15 Best Castles in Galway County, Ireland, in 2023

From the stunning Kylemore Abbey and Abbeyglen Castle Hotel to the charming ruins of Clifden Castle and Menlo Castle, there are numerous castles in Galway county that are just waiting for you to explore them!

If you’re short on time and aren’t sure which castles to add to your Ireland itinerary, read on to find out more about which of these castles in County Galway are perfect for you.

So let’s dive into some of the best castles in the west of Ireland.

Castle Tours in County Galway

1. Kylemore Abbey

Opening Hours: 10 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week
Price: Adult – €16.00 | Student – €13.50 | Senior – €13.50 | Family – €40.00 | Junior Student – €8.00 | Children 12 and Under – Free
Location: Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Co. Galway, Ireland

Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain and mirrored in the serene waters of Lough Pollacapall, Kylemore Abbey is a must-visit gem in County Galway, Ireland.

Built as a romantic gift in the 19th century, this Gothic Revival-style castle now serves as an abbey, home to the Benedictine nuns since 1920.

Visitors are first struck by the Abbey’s striking beauty, an architectural delight against a backdrop of raw natural scerenity.

Inside, you can explore several rooms that have been elegantly restored to reflect their Victorian grandeur. Make sure to visit the neo-Gothic church, a ‘cathedral in miniature,’ and the beautiful Victorian Walled Garden with its carefully manicured lawns and colorful flora.

The estate spans over a thousand acres, offering acres of private woodland and lake shore walks. Kylemore Abbey is not just a beautiful castle but a place of peace and spiritual reflection. Always double-check opening hours, which can vary by season.

Daily tours/history talks are often available at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm.

Kylemore Abbey castle (a Gothic Revival-style castle) in county Galway reflecting in the lake, surrounded by lush green foilage

2. Claregalway Castle

Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday from 12 pm to 4 pm
Price: Adult €6 | Student €4 | Children €4
Location: Claregalway, County Galway, Ireland

Claregalway Castle is an Anglo-Norman castle located in Claregalway village. Medieval Armoured Combat Ireland was based here. It is now reinstated in its previous glory.

The castle is open six months a year to the public. An organized guided castle tour is available from Sunday to Wednesday from 12 to 4 pm. It costs €6 per person. For children and students, the tour costs €4 each.

This historic fortress was the citadel of the Burke Family from 1400 to 1600, which witnessed many events that depict medieval Irish history.

The castle was designed in such a way as to protect it from archery. Stone-curved towers and intricate woodwork in the great hall represent the architectural style of that era.

Many tourists visit this place to take a view of this magnificent castle as well as the artifacts from different eras. The Brian Boru, the national icon of Ireland, originated here and now resides at Trinity College Dublin.

Several events are hosted here, like the Galway Garden Festivals, Heritage Week, International Medieval Combat, etc.

Recommended by Ruma of The Holiday Story

Image of a graveyard in Ireland with Claregalway Castle in the background

3. Dunguaire Castle

Opening Hours: 10 am to 5 pm Daily
Price: Adult – €7.50 | Student – €5.50 | Senior – €5.50 | Family – €21.50 | Children 5-16 – €5.00 | Children Under 5 – Free
Location: Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland

Dunguaire Castle is one of the prettiest castles in County Galway. It was built in 1520 and has been restored since then, so it’s in good condition. 

The castle is located on Galway Bay, so you can take excellent photos of the water when you visit. 

There are several ways to visit Dunguaire Castle. If you have your own car, you can easily drive there from the city of Galway. 

If you don’t have your own car, some tours from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher stop at Dunguaire Castle on the way. 

You can also have dinner at one of the seasonal Dunguaire Castle banquets from April to October if you’d rather visit in the evening. However, it’s not possible to spend the night at the castle.

Recommended by Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Dungauire Castle reflecting in Galway Bay with the Ireland flag flying above the castle/ The sky is blue and full of whispy white clouds

Restored Castles in Galway

4. Athenry Castle

Opening Hours: March – November Daily from 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Price: Adult €5.00 | Senior €4.00 | Student €3.00 | Family €13.00 | Child €3.00
Location: Athenry, County Galway, Ireland

One of the most notable medieval monuments in Ireland, Athenry Castle stands proudly in the heart of the town of Athenry, County Galway.

Built by Meiler de Bermingham in the 13th century, it served as a stronghold of the Anglo-Norman conquerors in western Ireland.

Today, Athenry Castle’s imposing three-story keep is a reminder of the region’s turbulent history.

Visitors can explore the robustly defensive nature of this building, with features like the original lancet windows, a murder hole, and a steeply ascending spiral staircase.

First-time visitors should take advantage of the opportunity to ascend to the battlements. From this vantage point, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside.

