Escape to Kilkenny


Kilkenny is a place where stories come at you from every corner. With its cobbled streets full of history, music, culture, beautiful architecture and, most importantly, craic, the Marble City has been missing you! And there’s so much to see in both the city and beyond.

Outside Kilkenny Castle
A view of Kilkenny's street life
Left: Outside Kilkenny Castle | Right: A view of Kilkenny's street life

Whether you fancy an exploration of centuries-old history or prefer to delve into artisans' workshops to watch them make one-of-a-kind pieces, Kilkenny has you covered. There’s so much now open for discovery in Ireland’s Ancient East: with more and more destinations to choose from every day, once again the possibilities are nearly endless! Make the most of it, and make a break for Kilkenny.

Start in Kilkenny City and work your way out...


Walk the Medieval Mile

Linking the Anglo-Norman majesty of Kilkenny Castle to the historic St. Canice’s Cathedral, the Medieval Mile is where you can explore the history of one of Ireland’s favourite cities (and find out why it’s definitely not a town). Follow in ancient footsteps and discover what makes Kilkenny feel so different from other places in Ireland. 

Arts and Crafts in the Castle Yard

Visit the artisan workshops in the Castle Yard to watch some of the country’s premier craftspeople make treasured pieces. The National Design and Craft Gallery is home to Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design, a world of glass, ceramics, textiles, jewellery and lots more.


Sample Some of the Best Food in Ireland

Kilkenny natives are proud of their food culture, and with good reason. The city’s cafés and restaurants invite you in with the promise of the very best local produce. After a busy morning touring, have a bite at The Grapevine Wine & Tapas Bar or treat yourself to afternoon tea at Mocha's Vintage Tea Rooms. Visit the award-winning restaurant at the Kilkenny Design Centre – sit in, or take a picnic to Castle Park across the road.


Get the Smithwick’s Experience

Now for an entirely different kind of craft. Ireland’s most popular ale is synonymous with Kilkenny. Ramble into The Smithwick’s Experience, stir your own hops, immerse yourself in the multi-sensory, interactive tour and enjoy a pint at the end of all your hard work. 

Relax at the Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall, in the heart of the city on High Street, is a popular café during the day, but it strikes a different note entirely at night. This is a place where history and tradition echo from every corner. You never know quite what to expect when evening comes - trad sessions and yarns from the owner seem to pop up out of nowhere. Settle down and sip some organic craft German beers, local organic cider and wines, or whatever you’re having yourself.

The entrance to Smithwick's Brewery
Kilkenny jewellery maker at work
Left: The entrance to Smithwick's Brewery | Right: One of Kilkenny's jewellery makers at work

Explore the Kilkenny Countryside...

Beautiful Bennettsbridge

Travel just 8km from Kilkenny city to picturesque Bennettsbridge where arts and crafts enthusiasts can check out the workshop of the well-known potter, Nicholas Mosse, whose work you will definitely recognise when you see it. While you’re in Bennettsbridge you might also like to join the 4km O’Gorman’s Lane Loop Walk along country roads and the river bank which should take about an hour.


Jerpoint Glass Studio

Ten minutes away from Bennettsbridge in Stoneyford, you’ll find Jerpoint Glass, home to beautiful handmade glassware for more than four decades. Run by the four children of Keith and Kathleen Leadbetter, who opened the internationally renowned operation in 1979, every piece is made by hand. You’ll be able to watch the skilled glassblowers work the red-hot molten glass right in front of your eyes. 


Take to the Waters Near Graiguenamanagh

Explore a completely different side of County Kilkenny at Graiguenamanagh, less than 30 minutes from Stoneyford. There’s some breathtaking scenery here for photographers (or anyone who just loves being outdoors), while Pure Adventure is a good option if you want to try kayaking under stunning bridges or go Stand Up Paddle boarding through caves as you immerse yourself in the history and nature of the area. 


Find Hidden Culinary Treasures

All that exploring builds up an appetite and Thomastown is a good place to try locally sourced menus. The homemade baked goods are a local favourite at The Blackberry Café which is also known for its Knockdrinna cheese and Cramers Grove ice cream. Seafood lovers can visit Goatsbridge Trout Farm, where fresh trout is landed daily from the Little Arrigle River.    

Nicholas Mosse Handcrafted Irish Pottery
A view of Graiguenamanagh
Left: Nicholas Mosse's handcrafted Irish pottery | Right: A view of Graiguenamanagh

The only difficulty in visiting the area? Deciding what to do first! One thing is for sure: Kilkenny is not the kind of destination you just visit once and forget. There are so many different ways for you to enjoy a short break in the city and its surrounding towns and countryside, you’ll have plenty of reasons to come back.  

Wherever you plan to go, be sure to contact individual attractions and businesses in advance to confirm they're ready to welcome visitors again. Because our changed world means a new focus on public protection, social distancing and safe travel measures will be essential everywhere — as explained in the new nationwide COVID-19 Safety Charter.

While you're mapping out your next adventure, there are many more ways to find something for everyone in Ireland's Ancient East. Ready to go further afield? Find out more about how to Make a Break for It in other regions of our amazing island...

More Kilkenny To Explore

When You're In Kilkenny

Enjoy your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more ideas, check out the Highlights section