Are you staying in Dublin and ready for a day trip to a charming medieval town called Kilkenny? Kilkenny is a perfect day trip from Dublin, and you don’t need to rent a car. Continue reading and learn how to spend a day in Kilkenny, Ireland.
I’ll share our 1-day itinerary, including brunch and lunch breaks, the best places to see, free things to do in Kilkenny with a map and our daily expenses. So here’s everything you need to know about visiting Kilkenny, Ireland.
There are also organised day tours to Wicklow with a short stop in Kilkenny. You can attend a guided tour if you don’t have time to spend a whole day exploring Kilkenny. It’s ideal when you stay only a few days in Ireland. We did a similar tour a few years ago, though we could only see a few things in Kilkenny because of the schedule and the limited time.
Top things to do in Kilkenny, Ireland
On the following Wanderlog map, you can see the main tourist attractions, brunch & coffee places, restaurants and the 1-day itinerary for Kilkenny. On the map, you can see the actual points, and it’s also possible to turn off and on layers.
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How to get to Kilkenny, Ireland?
Kilkenny in County Kilkenny is located 125 km from the centre of Dublin and can be reached in approximately 1,5 hours by car, bus and train. The town is not big and can be discovered on foot, so it’s not necessary renting a car for a day trip to Kilkenny. Just take a direct train or bus.
Train from Dublin to Kilkenny
Trains to Kilkenny leave from Dublin Heuston station around every 3 hours. Make sure to check the timetable before planning. You can book a train ticket on the Irish Rail website in advance. Our return ticket was 23 EUR/person. The tickets must be printed from the machines at the train station, so count extra time for that!
Our morning train left at 7:20 am and arrived at 9:03 am, so we could start our morning with breakfast. The train station is located at the edge of the centre, only 10 minutes walk from Kilkenny Castle.
Our return train would depart at 7:20 pm. However, after discovering Castle Park and the riverside in the afternoon, we were thinking about what to do till 7 pm, so we tried to catch the earlier train at 3:20 pm. And the woman at the information desk said we take the earlier train, so we shortened our sightseeing in Kilkenny.
Bus from Dublin to Kilkenny
Buses leave more often to Kilkenny (every 2 hours), so it might be more flexible than the train. The bus departs from Burgh Quay. You can check the exact location on the bus website, e.g. Dublin Coach. After 1 hour and 40 minutes, you can take off at Kilkenny. The return ticket costs 24 EUR/per person.
How to spend a day in Kilkenny?
- Having breakfast at Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro
- Grabbing pastries at Arán Deli & Bakery
- Adoring the castle from the Viewpoint of Kilkenny’s Castle
- Taking a photo of Shee Almshouse
- Walking on High and Parliament streets
- Climbing up to the Round Tower of Cathedral of St Canice
- Passing by The Black Abbey
- Exploring Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
- Visiting the exhibition of St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum
- Lunch at Matt The Millers Bar & Restaurant
- Taking a selfie at Kilkenny Castle and Rose Garden
- Strolling in Kilkenny Castle Park
- Walking on the riverbank
Best places to visit in Kilkenny
Kilkenny offers many things to do, free and paid as well. One of the best things to do in Kilkenny is just stroll in the historic city centre and adore the charming buildings. However, if you want to visit an attraction inside or attend an experience, that will cost you a few euros.
Kilkenny Castle and Castle Park
The most famous attraction of Kilkenny is the Kilkenny Castle with its Rose Garden and Castle Park. Visiting the park and garden with the fountain is without charge, though there’s a fee to enter the castle. The castle was built in the 13th century and opened to the public after its 20th-century renovation. Its highlight is the Picture Gallery, with a gorgeous roof and many paintings. You can also visit decorated rooms like the nursery, blue bedroom, tapestry room and library.
We just walked in the park and enjoyed nature. And tried to recreate our selfie taken in 2017.
Shee Alms House
This historic iconic building is located close to the castle. It’s one of the remaining Tudor buildings in Ireland and used to work as a poor house.
High Street and Parliament Street
The main streets have many historical buildings, from coffee shops to restaurants. The Tholsel and Rothe Houses are also situated there.
St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower
Parliament Street will lead you to St Canice’s Cathedral, surrounded by a graveyard with iconic cross headstones and tombs. It’s an important religious site since the 6th century.
Visiting the Gothic church interior requires an entrance fee. However, we could glimpse it while buying the ticket to the round tower.
Its round tower is one of the only two Irish round towers that people may climb. I imagined a narrow spiral staircase inside it, though there were only 5-6 steep wooden ladders with 121 steps. On the way up, the loudspeaker said that the tower is leaning because there’s only a 60 cm deep foundation for its 30 m height, but no worries 🙂 From the top, you can enjoy a 360 panorama of Kilkenny.
