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15 Things to Do in Kilkenny Ireland

Kilkenny is a charming city located in the Southeast area of Ireland. With its winding cobblestone streets, Medieval Castle, churches, and an endless array of pubs and restaurants, it’s no wonder it has been named one of the top destinations in Ireland to visit. With so many things to do in Kilkenny, you might be wondering how to best spend your time.

15 Things to Do in Kilkenny

15 Things to Do in Kilkenny

Kilkenny is an amazing place to explore and whether you are here on a day trip or for a multi-day visit, there is plenty to see.

These are the top things to do in Kilkenny, Ireland.

1. Historical Walking Tour

A way to get an excellent overview of Kilkenny is by taking a tour of the Medieval Mile.

The tour starts at one of the most famously haunted parts of the city, the main gates of Kilkenny Castle.

Your guide will then take you on a journey through the cobblestone streets of the Medieval Mile while sharing tales about the area.

Kilkenny Castle

2. Visit Kilkenny Castle

The beautiful Kilkenny Castle is a must-see while in Kilkenny.

It was built in the 12th century and served as the seat of power for the Earls of Ormonde for centuries.

Kilkenny Castle Drawing Room

The castle was renovated during the Victorian Era and a tour here will allow you to see what it would have looked like then.

Kilkenny Castle Gardens

In addition to the castle, visitors can explore the magnificent gardens.

3. Explore Rothe House & Garden

This 16th-century merchant’s house is one of the few remaining post-medieval homes in Ireland.

Rothe House
By Eirian Evans, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Visitors can see important artifacts while learning about the history of Rothe House.

The garden behind the home was reconstructed to reflect a typical 17th-century garden.

4. Enjoy a Pint at Smithwick’s

A visit to Kilkenny wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the local beer.

Smithwick’s Brewery has been serving up pints of this Irish favorite since 1710.

Take the interactive guided tour that includes sampling some of their best ales.

5. Explore the Street Art

One of the best ways to see Kilkenny is on foot. Walk through the cobblestone streets, down the back alleyways and along the side streets.

That is where you will find some of the most amazing street art in Kilkenny.

6. Check Out the Original City Walls

Kilkenny’s 13th century city walls were built by the Anglo-Normans for protection.\

The walls span some two miles in length, the longest in Ireland at that time.

Today, you will find about 25% of the original city walls visible, while the rest remain hidden underground.

7. Take a River Cruise

The River Nore flows through Tipperary, Laois, Kilkenny and Waterford and was important for the initial settlement of Kilkenny. 

Taking a cruise along the Nore allows visitors to see Kilkenny from a different perspective. The river cruise goes past St Canice’s Cathedral, under Lady Desert Bridge and St Johns Bridge, and near Kilkenny Castle.

8. Explore St. Canice’s Cathedral

This Medieval Cathedral is one of the most impressive landmarks in Kilkenny.

It is home to some beautiful stained glass windows, as well as a unique round tower that was built in the 12th century.

9. Take A Ghost Tour

Kilkenny is said to be one of the most haunted cities in Ireland, so what better way to explore its spooky past than on a ghost tour?

Hear tales of the city’s darkest secrets and meet some of its more unusual residents.

10. Tour Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey is a remarkable example of a 12th-century Cistercian Abbey.

Built in 1180 by the King of Ossory, its most notable features are the intricate carvings depicting Medieval Knights and religious figures.

The abbey is also home to many other treasures, including a 12th-century high cross and an ornately carved stone sarcophagus believed to be the resting place of the first Bishop of Jerpoint.

11. Walk around Kells Priory

Kells Priory is a National Monument in Kilkenny. The priory, originally built in 1193, was used as a place of worship and meditation until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.

The ruins are a combination of 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th century construction and are totally worth exploring to see the features that are still present.

What exists today are a nave, chancel, lady chapel, and cloister plus the remains of the priory’s infirmary, workshop, kitchen, bread oven, and mill.

12. Visit Black Abbey

Established as a Dominican friary in 1225, Black Abbey got its name for the black cape monks wore over their habits in Medieval times.

The abbey fell into disrepair after the reformation and eventually was excavated in the 19th century when many artifacts were found.

It wasn’t until the 1979 that the building was fully restored.

Today, it is a working Cathedral that guests may visit for free during the week.

The unassuming cathedral has some amazing features including the largest stained glass window in Ireland. The rosary window depicts the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

By Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 4.0,

A feature that was hidden until excavations was a unique 15th-century sculpture of the Blessed Trinity.

By Jan-Philipp Litza – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

13. Visit Dunmore Cave

This limestone cave is located just outside of Kilkenny and is said to be haunted by ghosts. You can explore the winding passageways and see some of its interesting rock formations.

14. Take a Day Trip to See Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, located in County Tipperary, is just a short drive from Kilkenny County.

This fortress was originally the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion.

Today it stands as one of Ireland’s most iconic historical sites

Visitors can tour the current structure which includes a round tower, Gothic chapel, Romanesque cathedral, castle, and the remains of the Scully high cross.

15. Make the Day Trip to Waterford

Another great day trip from Kilkenny is Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland.

It is home to several fascinating historical attractions.

The city’s Viking Triangle is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of this part of Ireland. Here, visitors can explore the ruins of three medieval buildings: Reginald’s Tower, Waterford Castle, and King John’s Castle. These sites offer insight into the past life and culture of Waterford and provide an interesting look at how the city has evolved over time.

Visitors can also tour the House of Waterford Crystal Factory. Originally founded by George and William Penrose in 1783, Waterford Crystal is world-renowned for quality and beauty.

During a visit, you can see how it is made and even purchase some pieces to take home with you.

Kilkenny is full of adventure and has something to offer everyone.

Whether you’re looking for history, culture, or just a good time, you’re sure to find it in this charming city.

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