County Carlow

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Photo of County Carlow

About County Carlow

The second-smallest of Ireland’s counties, County Carlow is packed with spectacular landscapes, heritage buildings and outdoor activities galore. Dominated by the River Barrow — the second-longest in Ireland — the region also boasts the magnificent Blackstairs Mountains, perfect for exploring. Popular with visitors, County Carlow offers a whole array of accommodation options fit for a wide range of budgets. Many of the best places to stay in County Carlow are restored country houses, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich history as well as a welcome rural retreat. One of our favourites, though, is the striking contemporary wing of a traditional inn: a fabulous fusion of old and new.

The green pastures and verdant forests of the Barrow Valley evoke the unspoilt Ireland that many travellers dream of visiting, criss-crossed by winding lanes and old trails leading through pretty villages, little towns and significant ancient sites. Marvel at Europe’s largest portal dolmen at Brownshill, stroll around the monastic site at magical St. Mullins, or journey into Carlow Town to delve into the Carlow County Museum and unravel the region’s fascinating past. Historic Borris, too, is full of surprises, whilst the drive from the village of Myshall to the Nine Stones viewpoint promises beautiful panoramas of the Myshall plain and the chance to discover Mount Leinster. Outdoor adventurers can ramble or cycle along forest trails, hike through the Blackstairs Mountains, or stroll along the picturesque Barrow Way, following the river’s meandering path.

If it’s gorgeous gardens that you’re after, the Carlow Garden Trail includes nineteen splendid attractions, many of which unfold around the ancestral manor houses which once dominated County Carlow, including Borris, Lisnavagh and Huntington. Many of the buildings are open to visitors, and there are spellbinding interiors to admire.

There’s lots for foodies to try, too. Hit the farmers’ markets to savour excellent artisanal produce or dine in style at cosy pubs and charming bistros, before sipping craft beers at Carlow’s best breweries. With fun, family-friendly attractions, natural wonders aplenty, historic sites and fantastic food, County Carlow is a brilliant place to visit. The best places to stay in County Carlow are small and intimate, priding themselves on crafting delicious dishes from local produce — in some cases from their own kitchen gardens — and offering visitors a chance to unwind in glorious surroundings.

The Best Places to Stay in County Carlow

For a rural escape

  • Lorum Old Rectory is a beautifully renovated country house in the rich Barrow Valley. The guestrooms are elegantly appointed, with lovely antique beds and sash windows, perfect for a restful, romantic stay. Owner-manager Bobbie is a real tour-de-force, creating hearty breakfasts (this is primarily a B&B) and enchanting suppers in the nineteenth century dining room. An intimate choice in a gorgeous setting.
  • Kilgraney House is a boutique, adults-only B&B nestled in an ivy-clad Georgian manor near the Carlow-Kilkenny border. Think comfortable bedrooms and self-catering cottages with pared-back decor and selected antique pieces. The big breakfasts are a delight, and there is also a restaurant offering excellent evening meals. Pick this place for its kitchen garden and medicinal herb courtyard - a wonderful addition to a charming rural retreat.

For contemporary luxury

  • The Lord Bagenal fuses contemporary chic -- in the form of a luxurious hotel wing -- with classic pub appeal in pretty Leighlinbridge. Expect timber beams and armchairs by the roaring fire on one hand, and slick, spacious bedrooms on the other. Stay here for the award-winning gourmet restaurant, and the bold blend of old and new. Also a popular wedding venue!

For an apartment or holiday cottage

If you'd prefer a self-catering option, we suggest that you visit our online partner Booking.com.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

  • There are regular international and domestic flights to Dublin International Airport. Alternatively, take a ferry from Birmingham to Dublin. You can then hop aboard a bus, train or taxi to your destination in County Carlow.
  • County Carlow's many attractions are best reached by road. Contact our online partner Rentalcars if you would like to hire a car.
  • Travel between May and September for warmer weather, averaging at around 17°C. The summer is the most popular time to visit, so book your stay well in advance to avoid missing out!

STILL NOT SURE?

Weather

Monthly Weather in County Carlow

Best Hotels in County Carlow

  • The Lord Bagenal Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, County Carlow 39 rooms from £82

    Country Escape  -  Experience authentic village life
    Fishing  -  ANGLING on the Rivers Barrow and Slaney
    Sights nearby  -  Many local Castles and Heritage Sights
    Local markets  -  Carlow Farmers Market

    Traditional riverside Irish pub now popular restaurant with new contemporary hotel attached. On one side, low beamed ceilings, roaring peat fires and a substantial art collection. On the other, sleek modern bedrooms with Egyptian cotton, neutral velvets and natural stone bathrooms. See More

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  • Lorum Old Rectory Co. Carlow, County Carlow 4 rooms from £139

    Country Escape  -  Small, charming, owner run country house set in beautiful countryside.
    Great walks  -  Explore endless scenic countryside with trails starting straight from the property.
    Fishing  -  Fly-fishing, coarse-fishing and angling can all be arranged.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the fascinating Celtic Carlow.
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, Good Hotel Guide

    A beautifully renovated country house run by the ever-gracious Bobbie. Steel blue rooms feature intricately carved antique beds, sash windows and crisp white linen. Meals (cooked by the talented Bobbie) are served in an elegant dining room. A delightful spot to explore this scenic area. See More

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  • Kilgraney House County Carlow 5 rooms from £243

    Country Escape  -  Kilgraney House is surrounded by lovely herb gardens with stunning walks, fishing and riding all available nearby
    Romantic Break  -  Gorgeous accommodation, a quiet atmosphere and divine cuisine-the ideal choice for a romantic getaway
    Foodies  -  On Friday and Saturday evenings enjoy a seven course seasonal tasting menu!
    Fishing  -  Southern County Fishing Resort provides trips to three different lakes locally

    Kilgraney House is an idyllic rural B&B. Interiors are elegant with cream furnishings, garden views and modern bathrooms. Apartments have full kitchens. Aromatherapy spa, outdoor thermal pool, drawing room and herb gardens. Excellent seasonal locally sourced menu. A welcoming and friendly stay. See More

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