What is Kilkenny known for?
Kilkenny is best known as Ireland’s medieval capital. It is also home to one of the oldest castles in Ireland as well as producing some of Irelands finest beers. Smithwicks Red Ale was one of my favs!
Where is Kilkenny located?
Kilkenny is located in southeast, Ireland. It is about 80 miles from Dublin.
How to get from Dublin to Kilkenny Ireland
The cheapest way to get to Kilkenny from Dublin, if you don’t have your own car, is by bus. Check out this website, getthere.ie, for bus information to and from different parts of Ireland. Super helpful!
I used this website to plan my trip to and from Kilkenny and it worked out perfectly. (Thanks for telling me about it Jose!)
By bus, it can take anywhere from an hour and 40 minutes to two hours from Dublin, depending on what time you chose to leave and what bus you chose. A one-way bus ticket is about 10 euros.
7 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO IN KILKENNY
1. Explore Kilkenny By Foot
The castles and cathedrals caught my eye as we first arrived. I felt like I went back in time to the medieval era of the Game of Thrones.
Kilkenny definitely had a smaller town vibe with narrower streets compared to Dublin.
Colorful flowerpots caught my eye as they hung in front of just about every shop and restaurant we passed. Castles and stone cathedrals with graveyards popped up everywhere. I took a deep breath of air and in all honesty, I smelled the scent of happy cows, roaming the lush green hills.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Bustling people filled downtown Kilkenny as they shopped at the boutiques, enjoying the weekend sun.
Food and Shopping
Take time to walk around the heart of Kilkenny City (downtown) and you will find many restaurants, pubs, boutiques and shopping centers.
Sometimes walking by foot you are able to see things you wouldn’t otherwise.
There was a good number of restaurants that offered vegan/vegetarian options. We highly suggest Mug Shot Cafe.
Mug Shot Cafe has a special vegan menu on Wednesdays. They also offer some vegan options during the other days of the week. Their potato leek soup is bomb!
Other than cooking our own meals majority of the time, Villn and I got vegetable curry from Nore Asian Street Food and they were able to veganize it! It was flavorful and packed with a bit of heat!
Also if you can’t decided if you want to drink coffee or whiskey (hey, it happens), try the Irish coffee! It contains a shot of expresso and a shot of whiskey, so you won’t have to choose LOL.
The Irish coffee is usually served with creme on top, so if you want to veganize it, tell them to hold the creme. It was surprisingly smooth with a hint of whiskey as an aftertaste.
More than likely you will run into the majestic River Nore, more than once, since it runs right through Kilkenny.
It passes under a couple bridges and is definitely photo worthy. The river gives off a very calming serene feeling. The Irish believed in river Gods, click here ,for tales of mystical gods and their relationship to the rivers.
During summertime you may be able to witness locals jumping off bridges and into the river to cool off!
I enjoyed spotting the different colored doors found all around Kilkenny.
I heard the reason the doors are painted different colors, were to help the drunk Irish men find the correct door when going home after a night out at the pub. Supposedly, they’d be so drunk, that they’d often try going into the wrong home LOL! I got a kick outta that story.
Take a stroll along one of Kilkenny’s River walks or on a walking trail.
We witnessed many people walking their happy dogs! They must be so happy due to all the green open land!
The trees provided shade and plenty of grass to sit and have a picnic on.
We passed this cool “castle bench” while on the trail and couldn’t resist a fun picture!
2. Kilkenny Castle’s Front And Backyard!
My favorite spot in Kilkenny was the surrounding area of the Kilkenny Castle! It was absolutely breathtaking!
Toward the back side, the castle overlooked a fountain and a very well-kept grassy area with pink, white and red roses. There were some benches as well for people to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Sitting on a bench, staring up at the magnificent castle, you can’t help but ponder how it must have been like to live in the castle 1,000 years ago.
Then my time machine thoughts slowly came back to current day and I decided to do a fun freeze in front of the castle.
Complete greenery engulfed the front side of the Castle. This is exactly how I pictured some parts of Ireland to look! Think lush bright green grass, but not a golf course! It was a big open area of grass that extended far behind the green hills.
You couldn’t help but wait for the Teletubbies to come prancing over the hills with the theme song playing! LOL!
