castle
I know of several people that have visited the 17th-century Huntington Castle over the past year.
While each said that the castle was worth a visit, they all mentioned that the gardens stole the show.
As you walk through them, you’ll come across French limes trees that border an avenue, an ornamental lawn and fish pond, and a load of great tree varieties like hickory, Siberian crab and buckeye chestnut.
The perfect place for an early morning saunter.
9 – Nurse a pint in an old-world Irish pub
I. Love. Old. Pubs.
You’ll find this lovely little pub tucked away in the town of Borris in Carlow.
O’Shea’s Pub is a charming, traditional, old-world style pub that has been owned by the O’Shea family for several generations.
The building that it occupies has operated as a grocer and a pub since way back in the 19th century.
A grand aul spot to nurse a pint or 3.
10 – Take a trip back in time at Carlow County Museum
If you’re in search of Carlow tourist attractions that you can visit when it’s raining, then add this to your list.
The Carlow County Museum displays a wealth of intriguing items over four impressive galleries.
There are two items here that have me itching to visit.
The first is a magnificent 19th-century hand-carved pulpit from the Carlow Cathedral, which stands proudly within the museum.
It’s over 20ft tall and is constructed entirely of oak.
The second are the original gallow trapdoor from the Carlow Gaol.
Well worth a visit.
11 – Grab a big aul feed in the Lord Bagnal
I’ve had many meals in the Lord Bagenal Inn over the years.
This cosy spot (especially if you grab a seat in the bar furthest from the main dining area) has been family-run since 1979.
Finely situated on the banks of the River Barrow in the heritage village of Leighlinbridge, the Lord Bagenal serves a fine feed.
Especially if you’re fond on an aul roast potato.
Get in and get fed.
12 – Clear the head on a ramble by the river in St. Mullins
If you’re looking to dive into nature, head back on out to the little village of St. Mullins.
It’s hard to beat a walk along the banks of the River Barrow on a clear day. Just look at the picture above… tranquil AF.
If you’re looking for a bit of local history, you’ll find physical remains from many significant periods in Irish History in St. Mullins.
From a Christian monastic settlement and a Norman Motte and Bailey to a graveyard containing numerous insurgents from the 1798 Rebellion.
Well worth the visit.
13 – Discover Carlow’s military history at the County Carlow Military Museum
This is another spot that’ll appeal to those of you interested in uncovering more of Carlow’s past.
You’ll find the Carlow Military Museum in a late 19th century Church in Carlow Town.
The Museum has loads of different artefacts from the late 18th century to the present day and enables visitors to get immersed in the history of the Irish Army, Local Reserve Defence Forces, UN Peacekeeping, Carlow Militia, World War 1, and more.
14 – Lace up your hiking boots and walk the South Leinster Way
If you fancy heading off on a long walk that’ll treat you to mighty views along the way, then the South Leinster Way is a must.
This is a long-distance walking route that runs from Kildavin, in the east of Carlow, to Carrick-on-Suir in Tipperary.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the walk:
- Stage 1: Kildavin – Borris (22km)
- Stage 2: Borris – Graiguenamanagh (12km)
- Stage 3: Graiguenamanagh – Inistioge (16km)
- Stage 4: Inistioge – Mullinavat (30km)
- Stage 5: Mullinavat – Carrick-on-Suir (22km)
Although the entire walk will take you between 4 and 5 days, you could easily do half on one visit and the other half when you visit Carlow next.
15 – Have tea and cake at the supposedly haunted Duckett’s Grove
The building actually looks pretty damn creepy as well…
Welcome to Duckett’s Grove, the 20,000 acre 18th, 19th and early 20th century home of the Duckett family.
Although it’s now mainly a ruin, Carlow County Council resurrected the garden walls which were damaged along with the remaining towers and buildings.
They’re now accessible to the public and there’s also a tea room on-site.
16 – Listen to the water crash at Delta Sensory Gardens (#1 out of the 50+ places to go in Carlow on Tripadvisor)
A visit to the Delta Sensory Gardens is number 1 on Tripadvisor for things to do in Carlow.
Described as ‘An Oasis of Peace and Tranquility’, the Delta sensory gardens are situated on a generous 2.5-acre site not far from Carlow Town.
It took 6 years to create the 16 interconnecting gardens here and when they opened in 2007, they were the first of their kind in Ireland.
Grab a coffee-to-go from the on-site cafe and head for a ramble around.
Things to do in Carlow this weekend
Wondering what’s on in Carlow during your visit?
There are plenty of great, regularly updated websites to help you uncover what’s taking place during your trip.
Here are some websites that I’ve come across that are worth checking out:
- Carlow Live (perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Carlow this weekend)
- The Carlow Eventbrite page
- The KCLR event guide
What places to see in Carlow have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still.
They grow based on feedback and recommendations from readers and locals that visit and comment.
Have something to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!