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7 of the Best Things to do in Kildare on a Dublin Day Trip

Discover things to do in Kildare including Conolly's Folly, the Wonderful Barn, The Irish National Stud and Gardens, and Kildare Outlet Village.
Living in Ireland, it's easy to look outward and focus on international trips. We did that ourselves for years. However, there are so many beautiful and historic places to visit in Ireland

Join us on a drive from Dublin to Kildare and discover fun things to do in Kildare on a day trip by car. You don't have to travel far from Dublin to experience all that the Emerald Isle has to offer.  

If you are short on time, this Kildare day trip packs a lot in. 

Things to do in Kildare Irelan: Invincible Spirit at the Irish National Stud

Getting to Kildare

County Kildare is Dublin's neighbor and many people commute daily from Kildare to Dublin City. Even though it's close in distance, you'll still feel like you are a world away. But what's the best way to get to Kildare? 

Car vs Public Transportation

If you have a car, Kildare is less than an hour away. A car also gives you increased flexibility in terms of the places you can access. 

Yes, the train runs to places like Celbridge and Kildare Town but many of the interesting things to do in Kildare are further afield. We normally love traveling Ireland by train but a car provides that added flexibility to see things on your own schedule. 
Drive Dublin to Kildare in a Tesla

Car Rental Options

But what if you don't have a car? We don't have a car so we hired one for the day. 

We researched our options and decided to travel in style by renting a Tesla from UFO Drive. UFO Drive has a few electric cars located in the Stephen's Green Shopping Centre Car Park in Dublin City. 

In contrast to Hertz, Sixt, or other traditional car rental companies, UFO Drive is entirely app-based. 

You sign-up for an account, book the car and then you don't even have to talk to a person when you pick up the rental. 

Unlike GoCar which is often useful for shorter drives, UFO Drive cleans their cars thoroughly between each passenger. There was even a bottle of water and a couple sanitizing wipes waiting for us. 

Renting a Tesla from UFO Drive

How much does it cost to rent a Tesla from UFO Drive? It cost us about 120 EUR for the day. 

Yes, that's pricey, but it included extra insurance cover so we wouldn't have to pay an excess in the event that we damaged the car. 

In addition, it's pretty darn cool to drive what feels like a futuristic car. You control the car almost entirely using a large tablet situated between the passenger and driver's seat. 

Kildare Road Trip in a Tesla

You also don't have to stop and pay for petrol before you return the car. The Tesla has a range of over 300 km on a charge and UFO Drive includes 200 km in the rental price (+0.30 EUR per km above this). 

Open this link on a mobile device for a 30 EUR discount on your first ride. With UFO Drive, there is no physical key to worry about. 

Attach a virtual key to your phone when you start the rental and use your phone to lock and unlock the car. 

The only downside of renting a Tesla is that even the smaller model (we rented a Tesla Model 3) feels quite large. This can make things a little dicey on some of Kildare's narrower roads. 

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other Ireland staycation ideas near Dublin? Why not:

2. Go birdwatching on a hike on North Bull Island or Ireland's Eye
4. Have high tea at Ardgillan Castle (one of my picks for top Ireland castles)
5. Drive County Wicklow and spend a relaxing afternoon in Mount Usher Gardens
6. Alternatively, take public transportation and go hiking at Glendalough.

Or, go further afield with a West Cork road trip.

What to Wear on an Irish Day Trip to Kildare?

Bring layers that you can add or shed based on the temperature. Wear quick drying trousers, waterproof shoes, and a rain jacket. 

Don't forget your umbrella. Of course, sunglasses and a hat are useful too in case the sun comes out. 

As they say in Ireland: if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!

Kildare Outlet Village toilets

Things to Do in Kildare at a Glance

Our Dublin day trip itinerary to Kildare included:
  1. Conolly's Folly
  2. The Wonderful Barn
  3. Kildare Outlet Village
  4. Kildare Town
  5. The Irish National Stud and Gardens
  6. Old Kilcullen
  7. Blessington Lakes

Map of Things to do in Kildare Ireland

Click on the handy map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps where you can explore our Dublin to Kildare day trip driving route and the things to do in Kildare where we stopped along the way.

Map of things to do in Kildare Ireland

Things to do in Kildare in Detail

Now let's take a look at what to do in Kildare on a day trip from Dublin in detail. 

Conolly's Folly

Our first stop was Conolly's Folly near Castletown House. Irish follies are structures that look old and important but really are more modern and don’t serve a useful purpose. 

Conolly's Folly is a grand multi-storied affair. Sadly, the weather was overcast and grey. Conolly's Folly does look a lot nicer with a bit of blue sky (even if it's computer generated!).

The Wonderful Barn

Kildare is full of hidden gems. We scoped out some of Kildare's local attractions on Google Maps before embarking on our day trip. We noticed The Wonderful Barn near Leixslip and just had to check it out. 
Things to do in Kildare: The Wonderful Barn
The Wonderful Barn is often treated as a folly, but it had a useful purpose in fact. The Wonderful Barn was built in the mid-18th century as a grain store. Two smaller barns flank the main silo and housed pigeons who ate any spilled grain.
Things to do in Kildare: The Wonderful Barn
There is no official parking at the Wonderful Barn. We parked in a nearby residential street about 1 km away and hiked over. I'd consider The Wonderful Barn to be one of the most interesting and photogenic places within day trip distance of Dublin.