The castle’s opening times vary seasonally, so checking in advance is advisable. Whether you’re a history buff or a lover of stunning views, Athenry Castle offers an enriching experience.

Murder Hole in the castle. There is a grate covering the opening, and a sign that reads "murder hole"

5. Aughnanure Castle

Opening Hours: March – November Daily from 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Price: Adult €5.00 | Senior €4.00 | Student €3.00 | Family €13.00 | Child €3.00
Location: Oughterard, County Galway, Ireland

Aughnanure Castle, a six-story, 16th century tower house, can be found nestled in the picturesque setting of Oughterard, Co. Galway.

Once the stronghold of the ferocious O’Flaherty clan, the castle’s name translates to “field of yews,” referencing back to the once lush landscape surrounding it.

As you wander around the castle complex, you’ll come across a fortified bawn, remnants of a banqueting hall, a watchtower, and a dry harbor.

And if you’re up for the climb, the winding staircase up to the top of the six-story tower offers breathtaking views of the Connemara countryside. Just be sure to check the seasonal opening times before you plan your visit.

I highly recommend a visit to Aughnanure Castle if you’re interested in immersing yourself in Ireland’s past. The combination of rich history and stunning landscapes is truly unforgettable.

View of Aughnanure Castle from below. The castle has both square and round towers. This stone castle is surrounded by lush green grass

6. Portumna Castle

Opening Hours: March – November Daily from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Price: dult €5.00 | Senior €4.00 | Student €3.00 | Family €13.00 | Child €3.00
Location: Portumna, County Galway, Ireland

Portumna Castle, located in Portumna, County Galway, is a 17th-century semi-fortified house that offers visitors a captivating glance into Ireland’s past.

Designed by Richard Burke, the 4th Earl of Clanricarde, this Jacobean-style architecture is unique with its three-story mansion and adjoining four-story tower.

This imposing castle, once the main seat of the de Burgo family, is a delight to explore, from its meticulously restored ground floor to the exhibition on the first floor, sharing the castle’s rich history.

One of the best attractions of Portumna Castle is its impressive formal gardens. The estate comprises the Kitchen Garden, faithfully restored to its 17th-century layout, and the formal, geometric-designed Ladies’ Garden.

With its abundant, colorful blooms and manicured hedges, the gardens are a tranquil retreat and an essential part of the castle experience.

Before visiting, check the castle’s seasonal opening times. Both the castle and the gardens of Portumna offer a unique blend of history, architecture, and horticultural charm.

Beautifully manicured castle gardens with flower beds containing red, purple, pink, and white flowers. There are also shaped topiaries. A rock wall surrounds the gardens

Castle Ruins in County Galway, Ireland

7. Clifden Castle

Opening Hours: 24/7
Price: Free
Location: Castle Demesne, Ardbear Cottages, County Galway, Ireland

Situated just outside the vibrant town of Clifden in County Galway, Clifden Castle was built in 1818 by John D’Arcy, the founder of Clifden town.

Sadly, this Gothic Revival castle has fallen to ruin, but it still holds an eerie charm that fascinates visitors.

The castle, located on a breathtaking hill overlooking Clifden Bay, was once a symbol of D’Arcy’s prosperity. However, Clifden Castle is abandoned today, with its stone walls, turrets, and towers offering silent testimony to its former glory.

Visitors must take a short 0.6-mile walk down a gravel road to reach the castle. It’s important to note that this site is historic, not a commercial tourist attraction, so amenities are limited.

Despite its ruinous state, the romantic allure of Clifden Castle continues to enchant visitors, making it a worthy stop on any Galway itinerary.

For more information, be sure to check out our complete guide to visiting Clifden Castle.

The Clifden Castle ruins covered in green ivy. The picture is taken under the castle court yard's arch way with bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds up above.

8. Dunsandle Castle

Opening Hours: Subject to Availability
Price: Subject to Availability
Location: Carrarea, County Galway, Ireland

Next up, Dunsandle Castle is a hidden gem in County Galway’s lush woods. It was built in the 15th century by the De Burgo (Burke) family, and the castle is a fine example of a medieval fortified tower house.

Dunsandle Castle offers a unique insight into Irish medieval architecture with its square towers, murder hole, and special features like an inverted boat-shaped wooden ceiling.

The castle also boasts an intact bawn wall and a rare double bawn gate, further adding to its historical appeal.

Visitors should note that the castle is privately owned and typically accessed through guided tours only.

These tours are incredibly enriching and provide an in-depth understanding of the castle’s history, architecture, and the life of its former inhabitants.

Before planning your visit, check for tour availability and timings. A visit to Dunsandle Castle promises a journey through time and a truly memorable experience.

