We arrived at the Blarney Castle and Gardens with our Ireland tour bus and group, and as soon as he pulled in, he said, “Ass in seats in 3 hours. starting now!”
Today’s post is about our epic 3-hour Blarney Castle adventure in Ireland, where we share 5 tips to help you see the maximum amount in the minimum time necessary to do lots in one stunning area and help you check off lots of boxes on your Ireland bucket list.
For anyone that’s seen pictures of Blarney Castle knows it’s awesome and fascinating, and that alone might stymy your progress of moving through and seeing a lot, but DON’T let that happen!
You will have a great time walking and seeing everything in a beautiful, tranquil environment, so dive into that self-guided Blarney castle grounds tour!
There’s so much to do at the stunning Blarney Castle and Gardens in Cork, Ireland, and you can see lots if you manage your time and use the 5 helpful tips that helped us get our “ass in seats” right on time!
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Don’t Get Frenzied About Visiting The Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland
Visiting Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, is manageable and not hard to see in a short time, but it can be.
Many will tell you that 3 hours is plenty of time to see both the gardens of the Blarney Castle and to tour the Blarney Castle in Cork, but that only is possible if you move those feet and have a PLAN before you arrive!
Don’t get frenzied about visiting Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland!
When Visiting The Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland | It’s Not Just The Castle You’ll Want To Visit
We ogled at the castle and the grounds of The Blarney Castle.
Then we looked at each, possibly both feeling overwhelmed and wanting to max out visiting as much as possible at the Blarney Castle and Gardens we could but wondering how much we could see.
Which, of course, turned into our epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland and the story we are sharing today.
We are still celebrating the victory of defeating the short time and seeing and doing so much more than most others on our tour!
Let’s hook you up with visiting the Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, so you can see a lot and return with bragging rights about how much you accomplished in visiting as well as saw.
Things to Do: The Epic 3-Hour Blarney Castle Adventure In Ireland
We were traveling with a group of total strangers on a bus, visiting the entire country of England over 9 Days and Nights, including North Ireland (exciting, right?)
Our driver always clued us in regarding the day’s agenda, but I don’t think he prepared us for the Blarney Gardens and castle. You need a visiting guide to stunning Blarney Castle to be able to take it ALL in!
- Bathroom break (from the bus to the bathrooms, about a 5-minute walk)
- Castle Field Arbortoreum Pathway to the Castle (along the river martin an additional 5 minutes)
- Discovering the Blarney Castle (plan on about 1 hour here
- Kissing the Blarney Stone
- Poison Garden
- Carnivorous Garden
- Winter Beds
- Boardwalk and Water Garden
- Wishing Steps
- The Blarney Woolen Mills
We quickly mapped out our epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland to ensure we could see all of the above, and we did!
So now let me quickly share how to do this easily!
Masterfully See As Much As Possible At The Blarney Castle and Garden
Here is the top insight into our trip and why we created our visiting guide to the stunning Blarney Castle.
Also note, again, our trip was via a tour company that dropped us off; they did not guide us through the Blarney Castle property grounds in Cork. Instead, we were given time to be back at the bus, and we took a self-guided Blarney Castle grounds tour based on a map and the things we most wanted to see.
We do suggest that you at least look at an online Map of the Blarney Castle before you arrive and use our sites in the order we did to see as much as you possibly can in a limited amount of time, as most tours that drop off provide between 2 and 3 hours not more.
When Visiting The Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, The Season Can Impact The Adventure
First, we visited in early to mid-February so the crowds are vastly less dense than they are during the summer, but with that said, visiting at any time can truly be busy, depending on the day of the week and how many tours are moving throughout Ireland.
Print The Map Or Use One That Your Tour Supplies To Pre-Navigate The Blarney Castle Grounds And Attractions
We were given maps, and we rapidly marked off what was most personally important to us to see and experience and ruled out what was not.
My husband and I are generally on the same page about places we visit and what we want to experience. Pulling together our epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland based on a map was not a huge episode, and we compromised on one thing only!
Weather And Visiting The Blarney Castle and Gardens
Our day visiting the Blarney Castle and Gardens was a mix of cold, rain, no sun, and wet pathways.
We didn’t let it stop our trip, and neither did anyone else going.
Just know that the weather in February is always changing, and you either blow with it or it will blow your vacation away!
Visiting Guide To The Stunning Blarney Castle: Touring and Eating
When we arrived, we had been touring all morning, and yes, we were hungry, but the moment we locked eyes on the stunning Blarney castle, those rumbles in our bellies turned into fuel that propelled us to move along.
