Reasons to visit Kilkenny, Ireland

Reasons to visit Kilkenny, Ireland at least once in your lifetime

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30 Reasons to Visit Kilkenny in Ireland

Experience the Magic of Kilkenny

Welcome to Kilkenny, a city that will steal your heart and leave you longing for more. Nestled in the heart of Ireland, Kilkenny is a charming and vibrant destination that offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its majestic castle to its winding medieval streets, there is something here for everyone. So pack your bags, open your mind, and get ready to embark on a journey you’ll never forget. Here are 30 reasons why you should visit Kilkenny in Ireland.

Key Takeaways:

  • Immerse yourself in history with a visit to Kilkenny Castle.
  • Explore the enchanting streets of the medieval city center.
  • Enjoy a pint of Guinness in one of Kilkenny’s cozy pubs.
  • Indulge in delicious local cuisine, from traditional Irish dishes to gourmet delights.
  • Take part in vibrant festivals and events that bring the city to life.
  • Discover the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.

1. Kilkenny Castle: A Majestic Icon

Step into a fairytale and visit the iconic Kilkenny Castle. With its soaring towers and elegant gardens, this 12th-century castle is a sight to behold. Delve into the rich history of the Butler family, who once called this castle home, and explore the beautifully restored rooms that offer a glimpse into the past. Don’t forget to stroll through the enchanting rose gardens and enjoy the stunning views of the River Nore.

2. Medieval Mile: Step Back in Time

Take a stroll along Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and be transported back in time. This scenic stretch of landmarks and historic buildings will immerse you in the medieval charm of the city. Admire the impressive St. Canice’s Cathedral, marvel at the Black Abbey’s stunning stained glass windows, and explore the ancient Rothe House. With its narrow winding streets and beautiful architecture, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a photographer’s dream.

3. Smithwick’s Brewery: Raise a Glass

No trip to Ireland would be complete without sampling a pint of the black stuff, but in Kilkenny, it’s all about the red ale. Visit Smithwick’s Brewery, Ireland’s oldest operating brewery, and learn the secrets behind this beloved Irish beer. Take a guided tour through the historic site, discover the brewing process, and of course, enjoy a tasting session where you can savor the unique flavor of Smithwick’s.

4. Kilkenny Design Centre: Shop ’til You Drop

Indulge your inner shopaholic at the Kilkenny Design Centre, a haven for lovers of Irish craft and design. Browse through a range of exquisite handmade products, from stunning jewelry to beautiful ceramics and textiles. Whether you’re looking for a special souvenir or a unique gift, this center is a treasure trove of Irish creativity.

5. The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival: Get Your Giggle On

Prepare for belly laughs and side-splitting moments at the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. This internationally renowned event takes place in Kilkenny every year and brings together some of the world’s funniest comedians. From stand-up shows and improv sessions to comedy workshops, this festival guarantees good times and plenty of laughter.

6. Kilkenny Arts Festival: Celebrate Creativity

Join the celebration of all things artistic at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. This vibrant event showcases the best in visual arts, music, theater, dance, and literature. Immerse yourself in a world of creativity as you attend exhibitions, performances, and workshops. With its eclectic program, this festival offers something for everyone, from the seasoned art lover to those looking to explore their creative side.

7. Kilfane Glen and Waterfall: A Picturesque Retreat

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and discover the tranquil beauty of Kilfane Glen and Waterfall. This hidden gem is a haven of natural wonders, with its picturesque woodland trails, charming thatched cottage, and cascading waterfall. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, breathe in the fresh air, and let nature envelop you in its embrace.

8. The Hole in the Wall: Quirky Surprises

Prepare to be amazed at Kilkenny’s most intriguing attraction, the Hole in the Wall. Tucked away in the city center, this quirky hole-in-the-wall pub is a sight to behold. Step inside and be transported to another world, where eclectic decor, live music, and a buzzing atmosphere await. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or simply looking for a unique experience, this hidden gem won’t disappoint.

9. Kilkenny Cycling Tours: Pedal Through History

Explore Kilkenny from a different perspective with a cycling tour through the city’s historic streets. Join a guided tour and pedal your way through centuries of history, stopping at key landmarks and hidden gems along the way. This leisurely and informative tour is the perfect way to soak up the atmosphere of the city while enjoying a little exercise.

10. Castlecomer Discovery Park: Outdoor Adventures

Escape to the great outdoors and discover the wonders of Castlecomer Discovery Park. This expansive park offers a wide range of activities for all ages, from tree-top walks and zip-lining to canoeing and archery. Embark on an adventure-filled day and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park, surrounded by lush forests, tranquil lakes, and stunning scenery.