St Mary’s Cathedral
St Mary’s Cathedral was built in an English Gothic style, and it’s free to visit. Take a look inside to adore its arches and the beautiful apse.
St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum
The museum building used to be a 13th-century church and was converted into an exhibition space. The characteristics of the church and its graveyard remained, and it was expanded with modern details and wings. One room also offers a panorama of the town.
The simplicity of the interior helps to enhance the artefacts and their history. Celtic Cross headstones and excavation pieces are also presented in the spacious interior. The ticket includes a free audio guide, so you can beep your guide at the signs and listen to the information. Touchscreens and animations also enhance the experience.
The St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum even created a Lego hunt for the kids. So, of course, the kid inside me was super excited about spotting the Lego figures during the exhibition.
More things to do and see in Kilkenny
- Rothe House & Garden
- Smithwick’s Experience – Brewery tour
- Boat trip during summer
Where to eat and drink in Kilkenny?
Breakfast, brunch and coffee shops in Kilkenny
Arán Artisan Bakery
Our day in Kilkenny started exceptionally well with breakfast at Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro. It’s situated only 5 minutes from the train station. We arrived a bit after opening time, so we could enjoy their special coffee offer for brunches between 9 and 10:30 am because our brunch came with unlimited coffee consumption. One flat white was enough for me, but a few more sips felt good from Jackson’s 2nd coffee 🙂
The menu changes by season, and they use local and homemade products. All the brunch options sounded tasty, but you know me, I went for the avo toast as always. I must tell you, it was one of the best avocado toasts of my life. And I had a few… The avo cream was spread on sourdough bread (baked in their neighbour store) and was topped with fried egg, tomato and garlic confit and the tastiest goat cheese I’ve ever eaten. Furthermore, the composition with the veggies on the side was beautiful. All the dishes served in the café were amazingly mouthwatering. Of course, the coffees were also tasty.
They also serve lunch.
Arán Deli & Bakery
We had to check their bakery and pastry shop on the other side of the street. If there’s a queue outside, that’s a good sign…
There were gorgeous loaves of bread on the top of the counter, though we wished for something sweet. So we bought a cinnamon bun and a strawberry cheesecake croissant, though all the pastries and sweets looked delicious. The croissant was covered with a strawberry layer and filled with cream. It tasted like something from a different dimension.
More brunch & coffee places in Kilkenny:
- Muse Coffee + Food
- La Rivista Market Café
- Langton’s John Street Tearooms
- Cafe La Coco
- The Fig Tree Restaurant
Where to have lunch and dinner in Kilkenny?
Matt The Millers Bar & Restaurant
As seafood and seafood chowder maniacs, we chose a restaurant with seafood chowder on the menu, Matt The Millers Bar & Restaurant. It’s located in the city centre, at the bridge. I’d put it more into the pub than restaurant category. It was a bit busy and loud, so choose another place for a more intimate lunch or dinner. The chowders were tasty, but they weren’t extraordinary.
More restaurants in Kilkenny
Our expenses during this day trip to Kilkenny
We spent money mainly on entrance fees and food during our day trip. Our trip cost 135 EUR for the two of us, so the average cost for one person was 67,50 EUR. To plan your budget, check the websites for up-to-date prices. You’ll see that we spend most of our money on food so that amount can be cut back, depending on your eating habits.
Our main expenses by categories (for 2 people):
- Travel costs – 46,36 EUR
- Entrance fees – 23,50 EUR
- Food and drinks – 65,10 EUR
See our daily expenses below (these were the prices in April 2023):
- Return train ticket from Dublin to Kilkenny – 23,18 EUR/person (including booking fee)
- Brunch at Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro (2 avocado toasts, including the coffee) – 26,00 EUR
- Pastries at Arán Deli & Bakery (cinnamon bun, strawberry cheesecake croissant) – 8,10 EUR
- Entrance fee to St Canice’s Cathedral’s Round Tower – 5,50 EUR/person
- Entrance fee to St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum – 9,00 EUR/person
- Lunch at Matt The Millers Bar & Restaurant (2 seafood chowder, 2 pints of Guinness) – 31,00 EUR
Our trip to Kilkenny, Ireland, shows that a day trip from Dublin to this historic city is worth the investment. With its stunning medieval architecture and various activities, Kilkenny will surely provide a combination of excitement and relaxation. From the stunning St. Canice’s Cathedral to the vast array of pubs and coffee shops, Kilkenny offers something for everyone.
So plan your day trip to Kilkenny and experience all the wonders of Ireland’s Medieval City.
Would you spend a day in Kilkenny? Leave a comment below.
For more travel tips and European adventures, read the following posts:
- 4-day Slovenia travel itinerary for the best outdoor adventures
- How to spend 3 days in Cascais, Portugal?
- How to explore Budapest in 2 days? – a local’s travel guide with prices and map
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