Things to do in kilkenny ireland

There are so many incredible things to do in Kilkenny Ireland, from the majestic Kilkenny Castle to the stunning St. Canice’s Cathedral!

Best Things to Do in Kilkenny Ireland

County Kilkenny offers an array of cultural and adventurous experiences for individuals, families, and friends to enjoy. The medieval city and surrounding areas provide many opportunities for exploration of the county’s diverse landscape.

The Ultimate List of Awesome Things to do in Kilkenny and a must-see attraction is the distinguished 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, located in Kilkenny City. The enchanting Medieval Mile provides an intriguing historical journey throughout the city. 

The county is abundant in heritage and history, creating a plethora of fascinating stories waiting to be discovered. There are various tour options, including local walking or cycling tours, to experience Kilkenny’s history in a unique manner.

Kilkenny is renowned for its cosmopolitan appeal and is considered the crown jewel in Ireland’s Ancient East. It hosts world-renowned festivals, award-winning restaurants, and top-quality accommodations, including hotels, B&Bs, and self-catering options. Independent boutiques and shopping centres offer an unparalleled experience, showcasing local art, craft, and design creations.

There are so many incredible things to do in Kilkenny Ireland, from the majestic Kilkenny Castle to the stunning St. Canice's Cathedral! here our Our top tips for visiting Kilkenny

one of the best Things to do in Kilkenny visit Kilkenny Castle, Park and Gardens


If you are looking for a historical and picturesque destination, Kilkenny Castle is the perfect place to visit! Despite its central location in the city, once you pass through its walls, you will feel like you have entered a time machine, transporting you to an era long gone. 

The castle was first erected in 1195 by the Normans and has undergone several enhancements since, including the addition of impressive gardens, tranquil woodland paths, and even an artificial lake, all of which were introduced in the 19th century. 

Whether you are hoping to escape from reality, or you’re seeking a romantic experience with your partner, there’s something for everyone at Kilkenny Castle. 

From a charming tearoom, to a playground for the little ones, the castle accommodates visitors all year round. One of the most enchanting aspects of the castle is its Long Gallery, which is a must-see destination for any couple visiting Kilkenny.

St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower

St. Canice’s Cathedral

St. Canice’s Cathedral has a long and fascinating history and is one of the best things to see in Kilkenny.

St Canice’s Cathedral, an impressive structure dating back to 1285, is located in the Irishtown area of Kilkenny. The cathedral is a hidden gem on Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, with the city even named after this magnificent Cathedral. 

The site has been a site of Christian worship since the 6th century and was known as the last stronghold of the druids before that. Each stone of the 12th-century Gothic cathedral tells a story, with characters from knights to shoemakers being memorialized in the largest collection of burial monuments in Ireland. 

Visitors will be impressed by the magnificent stained-glass windows and legendary sculptor Oisín Kelly’s beautiful brass work, which seals the 12th-century baptismal font. Moreover, the site offers visitors the opportunity to explore the cathedral and climb to the top of the magnificent 30-metre-high round tower. 

Visitors can also see St Kieran’s chair, the bishop of Ossory’s throne since the 5th Century, and bask in the serenity of Ireland’s second-largest cathedral. In summary, St Canice’s Cathedral is a remarkable landmark that is a must-see for anyone visiting Kilkenny.

The Cathedral’s graveyard is also worth exploring, as it’s full of interesting old gravestones and memorials.

Popular Accommodation in Kilkenny

Kilkenny is a city renowned for its esteemed and welcoming hospitality establishments. A diverse selection of deluxe boutique hotels, family-centric suites, and economical accommodation options cater to the various needs and budgets of travelers.

Hotels are all situated within Kilkenny’s vibrant environment, featuring a myriad of culinary delights, pubs, cafes, and night-time entertainment. In addition to the surrounding attractions, eminent sites such as Kilkenny Castle, The Medieval Mile Museum, Rothe House & Gardens, St. Canice’s Cathedral awe-inspire visitors. 

Amidst the tranquil and scenic Kilkenny countryside lies a collection of country hotels, including the 5-star-rated, prestigious Mount Juliet Estate and the adored Lyrath Estate. A wide variety of bed and breakfasts, self-catering options, and hostels supplement our hotel offerings. Choose Kilkenny for a fulfilling vacation that matches your preference.

Lyrath Estate: A luxurious five-star hotel in the medieval heart of Ireland, Kilkenny. Lyrath Estate is celebrated for its gorgeous grounds that are spread across 170 acres of Irish countryside, complete with picturesque lakes, historic gardens, and emerald woodlands.

The historic 17th Century Estate House sits alongside its modern-day extension, demonstrating the triumphant marriage of old and new. The preservation of the old house and the clean, contemporary design of the new hotel are blended seamlessly together to create 141 unique bedrooms.