11. Dunmore Cave: A Journey into the Depths

Delve into the depths of Dunmore Cave and uncover a world of ancient stories and natural wonders. This mystical limestone cave, nestled in the heart of County Kilkenny, offers an awe-inspiring experience. Take a guided tour and explore the caverns, marveling at the underground streams, rock formations, and rich history that seeps through the walls.

12. Mount Juliet Estate: Pure Luxury

Indulge in the height of luxury at Mount Juliet Estate, a five-star retreat nestled in the picturesque countryside. This stunning estate offers a range of activities, from golf and horse riding to fishing and spa treatments. Immerse yourself in opulence as you wander through the enchanting gardens, dine in exquisite restaurants, and unwind in luxurious accommodations.

Feast your eyes on the incredible displays of contemporary art at the Butler Gallery. Located within the historic Kilkenny Castle, this gallery showcases a diverse range of works from both Irish and international artists. From thought-provoking exhibitions to interactive installations, this cultural hub will captivate art enthusiasts and ignite the imagination of all who visit.

14. Jerpoint Abbey: A Glimpse into the Past

Step back in time at Jerpoint Abbey, an impressive ruined Cistercian monastery dating back to the 12th century. As you wander through the atmospheric ruins, you’ll find intricately carved tombs, beautifully preserved stained glass windows, and ancient stone carvings. Explore the surrounding countryside and soak up the serenity of this historic site.

15. Grace’s Castle: Romantic Ruins

Discover the romantic ruins of Grace’s Castle, an abandoned 13th-century tower house surrounded by breathtaking countryside. Step into the past and imagine the stories that this ancient structure holds. With its idyllic location and picturesque views, Grace’s Castle is the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic or a romantic stroll.

16. The Kilkenny Way: Embrace the Sport

Ireland is renowned for its passionate love of sports, and in Kilkenny, hurling is king. Immerse yourself in the spirit of the game with The Kilkenny Way, an interactive experience that introduces you to the world of hurling. Learn about the history and rules of this ancient Gaelic sport, try your hand at the skills, and gain an insight into the rich sporting heritage of the city.

17. Kilkenny Ghost Tours: A Haunting Experience

Prepare to be spooked on a Kilkenny Ghost Tour, where tales of the supernatural come to life. Join a guided tour through the dimly lit streets and alleyways of the city as you hear chilling stories of ghosts, ghouls, and haunted happenings. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, this atmospheric tour is sure to send shivers down your spine.

18. The Tholsel: Architectural Delights

Admire the architectural masterpiece that is the Tholsel, a 17th-century town hall that dominates the heart of Kilkenny. Marvel at the intricate carvings, elegant clock tower, and stunning stonework that tell the story of the city’s rich history. Take a moment to soak up the atmosphere and imagine the bustling markets and lively gatherings that once took place within these walls.

19. The National Reptile Zoo: A Unique Encounter

Get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating creatures at The National Reptile Zoo. This state-of-the-art facility is home to a wide variety of reptiles, from snakes and lizards to turtles and crocodiles. Embark on an educational journey and learn about the unique adaptations and behaviors of these cold-blooded creatures.

20. Kilkenny Walking Tours: Guided Discoveries

Experience Kilkenny’s rich history and vibrant culture on a guided walking tour through its charming streets. Join a knowledgeable local guide and delve into the stories, legends, and hidden corners of the city. From medieval tales to fascinating insights into local life, these tours offer a unique perspective on the city’s past and present.

21. The Black Freren Arch: A Window to the Past

Discover a hidden gem as you stumble upon the Black Freren Arch, an ancient stone gateway that once marked the entrance to a Dominican friary. Admire the intricate carvings and Gothic architecture, and let your imagination transport you back to the days when monks roamed these streets. This unique piece of Kilkenny’s history is a must-see for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.

22. Kilkenny Way Trail: Explore the Outdoors

Put on your hiking boots and embark on the Kilkenny Way Trail, a scenic route that takes you through the beautiful countryside surrounding the city. Meander along the riverbanks, stroll through lush forests, and soak up the breathtaking views of rolling hills and idyllic farmland. This trail offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

23. Kilkenomics: Economics Meets Comedy

Prepare for a unique fusion of economics and comedy at Kilkenomics, the world’s first economics festival. This one-of-a-kind event combines serious discussions with laughter, as expert economists and renowned comedians come together to shed light on the big issues of our time. With a diverse program of debates, shows, and workshops, this festival offers a fresh and entertaining take on complex subjects.

24. Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival: Cheers to Good Times

Raise a glass to craft beer at the Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival, a celebration of Ireland’s burgeoning beer scene. Sample a wide range of locally brewed beers, savor tasty food pairings, and enjoy live music in a lively and welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re a beer aficionado or simply looking to broaden your horizons, this festival is a must for beer lovers.