Black and white image of Dunsandle Castle in County Galway, Ireland. The castle is covered in ivy and is surrounded by large trees.

9. Glinsk Castle

Opening Hours: 24/7
Price: Free
Location: Glinsk, County Galway, Ireland

Glinsk Castle, built in the early 17th century by the Burke family, is now a haunting ruin that resonates with tales from the past.

The castle, partly engulfed by nature, stands majestically beside a fast-flowing river. Despite its dilapidated state, its imposing structure, complete with remnants of the old tower house and adjacent buildings, is fascinating to explore.

Visitors should note that Glinsk Castle is situated on private land, so respecting the surrounding property is essential.

Although there’s no visitor center or amenities, the castle’s raw, untouched appeal makes it an exciting destination for those seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures.

As always, remember to tread lightly and leave no trace when exploring historical ruins like Glinsk Castle.

The outside of Glinsk Castle nearing dusk.

10. Menlo Castle

Location: Menlo, County Galway, Ireland

Menlo Castle, situated just outside Galway City on the banks of the River Corrib, is a site of historical intrigue and natural beauty.

This 16th-century castle was once the home of the esteemed Blake family but now stands as an enchanting ruin, overtaken by nature.

The castle, built in a typical Anglo-Norman tower house style, was significantly damaged in a fire in 1910.

Today, the ivy-clad ruins of Menlo Castle create a captivating sight against the verdant backdrop of its riverside location.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the river, enjoying views of the castle along the way.

However, please note that Menlo Castle is privately owned, and access to the castle grounds is restricted. Therefore, it’s important to respect the private property boundaries.

Despite this, the atmospheric allure of the castle from the river walkway offers a visually rewarding experience, especially for photography enthusiasts.

Stunning picture of Menlo Castle in Galway Ireland. The castle ruins are almost completely covered in ivy and tons of bright green vegetation  surrounds the castle. There is a white/grey horse standing in the field down below the castle.

Castle Hotels near Galway, Ireland

11. Ballynahinch Castle Hotel

Opening Hours: Year-Round
Price: Stays Starting Around €300
Location: Ballinafad, County Galway, Ireland

Immersed in the rugged beauty of Connemara, the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is a luxury retreat that combines the grandeur of a historic castle with modern comforts.

This estate, originally built in the 18th century, has been transformed into one of Ireland’s finest hotels, nestled within 700 acres of woodlands, rivers, and walks in the heart of Connemara.

Each room at the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is elegantly furnished, offering panoramic views of the stunning surrounding landscapes.

The hotel offers exquisite dining options for culinary enthusiasts, serving up locally-sourced Irish cuisine.

Adventure seekers will find the castle’s location ideal for fishing, hiking, cycling, and exploring the local wildlife. Additionally, the hotel can assist in arranging local tours and excursions.

Before your visit, check the availability and booking options on the hotel’s website. Ballynahinch Castle Hotel offers a luxurious stay and a chance to indulge in Galway’s rich history and natural beauty.

Our lunch at the castle. The sandwich has chicken salad on it, as well as tomatoes and a variety of other veggies. There is a pile of greens beside it as well. The table is well-set and fancy.

12. Abbeyglen Castle Hotel

Opening Hours: Year-Round
Price: Stays Starting Around €100
Location: Clifden, County Galway, Ireland

For one of the best romantic weekend breaks in Ireland, steeped in history, luxury, and the breathtaking natural beauty of Ireland’s west coast, consider the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.

Situated in the vibrant town of Clifden, in the heart of Connemara, this 19th-century castle-turned-hotel offers an unforgettable Irish hospitality experience.

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel boasts various well-decorated rooms and suites, many with four-poster beds and all with modern amenities.

The hotel is renowned for its gourmet dining, which includes locally sourced seafood and an extensive drink menu.

One of the unique features of this hotel is its regularly hosted musical evenings, a great opportunity to mingle with other guests and enjoy traditional Irish music.

Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the castle’s location to explore Connemara’s scenic beauty, including the nearby Sky Road and Twelve Bens mountain range.

Before your visit, make sure to check the hotel’s website for booking details and availability. Abbeyglen Castle Hotel offers an enchanting stay, merging historic charm with the warmth of Irish hospitality.

View of the outside of Abbeyglen Castle hotel in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. There is a red sign reading "Abbeyglen Castle" over the round doorway, and the castle exterior is covered in bright green adn red ivy.

13. BONUS: Ashford Castle Hotel

Opening Hours: Year-Round
Price: Stays Starting Around €600
Location: Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Although it’s technically located just outside County Galway, Ashford Castle Hotel is still worth mentioning on this list!

