All you need to know to plan a visit to the stunning Japanese Gardens of Kildare, one of the prettiest gardens in Ireland.
If you love Japanese gardens and aesthetics, you will love to learn that Ireland has a wonderful example of them: the Japanese Gardens at the National Stud Center, Co. Kildare.
The gardens are part of a large estate with several beautiful garden areas and the Irish National Stud Farm and they are a delight to visit.
Perfectly designed and maintained, they are an elegant corner of Ireland and a treat for plant and garden lovers.
If you are looking for an outdoor attraction close to Dublin and you want something that will make happy adults and kids, this is the perfect place!
This is all you need to know to plan your visit, plus some photos from our last visit there.
Kildare Japanese Gardens: why you should visit
Kildare’s Japanese gardens are a lovely example of Japanese gardening ideals.
heir designer is a Scotsman, Colonel William Hall Walker and they were brought to life by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. They worked at the gardens from 1906 to 1910.
The gardens are laid out so that the visitors follow a path of discovery, both in a practical and a symbolic way.
As you step into the garden, you find yourself in an area called ‘The Cave of Birth’.
Then, you pass through the ‘Tunnel of Ignorance’ and, finally, you find yourself in the Garden of peace and contentment.
As the names of these different corners suggest, what you are following here is the journey of man or precisely, in the words of its creators: the path of life.
The gardens are delightful to visit: the path, like its meaning suggests, is varied and you find yourself walking on small trails, climbing steps and crossing bridges.
The views are stunning and varied: in some areas, you feel like you are in perfectly manicured gardens, while in others, you almost feel like you are in a forest, the silence only broken by the running of the stream and the shaking of the leaves!
The visit doesn’t take long but it is fulfilling and a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the Irish foliage – with a Japanese twist!
How long does the visit take
The guided tours of the garden last 45 minutes.
The best time to visit the Japanese Gardens
The best times to visit the Kildare Japanese Gardens are the fall and the spring.
In fall, you can enjoy the wonderful foliage of this area, bursting with reds and yellows. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland in November, especially at the start of the month.
In spring, the lovely blossoms of this area and St Fiachra’s garden will also be a treat.
Top tip: in autumn, the place can get rather slippery, because of the fallen leaves. Make sure you wear good shoes!
The Japanese Gardens in Kildare: tickets + how to get there
These Japanese Gardens are inside the Irish National Stud and Gardens, an estate in Co Kildare, about 45 minutes out of Dublin, by car.
The estate is close to the N7, immediately outside the town of Kildare, and it is easy to find thanks to several road signs on the way.
Outside the gardens there is a large car park and, as you enter, there is a well-equipped visitors’ center where you can get tickets, use the facilities and get a bite in the local cafe.
From 10.00 am to 18.00/6.00pm from January to October
From 10:00am to 16:00/4pm (last admission 15:00pm) in November and December
Regular guided tours allow you to learn about the gardens. You can find official info and book your slot here.
Visiting Kildares’ Japanese Gardens with kids
We first visited the gardens when our kids were tiny and while we loved the place, we found it could pose challenges, at that age so I believe it is important to share some observations!
The path of life is not stroller-friendly.
The trail is narrow in parts and there are steps: I highly recommend you have your baby in a carrier.
Young toddlers who can walk will also enjoy the path; however, you will need to hold hands as some parts can be slippery and there are steps.
There is a lovely playground outside the Japanese area, with nice climbing frames and lots of space to run.
If you have young children, I recommend you visit the Japanese Gardens first and then let them get loose in the play area.
Good to know! If you love Japanese Gardens, you should also visit Powerscourt Estate: they are most famous for Italian-style gardens but they also have a lovely Japanese area with beautiful plants and atmosphere.