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11 things everyone should experience in County Kilkenny
Wander the charming streets of Kilkenny and discover its secrets.
Cobbled streets filled with medieval charm, ancient caves, an abundance of local craft and plenty of craic – it’s easy to see why a visit to Kilkenny makes for a brilliant break.

Here’s our pick of must-visit activities in the Marble City and beyond.

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1Kilkenny Castle, Park and Gardens

Although you’ll find Kilkenny Castle right in the heart of the city, once you’re inside its walls you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Originally built by the Normans in 1195, Kilkenny Castle with its magnificent gardens, woodland paths and a man-made lake, all added in the 19th century, is the perfect place to forget about the real world. 

The castle is open to visitors throughout the year, with a tearoom for refreshments and a playground if you’re bringing kids. Visiting the magnificent Long Gallery is one of the best things to do in Kilkenny for couples.

Kilkenny Castle and grounds, County Kilkenny on an autumn day
Make sure you visit the picturesque Kilkenny Castle.
2St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower

The round tower of St. Canice’s Cathedral is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny and, weather permitting, you can climb to the top of its 30 metres for incredible views of the city and nearby countryside. The religious roots of the site go back centuries, evident in the tombstones and round-headed stained glass windows.

3Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and Medieval Mile Museum

Running through the centre of Kilkenny city, The Medieval Mile is a discovery trail linking St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Anglo-Norman castle and much more in between. The Medieval Mile Pass gives you access to everything on the trail, as well as discounts for various cafes and restaurants, and is the best value way to see the attractions along the route.

The historic setting of The Medieval Mile Museum is 13th century St. Mary’s Church, now converted into a modern museum. Here, you’ll begin to understand the city’s medieval past as Kilkenny’s 800-year story is told using the best modern technology.

4Butler Gallery

Experience the incredible exhibitions at the Butler Gallery, just steps from the edge of the River Nore in the centre of Kilkenny City. Admire art by Irish and international artists spanning contemporary works, 18th century pieces and a magnificent collection of prints, sculptures and photos.

Butler Gallery
5Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny

Perfect for rainy days and right in the heart of Kilkenny City, the Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny will give you insight into more than 300 years of brewing history. All tours are led by passionate and local guides who will take you from the first brewed Smithwick's ale in 1710 to your own fresh pint at the end of the tour and all the history in-between.

6Jerpoint Glass Studio

Take a 20-minute spin to pretty Thomastown to check out a business where playing with fire is actively encouraged. Here you’ll find Jerpoint Glass Studio run by the four siblings whose parents established the internationally-renowned business in 1979. Every piece is made by hand and you’ll get to watch skilled glassblowers manipulate the red-hot molten glass.

7Jerpoint Abbey & Jerpoint Park
People on a tour of Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny
Explore the remains of Jerpoint Abbey.

While you’re there, nearby Jerpoint Abbey is wonderfully preserved from its 1158 origins and you can get a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Cistercian monks who once lived there. Afterwards, take a walk, or a drive to Jerpoint Park where you can see the remains of a deserted medieval town. During the summer you can even watch sheepdog demonstrations as man’s best friend rounds up herds of sheep.

8Dunmore Caves

Fancy visiting one of the darkest places in Ireland? A place where Viking history and myths come to life before your eyes? At Dunmore Caves, voyage deep into chilly chambers formed over millions of years, discovering stories of archaeological finds from 928 AD. Afterwards, sit and wonder at it all in the charming tea room. The caves are just a 15 minute drive from Kilkenny.

Dunmore Cave
Dunmore Cave
9Castlecomer Discovery Park

Put the phones down and let nature take over at Castlecomer Discovery Park where treetop walks, climbing walls, ziplines, canoeing and orienteering are just some of the activities you can enjoy with the family.

10Kilkenny Design Centre

Back in The Marble City, Kilkenny Design Centre is renowned for showcasing emerging Irish craftspeople and their exceptional work. Come, browse and bring home your choice of Irish-designed jewellery, knitwear, fine china, pottery or glass. Don’t leave without dining in the award-winning Anocht restaurant, with delicious homemade food served daily.

Art materials at the Kilkenny Design Centre
Marvel at the incredible skill and craftsmanship at Kilkenny Design Centre.
11Highbank Organic Orchards

The Calder-Potts family produce delicious apple juices, ciders and their cult product, Highbank Organic Orchard Syrup at Highbank Organic Orchards in Cuffesgrange, just ten minutes outside Kilkenny city. Visit the farm, which dates back to the 17th century and pop into the organic farm shop to stock up on their ‘Pip to Sip’ produce.

Start planning your trip to Kilkenny now

With its fascinating history, cultural experiences, and delicious food, Kilkenny is just waiting to be experienced. Have a look at our Kilkenny destination page and discover all the best places to visit.  

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