25. The Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience: Unleash Your Inner Champion

Embrace your competitive spirit and try your hand at hurling, Ireland’s fastest and oldest field sport. The Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience offers a fun and interactive introduction to this exhilarating sport. Under the guidance of experienced coaches, you’ll learn the essential skills, take part in a friendly match, and gain a newfound appreciation for the passion that surrounds this beloved Irish game.

26. Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre: Music Under the Stars

Immerse yourself in an enchanting musical experience at Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre, an open-air venue that hosts a variety of concerts and events. From intimate acoustic sessions to lively performances by renowned artists, this unique venue offers a truly unforgettable experience. Sit back, relax, and let the music transport you to another world as you soak up the magical atmosphere under the twinkling stars.

27. Jerpoint Park: Embrace Rural Life

Escape the city and step into the tranquility of Jerpoint Park, where rural life takes center stage. Take a guided tour of this working farm and learn about traditional farming practices, interact with friendly animals, and witness the skilled art of sheepdog herding. Indulge in a homemade scone and a cup of tea as you absorb the peaceful surroundings and the warm hospitality of the farm.

28. The Hurling Experience: Unforgettable Memories

Discover the heart and soul of Kilkenny with The Hurling Experience, an immersive journey into the world of Ireland’s national sport. Learn about the history and cultural significance of hurling, try your hand at the skills, and experience the camaraderie and passion of the game. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or simply curious about the traditions and heritage of Ireland, this experience offers a unique and unforgettable adventure.

29. Saint Mary’s Cathedral: Architectural Splendor

Marvel at the architectural splendor of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic design. Admire the intricate stone carvings, beautiful stained glass windows, and soaring spires that grace this 19th-century cathedral. Take a moment to soak up the serenity of the interior, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a choir rehearsal or a mesmerizing organ recital.

30. The Discovery Park Tree Top Adventure Walk: Reach New Heights

Challenge yourself and conquer your fear of heights on the Tree Top Adventure Walk at Castlecomer Discovery Park. Suspended high above the forest floor, this thrilling walkway offers an adrenaline-pumping experience like no other. Navigate your way through a series of suspension bridges, high wires, and tightropes, all while enjoying panoramic views of the stunning countryside.

Why go to Kilkenny, Ireland?

You must visit Kilkenny, Ireland, at least once in your lifetime because it is a sought-after tourist destination because of its fascinating past and vibrant present-day culture. Kilkenny is a great starting point for visiting the surrounding countryside of Ireland, as well as art galleries, historic buildings, craft and design studios, theatre, comedy, public parks, and museums in and around the town. Many people go to Kilkenny for its music and art festivals, historic structures, and the many outdoor activities that the area offers.

Places to go in Kilkrnny, Ireland:

  1. Brandon Hill
  2. Bridie’s Bar and General Store
  3. Butterslip Lane
  4. Castlecomer Discovery Park
  5. Dunmore Caves
  6. Graiguenamanagh
  7. Jenkinstown Wood
  8. Jerpoint Park
  9. Kells Priory
  10. Kilfane Glen and Waterfall
  11. Kilkenny Castle
  12. Kilkenny Design Craft Centre
  13. Kyteler’s Inn
  14. Medieval Mile Museum
  15. Rothe House & Garden
  16. St. Canice Cathedral
  17. St. Francis Abbey Brewery
  18. The Black Abbey
  19. Tholsel
  20. Tullaherin Folk Museum

What is Kilkenny, Ireland, famous for?

Kilkenny, Ireland, is famous for being a cultural hotspot in the Irish Republic, with its craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens, and museums. Traditional Irish crafts like fabrics, knitwear, pottery, and jewelry are on display at Kilkenny Design in the former stable building of Kilkenny Castle. Nearby is the National Craft Gallery, Ireland’s best modern craft and design museum.

Fun Facts about Kilkenny, Ireland

  • The philosopher George Berkley, Jonathan Swift, and the White House architect James Hoban were both Kilkenny natives.
  • The name “Kilkenny Cats” comes from the wild cats living in the Dunmore caves in the county’s northern part.
  • Kilkenny Castle was given to the citizens of Kilkenny in 1967 by the Butler family for the grand total of £50!
  • Kilkenny black marble was used to construct Cobh Cathedral in Cork and Daniel O’Connell’s headstone in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
  • The guy who designed the White House is known as a Kilkenny man.

Why visit Kilkenny, Ireland

How big is Kilkenny, Ireland?

Kilkenny is about 2,073 square km or 800 square miles in size.

When is the best time to visit Kilkenny, Ireland?

The best time to visit Kilkenny is the months of June to September.

How many days do you need to see Kilkenny, Ireland?

