The 10 best things to do in Kilkenny, Ireland (County Guide)

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.

10. Smithwick’s Experience – for a rainy day activity

Smithwicks Experience is a top way to spend a rainy day in Kilkenny.
Instagram: timdannerphoto

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

The National Gallery of Design and Craft is a great place to visit in kilkenny.
Credit: ndcg.ie

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

Jerpoint Abbey is a beautiful monastic ruin in Kilkenny.

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 

Kilkennys Rothe House and Garden is perfect 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

Canal Walk for a beautiful stroll is a must-visit for a day out.
Credit: @shauna.valentine / Instagram

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

Kytelers Inn was home to a woman accused of witchcraft, another of the top best things to do in Kilkenny.
Credit: Facebook / @kytelers

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

Kilfane Waterfall and Glen is another of the best things to do in Kilkenny.
Credit: @kaylabeckyr / Instagram

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 another of the best best things to do in Kilkenny, a viking massacre site.
Credit: @casaldemalas / Instagram

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

Kilkenny Castle is another 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. 

Address: The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, R95 YRK1, Ireland

1. Enjoy a trad pub crawl – for those craving a little bit of local culture

Matt the Millers pub is one of the top best things to do in Kilkenny.
Credit: @ezapes / Instagram

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! 

Address: 1 John Street Lower, Collegepark, Kilkenny, R95 PY7D, Ireland

Address: 2 High St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 W429, Ireland

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Paris Donnatella is an avid writer and traveller. From a young age, nomadic parents placed a strong emphasis on education in real experience and the outdoors - a trait which has carried through her life and into her career. She has travelled Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Australia and still claims that wanderlust tempts her daily. Saying that she believes Ireland - her homeland - is the most enchanting place she has ever been and is passionate about documenting the Emerald Isle. Chances are, you can find her drinking coffee in some hidden gem cafe in Dublin, planning her next big trip.