Finding things to do in Kilkenny is easy, but trying to fit them all into one trip can prove a challenge! Kilkenny’s long and fascinating history means there are dozens of ancient sites to explore, and centuries-old stories to learn. How can you tell which sites are worth seeing, and where to spend your precious vacation time? That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best things to do in Kilkenny- check them out and plan your personalised travel bucket list!
Explore by Segway Tour
Travelling through Kilkenny by foot can get tiring, and you might miss some of the city’s best sites if your tour guide is Google Maps. Segway Sights offer a range of tours that bring you to all the biggest spots in Kilkenny- including all the locations on this list! Training is included in all of our packages, so you can take the tour even if you’ve never stepped on a Segway before. Segway tours are suitable for anyone over the age of 16, and you can check out our FAQ page to see how our tours work. Our Segway tours are a fantastic option if you want to explore but need a break from constant walking. Our tours start from just €30, so check out our packages and book a smooth ride through the best of what Kilkenny has to offer!
The Castle is Kilkenny’s most famous attraction and has been a central part of the city for over 800 years. Immerse yourself in centuries of Irish history by wandering its halls and exploring its courtyard, learning the stories of the people who spent their lives there. The castle has some beautiful natural features like its pristine rose garden and more rugged woodlands, where many local outdoor events are held. Have a look at the Castle’s event calendar to see if anything special is happening during your stay- perhaps you’ll see something that will make your visit truly unique.
When you’re in Kilkenny, a pint of Smithwick’s is an absolute must-have. The red ale was created in Kilkenny in the early 1700s, and can now be found in pubs around the world. The Smithwick’s Experience offers an interactive tour of this ancient brewery, where you can learn everything that happened on the site, right back to Franciscan monks running their own brewery in the 13th century. You don’t have to be over 18 to take the tour, so the whole family can enjoy this experience!
St. Canice’s Cathedral
If you want an authentic Kilkenny experience, St. Canice’s Cathedral is the perfect place. The cathedral gets its name from St. Canice, the great priest and missionary who came to Kilkenny over 900 years ago, and it’s in this area in which the origins of the city come from. It is therefore fitting that Kilkenny too derives its name from the saint and this cathedral; the Irish name for Kilkenny, Cill Chainnigh, translates to “Church of Canice”. The cathedral is full of beautiful artwork and remnants of a fascinating history. This is one the history buffs won’t want to miss! Beside the cathedral is the Round Tower, an ancient symbol of religious practices in Ireland. It’s one of only two round towers in Ireland that people are still allowed to climb, so take the opportunity if it’s open and see the beautiful city from a birds eye view!
Rothe House and Gardens
A visit to Rothe House lets you step back in time and get a first-hand experience of how one of Kilkenny’s most famous families lived in the 17th century. This house was owned by John Rothe, a Kilkenny merchant and mayor whose family were banished to Connemara by Oliver Cromwell after the siege in 1650. As you walk through the additional buildings connected to the house, you can see how the family adapted as it grew. Behind the house is the garden, a charming little spot where you can sit and admire the painstaking work that’s gone into recreating an authentic 17th century gardens.
The Medieval Mile Museum
The Medieval Mile Museum is named after the mile-long route that stretches from Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral. Like the original Medieval Mile, this museum is a great way to learn about the history of the Marble City. The 13th century church was renovated in 2017, and the blending of cutting-edge modern architecture and ancient stone creates an incredible sight. Inside, you’ll find a similar blend of modern and ancient, with centuries-old artefacts displayed alongside top-of-the-range interactive exhibits.
Kyteler’s Inn is a great spot for a tasty meal, a cold pint, and a thrilling ghost story. The pub is named after its first owner, Dame Alice Kyteler, who established the business in the late 13th century. Alice was considered a witch and blamed for many incidents in Kilkenny, such as the collapsing of the Round Tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral. In 1324, she was forced to flee to England to avoid trial for witchcraft. People who have visited Kyteler’s Inn over the years have reported things they can’t explain, leading to a theory that her ghost haunts the pub. Could it be true?
Located just outside the city, Dunmore Cave offers a thrilling look into another world that lies beneath our feet. Take a guided tour of these mystical chambers that have formed over millions of years, and hear stories of the treasure that have been found down there. Skeletons and ancient treasures from the Viking Age have been discovered in the depths of the cave. For all we know, there could be untouched items still down there, waiting to be discovered. Guided tours of the cave tell you all you need to know about the natural and historical elements of this incredible cave, and there’s a visitor’s centre above ground where you can learn even more from interactive exhibits.
Kilkenny has dozens of amazing features to explore, but you won’t want to miss out on any of the places on this list. Whether you’re a history fanatic, a museum lover, or can’t get enough of a spooky story, Kilkenny has something for you. Everything on this list (except for Dunmore Cave) is featured in our Segway tours, so make sure to check them out for a Kilkenny experience that gets you to all the right places!