JBs Bar & Guest: Accommodation: Go explore the city, all attractions are within walking distance. JB’s Bar is only a 5-minute walk from our wonderful Kilkenny Castle. Make the most of your trip, leave the car parked up. Stay upstairs in our newly refurbished rooms. Enjoy some live music, sample some of our whiskeys, or just watch some sport. Even though we are in the heart of hurling legends, we do follow boxing, soccer, and racing a lot with other sports.

Kilkenny River Court Hotel: Located On The Banks Of The River Nore In The Heart Of The Medieval City Of Kilkenny. With magnificent views of the city’s 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, The Kilkenny River Court Hotel has a quiet location set in a private courtyard and is conveniently situated back from the busy Kilkenny streets. The main shopping areas, theatres, entertainment, tourist attractions and Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile are all close by right on the hotel’s doorstep

Butler Gallery: Butler Gallery is one of Ireland's leading contemporary art galleries


The Butler Gallery stands as one of the most prominent contemporary art galleries and museums of Ireland. Situated in the centre of Kilkenny City, its location lies at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Visitors are gifted with an exceptional combination of art and history that serves as a source of inspiration. 

Within the gallery, patrons may explore 20th-century Irish art, one of Ireland’s most significant collections, and discover the contemporary works of living artists, held within a superior exhibition space. Families are invited to participate in the art activities crafted to be enjoyed by all and can discover the 800-year-old heritage enshrined within the gallery’s historic building.

The tranquil seclusion of the secret garden beckons visitors to witness contemporary Irish sculpture amidst refreshment from the MUSE café, where they can savour the views of St John’s Priory, situated beside the garden.

St. Canice’s Cathedral has a long and fascinating history and is one of the best things to see in Kilkenny.

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Jerpoint Abbey and Jerpoint Park

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey is an exceptional representation of the Cistercian heritage of Ireland in County Kilkenny, dating as far back as the late 12th century. The tranquil abbey, situated roughly 2.5km southwest of Thomastown, showcases magnificent carvings and sculptures. 

The King of Ossory established this exquisite abbey in 1158 near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, and to this day, the site contains numerous preserved details that provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the Cistercian monks who once resided there. 

Visitors can explore the Romanesque church and view tombs ranging from the 13th to the 16th centuries, including the final resting place of the abbey’s first abbot, Felix O’Dulany. Moreover, the sculpted cloister arcade is a noteworthy attraction, featuring pillars adorned with intricate carvings.

Opening times: Early March – September:

Daily 09.00 – 17.30 | Oct: Daily 09.00 – 17.00 | Nov – Start Dec: Daily 09.30 – 16.00 | Average Length of Visit: 1 hour. Dec-March: Pre-booked tours only |

Closed for the Christmas period from mid-December to early January.

Inside the visitor centre, an informative exhibition is on display. Guided tours are also available.

Discover Dunmore Caves

Dunmore Caves

Dunmore Cave, located close to Kilkenny town, is a remarkable series of limestone chambers that have evolved for countless years. This subterranean structure possesses some of the most impressive calcite formations in Ireland. 

This cave’s existence has been well-known for centuries, having been featured in the Triads of Ireland as far back as the ninth century while being referred to as one of Ireland’s darkest locations. Nevertheless, the most troubling mention of the cave originates from the Annals of the Four Masters, which recounts how Guthfrith of Ivar, the Viking leader, brutally killed 1000 people in AD 928. 

While archaeological evidence has failed to conclusively confirm this terrifying incident, findings in the cave, such as the remains of human beings, indicate the existence of Viking activity. 

At present, Dunmore is an operational show cave, and guided tours are provided to offer visitors a glimpse of the past and an extraordinary subterranean experience. A must Things to do in Kilkenny

Opening Times

Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday inclusive. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Open Bank Holidays.

9.30 am to 5.00 pm. Last admission – 3.00 pm.

Christmas Opening Times – Closed from 25th December until 1st January 2024 – Open New Year’s Day

Notice: The caves are not accessible to wheelchair users. This site may not be suitable for very young children. Children must be strictly supervised at all times. Max 3 Children to every 1 Adult for health and safety reasons.

Popular Tours From Belfast

Belfast Shore Excursion

Visit The Black Abbey


The Black Abbey was established as a Dominican friary in 1225. It was considered a tranquil spot, as it fell outside the walls of Kilkenny City. After many turbulent years, the abbey was restored and opened as a public place of worship in the 1800s.

Located just outside the original walls of Kilkenny City, The Black Abbey was a peaceful place and home to a group of Dominican friars when it was founded in the 1220s. The County Kilkenny property is believed to have taken its name from the black cappa that the friars wore over their white habits during the middle ages.

