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Top Things To Do In Kilkenny

Kilkenny, a medieval city nestled in southeastern Ireland, is a bustling hub of shops, restaurants and stunning historic buildings. Only a 1.5 hour drive from Dublin to Kilkenny, it is included in the ‘top 3’ best experiences in Ireland. Situated on the beautiful River Nore, Kilkenny is full of narrow winding streets, brightly coloured shop-fronts, historic landmarks and cheerful pubs. With a perfect balance of modern and historic, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Take a wander down the Medieval Mile, soak up the famous Irish pub culture with live entertainment or explore the historic 11th century Irish castle – Kilkenny is one of the best places to visit in Ireland.

Whether you take a day tour from Dublin or are here for a short break, below is a list of must-sees while visiting.

1. St Canice’s Cathedral

St Canice’s Cathedral was built between 1202 – 1285 and is the second largest in Ireland after St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The famous Round Tower stands 100-feet tall and is Kilkenny’s oldest standing structure. It is also only one of two Round Towers that the public can climb in Ireland. This early monastic site was founded by St Canice sometime in the 6th century AD and most of the cathedral is preserved in its original medieval style to this day.

2. Kilkenny Castle

One of the most visited castles in Ireland, Kilkenny Castle was the home of a powerful Irish family for nearly 600 years. The Butler family owned Kilkenny from 1360 all the way until the 1960s and the castle was built in 1195 as a way to control the connecting waterways around the River Nore. It had a spectacular vantage point to see incoming ships and protect against potential threats. Now the castle is owned by the city of Kilkenny, and visitors can picnic in the gardens, tour the interior and admire the art collection on display in the gallery. You can’t come to Ireland and not experience a castle tour.

3. Black Abbey

Established in 1225, the Black Abbey is now open for visitors to explore its history up close and personal. It was said to be a peaceful place and home to a group of Dominican friars when it was founded. It is believed to have taken its name from the black cappa that the friars wore over their white habits during the middle ages. Today, visitors can view the buildings which date from the 13th to the 16th century. Highlights include the glorious stained glass window depicting the rosary, the stone sculptures and carvings and the unique figure of the Blessed Trinity.

4. Medieval Mile

Kilkenny’s medieval mile runs through the heart of the city linking 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral and the Anglo-Norman castle, with many more landmarks in between. Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s most cosmopolitan cities, with many art and music festivals, a renowned food culture and brightly painted shops brimming with arts and crafts, antiques and much more. Take a stroll down here to visit the Medieval Mile Museum, fill up on the local Irish produce, enjoy a pint and immerse yourself in the rich culture that Kilkenny has to offer.

5. Smithwick Experience

Touring can become thirsty work, but luckily it’s just a 10-minute walk from Kilkenny Castle to the Smithwick’s Brewery. Discover the age-old tradition of craft beer production and get involved as you smell the hops and stir your own mash, whilst obviously getting the chance for a few tasters. Cheers!

6. Kyteler’s Inn

As one of Ireland’s oldest inns, Kyteler’s is a historical pub with a very intriguing background… you’ll need to visit to find out more. International visitors join locals for the Irish stew, prime steaks and famous ‘vol au vents’, all washed down with local Kilkenny and Smithwick’s beers and, of course, Guinness.

That’s just a small handful of highlights you can enjoy while visiting Kilkenny. This small but lively city has a lot to offer, making it one of the top 10 places to visit in Ireland. Check out our award-winning day tour leaving from Dublin to Kilkenny every day, which is designed to uncover gems in this historical city and much more(opens in a new tab)!

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