This place was perfect for sitting on the grass, having a picnic or doing yoga. Only down side was my allergies that kicked in big time! Even through the sneezes and itchy throat, I’d still come back and hang out in this picturesque place.
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So bring some food and a good book, or bring nothing at all. Just sit on the grass and admire the royal castle while resting your feet on the green grass.
*Loving my photos? I used my Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital camera, CLICK HERE for a great deal!
3. Take A Tour Inside The Kilkenny Castle
The Kilkenny Castle was originally built as a wooden castle overlooking the River Nore in 1172. About 30 years later Earl of Pembroke built the first stone castle and three of the original four towers survive today.
We paid 8 Euros per person to explore the inside of the castle. Instead of following a tour guide around, there are workers in each room available to answer any questions and give you any information you’d like.
We explored at our own pace. For more information on Kilkenny Castle Tour CLICK HERE.
The castle has been altered with many additions over the 8 centuries of existence, which is why we are able to take a tour of it today.
One of the rooms that stood out to me was the area for shooting bow and arrows. There were vertical openings in the castle walls, which were used to defend it from intruders. So cool!
The intricate set up of the dining room table, did not go unnoticed! A typical dinner back then would consist of potatoes, local vegetables, bread and fish caught in River Nore.
The fountain and rose garden was a beautiful view from the dining room windows.
The children’s playroom, was a bit creepy, but definitely capture that era. It would be a perfect spot to shoot a scary movie along with the old dolls and decor. It was awesome to see how a play room for privileged children looked like in a castle.
The toilet was another highlight. It was one of the 1st toilets and was an original from the castle. ( sorry no pic)
The paintings of different generations that have lived in the castle, filled the room.
Some other rooms included a drawing-room, bedrooms, ladies room and library. Although the library was big, it wasn’t as grand as in Beauty and the Beast, but still very cool.
4. Kilkenny Farmer’s Market
Although this isn’t the best farmer’s market I’ve ever been to, it was about experiencing it in Kilkenny. I believe it is every week, on a Thursday year round.
Some vendors were selling crepes, chocolates, fresh produce, dips and coffee to name a few.
The garlic olives from Greece was a delicious treat!
The crunchy deep-fried potatoes and veggies call Bhajis, satisfied my appetite.
5. Drink Some Local Craft Beer At A Pub!
After all, drinking at a pub is part of the Irish culture. Kilkenny has such great craft beer that they even have a Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival. Bummed we missed it by a couple of weeks when we were in town but happy we got to still try the variety of beer.
Smithwick’s (pronounced Smith-icks) Red Ale with 3.8% alcohol is my favorite Irish beer. Smithwick’s Red Ale is the ruby-red session ale with a gentle hop bitterness, sweet malty notes and a refreshingly balanced taste.
It is smooth and light, yet has a slight bitterness. Definitely a beer to try if you are in Kilkenny.
If you like a stronger beer I would recommend the Hop House Lager 13, a premium crafted lager double hopped and brewed with Irish barley.
Don’t forget to drink a Guinness too! After going to the Guinness storehouse in Dublin, I have a new appreciation for this beer.
6. Experience Live Irish Music!
On almost any day of the week you can find live Irish music playing at the local pubs and bars. Villn and I literally just walked around downtown Kilkenny, followed our ears and hopped into a pub blasting Irish music.
We happened to find ourselves at Lanigan’s Bar and Hostel.
The live band played as people sang along and danced to their music, while I sipped on my cold smooth Guinness. There is something about Irish music that I really grew to appreciate.
The lively music definitely lifts my mood. I have to admit, I even began listening too Irish music on my Spotify LOL It brings back great memories of this trip!
7. Climb St. Canice’s Round Tower
The tower was built 1000 years ago. It stands 100 feet high but originally would have had a conical top adding 5 meters to its height, which would have made this one of the tallest towers in Ireland.
CLICK HERE for more information on St. Canice’s Round Tower and for the times it is open.
Here is a picture of the entrance way to the round tower. Depending on the weather, the tower may be closed.
It is 121 steps up and worth the experience and view.
Whether it’s to pretend you are living in the era of Game of Thrones, or to get away from the hustle of Dublin, you will be far from bored in Kilkenny Ireland.