How to Spend 24 Hours in Kilkenny Ireland

Kilkenny Castle Ireland

Kilkenny Ireland is one of the most incredible medieval towns in the country and worth a visit on the trail of Ireland’s Ancient East. The small town is the epicenter of County Kilkenny and easily explored in a day. From medieval buildings, a gorgeous castle, to beer tasting, Kilkenny Ireland has plenty to offer for a curious explorer and easily walkable in a day.

Here’s what you have to check out during your day in Kilkenny.

Kilkenny Castle

Panoramic Kilkenny Castle IrelandArguably one of the most beautiful and popular castles in all of Ireland, Kilkenny Castle is a site worth seeing. This Norman castle dates back to as early as the 13th century and later on became the residence of the Butler family for over 600 years and has since changed architectural styles over the years. Since the 20th century, the castle was handed over to the state for restoration and open to the public as a living museum and art exhibit popular with tourists today.

Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny IrelandExplore the interior of the castle or wander the beautiful gardens. The castle is truly the grand centerpiece of Kilkenny Ireland and worth a visit.

Admission: 8 Euro for a self-guided tour.  The exterior of castle and video about the castle are free.

St. Canice Cathedral

Saint Caince Cathedral Kilkenny IrelandThis gothic cathedral, also known as Kilkenny Cathedral, is one of the must-see medieval sites in Kilkenny Ireland and a part of the city’s medieval mile. The site itself dates back to the 6th century, however, the cathedral you see today dates back to the 13th century.

St. Canice's Cathedral Kilkenny IrelandYou can walk around the outside of the cathedral through the stone cemetery or climb the round tower for a great view overlooking the cathedral’s grounds and the city. Two fun facts about the round tower would be that this is one out of two historical round towers you can climb in Ireland as well as the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny Ireland.

Take a peek inside the cathedral to see the beautiful stain glass and the See Chair of the Bishop of Ossory.

Admission: 6 Euro for a combination ticket for St. Canice Cathedral and the Round Tower.

The Black Abbey

THE BLACK ABBEY OF KILKENNY [THE BLACK FRIARS]-127743Another beautiful gothic and medieval interest point is the Black Abbey in Kilkenny Ireland. A Dominican church founded by the Black Friars is how the origin on the Black Abbey came about back in the 13th century. The name is a mystery although many believe it came from the black capes the friars wore or the Black Plague took the lives of 8 priests in the year 1348.

Check out the interior for the impressive stain glass windows, including Ireland’s largest stain glass window, the Rosary Window.

Admission: Free, donations appreciated.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral Kilkenny IrelandAnother impressive gothic cathedral in the heart of the medieval mile in Kilkenny Ireland. St. Mary’s Cathedral stands out in the small town skyline as it’s perched on Kilkenny’s highest point and has a soaring 186 ft tower.

St. Marys was used for Catholics after Cromwell arrived in 1650 and used St. Canice as a Protestant cathedral. St. Mary’s wasn’t completed until after the famine in 1857 and considered as Early English Gothic architecture.

Kilkenny IrelandIf you need a pick me up, check out the small cafe inside the cathedral.

Admission: Free, donations appreciated.

The Rothe House

Rothe House Kilkenny IrelandCheck out the most iconic merchant home on the Medieval Mile in downtown Kilkenny Ireland. The Rothe House is made up of three Tudor homes, three courtyards, and a beautiful garden where visitors can explore.

The homes now contain local artifacts and the house dates back to 17th century and is one of Ireland’s most famous historical homes.

For an extra fee between 50-100 Euro, you can also explore the genealogy inside the Rothe House to explore your family’s heritage if you have any Irish descendants.

Admission: 5.5o Euro for adults.

The Smithwick’s Experience

Smithwick's Kilkenny IrelandOne of the most popular attractions for visitors to Kilkenny Ireland is the Smithwick’s experience. Smithwick’s has surprisingly been around even before Guinness dating back to the year 1231 where Franciscan monks brewed this ancient beer.

The interactive experience includes everything from holograms, history, to hands-on lessons of the brewing process.

And of course, the icing on the cake would be the sampling of all three Smithwick ales. They serve up a blonde ale, pale ale, and red ale.

Admission: 15 Euro in person, or 13 Euro if purchased online in advance.

Wander the Medieval Streets

Kilkenny IrelandWalk the Medieval Mile stretching from St. Canice’s Cathedral to Kilkenny Castle. Wander the alleyways, some with cute names like Butter Slip and adorable storefronts. The colorful buildings filled with shops, pubs, and restaurants on the medieval mile is what gives Kilkenny Ireland it’s charming character.

Enjoy the beauty of Kilkenny Ireland

Kilkenny Ireland homesJust by strolling through the streets you can’t help but admire the colorful doors and perfect little homes that make up this charming medieval town.

Kilkenny Ireland DoorsHouse in Kilkenny IrelandHomes in Kilkenny IrelandThe city is so picturesque you will just want to pick your favorite door and imagine you’re moving in. There’s a small town charm here in Kilkenny and each home and old building has character and an old world charm about it.

Medieval Mile Pass

Kilkenny IrelandWant to see all the attractions and save money? Get a medieval mile pass for 39 Euro for admission to all the attractions including Kilkenny Castle, Medieval Mile Museum, Rothe House, Smithwick’s Experience, St. Canice Cathedral & Round Tower, Kilkenny Cycling Treasure Hunt, Kilkenny Road Train Tours, Kilkenny City Train Tours, Kilkenny Ghost Tour, and discounts at selected restaurants and bars.

Where to Stay

Hotel Kilkenny

We stayed at Hotel Kilkenny located just a 10 minute walk out of town and a wonderful 4-star option. The rooms are cozy and spacious and they offer a pool and spa for their guests. Taste Restaurant is also a fabulous dining option offering an array of fine dining options. We also couldn’t help but admire the modern chic decor including the purple chair fit for a queen!

Check rates and availability here.


Looking for more fantastic places on Ireland’s Ancient East? Then you will want to check out Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland.

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