Get the Best Deal in Ireland - Buy an OPW Heritage Card!

If you’re headed to Ireland and hoping to visit castles, abbeys, cathedrals, forts, gaols, or other historic spots, spend a few minutes browsing the Heritage Ireland website. It’s brimming with information to help you find fascinating historic sites, build out your travel itinerary region by region, and quite possibly save a bunch of money on your sightseeing adventures. Win, win, win!

My well-used OPW Heritage Card

Heritage Ireland is run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) who is responsible for running all state-owned national monuments and historic sites. While there are excellent non-OPW locations in Ireland (like King John’s Castle in Limerick), you could enjoy a well-rounded trip to Ireland simply hopping from one OPW site to the next. I’ve been lucky enough to visit at least two dozen OPW sites and have been impressed with each and every one. They do a bang-up job presenting summary historical information in the form of simple signboards, mini-museums, or if you’re lucky, free guided tours.

Our phenomenal guide at Jerpoint Abbey!

Tours can be tricky if you’re traveling on a tight schedule, but make time to stay for a tour, even if you have to wait around a bit. Most of the OPW tour guides I’ve run across are well-spoken, knowledgable, and have brought each site to life highlighting interesting tidbits I never would have gleaned on my own. Love them!

A portion of my tattered OPW site map (the back has site descriptions and fees). It got a bit damp in my backpack but survived our 6 weeks in Ireland. Visit the OPW website for a pdf of this invaluable brochure!

OPW’s website and printed map offer details about the 97 sites available. Take a look, pick out a few locations you’re pretty certain to visit, then add up the entrance fees. An OPW Heritage Card might be a solid investment for you and your travel-mates; it costs just €25 per adult (with concessions for seniors, children and families) and offers free admission to all OPW sites for one year from the date of purchase. You could visit as few as four sites to break even! There’s a psychological benefit of having the Heritage Card as well: it lowers the resistence to visit a location that you might otherwise miss (“hey, I’ve already paid for it!”), and it makes it easier to walk away from a location quickly if it isn’t to your taste (“I may have already paid for it, but my time is worth something too!”).

The back of my OPW Heritage Card, first purchased when visiting the Battle of the Boyne

The table below lists the fee-required OPW sites my family visited over a 10-day period in Ireland. Each person saved over €35 by purchasing an OPW card for the trip.

OPW Site Adult Fee
Dublin Castle €8.50
Kilmainham Gaol €7.00
Newgrange €6.00
Trim Castle €4.00
Glendalough €4.00
Jerpoint Abbey €4.00
Rock of Cashel €7.00
Cahir Castle €4.00
Swiss Cottage €4.00
Muckross House €9.00
Adare Castle €6.00
Total €63.50


The above table lists the sites that most of our group visited. Since we had multiple cars and differing interests, our party of ten split up a few times and instead of visiting three of the sites listed above, folks chose to tour:

OPW Site Adult Fee
Kilkenny Castle €7.00
Charles Fort €4.00
Ross Castle €4.00


Finally, Chris and I were in Ireland for an extra four weeks on our own. Although traveling by bus, taking extended hikes, and spending over a week in Northern Ireland, we still managed to squeeze in:

OPW Site Adult Fee
Newgrange & Knowth €11.00
Battle of the Boyne €4.00
Dun Aonghasa €4.00

Yes, we visited the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Center (aka Newgrange) twice in one trip!

I’m very grateful to Nomadic Matt; I first learned of the OPW Heritage Card from his Ireland Travel Guide. This card is a hidden treasure! It not only saves money and leads to fascinating lesser-known sites, it removes resistance to additional sightseeing. How many times have you skipped a site because of time or money? No more! Pop in, flash your OPW card, and enjoy one more piece of Ireland’s rich history.