The Black Abbey played a major role in the civil and ecclesiastical life of the city until 1543, when King Henry VIII confiscated it and converted it into a courthouse. Though the years of occupation left the abbey in ruin, it was eventually restored and opened for public worship in the 19th century.

Today, visitors can view the buildings, which date from the 13th to the 16th century. Among the highlights are sepulchral slabs, stone carvings and sculptures, including a unique figure of the Blessed Trinity. It is the only known surviving statue of St Dominic in Ireland. Also of note is the great rosary window, depicting the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

St. Mary's Cathedral

St.-Mary's-Cathedral Kilkenny

St. Mary’s Cathedral, located in Killarney, is a magnificent monument that you won’t want to miss. Built-in 1855, this impressive Gothic-style structure was designed by the famous English architect Augustus Pugin and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is a must-see attraction and one of the top tourist destinations in Killarney. 

The cathedral is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and intricate examples of Gothic architecture in the whole of Ireland. The remarkable design of St. Mary’s is apparent both in its impressive and rough exterior and in its bright, luminous interior. 

The cathedral was erected as the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Kerry, replacing St. Brendan’s at Ardfert, which had served as the diocese’s cathedral previously. Believe us when we say that a visit to St. Mary’s will leave you awestruck.

Rothe House and Garden

Rothe House and Garden 1

Rothe House and Garden is a unique historic site in Kilkenny that provides visitors with an insight into the lives of wealthy merchant families.

Rothe House is a distinct, historic 17th-century Irish merchant’s townhouse and garden situated in the centre of Kilkenny City, serving as a genealogical research centre for tracing Kilkenny ancestry.

Comprising of three separate townhouses, three enclosed courtyards, and a newly restored garden at the back, this property was built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe Fitzpiers, a wealthy Kilkenny merchant, and his wife, Rose Archer, and their twelve children. 

It served as their family home and place of business as they imported fine cloths and silks from England and the continent. 

The Kilkenny Archaeological Society privately owns the property, which is open to the public year-round. It is home to the Society’s extensive collection of artefacts documenting life in Kilkenny, a library comprising a complete collection of local newspapers, maps, family archives, and books of local and national historic significance. 

Since 2008, the Garden has reconstructed an early 17th-century Irish town garden, including a large orchard of fruit trees and a large vegetable and herb garden, available for public viewing.

Castlecomer Discovery Park and Visitor Centre

Castlecomer Discovery Park and Visitor Centre

Castlecomer Discovery Park and Visitor Centre comprises of an outstanding 80-acre discovery park, located in the lavishing Castlecomer Demesne, which previously formed part of the Wandesforde family’s farmyard, gardens, stable yard, and leisure grounds. 

The Castlecomer Visitor Centre serves as the reception area while also featuring a Coal-Mining Exhibition. The grounds consist of mixed woodland, situated on the banks of the River Deen, which was once part of the old Wandesforde Estate. 

A broad range of activities and attractions, including a tree-top adventure walk, a 140-meter walk through the stunning riverside trees, elevated at 10 meters above ground level, are offered. Explore the engaging indoor multimedia experience, “Footprints in Coal,” and relish various outdoor activities to discover the richness and diversity of the area’s local history and science.

The stables of Castlecomer Discovery Park houses a rapidly growing group of craftspeople and artists. The first segment of the yard has been fully restored and modified to facilitate the resident artisans. Besides, six kilometers of themed woodland walks and various wooden sculptures are available within the woodland. 

Twelve sculptures, each uniquely designed to blend seamlessly into the environs, and five of them scattered throughout the woodlands. As the park is free to visit, it’s perfect for a family day out, offering walking trails, woodland sculptures, and numerous things to see and do throughout the year during our extensive events.

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall

Kilfane Glen is more than just a garden; it is a place where nature and creativity meet to create a masterpiece. This picturesque haven has been influenced by the famous philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideas, and the Romantic movement, which took the late 18th-century world by storm. The result is a ruggedly beautiful landscape that spans over six hectares and has a rustic yet romantic character.

The Power family, who established Kilfane Glen in the 1790s, intended for it to become a place of leisure where visitors could escape from the worries of daily life, and they succeeded. Even today, visitors can immerse themselves in the idyllic surroundings that feature the same plants, including wild fox-gloves and ferns, that were present in the Power’s time.

Open to the public in July and August, Kilfane Glen encompasses several stunning features, such as a 30-foot waterfall, rustic grotto, and thatched summerhouse, where visitors can take a break and admire the charming beauty of this enchanting oasis. Additionally, the garden boasts contemporary art, specifically designed for the site, adding a touch of modernity to the historic treasure.

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