Family fun on a short break in Kilkenny

Escape with your family for a journey of discovery through Kilkenny City and County. On your short break, explore the medieval city, learn about buried Viking treasure, or enjoy wonderful watersports. Devote a few days to the region if you can, so you can explore the many gems the county has to offer. Our suggestions will help you create an exciting itinerary in Kilkenny, packed with great family experiences.

In the city

Kilkenny Castle Parkland

Enjoy a day out at Kilkenny Castle Parkland with over 50 acres of gardens to explore, not to mention the magnificent 900-year-old castle, standing guard over the River Nore. Have fun in the great kids' playground or challenge your family at the permanent orienteering course – there's something here for everyone.

Kilkenny Road Train Tours

A fantastic way to view the city's historical sites is to take the Kilkenny Road Train Tour. The tour starts off beside Kilkenny Castle (on the castle side) and brings you on a 30-minute tour of medieval Kilkenny City. While on board, you will get a full commentary giving a historical and fascinating insight into the history of Kilkenny.

Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience

Immerse your family in the history of Ireland's oldest sport at the Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience. A ticket to the experience includes learning the basic skills of hurling and a chance to watch the craftmanship of hurley making.

Kilkenny Castle and Gardens.
The Kilkenny City Road Train.
Learning to play hurling.
Left: Kilkenny Castle and Gardens. Middle: The Kilkenny City Road Train. Right: Learning to play hurling.
Kilkenny boasts a vibrant food culture, passionate producers and plenty of fine dining options. And while you’re in the area…

For dinner, sample the delicious fare at Kilkenny institutions Langtons or The Marble City Bar, Gastro-Pub & Tea Rooms. La Rivista Restaurant offers up fresh Italian classics, or alternatively, you could immerse yourself in the history of Kytelers Inn over a bite to eat.

The original owner of this historic pub was Dame Alice Kyteler, born in Kilkenny in 1263; in her time she gained much notoriety, not least because she acquired four husbands and a considerable fortune. Her enemies eventually conspired to accuse her of witchcraft and sentence her to burning at the stake. 

There's no shortage of restaurants and bars in Kilkenny, so you'll find plenty of great spots to choose from. 

Outside the city


Castlecomer Discovery Park

If you're a more active family, why not visit Castlecomer Discovery Park, where there's something for all ages. With exhibitions from coal mining to crafts, and activities from the Tree-Top Adventure Walk to the Elf and Fairy Village, it's a great way to spend an afternoon.

Jerpoint Park - The Lost Town and Country Experience

Discover the history of the Lost City, so called because after its establishment over 800 years ago, it vanished from all records in the 1600s. Let your little ones get in touch with nature by experiencing all of the flora and fauna around Jerpoint Park. Discover the many variations of wildlife species that live on the River Nore and the special area of conservation on the river bank. You may even be in luck — if your timing is right, you'll catch the sheep dog demonstration.


Dunmore Cave

For those with a darker side, Dunmore Cave could be the answer. The cave contains a quarter of a mile of passages and at its deepest point, it descends to 150 ft (46 m). It's said to be the scene for one of the largest Viking massacres in history in 928 AD. It's thought the locals hid in the caves, only to perish as the Vikings tried to smoke them out. Dunmore possesses some fine calcite formations and has been known to man for many centuries, first mentioned in the 9th century Irish Triads (a collection of the traditional laws, customs and wisdoms of the Celtic people).

The National Reptile Zoo 
The National Reptile Zoo is Ireland’s only dedicated reptile zoo, giving you the unique opportunity to come face to face with some of the world’s most amazing animals, including giant pythons, monitor lizards, snapping turtles, tortoises, alligators, tarantulas and more. Have a hands-on, interactive experience through the hourly Animal Encounters and enjoy a tropical walk through The Dome — it’s an experience not to be missed.

The inside of the Dunmore Cave.
The inside of the Dunmore Cave.

For the more active


Pure Adventure Activities

Choose from full day and multi-day experiences along the River Barrow, one of Ireland's oldest navigation routes, with Pure Adventure Activities. One of the "Three Sisters" rivers (along with the River Suir and the River Nore) the River Barrow forms a natural border between Kilkenny and Carlow. Experience historic canals and locks, the beauty of the native wooded valley and the exhilaration of the weirs and rapids. Trips can be taken in canoes or kayaks and also by stand up paddle board. This area offers an abundance of heritage, wildlife and adventure all in one pristine location. 

Stand up paddle boarding in Kilkenny.
Stand up paddle boarding in Kilkenny.
And that’s just a sample — there’s so much more to do on your visit to Kilkenny. Plan a short break to Ireland's medieval city to soak up all the history, culture and adventure this county has to offer.

More family fun in Kilkenny

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