Kildare Outlet Village

Kildare Outlet Village is an American-style outlet mall. Park at Kildare Shopping Village and use the loo. If you have extra time and it's not too crowded, have a browse in a shop or two to see if you can land yourself some bargains.

Kildare Town

It was lashing rain in Kildare Town but we didn’t let it stop us. Park on Market Square just across the street from the Kildare Town Heritage Centre. Pay and display and then do a quick circuit of the grounds of St. Brigid’s Cathedral and round tower. 
Things to do in Kildare Town: St. Brigid's Cathedral and Round Tower
The main street running through Kildare Town also features a few beautiful buildings covered in ivy with colorful doors that rival the best Dublin doors I've seen. Look for a coffee or lunch in Kildare Town or eat your packed picnic.
Orange door covered in ivy in Kildare Town

The Irish National Stud and Gardens

Now for the main attraction of our day trip to Kildare and one of the most popular tourist sites near Dublin: The Irish National Stud and Gardens. The Irish National Stud is the perfect place to learn about Ireland’s world-leading horse breeding industry. 
Colonel William Hall-Walker statue at the Irish National Stud and Gardens
The Irish National Stud was founded by what can only be described as a turn-of-the-century Scottish playboy and astrologist: Colonel William Hall-Walker. Even if his approach of keeping or selling horses based on their star charts was flawed, he was still incredibly successful.
Things to do in Kildare: Visit Invincible Spirit at the Irish National Stud
The Irish National Stud offers daily guided tours included in the 14 EUR admission ticket. We took a 1 hour outdoor guided tour. 

We got to meet Invincible Spirit, Irish National Stud's top stallion. A stallion's main role is to sire as many future winners as possible. 

Did you know that it costs 100K EUR for a mare to have a go with this fella? He’s definitely a happy boy.
Stallion price list at the Irish National Stud and Gardens
We also got to meet some mares and their foals frolicking in the paddocks. There is even a paddock for some super-famous geldings like Beef or Salmon (more known on the jumping circuit). Many of these horses earned over 1m EUR in their day and now call the Irish National Stud and Gardens home.
Beef or Salmon at the Irish National Stud and Gardens
The Irish National Stud also features gorgeous gardens centered around a lake. St. Fiachra’s Garden was extra-special and worth spending some time walking around.
Things to do in Kildare: Argentinian horses at the Irish National Stud
Make sure to wander around to see the ruins of the Black Abbey on the property. We also discovered a tiny paddock featuring miniature Argentinian horses. 

What a surprise! Take a few minutes to read the exhibits about the history of horse racing in the Irish National Stud museum.
Things to do in Kildare: Visit the Black Abbey at the Irish National Stud and Gardens
Don’t leave the Irish National Stud and Gardens without having a wander around the small but idyllic Japanese Garden. There are all sorts of hills, tunnels, and grottos to explore. Just watch your footing! It can be slippery.
Things to do in Kildare: Visit the Japanese Gardens at the Irish National Stud

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in taking your Kildare road trip further? Extend your Dublin day trip into County Laois to the Rock of Dunamase, a 12th century ruin that is absolutely badass. 

Located less than a 30 minute drive from Kildare Town, The Rock of Dunamase is a great spot for a short hike to stretch your legs before undertaking the return drive to Dublin. 

The ruins of the Rock of Dunamase are free to enter and feature sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Allow between 30 minutes and one hour to properly explore the ruins of the Rock of Dunamase. 

Note that the road leading to the Rock of Dunamase is incredibly narrow and parking is limited.
Dublin Day Trip: Rock of Dunamase

If conditions allow, you could also consider extending your County Kildare trip and book in at 12th century Kilkea Castle for the weekend. 

Old Kilcullen

After spending a fascinating few hours at the Irish National Stud and Gardens, we continued our day trip in Kildare at Old Kilcullen. There are a few parking spaces right out front. 

Enter through the pedestrian gate and then climb three precarious stone steps to enter the graveyard and enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Old Kilcullen was simply intriguing. The round tower in the graveyard was partially destroyed during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. 
Things to do in Kildare: Old Kilcullen

Blessington Lakes

From Old Kilcullen, you can drive directly back to Dublin or take a short detour through County Wicklow to Blessington Lakes. 
Things to do near Kildare: Blessington Lake
There is a small parking area and boat dock near Russborough House. We pulled into the small car park and took a short walk to stretch our legs. Blessington Lakes is beautiful and is also fun for birdwatchers. We spotted a happy bullfinch feeding on berries.
Things to do near Kildare: Bullfinch at Blessington Lake

Headed for Home!

Home at last! I couldn’t be happier with our Kildare day trip from Dublin. It was my first 20,000 step day in a while. 

We enjoyed lots of fresh air and got some exercise while treating ourselves to a super-cool and dare I say futuristic car rental experience with UFO Drive. 

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 7 of the Best Things to do in Kildare on a Dublin Day Trip
7 of the Best Things to do in Kildare on a Dublin Day Trip
Discover things to do in Kildare including Conolly's Folly, the Wonderful Barn, The Irish National Stud and Gardens, and Kildare Outlet Village.
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