You can eat here, and I’ll share how to work that in, but for now, let’s keep going.
Another fun fact is that we were with a large tour group, and there were VERY Few opportunities to shop we were advised ahead of time if we were planning on shopping, this would be our stop.
So add that to your mental queue while you try to mentally focus on the fabulous gardens of Blarney Castle and the castle itself!
Where To Start On Your Epic 3-Hour Blarney Castle Adventure In Ireland?
Don’t laugh, but if you are touring and on a bus, you will welcome the clean bathrooms available as soon as you enter the parking lot.
Use them as you are walking, and note that up by the Blarney Castle, you will find another set of restrooms if you need them!
Once you have reconvened with whomever you are traveling with, take Cherry Walk (a pathway in front of the restroom area) and head towards the Castle (you can’t miss it!)
As you walk, you will pass Castle Field Arbortoreum alongside River Martin, which gurgles as you walk. You will also be able to walk over a wooden footbridge as you gain proximity to Blarney Castle, almost where River Martin intersects with Blarney River.
The whole area is lush, green, and gorgeous, and a fabulous appetizer for what you are about to tour and experience.
The Blarney Castle
Your quest at the Blarney Castle on any given day is to get there in the Morning and get right to the top of the Blarney Castle, especially if you want to kiss the Blarney stone.
So here’s how to get there and still see all the “other stuff” along the way!
As you draw closer to the Blarney Castle, you will come upon the Dungeons and the Caves as they are on the lower side.
We stopped briefly, looked, and continued to reach Blarney Castle.
Again, not having much time to spare, we got to see but not linger, and that was the key to most stops on our tour of Ireland.
The Steps Inside The Blarney Castle
Your quest at the base of Blarney Castle is to get into the Blarney Castle and start climbing what I will term challenging wedge steps.
I fear heights and dark and narrow spaces, and this adventure pushed my limits as far out of bounds as possible.
In fact, my husband is taking pictures of the fear on my face as I descend.
To ascend to the top, you must climb about 100 steps; you should wear athletic shoes with non-slippery bottoms (tread of some sort on them) or walking boots (they’ll be great for visiting the Stone area too!)
The stairs are dark and creepy at points, yet navigatable, and if you hate them, you can hold the walls on both sides of you (yes, they are that tight to your left and right), and there is a rope that you can hold onto that acts somewhat like railing!
We moved up the step crawl for about 15 minutes because other people were before us.
The Bell Tower At The Top + The Blarney Stone
Your quest is met when you reach the last step and gain access to the top, but the challenges still lie ahead.
First, you will see that the
- The stepping stones are not even, and you can trip easily if you don’t watch your footing.
- The wind whips like crazy as you are at the top of the castle and outside.
You’ll hear that in my video and my narration of our journey.
However, ascending to the Blarney Castle Bell Tower at the top and the Blarney stone is the prize worth the trip, and the view is awesome!
Kissing the Blarney Stone
We had a minimalistic line of people ahead of us to Kiss the Blarney Stone because we arrived ahead of other tour buses and were visiting off-season.
Even being second in line, it was about 8 minutes of prep, guidance, and actionable time to kiss the stone and get all pulled back together. (watch the video to see how you Kiss the Blarney Stone)
You’ve got to sit one way, then turn around, then get held by one of the Blarney Castle workers and you don’t even sign a release in case something happens, I am simply mystified!
The Blarney Stone is mystifying, and kissing it is a bit invested in many ways; I can’t believe how ‘dangerous’ it has the potential to be.
There are no catch webs beneath you, and 2 men are holding onto you when you slide on your back out to the stone to kiss it, and you are suspended literally by these men and then dragged back in.
I passed on the big event, and my husband Kissed the Blarney stone for both of us! You can see how excited he was after Kissing the Blarney Stone, it had been on HIS Bucketlist forever and then some!
Once you kiss the stone, you circle about to the Bell Tower at the top of the Castle, and you can hold the rail and look down into the castle. It is something else and not for the faint of heart!
Then as you pass the Bell Tower, the steps are waiting for you to go down, so you will begin your descent down the steps, which is something else.
PRO TIP For Kissing The Blarney Stone
Head for the Blarney Castle and ascend to the top no matter when you get there to take your place in line if you want to Kiss the Blarney Stone!
Tour The Gardens + The Battlements.
