48 Hours in Kilkenny


Wander along the streets and soak up their stories – Kilkenny in Ireland's Ancient East has everything a cosmopolitan city should have, set against the backdrop of medieval heritage.

One of the liveliest spots in the country, the 'Marble City' offers thriving nightlife (with myriad pubs and loads of live music); a fantastic festival scene, from The Cat Laughs to Kilkenny Arts to Savour Kilkenny (to name but a few); and a wide array of delights for foodies, craft and design lovers, the culturally curious, and history buffs. It’s also within easy reach of most parts of the country – ideal for a getaway – and each time you visit, there's something new to uncover in this medieval town...

Haggling at the Kilkenny Markets
Haggling at the Kilkenny Markets

First investigate the city, then go further afield – stroll along cycle paths, tour Jerpoint Park (where you'll discover a hidden medieval village), or visit the spectacular gardens of Mount Juliet Estate. For a short break with plenty to choose from, we’ve identified some of the highlights...

Exploring Kilkenny City

Spend your first day discovering all that this Medieval city has to offer...

Kilkenny Medieval Mile

The Medieval Mile links Kilkenny Castle (the Anglo-Norman castle at the centre of the city) to St Canice's Cathedral. Along the way, housed in St Mary's Cathedral you'll find the Medieval Mile Museum – Kilkenny’s newest attraction, it's a 'must see'. Take the guided tour and find out why Kilkenny is a city – not a town! – and gain insight into the area with the other tales the museum has to tell.

Proud of its food culture, Kilkenny is home to a wide variety of tempting cafés and restaurants offering the best of local produce. After a busy morning touring, when you're ready for a break enjoy a bite at The Grapevine Wine & Tapas Bar or treat yourself to afternoon tea at Mocha's Vintage Tea Rooms. Visit the foodhall at the Kilkenny Design Centre – sit in, or take a picnic to Castle Park across the road.

Or continue your travels through time over lunch, as you learn about the history of Kytelers Inn and the eventful life of infamous original owner Dame Alice Kyteler. Born in Kilkenny in 1263, Dame Alice was a 'merry widow' – four times over – who is said to have fled to England to avoid being burned as a witch.

Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny

Only a few feet away from the Medieval Mile Museum you'll find the newly revamped Smithwick's Experience. Discover the age-old tradition of craft ale making – from its mastery by 13th century local monks on the site of the St. Francis Abbey Brewery, to the arrival of John Smithwick in the 1700s, right up to the present day. Get involved as you stir your own hops and are immersed in the multi-sensory, interactive tour.

National Craft Gallery
Visit the craft workshops and artisan shops in the Castle Yard and admire the skills on show in the Jewellery School Studios as you watch a goldsmith crafting a Celtic brooch – you'll realise just how much creativity is a part of this city's DNA. Or take part in a workshop where you can design and create your very own masterpiece!

A group enjoying a "bath" at Smithwicks
Work in progress at the National Craft Gallery
Left: A group enjoying a "bath" at Smithwicks Right: Work in progress at the National Craft Gallery

Evening in Kilkenny

Experience even more of the city's charms, revealed as the sun sets…

Get a scare before bedtime with a Kilkenny Ghost Tour or explore the Medieval Mile in the evening in a fun, quirky way by joining Shenanigans - The Kilkenny City Walk for a storytelling tour with a mix of comedy and magic.

Delicious dinner options abound – for an excellent informal meal check out Ristorante Rinuccini, Zuni Restaurant, or The Hole in the Wall. To truly spoil yourself, choose from local Michelin-starred options Campagne or the Lady Helen in Mount Juliet.

Dining in the shadow of Kilkenny Castle
Dining in the shadow of Kilkenny Castle

Beyond the City

On your second day, take some time to explore further afield…

Enjoy Kilkenny's surrounding areas and appreciate their artistic side on a Craft Trail.

Nicholas Mosse Pottery Benettsbridge

Visit the pottery studios where the distinctive Nicholas Mosse range – one of Ireland's best-known craft items – is created by hand. Set in a former flour mill in the picturesque village of Bennetsbridge, just off the N9 approximately 8km from Kilkenny City.

Jerpoint Glass Studio

Jerpoint Glass Studio, open to visitors, is nestled in the beautiful Kilkenny countryside – the creative heart of Ireland. An ideal destination for an enjoyable afternoon – with nearby walking trails, artisan cafes and restaurants there's so much to do for those interested in glass, craft and beautiful scenery!

Pure Adventure
Take to the waters near Graiguenamanagh to see a different side of Kilkenny and discover the landscape that inspires the creativity of the area. Try kayaking under stunning bridges or stand up paddle boarding through caves as you immerse yourself in the history and nature of the area.

Visitors admiring the pottery at the Nicholas Mosse Pottery Studio.
Visitors admiring the pottery at the Nicholas Mosse Pottery Studio.

After all that activity, you're bound to have worked up an appetite; the local area will not disappoint when it comes to great choices to sate it. 

Take a quick break in Malzards/O'Grady Pub in Stoneyford and take a step back in time at this family pub. Pull your own pint or practice a spot of hurling.

Or cross the road to another of the area's hidden gems and spoil yourself with fantastic coffee and homemade treats in Jen's at Knockdrinna, where you're sure to get a warm welcome.

Goatsbridge Trout Farm
At Goatsbridge Farm, trout is their passion. Their knowledge and experience with farming rainbow trout has been passed down through three generations. Each catch comes daily from the crystal clear waters of the Little Arrigle River, giving their trout its unique taste and texture. They love trout, and they're pretty sure you will too.

Don't miss

And that’s just a sample, there’s so much more to do on your visit to Kilkenny.

Enjoy your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section