Things To Do in Kilkenny: Exploring the Charming Mediaeval County

Things to do in Kilkenny - Kilkenny Castle

Updated On: November 09, 2023 by   Sara LynchSara Lynch

Kilkenny is a landlocked county located in southeastern Ireland. It is a vibrant and historic region known for its rich cultural heritage and charm. A visit here is like an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life into tranquillity. 

In this article, we’ll explore some things to do in Kilkenny, from exploring ancient castles to immersing yourself in the local culture. Kilkenny is a destination full of activities and attractions just waiting for you to visit. 

What is Kilkenny famous for? 

Kilkenny is primarily famous for being a charming mediaeval town in Ireland and home to the famous Kilkenny Castle. It is also recognised for its historical landmarks and sporting achievements in hurling and Gaelic. 

Best Things To Do in Kilkenny

If you happen to be visiting the county soon, be sure to check out these attractions and amazing things to do in Kilkenny. We’ve put together an extensive list ensuring that you can find something that appeals to your interests and hobbies. 

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is a prominent mediaeval castle located in the heart of Kilkenny City. This 12th-century castle stands majestically on a strategic site on the banks of the River Nore, and its iconic towers and turrets make it one of the most recognizable landmarks in Ireland.

Things to do in Kilkenny - Kilkenny Castle
Things to do in Kilkenny – Kilkenny Castle

The castle also boasts extensive parklands and gardens, providing a picturesque backdrop. The beautifully landscaped gardens feature manicured lawns, flower beds, and a serene lake. Visitors can take leisurely walks through the castle gardens, enjoying the peaceful ambience and scenic views.

Things to do in Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle is open to the public and offers guided tours that provide insights into its history, architecture, and the lives of the Butler family. It stands as a testament to the city’s mediaeval heritage and provides a captivating glimpse into Ireland’s rich history.

St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower

St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower is a significant historical and religious site in Kilkenny. It is officially known as the Cathedral Church of St. Canice and is dedicated to Saint Canice, the patron saint of Kilkenny. 

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Round Tower of St. Canice’s, which was built in the 9th century, the tower stands at around 30 metres (100 feet) tall and is one of only two such towers in Ireland that can be climbed by the public. 

Things to do in Kilkenny - St. Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower
Things to do in Kilkenny St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower

Climbing the Round Tower of St. Canice’s offers panoramic views of Kilkenny City and its surrounding countryside. It is a unique and rewarding experience that allows visitors to appreciate the architectural and historical significance of the tower and enjoy breathtaking vistas from the top.

Mediaeval Mile

Take a stroll along the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny, which is a historic stretch of the city’s mediaeval centre.  You can admire the mediaeval buildings, including the Black Abbey, Rothe House, and St. Mary’s Cathedral, and soak in the mediaeval atmosphere of a world gone in Ireland. 

Indoor Things to do in Kilkenny

On days of rain and drizzle, hiking around Kilkenny may not seem that ideal, but not to worry, there are plenty of things to do in Kilkenny whilst being indoors, check them out below!

Kilkenny Design Centre

Discover the work of local artisans and designers at the Kilkenny Design Centre. It showcases a wide range of local Irish crafts, including jewellery, pottery, textiles, and more. A great spot to pick up a gift for yourself or someone else. 

Nicholas Mosse Pottery

Enter the world of Irish pottery at the Nicholas Mosse Pottery workshop and store. Here you can witness the traditional methods of pottery production and browse through their unique handcrafted ceramics.

Festivals in Kilkenny Ireland

Kilkenny is also renowned for the many festivals that it hosts throughout the year, which is the perfect chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the county and its people. Check out some annual festivals in Kilkenny that you can attend.

Kilkenny Arts Festival 

Kilkenny Arts Festival is an annual cultural event that showcases a diverse range of artistic disciplines, including music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, and more. 

The festival attracts renowned national and international artists, performers, and writers who present their works in various venues across the city. Audiences can enjoy a vibrant program of concerts, plays, exhibitions, workshops, and discussions, creating a dynamic and immersive cultural experience. 

Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival is an annual comedy event held in Kilkenny, Ireland. Established in 1995, it has become one of the country’s premier comedy festivals. The festival attracts a lineup of top-notch local and international comedians who perform in various venues throughout the city.

Audiences can expect a hilarious and diverse program of stand-up comedy, improv shows, panel discussions, and comedy showcases. The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival offers laughter-filled entertainment, providing a platform for established and emerging comedians to showcase their talent. 

Things to do in Kilkenny for Kids

There are many activities that the little ones will enjoy doing in Kilkenny, it’s a great spot for a family trip and you’ll be sure to create some memorable moments with your loved ones. Check out things to do in Kilkenny for kids below!

The National Reptile Zoo

The National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny is Ireland’s only dedicated reptile zoo and an educational centre focused on reptiles and amphibians. It provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about and interact with a diverse range of reptiles from all around the world.

Both adults and kids can join in on guided tours that are led by knowledgeable staff members who provide information about the various reptiles. Some of the animals you may come across include snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and more.

River Nore

The River Nore is a prominent river that flows through the city of Kilkenny. It is cherished for its natural beauty and features scenic walkways and parks, providing opportunities for leisurely strolls and picnics.

Here you can enjoy the many recreational activities on offer, and bring the whole family along on a boat trip, river tour, kayaking adventure or canoeing experience. A truly unique way to experience Irelans’s waterways. 

Things to do in Kilkenny - River Nore
Things to do in Kilkenny – River Nore

Things to do in Kilkenny Activities

If you’re seeking an active trip to Kilkenny, then check out these activities and experiences that you can get up to. They welcome visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and heritage of the region. 

The Kilkenny Way

The Kilkenny Way is an immersive cultural experience that offers visitors the opportunity to learn about and engage in traditional Irish sports, primarily hurling, in the city of Kilkenny. It provides a unique insight into the rich sporting heritage and cultural traditions of Ireland.

Kilkenny Cycling Tours

Join a guided cycling tour and explore the city and its surroundings on two wheels. It’s a great way to see the sights and learn about Kilkenny’s history from knowledgeable guides, whilst having fun on a bike. 

Smithwick’s Experience

Learn about the brewing heritage of Kilkenny at the Smithwick’s Experience. Here you can take a tour of the brewery, explore its history, and finish off with a sample of some of the famous brews. 

Explore More

Want to explore more of Ireland? If so be sure to check out:

Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in  Fermanagh | Things to do in Tyrone | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Families | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Belfast for Couples | Things to do in Belfast for Families

Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Cavan | Things to do in Longford | Things to do in Meath.

Things to do in Westmeath | Things to do in Dublin | Things to do in Offaly | Things to do in Kildare | Things to do in Wicklow | Things to do in Laois | Things to do in Waterford | Things to do in Cork | Things to do in Limerick | Things to do in County Carlow | Things to do in Kerry | Things to do in Tipperary | Things to do in Clare | Things to do in Galway | Things to do in Wexford.

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