Here is one of the pathways along the Gardens and Battlements, and I am pretty certain we were paralleling the Poison Garden here.
Poison Garden and the Remaining Battlements
The only remaining battlements of a once closed-in (8-acre) castle are along the Poison Garden so you will tick off 2 of the bucket list items on your epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland right here!
Now housed within the Poison Garden at the top area of the Blarney Castle, you will find over 70 species of poisonous plants if that isn’t enough to make you die!
I walked atop the battlements, below, and through the garden, and you feel the power of the Blarney Castle Ireland within this area.
The Carnivorous Courtyard
Continuing our epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland, we traversed through the Carnivorous Courtyard.
The excitement does not stop there; your next garden stop is the Carnivorous Courtyard, with plants that sustain by eating frogs, insects, mice, rats, and the like, so make your way through there, so you are not part of their meal!
The Winter Beds + The Lookout Tower
Ireland is as darling in the winter as it is in the summer, and we forgot that it is an island/country with hurricanes as it is right on the ocean.
That said, the Winter Garden shared its colorful spoils with us, those Americans who are East Coasters who only see blooms from May through September. And it was brilliant!
This was the view of the back of the castle from the Winter Garden.
This is the lookout tower; you might not even notice it if you are not seeking it!
Onward For More Of The Epic 3 Hour Blarney Castle Adventure
We headed over to the Herbaceous Border and Pergola and continued to the
- Druids Circle
- Witches Stone
- Wishing Steps
- Rock Closet
- Board Walk and Water Garden
After The Self-Guided Blarney Castle Grounds Tour: Blarney Village and Square
Then we headed back towards the parking and over for the next part of our self-guided Blarney Grounds tour, trying to make it to as much as we could on very limited time.
This walk is about 15 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on how deep you are in the ROCK CLOSE area.
At this point, we had about 1 hour and 10 minutes left, and we were going to spend it all in the following area, which was pretty unexpected.
Shopping + Food While Visiting The Blarney Castle In Cork, Ireland
Here is where your self-guided Blarney Castle Ireland tour may differ, and it is all about your priorities while touring there.
We walked from the Rock Close to the Entrance, through the parking area, to Blarney Village and Square to get to the Blarney Woolen Mills and large cafeteria-style eatery. It took us about 15 minutes from place to place, walking briskly.
We were on a limited-timed stop, we needed to eat, and we didn’t have many stops with the opportunity to purchase something, so this was it for us.
The Blarney Castle Area Houses The “Largest Irish Store In The World”
We grabbed food to take with us on the bus, then went into the Blarney Stone Woolen Mills and shopped like crazy, and we carried NONE of it with us as they packed, shipped, and sent it to the USA!
This is a bucket list item alone.
It is 60,000 Square Feet and the largest Irish store in the world, so shopping here was quintessential to our trip and probably most others, as we could tell from the many people shopping.
If you are a sweater fanatic or want Ireland products, here is where to buy them using your HORIZON FEXCO CARD (it’s free) you can claim your sales tax back as long as you spend over 75 Euros on a purchase and use the card, saving you the paperwork.
As far as the Blarney Woolen Mills, buy what you want! They shipped ours at NO Charge! It was easy, and the prices were very fair for the quality of the items we purchased.
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The End Of Our Epic 3-Hour Blarney Castle Adventure In Ireland
With no time to spare, we ran back to the bus and continued on with the tour.
In under 180 minutes, we had a fabulous epic 3-hour Blarney castle adventure in Ireland, covering many territories, and marking off much of our Blarney Castle grounds bucket list and shopping.
What Made This An Epic 3-Hour Blarney Castle Adventure in Ireland?
- Visited The Blarney Castle
- Kissed the Blarney Stone
- Experienced Dungeons
- Traveled into a Poisonis and Carvinorous Gardens
- Visited rocks that are over 2000 years old
- Shopped at the largest Irish Store in the world
Yes, it was all of this, and so much more, as we experienced a lot in a little bit of time, learned history, and checked lots off our bucket list in a small amount of time, and in no way do we feel cheated or that we missed something.
YOU Can do this too when you travel to County Cork, Ireland, and visit the Blarney Castle on a self-guided Blarney castle grounds tour!
Enjoy ~ XO DANA
Dana Vento is an accomplished travel writer who has written award-winning articles for Niagara Falls, USA, and Cabarrus, NC, and won IG photography for Southern Delaware beaches. Dana often offers tips for travel to help you have the best adventures!
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