A weekend in Kildare is quite different to being in Dublin, so whether you are Irish or a visitor, it is a great alternative to the capital. Kildare is a key part of Ireland’s Ancient East, has a lot of heritage, colourful landscapes and busy little towns spread throughout.
You can get the train (40m) or the bus (1h) from Dublin to Kildare. However, if you have access to a car, this is definitely the best option for a weekend in Kildare as there is a lot of town-hopping to be done. It takes approximately 1h to drive from Dublin city to Kildare.
Local man Eoin Dolly, is from this interesting county and he has given his top tips on getting the most out of a weekend in Kildare. He mentioned that there are quite a few popular tourist spots, a ton of shopping to be done here and has highlighted some of the best activities in Kildare for his guest post below.
A Local’s Top Tips for a Weekend in Kildare
Although I am slightly biased, I think the best place to stay for a weekend in Kildare would be Newbridge. There are quite a few hotels and B&Bs in the town and on the outskirts of Newbridge – which is an ideal location for any budget. But better yet, Newbridge is a good base for most of the Kildare highlights that I think are worth seeing.
One of the main reasons that Irish folk will spend a weekend in Kildare, is for the shopping. If you are a little bored of the Jervis’ and the Dundrums of Dublin, this spot is home to the much loved Kildare Village which is a designer discount haven with so much to choose from. Another favourite is the Whitewater Shopping Centre where one could entertain themselves for hours on a rainy day.
Moving away from the urban life, if you are spending a weekend in Kildare to enjoy the countryside and learn about the local history, then you have chosen the right place. Officially one of the top 10 most visited free attractions in 2017, Castletown House is a beautiful site to visit (pictured in the featured image). This was Ireland’s first and largest Palladian style house, and today it is an important part of Ireland’s architectural heritage. You can also enjoy the gardens and events hosted here year round.
An interesting fact that not a lot of people know, is that Kildare is the final resting place of Theobold Wolfe Tone, leader of the 1798 rebellion and the father of Irish republicanism. His links to Kildare and why he was buried here are still a bit of a mystery but if you would like to visit his grave site, it is in Bodenstown just outside the town of Sallins. The cemetery is quite small, but the resting place of Wolfe Tone is a good one to check out if you’re a history fan.
If you are seeking some natural beauty, the Lullymore Heritage Park has become a favourite for visitors of all ages. The photos above show some of the beautiful nature among the 60 acres of breathtaking landscape in the heart of the Bog of Allen, Ireland’s largest bog land. Here you bring little ones to the petting farm, the fairy forest or learn about agriculture and nature yourself.
My personal favourite has to be Donadea Forest. Once the home of an aristocratic family, the lands that make up Donadea Forest are some of the most beautiful in Kildare. Some visitors may enjoy the 9/11 Memorial feature of the park, which is a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone. Relatively untouched, the walkways and lakes of the forest are perfect for a picnic or day out once the weather is not too bad.
If you don’t get lucky with the weather during your weekend in Kildare, there is a cafe there year round where you can take shelter and grab a coffee. Entry to the grounds is free but there is a small fee for parking.
Eoin is from Ireland but has spent most of the past few years roaming around South America and Asia. Check out the latest stories on his blog DollysQuest, where you will find the ups and downs of long-term travel and stories of his attempt to work remotely.
Thanks to Eoin for his local tips on spending a weekend in Kildare. Have you been to this part of Ireland’s Ancient East?