If you’re more interested in ancient times, you may spend a few hours to two days here. The city of Kilkenny is stunning. Spending a few days here is certainly worth it. There are a bunch of options to keep you occupied. We highly recommend taking a guided tour of the castle.

What is the cheapest time to go to Kilkenny, Ireland?

The low season (flights) to visit Kilkenny, Ireland, is in January and February.

Is Kilkenny, Ireland, an expensive city to visit?

It’s free to stroll around the park’s expansive grounds in Kilkenny. According to previous tourists’ spending, you can expect to spend on average €71 ($75) a day while on vacation in Kilkenny. 

How to save money when visiting Kilkenny, Ireland?

The best ways to save money when visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, are:

  • Book flights during the low-cost season.
  • Stay at Airbnb, apartments, or dormitories.
  • Look for bargains.
  • Eat dinner early—early birds have discounts.

What food (and drinks) is Kilkenny, Ireland, known for?

Things you need to eat in Kilkenny, Ireland, before you die:

  • Mooncoin Beetroot – Mooncoin Homegrown Beetroot is the best thing that can be grown in Ireland, and they currently grow more than an acre and a half of it.
  • Goatsbridge Trout—the finest fish in the country.
  • Truffle Fairy Chocolate
  • Smithwick – Red Beer

Visit Kilkenny, Ireland at least once in your lifetime

Is Kilkenny, Ireland, safe to visit?

The city of Kilkenny is a safe environment for tourists. Kilkenny has a reputation for being a peaceful place. Despite its size, it is governed by a municipal charter.

What is the best way to get around in Kilkenny, Ireland?

The best ways to get around in Kilkenny, Ireland are:

  • By foot – most attractions are within walking distance.
  • By bicycle – Cycling trails and walkways in the area have received renewed support from the local authorities.
  • By bus and train

What neighbourhoods or areas should I stay in when I visit Kilkenny, Ireland?

The best areas you should stay in when visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, are:

  • The Macdonagh Junction – the area, is located across the river from the city center of Kilkenny. There are much cheaper hotel options, and the location is great for quickly getting to the city’s business center.
  • Rose Inn Street – is home to most of the city’s taverns and pubs, but they’re scattered across the city.
  • Central Kilkenny – The most interesting historical sites (such as the castle!) may be found here, as well as various vibrant inns and bars.
  • Thomastown – is a sprawling rural community 18 kilometers south of Kilkenny’s city center. You may find everything you need in a tiny village-like area at its center.

What are the best neighbourhoods or areas for food?

The best areas for food and drinks when visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, are:

  • Smithwick’s Experience
  • Moth To A Flame, Candle Studio
  • O’riada’s – (old-school pubs)
  • The Hole In The Wall

What are the best neighbourhoods or areas for shopping?

The best areas for shopping when visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, are:

  • Market Cross Shopping Centre
  • MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre
  • Meubles – Home of Inspiration
  • Castleinch Sunday Market

What should I do on my first trip to Kilkenny, Ireland?

If you are visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, for the first time, start your journey in the village of Kilkenny. Kilkenny’s pleasant rural atmosphere makes it easy to relax and enjoy oneself. In addition to the kind people and fascinating history, there are countless attractions to discover. It’s an excellent starting point for your stay in Ireland.

Is Kilkenny, Ireland a good place for solo travel?

When traveling solo, you must be ready because there’s much to discover. Kilkenny is the perfect location for a solitary traveler looking for a small, culturally rich, welcoming city. Kilkenny is a good compromise between the energy of Dublin, the natural beauty of Cork, and the rich cultural heritage of Galway. Explore Kilkenny at your own pace by strolling the city’s streets and uncovering its hidden gems. 

Is Kilkenny, Ireland, a good place to visit for a family with kids?

When visiting Kilkenny, Ireland as a family with kids, you can visit Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny Castle features an excellent playground with climbing platforms where many local children play. Even if you don’t plan on visiting the castle, you may enjoy the playground for no additional cost. Kilkenny’s playground is the ideal place to spend time with young children!

Is Kilkenny, Ireland, a good place for couples?

As a couple visiting Kilkenny, Ireland, it is ideal for visiting during the autumn season. Autumn is the perfect time for a romantic break away from the daily grind. As the temperature cools down, you’ll want to enjoy the fresh air once more! Make the most of your time in Kilkenny by spending a few days visiting the historic city and dining at some of the city’s best restaurants.

What are the best annual events in Kilkenny, Ireland?

The best annual events in Kilkenny, Ireland, that you cannot miss are

  • Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival in June
  • Savor Kilkenny Festival in October
  • Celtic Festival in September
  • Kilkenny Arts Festival in August
  • Savor Kilkenny Festival in October


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