Kilkenny is a medieval town located in the southeast of Ireland. Though it may not be as popular as Dublin, there are still plenty of things to see in Kilkenny. With that being said, below are 44 checkmarks to add to your Kilkenny Bucket List.
1. The Medieval Mile Museum
The Medieval Mile Museum is 13th century church and graveyard located in central Kilkenny, carrying over 800 years of history. You’ll be able to see many treasures and artifacts of the past, either on a guided tour or by taking it your own pace, with audio earphones and walking through the exhibits. This is definitely a must-do in Kilkenny and is rated extremely high on just about every travel site. Tickets cost about $10 USD for an adult
Get spooked on one of Kilkenny’s nightly ghost walking tours. You’ll be able to hear all about the history of Ireland’s medieval capital. This isn’t just your run of the mill ghost tale. These stories come from genuine historic tragedies and you can bet that Kilkenny is full of old souls, especially since this was the home of the first ever witch trial & burning.
3. The Ultimate Hurling Experience
And no, I am not talking about tossing your Guinness. The Ultimate Hurling Experience will give you a sneak peek at the world’s oldest field game (3,000 years to be exact). You can book packages like the family package or the corporate package online, and also inquire here about which experience is best for you.
4. Kilkenny Castle
The Kilkenny Castle is a Victorian defensive castle and has been around for over 800 years. This breathtaking building overlooks the River Nore and tends to be one of the busier things to see in Kilkenny, especially during the summer months. The castle is open daily (except for December 24th-26th) and the hours depend on the time of year. The cost is around $10 for an adult’s self-guided visit.
5. Smithwick’s Experience
Smithwick’s is an Irish Ale Brewing Company that has been in service since 1710. The Smithwick’s Experience is where you get to sip your favorite brewski while a local staff member walks you through what it takes to make that ale taste so good. Sodas are included for those under 18 and if you buy your ticket online, you get 2 euros off the original price of 16!
6. St. Canice’s Cathedral & Round Tower
St. Canice’s Cathedral (Kilkenny Cathedral) is one of the six cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Cashel and Ossory. If you don’t know what that means, just know it’s a big deal and one of the more popular things to see in Kilkenny. Dating all of the way back to the 13th century, this cathedral is also equipped with a 100-foot 9th-century round tower next door. This “Celtic Christian” round tower is one of only three medieval round towers in Ireland that can still be climbed to the top.
7. Jerpoint Abbey
Jerpoint Abbey is a ruined Cistercian abbey that was established during the 12th century, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Now-a-days, Jerpoint Abbey is declared as a national monument and is well-known for its intricate stone carvings. Near Jerpoint Abbey, at Newtown Jerpoint, there are also some church ruins and other things to see in Kilkenny along with Saint Nicholas’s grave. Check these out if you’re feeling brave!
8. St. Mary’s Cathedral
St. Mary’s Cathedral is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ossory’s cathedral church. Designed by William Deane Butler, St. Mary’s Cathedral is made from locally sourced cut-limestone. This Early English Gothic architecture has a tremendous view, as it’s sitting atop the highest point in Kilkenny City.
9. Rothe House & Garden
Rothe House & Garden is located inside of Ireland’s Medieval Mile, so it’s a great one-stop-shop, if you will. Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS) now owns the building, but it has been owned by many others since being built between 1594 and 1610. You can find out more about the history of the house on the Rothe House & Garden website.
10. Black Abbey
Built in 1225, the Black Abbey is a Catholic priory of the Dominican Order. Having its ups and downs since the Bubonic Plague swept through, this dramatic structure is now known for its “Rosary Window,” 5 large panels spanning across vertical panels. It’s astonishing to many as its the largest stained glass window in Ireland.
11. Woodstock House & Gardens
The Gardens of Woodstock was once a nursery for Mike and Len Balleto’s landscaping business. Now, there are a handful of ponds, waterfalls and other things to see in Kilkenny running through this oasis. Most of the plants here are also labeled, to enhance the green thumb within us all. The Woodstock House was established in 1737, but is now a ruin, overgrown with vegetation.
12. National Craft Gallery and Kilkenny Design Center
The National Design & Craft Gallery is one of the newer buildings in Ireland, established in 2000. Here, you’ll find lots of crafts & various designs from those in Ireland and abroad. Keep an eye on their website to see the latest exhibitions.
13. Kyteler’s Inn
Kyteler’s Inn is one of the oldest inns in all of Ireland, dating all the way back to 1324. This medieval inn is clearly extremely historical and you can stop by for the entertainment, the food, or to say hi to some of the old spirits who’ve decided to stick around after their time expired. For those into ghost stories & paranormal tours, Kytler’s Inn should definitely be on your list of things to see in Kilkenny.
