The 13th century Dublin Castle is the historic heart of Dublin, Ireland. Learn more about visiting this historic Dublin landmark here.
I’ve visited Dublin four times now, but I’ve only been inside Dublin Castle twice. But that just means I have a lot of information for you about visiting the castle, whether you go inside or admire it from outside.
Dublin Castle History
King John of England ordered the construction of Dublin Castle in 1204 on the site of an old Viking settlement. Originally a defensive fortification for the Norman city of Dublin, the castle later evolved into a royal residence where the Viceroy of Ireland resided. The south-east Record Tower is the last intact tower of the original castle and of the walled medieval town of Dublin itself.
Following a fire in 1684, the castle was rebuilt more as a palace, with the introduction of the grand State Apartments and the Chapel Royal.
The castle was the seat of the UK government in Ireland until 1922. In January 1922, Dublin Castle was handed over to Michael Collins, and Collins became the first leader of the newly independent Irish Free State. The Castle is now the meeting place for official State visits as well as foreign affair engagements and government policy launches.
Touring Dublin Castle
The castle offers a self-guided tour or a guided tour of the castle. On the self-guided tour, you’re allowed to explore the State Apartments and any exhibitions at the castle at your own pace. On a guided tour, you get access to the State Apartments as well as the Viking Excavation and the Chapel Royal.
The State Apartments are lavishly decorated. The rooms you’ll see include St. Patrick’s Hall, the grand room used for presidential inaugurations; the Throne Room, containing the throne built for King George IV’s visit to Ireland in 1821; the State Dining Room, the oldest room in the castle that retains its original decoration; and the State Bedrooms, where Margaret Thatcher was the last dignitary to stay the night in the castle.
You can also explore the Upper Court Yard to take pictures of the castle’s iconic clock tower and Castle Gardens around the back of the castle. The gardens are the original site of dubh linn, the “black pool” where the Vikings harbored their ships and from which Dublin gets its name. The garden is personally my favorite spot for taking pictures of the castle
Visiting Dublin Castle
The castle is open daily from 9:45 a.m. — 5:45 p.m. with last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Self-guided tours cost €8 for adults, €6 for seniors 60+ and students 18+, €4 for children 12-17, and free for children under 12. Guided tours costs €12 for adults, €10 for seniors and students, and €6 for children.
Since the castle is a working government building, your access to certain rooms may be subject to change, and at times the castle may be closed completely (this happened to me on my first visit to Dublin). So that’s something to keep in mind before you go.
If you can’t go inside the castle, you can at least go around to the Castle Gardens in the back and admire it from the outside. The Castle Gardens are open from 6:30 a.m. — 7 p.m.
Top Dublin Castle Tours
There’s a lot to see in Dublin! To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour. Check out this list of the top tours that include Dublin Castle.
- Fast-track Easy Access Book of Kells Tour with Dublin Castle
- 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour
- Dark Dublin Guided Walking Tour
Ready to visit Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Dublin using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited Dublin Castle? Let me know about your trip in the comments!