If you’re in search of loads of worthwhile things to do in Kildare, you’ve landed in the right place.
Although the name Kildare means “Church of the Oak”, there’s far more than churches and trees to enjoy in this beautiful county.
You’ll discover everything from castles and barges to magnificent gardens and more in our guide to the best places to visit in Kildare below!
The best things to do in Kildare
- Explore Kildare from the comfort of a barge…
- And then spend the night on one!
- Step back in time at Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park
- Ramble around Maynooth Castle
- Grab a coffee and head for a stroll around Castletown House
- Make your belly happy at Two Cooks Restaurant and Wine Bar
- Wander through the gardens at the National Stud
- Sample the wares at the Kildare Brewing Co.
- Challenge yourself at Redhills Adventures
- Spend a night in a castle at Kilkea
- Explore Burtown House and Gardens
1. Explore Kildare from the comfort of a barge…
All aboard for a cruise along the Grand Canal for up to 12 private passengers. This beautifully restored barge has two cabins and plenty of outdoor seating allowing everyone to find their own space.
There’s even a bar and toilet on board. Depart from Sallins on a one-hour cruise to the Leinster Aqueduct, built in 1784 above the River Liffey, or continue on a 2.5 hour trip to the 250-year-old Digby Lock.
One of the best things to do in Kildare is an evening cruise (1.5 hours) to McCreevy’s Lock with sunset vistas.
2. And then spend the night on one!
If you’re in search of unique things to do in Kildare, then a night spent kicking-back on a barge in Sallins should be right up your street.
Permanently moored in Sallins Harbour, the Roisin Dubh Houseboat is a 2 bedroom barge for 6 guests. Built in 1999 as a family home, it now provides a welcoming Airbnb.
From the wheelhouse, there’s access to a double aft cabin and stairs to the fully equipped kitchen and gorgeous living area.
Check out the polished wood floors, wood burner and comfy sofa bed! The queen-size master bedroom is in the bow next to the bathroom. Breakfast? No problem.
There’s a canalside café, gastropub and restaurants nearby along with a grocery store and parking (book a night here – note: we’ll make a small commission if you do).
3. Step back in time at Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park
Getaway from it all at Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, located in the Bog of Allen in West Kildare.
This award-winning attraction is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Kildare with 60 acres of trails through the ancient peatland, woods and lakes.
Themed gardens focus on Ireland’s history and heritage with native flowers and shrubs as well as a Fairy Tree for making wishes come true!
Kids will love the Funky Forest play area, 18 hole Mini Golf and Pet Farm. Lose yourself in the Fairy Village, find “loot” on a treasure hunt and admire the models of dolmens and Newgrange megalithic tomb.
4. Ramble around Maynooth Castle
Dating back to Norman times, Maynooth Castle is a majestic castle ruin, once the seat of the FitzGeralds, one of Ireland’s most powerful families.
Located next to Maynooth University South Campus, it is one of the most visited Kildare attractions. The keep is one of the largest of its kind and the Great Hall has witnessed many political and strategic plans hatched within its thick stone walls.
Free to visit, the well-kept grounds are a lovely place to ramble while waiting to join a 45-minute guided tour.
5. Grab a coffee and head for a stroll around Castletown House
Just 21km from Dublin, Castletown House is offering free tours of the ground floor of this historic monument in 2020, so now’s the time to make a booking and visit.
Castletown was the first Palladian-style mansion in Ireland, built in the 1720s for William Connolly. The newly renovated Crimson Drawing Room is one of many grand staterooms.
The 80-foot Long Gallery frequently hosts temporary exhibitions while the second floor has magnificent displays and permanent collections.
If you’re wondering what to do in Kildare with kids, you can take them to the biodiversity garden (open on weekends) where they’ll have a chance to meet the Castletown Fairies!
6. Make your belly happy at Two Cooks Restaurant and Wine Bar
All these things to do in Kildare will sharpen the appetite, so why not head to the Two Cooks Restaurant and Bar in Sallins, Co. Kildare for some scrumptious nosh!
Offering “fine dining without fuss” Josef Zammit and Nicola Curran run the 40-seater restaurant overlooking the pretty canal.
In 2020, given our current situation, they are offering mouthwatering takeaway meals including Rotisserie Chicken with 3 Salads as an alternative to their renowned restaurant and café.
Note from the editor: I had breakfast here twice, two days in a row, last summer and good God the food was unreal. Well worth a visit!
7. Wander through the gardens at the National Stud
The state-owned commercial National Stud is home to some of the most magnificent thoroughbred horses in Ireland.
The farm at Tully was purchased from Hall Walker, a successful breeder, back in 1900. Admire these fine creatures and you could be looking at the next winner of the Epsom Derby or Cheltenham Gold Cup!
Those that visit can explore the Horse Museum with its memorabilia and history. Alternatively, lose yourself in the Japanese Gardens which contrast with the wild Irish St Fiachra’s Garden.
8. Sample the wares at the Kildare Brewing Co. (one of the best things to do in Kildare when it’s raining)
If you’re wondering what to do in Kildare with a group, this should tickle your fancy. A very mighty variety of Irish beers are produced by the lads at the Kildare Brewery Co (it’s connected to the Lock 13 pub and restaurant).
Those that visit can head off on a mini brewery tour around the brewhouse and sample some of their most popular beers.
Groups of 6-10 people can enjoy this 40-minute immersion into the world of hops and vats. Bookings are required as this is one of the most popular things to do in Kildare.
9. Challenge yourself at Redhills Adventures
If you’re in search of places to visit in Kildare with a big group (aged 7 and up), carve out some time to visit Redhills Adventures.
Situated on a former working farm near Kildare Town it offers sports activities to suit all interests and fitness levels.
Warm up with a little Archery Tag before tackling the Assault Course, do Splat Paintballing and plot your revenge with Airsoft firing plastic projectiles from airsoft guns. Ouch!
10. Spend a night in a castle at Kilkea
Kilkea Castle is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland. Built in 1180, it was the stronghold of the Earls of Kildare for many centuries.
Major renovations have resulted in a grand house fit for a king. Now a luxury resort with 140 bedrooms, it has 180 glorious acres of gardens, woodland and a golf course.
Although this doesn’t really fit in with the other Kildare attractions, it’s worth visiting Kilkea even for lunch as the castle is incredible on the inside and the grounds are a joy to walk around.
11. Explore Burtown House and Gardens
On a smaller scale to Castletown House but equally as remarkable, Burtown House and Gardens is a historic Georgian Quaker House near Ballitore.
It’s surrounded by flower gardens and countryside walks making it one of the top attractions in Kildare for green-fingered gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts.
Built in 1710, it boasts secret gardens, a shop and a gallery. There are also tea rooms for those of you that just fancy sitting down and having a chat.
What places to visit in Kildare have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve missed out on some brilliant places to visit in Kildare in the guide above. If you any Kildare attractions to recommend, let me know in the comments.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.