The great thing about visiting Kilkenny is that there are countless, incredible things to see and do within a short driving distance. However, half the battle is knowing what to expect and choosing the best ones! We’ve rounded up a list of the top ten most awesome things to do in Kilkenny to add to everyone’s bucket list. From cooking classes and festivals to walking tours and sports, these experiences are designed to immerse visitors in Kilkenny’s unique cultural heritage and create a memorable trip away with friends or family.
1. Kilkenny Castle
No trip to Kilkenny is complete without a visit to its quintessential medieval castle which brings Kilkenny’s history to life in the 13th-century architectural setting that takes your breath away. The restored castle, grounds, and views that dominate Kilkenny City are spectacular and worthwhile spending an afternoon meandering through, to absorb the grandeur of its former glory and the history of the Irish aristocracy.
2. Smithwicks Experience
We are delighted to welcome back visitors to one of the most enjoyable tours in Ireland at the Smithwicks Experience later this summer. Immerse yourself in the story of Smithwick’s, told as only a local knows how. Where 300 years of history combined with extraordinary brewing innovations, to create the Smithwick’s tour – an experience like no other. The tour includes a series of interactive and surprising experiences and culminates in every guest savouring a Smithwick’s Ale whilst learning about the process behind its innovation which makes it so unique.
Smithwicks Experience is opening back up later this summer – visit www.smithwicksexperience.com for up-to-date information on official opening dates!
3. Jerpoint Abbey Guided Tour
Included in the admission fee, is a free guided tour of the partially restored monastic ruins with its magnificently sculptured cloister arcade and exhibition centre is an exemplary experience of Ireland’s Ancient East and will leave visitors feeling empowered and informed about the history and stories of the Cistercian monks who called the Abbey home in the 12th century. www.visitkilkenny.ie
4. River Adventure on the Barrow
Pure Adventure River Activities is based in the heart of the Barrow Valley in the Picturesque Village of Graiguenamanagh. Pure Adventure is a family-run business that is built on a passion for the outdoors and water sports offering a range of Kayaking, Canoeing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Hill Walking activities to suit all ages and abilities. www.pureadventure.ie
5. Cycling Tour of Kilkenny Countryside (Kilkenny Cycling Tours)
There are innumerable historical sites and spots of natural beauty in and around Kilkenny’s stunning countryside, that are best visited on a cycling tour, whether a keen cyclist or not. Ride at your own pace, and see another side to Kilkenny in your own time and in your own sequence, for what is often said to be the crowning glory of any trip to Kilkenny. www.kilkennycyclingtours.com
6. Kilkenny Walking Tours
Join local historian and history teacher, Pat Tynan for a city walking tour. Recently awarded Best Historical Tour Operator in Kilkenny 2022 by the Irish Enterprise Awards 2022, Pat’s Walking Tour will bring to life the stories and characters of Kilkenny’s Medieval history which established Kilkenny as one of Ireland’s most successful Medieval Norman inland cities in Ireland, plenty of humour as walkers discover the hidden streets, laneways and side streets of the city. www.kilkennywalkingtours.ie
7. Nicholas Mosse Pottery and Lunch
The crafty and creative will enjoy the tea room and treasure trove that is the Nicholas Mosse Pottery shop, where visitors can view staff at work through glass walls, and educate themselves from informative displays which offer an insight into the pottery process. www.nicholasmosse.com
8. Experience a festival in Kilkenny
From Kilkenny Arts Festival, Cat Laughs and Savour, Kilkenny brings the world to our doorstep with its fabulous range of festivals for everyone to enjoy, whether your preference is food, comedy, arts or music, a visit to one of these yearly calendar events is a must. www.visitkilkenny.ie
9. Zipline at Castlecomer Discovery Park
Ireland’s longest zip line at Castlecomer offers a daring and exhilarating adventure! Accompanied by the Octagon High Ropes Course, a challenging series of nets, ropes and wooden bridges, as well as the less daring Tree-Top Adventure Walk Course, this adventure park offers a host of experiences for every ability and age. www.discoverypark.ie
10. Cooking Class at Cakeface Patisserie
Foodies can’t go past mouth-watering treats, cookery demonstrations, hands-on tuition and workshops with Cakeface Cookery School. Located in Irishtown on the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny’s centre, this cookery school is a state-of-the-art contemporary space designed to inspire the ‘Wille Wonka’ in us all. Classes are hands ON and relaxed but expect to be challenged whatever your level. Choose from a range of upcoming classes such as Vegan Baking & Creating or an Afternoon Tea Master Class in May and Cake Face Juniors 3 Day Summer Camp this July. www.cakeface.ie