14. The Butter Slip
The Butter Slip is a quirky little alleyway in Kilkenny between St. Kiernan’s and High Street. It’s quite fun to walk through here and imagine what this picturesque spot used to be like back in the day.
15. The Tholsel (City Hall)
The Tholsel is located on High Street, so it’s a straight shot here from Butter Slip. Today, it is used as the city hall, but this building was once a customs house, a courthouse and a guildhall!
16. Kilkenny House
The Kilkenny House is the accommodation right above O. Gorman’s, a local pub. This is great if you’re looking for easy access to a pub and some great local friends. The room has access to a small kitchen & instant coffee. It’s great fun for anyone looking to find a home within a far-away place.
17. Head to a Trad Music Session
A Trad Music Session, AKA traditional Irish Music Session, is usually a sort of informal gathering with music and laughter. This type of music is sure to make you want to get up and whip out an Irish jig. You can find this music at local pubs, such as the Kyteler’s Inn, which has Trad Sessions every night of the week from May to October. If you’re lucky you may get to see some Irish dancers accompanying the music, as well!
18. Kilkenny Road Train Tour
Kilkenny Road Train Tour is one of those cheesy tourist trains that takes you around the must-see places in the area. This is just a mere 30-minute tour, starting at Kilkenny Castle and going on through other historical sites like St. Canices Cathedral, St. Francis Abbey Brewery, The Old Court Houss, etc. I will say that it’s a nice tour for someone who wants to see as much as possible, but doesn’t have much time in Kilkenny.
19. The Butler Gallery
The Butler Gallery showcases many Irish as well as international artists’ work in their gallery. Among these are Louis le Brocquy, Barrie Cooke, Nathaniel Hone, Maine Jellett, Stephen Lawlor and Jack Butler Yeats.
20. Kilkenny Jail & Courthouse (Grace’s Castle)
Kilkenny Jail & Courthouse was previously Grace’s Castle, around since 1210 in the hands of the wealthy Grace family. In 1566, Grace’s Castle became the Kilkenny Jail, and then the Kilkenny Courthouse in 1792. With all of this history, it’s no wonder that the building is one of the stops on the Kilkenny ghost tour. Once you read one story about it, you won’t be able unglue your eyes.
21. Shee Alms House
The Shee Alms House belonged to none other than the Shee family in 1582 ‘to accommodate 12 poor persons.’ This wealthy merchant family bought quite a bit of church property during this age in order to keep it out of the reformers grasp. In Sir Richard’s (the owner’s) will, he literally wrote that, if this house was to be passed along to someone not in the family, they would be cursed. Thus, the Shee Alms House remained part of the family for quite some time and it one of the few Tudor alms houses left in Ireland.
22. The Canal Walk
Established in 1763, The Canal Walk provides a splendid breather away from the bustling city life. Beginning at Canal Square by John’s Bridge, you can take this stroll for miles. However, many cross over once they reach the pedestrian bridge, then make their way back to Lacken Walk on the other side of the canal.
23. Ballykeefe Distillery
Ballykeefe Distillery produces premium spirits, such as their Gin that won Gold at the World Gin Awards 2019 and Poitín, awarded Master Class at the 2018 Global Spirits Masters. Come tour the famous distillery and taste-test these world-class spirits.
24. Dunmore Cave
Dunmore Cave was infamously known for its Viking massacre that occurred back in 928. Now open to the public, this cave boasts many archaeological discoveries inside of its Clogrenan Formation.
25. Kilfane Waterfall and Glen
Personally, I think Kilfane Glen and Waterfall is one of the most enchanted spots in all of Kilkenny. This breathtaking waterfall streams down among shades of green after green while the tranquil grounds bring you deeper and deeper into relaxation. Every once in a while, you’ll hear the peaceful notes of a wood pigeon’s call.
26. The Lost Town of Newtown Jerpoint
Newtown Jerpoint is an abandoned medieval village and if you know anything about me, you know that this is right up my alley. If I could make a job out of exploring abandoned places, I would. Originally established sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries, these buildings STILL stand, though they’ve become overgrown with ferns. Legend has it that St. Nicholas (AKA the inspiration behind Santa Claus) is buried in an old, crumbling tomb within this structure.
27. Old Red Iron Bridge
The Old Red Iron Bridge was actually once the longest bridge in all of Ireland. Now forgotten, only the brave ones will cross this rusty, overgrown bridge since it was abandoned in 1995 for better transportation routes..