Transformed from a medieval fortress into an opulent five-star hotel, Ashford Castle Hotel is a destination like no other.

With a history dating back to 1228, the castle is fully restored and boasts original features with luxurious modern amenities.

Each of the guest rooms and suites in the hotel has been individually designed, with sumptuous fabrics and unique antique furnishings, echoing the castle’s royal heritage.

Dining at Ashford Castle is an unforgettable experience, offering a range of options from fine dining in the Dungeon Restaurant to afternoon tea in the Connaught Room.

The sprawling estate includes a nine-hole golf course, Ireland’s first falconry school, a luxurious spa within the castle’s former conservatory, and beautiful gardens and woodland for exploration.

This luxury hotel also offers boat tours off the shores of Lough Corrib and horse riding activities. Before visiting, check availability and book in advance on the hotel’s website.

If you’re considering a visit here, check out our complete guide to staying at Ashford Castle Hotel.

Two people riding horses at Ashford Castle. One horse is brown with a white blaze, and the other horse is black.

Castle Residences in County Galway

14. Oranmore Castle

Opening Hours: April – September 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, & 1 pm
Price: Adult €5 | Children €2
Location: Oranmore, County Galway, Ireland

The Clanricardes, an influential family in Galway, owned Oranmore Castle, built during the 13th and 15th centuries.

It remained abandoned until the 1940s when Lady Leslie purchased and refurbished it. Her grandchild is currently residing at this house.

Oranmore Castle sits on the mesmerizing shores of Galway Bay, where you can witness picturesque sunrises and sunsets.

The castle is also a hub for cultural events which you can enjoy along with art, live music, and history.

The visiting fee for the castle is €5 for adults and €2 for children. Oranmore Castle is open from June to August, 10 am -1 pm (closed Mondays).

Since it is private property, you should call and check before visiting. You can also take guided tours to explore the castle, as this will allow you to explore the entirety of the castle, which is not an option on regular days.

Oranmore Castle is a private residence, so staying here is not permitted, although there are multiple places near the castle where you can spend the night.

Recommended by Lavina D’Souza of Continent Hop 

An ominous photo of Oranmore Castle in Galway Ireland. The sky is dark and looming nad the castle is shadowed . There is a flag flying on the castle and the ground surrounding it is bright green

15. Tulira Castle

Location: Tulira, Ardrahan, Co. Galway, Ireland

Located in Ardrahan, County Galway, Tulira Castle is a captivating site with a rich history. The castle complex includes a medieval tower house dating back to the 14th century and a Victorian-era castle built in the 19th century.

The Victorian castle, designed by architect George Ashlin, is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. Tulira Castle stands out with its whitewashed exterior walls, crenelated parapets, and round corner turrets.

The well-preserved medieval tower, situated within the castle grounds, features a machicolation and a vaulted ceiling, reflecting the architectural style of its time.

Please note that Tulira Castle is a private family home and not generally open to the public. However, the exterior view of this majestic castle is still awe-inspiring, and the surrounding area offers a beautiful, peaceful countryside landscape.

Respecting the inhabitants’ privacy and enjoying this historic gem from a distance is essential.

Castle interior featuring the dining table fully set with cups, plates, bowls, and silverware. There is a family portrait hanging on the wall, and the room is stylishly decorated to reflect the history of the castle.

FAQ

How many castles are there in Galway?

There are over 200 castles spread across County Galway in Ireland – from fully functioning castles to ruins that are merely empty shells of their former glory.

What is the castle on the lake in Galway?

Lough Cutra Castle – a stunning early 19th-century castle located on the shores of Lough Cutra, a lake near Gort in County Galway, Ireland.

Where is the Galway castle banquet dinner?

Dunguaire Castle’s medieval banquet dinner is a popular attraction in Galway. Visitors can enjoy a medieval-themed feast in the castle’s banquet hall, complete with traditional Irish music, storytelling, and performances, all set within the atmospheric 16th-century tower house

Conclusion: Best Castles in Galway, Ireland

As you can see above, there are plenty of great castles in Galway County! I hope that this list helps you in planning your next trip in Ireland.

Happy travels!

Much Love, Janae xoxo
Photo of author
Janae, alongside her husband, Tucker, has turned the world into her playground. Having lived and traveled in an RV for over four years, she has trekked through 22 US national parks, ventured across 28 states, and explored the natural beauty of 12 countries. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been when she witnessed Iceland's shimmering Northern Lights, explored the rugged terrains of Southern Utah, and traveled across Ireland for almost two months. A lover of adventure and couple travel, Janae's writings have been featured in notable travel websites and magazines, and she has collected an online community of over 30,000 passionate fellow travelers.

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