Kilkenny is rich in places of interest, from museums and heritage sites to natural sights and local hotspots. Are you planning your next trip? Here are the ten best things to do in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
Located in the south-east of Ireland, Kilkenny is a medieval town dating back to 1195, when it was conceived by Norman invaders.
A portal to the past, Kilkenny serves up some of the best-preserved remains of medieval infrastructure, including castles, monasteries, and churches.
Whether you’re passing through or staying for the weekend, here are the ten best things to do in Kilkenny.
Our top tips for visiting Kilkenny:
- The Irish weather can be temperamental. Always pack clothes for rainy weather and keep an eye on the forecast.
- In order to see all of County Kilkenny, we recommend driving. Check out our handy guide to renting a car. This will also allow you to explore the south-east of Ireland.
- Phone signal can be intermittent, especially in rural areas. Downloading maps in advance (or having a hard copy) is a good way to ensure you don’t get lost!
- Hotels in Kilkenny often sell out rooms. You should book as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.
- Check out some Kilkenny slang phrases to have a bit of craic with the locals.
10. Smithwick’s Experience – for a rainy day activity
Ireland is known for its challenging weather at the best of times. Given this, it is always good to have a back-up plan up your sleeve when planning an itinerary.
Should the weather turn sour, Smithwick’s Experience makes for a fantastic rainy day activity.
This 18th-century brewery is one of Ireland’s oldest. And while the much-loved ale is no longer made on-site, visitors can learn all about its iconic history.
Address: 44 Parliament St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 VK54, Ireland
9. National Design & Craft Gallery – for local design
Celebrated as Ireland’s preeminent centre for Irish design and contemporary craft, you are destined to leave the National Design & Craft Gallery inspired.
There is also an impressive roster of exhibitions, workshops, and events, so keep an eye on its calendar when you’re in town.
Address: The Castle Yard, The Parade, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
8. Jerpoint Abbey – for monastic ruins
This national monument dates back to the 12th century, and no trip to Kilkenny would be complete without revelling in its majesty.
Still wildly intact, the site also offers a visitor centre and exhibition for those keen to gain further insight into Ireland’s ancient past.
Address: Jockeyhall, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
7. Rothe House & Garden – for tracing your ancestors
Rothe House & Garden is another one of the best things to do & see in Kilkenny.
Once a merchant’s townhouse, this 16th-century city estate consists of houses, courtyards, a garden, and orchard.
Most interestingly, if you have ancestors hailing from Kilkenny, you can trace them here as it is the local genealogical research centre.
Address: 16 Parliament St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 P89C, Ireland
6. Canal Walk – for a sunny day stroll
If the sun decides to make a cameo appearance, we suggest you beeline for the great outdoors. A great way to lap up some rays is to stroll the canal walk in Kilkenny.
Tracing the banks of the River Nore, the walk begins at Canal Square near John’s Bridge. It stretches far past the city, into the Kilkenny countryside.
Address: Canal Square, John’s Bridge, Collegepark, Kilkenny, Ireland
5. Kyteler’s Inn – for all you mystics
Kyteler’s Inn is undoubtedly the city’s most iconic pub, and undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Kilkenny.
It dates back to the 13th or 14th century and is a stunning example of medieval architecture. Most curiously, Dame Alice Kyteler – Ireland’s first condemned witch in 1324 – once owned the pub!
Address: St Kieran’s St, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
4. Kilfane Waterfall and Glen – for a fairy-tale setting
If you’re craving an escape from the city, hop in the car and take a short drive to Kilfane Waterfall and Glen.
This fairy tale setting is fit for a storybook and offers postcard-worthy backdrops that will make you weak at the knees.
Inspired by the Romantic movement, visitors can roam the grounds enjoying landscaped gardens, thatched huts, and a 30-foot waterfall.
Address: Stoneen, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
3. Dunmore Cave – for an engaging and educational experience
Dunmore Cave is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets, and ultimately one of the top things to do in Kilkenny.
Not only is it the site of a Viking massacre in 928, but it has also been bountiful in archaeological finds, making it an engaging and educational experience all-round.
Address: Castlecomer Rd, Inchabride, Kilkenny, Ireland
2. Kilkenny Castle – one of the best things to do in Kilkenny
No trip to the city would be complete with visiting the iconic Kilkenny Castle that towers over the city.
Boasting gardens and trails, the castle is a stately Victorian remodelling of what once was a Norman 13th-century defensive castle.
LEARN MORE: Our guide to the famous Kilkenny Castle.
Address: The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, R95 YRK1, Ireland
1. Enjoy a trad pub crawl – for those craving a little bit of local culture
Without a doubt, you need to stop at a trad music pub crawl around Kilkenny.
We suggest you make it your business to stop by Matt the Millers, and the Field Bar and Restaurant. The previously mentioned Kyteler’s Inn also knows how to get a crowd clapping along!
RELATED READ: The IB4UD guide to the best pubs and bars in Kilkenny.
Address: 1 John Street Lower, Collegepark, Kilkenny, R95 PY7D, Ireland
Address: 2 High St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 W429, Ireland
Your questions answered about the best things to do in Kilkenny
In this section, we explore some of the most frequently asked questions by our readers and those that often appear in online searches about this topic.
What is the pretty village in Kilkenny?
Kilkenny has many beautiful places, but Inistioge is one of the most picturesque.
What is Kilkenny best known for?
Kilkenny is known for the beautiful Kilkenny Castle. It is also known for having the country’s most successful county hurling team.
What are people from Kilkenny called?
People from Kilkenny are often called ‘Cats‘.