I recently met this guy from Kilkenny on a night out and he couldn’t stop gushing about his hometown. So I asked him to give me the Top 5 reasons to visit Kilkenny and I thought I’d share them with you:
And here they are – the Top 5 Things to See & Do in Kilkenny
(as recommended by a true expert!)
1. First thing’s first, if you are only staying one day and one night in Kilkenny you need to start your day by visiting Kilkenny Castle.
The magnificent 12th Century Victorian Kilkenny Castle overlooks the River Nore and has guarded this important river crossing for more than nine hundred years. The castle gardens around Kilkenny Castle, with extensive woodland paths, rose garden and ornamental lake, are well worth a visit.
As this is one of the more popular castles to visit in Ireland, you can rest assured that you’ll run into crowds, especially in the high season. You’ll need to join a guided tour to see the main parts of Kilkenny Castle, but you can walk through the nearly 50 acres of gardens and lawns without a guide. There is even a playground for the kids.
2. All of you shopaholics out there, listen up: Kilkenny is well-known for its tiny little boutiques and artisan shops. You can get everything here: clothes, shoes, jewellery, ceramics, hand-carved goods or paintings. And all of it handmade by local artists. To keep it short, Kilkenny is Retail-Therapy-Heaven!
The best place to start is the Kilkenny Design Centre which you can find right next to Kilkenny castle. Here is an unrivalled selection of Irish handcrafted gifts on offer. The centre is also renowned for showcasing emerging Irish craftspeople and their unique work, respected and sought after all over the world. Visitors from outside of the EU can avail of highly attractive tax free shopping. The Centre is also home to an award winning café style restaurant which serves delicious homemade fare daily (just in case you are feeling a bit weak and tired after all that shopping!).
3. Another thing Kilkenny is famous for is its beer! Said beverage is known as Smithwick’s. (And no, we are not talking about the “Kilkenny” Beer now! Different story!) And there is a Smithwick’s Brewery Tour that you really shouldn’t miss!
To celebrate the 300 year anniversary of the brand Smithwick’s, the St. Francis Abbey Brewery now offers exclusive brewery tours. These unique tours will take visitors through the working brewery in Kilkenny and include a visit to the remarkable 12th Century St Francis Abbey which is on the brewery site. Tours operate from Tuesday to Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday) The tour takes approximately an hour and a half and includes a complimentary tasting in the brewery’s Cellar Bar. Yummy!
4. Ok, so far you’ve played knight and princess at Kilkenny Castle, went into a shopping frenzy and got to taste the best beer in Kilkenny (or anywhere actually. Thanks Smithwick’s, €1000 in my account please!). Now be sure to squeeze in a little bit of culture and heritage, will ya?! The insider’s recommendation: Visit St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower! They are an essential part of the structural heritage in the vibrant medieval city of Kilkenny. This ecclesiastical site was founded in the 6th century and named after St Canice. The Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City. Tourists can enjoy climbing the Round Tower capturing great views of the city. St Canice’s Round Tower is one of only two Round Towers that people can climb in Ireland. So up you go!
5. Make sure to save some of your energy for the night time! Kilkenny’s nightlife is one of the best in Ireland. There are so many bars, pubs, lounges and clubs to go to, you will have a hard time choosing!
During the summer months, The Pumphouse is a great place to go to watch live music in Kilkenny. Traditional music sessions are held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
You can also find the “Marble City Bar” which is one of Kilkenny’s many names, arising from the vein of black marble found here, or the Cleere’s, a comfortable pub with good seating and service. Cleere’s also doubles as a contemporary music and theatre venue with good music sessions. At weekends it’s a very busy spot with the locals and tourists.
Where to Stay?
For a lot of fun and Designer Style: 4* Hotel Kilkenny. A bit further out – but it is still only 2 minutes by car or 10 – 15 min walk to the city centre. Big hotel with a great leisure centre, a fine restaurant and fun entertainment in the bar.
For a traditional Stay: 3* Kilford Arms Hotel. Perfectly situated right between town centre and station. Perfect for a party weekend in Kilkenny. Popular with Stag’s and Hen’s.
How to get here?
By Car or Coach
Driving from Dublin is easy: take the M7 motorway to the M9 and head south. Work is ongoing to extend the M9 all the way south past Carlow, which will greatly relieve the busy parallel N9. At Paulstown, the N10 branches off for the 17km run west to Kilkenny. When road work is done, the city will be well under two hours from Dublin.
There are Bus Éireann services from and to Carlow (€6.30, one hour, 12 daily), Clonmel (€6.80, one hour, 12 daily), Cork (€14.90, three hours, two daily), Dublin (€9.80, 2¼ hours, five daily) and Waterford (€8.40, one hour, two daily).
The train station has been shoved 200m back from John St to make way for the vast new mall. Kilkenny sees five trains daily for Dublin (€22, 1¾ hours) and Waterford (€9.80, 50 minutes).
You see, Kilkenny is a place not to be missed. So make sure to check it out! If you are an insider as well and have some more suggestions, leave a comment below. Sharing is caring !