28. Kilmogue Portal Tomb
Kilmogue Portal Tomb (Lead an Scail) is a National Monument and dolmen. Built between c. 3000-4000 BC, this is the tallest dolmen in Ireland. Though many assume dolmens were used for tombs, there’s no evidence to prove this theory true. Thus, the mystery of the Kilmogue Portal Tomb lives on.
29. Cantwell Fada
Cantwell Fada is located inside of a 14th-century church. It’s an effigy of a knight that was carved from a single slab of limestone. This knight is actually Cantwell Fada, the most well-known of the Cantwell family, and his limestone effigy is supposedly the largest in all of Britain and Ireland, towering at almost 8 feet tall.
30. Tullaherin Folk Museum and Round Tower
The Tullaherin Folk Museum exhibits a collection of everyday household items dated throughout history. It’s cool because it’s essentially built out of the locals trash. Instead of throwing away an old t-shirt, they’ll donate it to this museum to put on display. You never know what you’ll be finding at th Tullaherin Folk Museum. Next-door, you’ll find an ancient and medieval Round Tour, topping at 22.5 meters tall.
Campagne is one of the well-known restaurants in Kilkenny. Being awarded a Michelin star every year since 2014 (they opened in 2008), this fine dining restaurant serves some of the most decadent dishes in Ireland.
Zuni is another restaurant, bar and boutique located in a Kilkenny hotel. This award-winning restaurant is open daily from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM. Treat yo’ self.
33. Kilkenny Farmer’s Market
Kilkenny Farmer’s Market happens every Thursday from 9:30 AM until 2:30 PM in Kilkenny Castle. You’ll find oodles and oodles of food and the endless stalls here in Kilkenny.
34. Hungry Moose
The Hungry Moose is a famous burger restaurant in Kilkenny. Some might even say that it’s the best burger they’ve ever had. The Hungry Moose is a newer restaurant, but it has already been named the winner of Ireland’s Best Burger 2018 for its house-specialty Hungry Moose.
35. Truffle Fairy
The Truffle Fairy is for those of your with a sweet tooth. *cough*cough* Me. Though their specialty is obviously truffles (hence the name), you can also find an assortment of chocolate, cakes and even coffee here.
36. Left Bank
Left Bank is an award-winning bar and gastro pub. This is a great stop for lunch after visiting the castle as it is close by and, if you’re lucky, you’ll score some live music while you nibble! Left Bank has won the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence every year since 2015.
37. Fig Tree
My favorite part about Fig Tree is that they serve all day breakfast. If it were up to me, I’d have breakfast for every meal. This is a fun place to meet up with friends or roll out of bed and head to brunch at.
Folkster is a clothing shop in Kilkenny that focuses on vintage style. I can’t really say the price range for Folkster, as they really have something for everyone, rather your shopping ’til you’re dropping or saving money for the rest of your travels.
39. Watergate Theatre
Established in 1993, Watergate Theatre is an absolute hotspot for entertainment in Kilkenny. To see what events they have coming up, check out their website.
40. Kilkenny Books Centre
Kilkenny Books Centre has books on books on books. However, they are not just a bookstore. Kilkenny Books Centre was awarded for Customer Service Excellence in 2018. You need something? They’ll find it for you. Looking for something new to read? Keep an eye out for the featured books of the month!
41. Nolan Park GAA Stadium
The Nolan Park GAA Stadium is the Gaelic Athletic Association stadium. Heading to the Nolan Park GAA Stadium to watch some Gaelic should be on every sports-lovers’ bucket list.
42. Talbot’s Tower
Talbot’s Tower is one of the more medieval things to see in Kilkenny. This ancient tower was once part of the city’s walls. Now, you can ogle at this beauty- but only from the outside, as the inside is not open for the public.
43. Mocha’s Vintage Tearooms
Mocha’s Vintage Tea Room & Restaurant serves local Irish and European cuisine; they’re also vegetarian friendly! Head to this cute little spot for breakfast, lunch, or, if you’re like me, brunch. They have plenty of loose leaf teas and fair-trade coffees.
44. Black Freren Gate
Last, but certainly not least, is the Black Freren Gate. This gate actually consists of the remains of a medieval Norman-era gate left behind from Kilkenny’s 13th century walls.
I hope this comprehensive list gave you a great start to your travels and provided you with an idea of some things to see in Kilkenny. If you have any more must-see locations, please, please, PLEASE add it in the comments! I love finding new hidden gems.