Beautiful parks and gardens, museums, galleries, heritage sites and churches are just some of the many things to do in Kilkenny without reaching into your purse. There are a great mixture of paid and free attractions in Kilkenny, giving you a taste of the best Irish attractions on the east coast. Explore the best of Kilkenny for free with our guide of things to do in Kilkenny and our special Ireland’s Ancient East package.
1. Black Abbey
One of the oldest churches, in one of the oldest towns in Ireland, is Black Abbey in Kilkenny. At an impressive 796 years old, the church is so named by the Black Friars, a Dominican order whose attire included a clack cloak covering a white habit. It’s a tranquil and peaceful place outside the walls of the city and is free for all to explore.
2. Kilkenny Castle Park
While you do need to buy tickets for the castle itself, it is free to explore the surrounding grounds and the exterior of Kilkenny Castle from Kilkenny Castle Park. The park is a jewel of Ireland’s Ancient East offering the charm and splendour of the old country. The Rose Garden offers spectacular views of the city.
3. Castlecomer Discovery Park
20km outside of the bustling city centre lies Castlecomer Discovery Park, formerly part of the Wandesforde family estate. It’s a vast park, open year-round for the public to enjoy walks, cycles and any other outdoor activity they wish; ideal for family trips. They have a beautiful fairy playground and an elf & fairy village, complete with fun, activities and challenges for little ones.
4. Woodstock Gardens
Woodstock Gardens are located outside of the city, close to Inistioge, overlooking the gorgeous Nore Valley. The gardens are an impressive mix of formal and informal gardens, a rose garden, an arboretum and much more. They have recently added a summer house and a new fountain constructed from materials from the garden. There is a children’s playground and other facilities including toilets on-site.
5. Butler Gallery
Located in the heart of the city, Butler Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Kilkenny which is free for visitors to explore. Established in 1943, the gallery is one of the finest exhibition and display spaces in the county. They specialise in showcasing the works of established and emerging Irish artists both modern and dating back as far as the 1800s. It’s an inspirational and educational experience for young and old.
6. National Design and Craft Gallery
One of the newer galleries in Kilkenny is the National Design and Craft Gallery, opened in 2000 and displaying the finest Irish craft talent in the country. Located across from the entrance to Kilkenny in a beautiful restored stable courtyard, it’s one of the only permanent display spaces for Irish craft in Ireland. They display many varieties of contemporary crafts with the aim of developing greater understanding and appreciation of the traditional roots of Irish craft and design and its future potential.
Kilkenny Hotel Package
If you want to explore the best Irish attractions along Ireland’s Ancient East, Pembroke Hotel are offering the perfect package. Our Ireland’s Ancient East package includes tours of local heritage sites including Kilkenny Castle and Rothe House. We also include tours of Wexford National Heritage Park and Hook Lighthouse in Wexford. We can arrange transport to these sites at an additional cost.
Enjoy the highlights of Ireland’s Ancient East from our luxury Kilkenny hotel in the heart of the city. The package includes:
- One to seven nights’ Bed & Breakfast accommodation in our four-star luxury Kilkenny City hotel
- €50 credit to spend on dining or drinks in Statham’s bar & restaurant
- A food hamper with Tayto crisps, Cadbury chocolate and other classic Irish snacks (available w 5 & 7 night options)
- Tours of Kilkenny Castle, Rothe House, St. Canice’s Cathedral
- A tour of Hook Lighthouse and Wexford National Heritage Park, in neighbouring county Wexford
Author Bio: Katie McGarr is a savvy travel and lifestyle writer for Pembroke Hotel Kilkenny, a four-star boutique hotel in Kilkenny, offering exceptional accommodation and dining experiences in Ireland’s historic marble city. When she’s not taking vibrant street photos, you can find her writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle.