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Kilkenny With Teens: An Exciting 2 Day Itinerary

The ceiling of the Long Room in Kilkenny Castle.

Packed with Medieval history, castles, underground caves, and some delicious restaurants

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We spent our last two nights of our 10 day Ireland road trip in Kilkenny. We hoped to experience a classic Irish town with lots of things to do that would appeal to adults and teenagers alike. In addition, we wanted to be a short drive away from Dublin International Airport for our midday flight to London. Kilkenny ended up being the perfect spot. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this Medieval town with the extraordinarily preserved Kilkenny Castle and stunning grounds. Mere feet from our hotel in the centre of town, we enjoyed sophisticated restaurants serving International cuisine and lovely Irish pubs offering traditional fare. Within a short drive, we were able to explore the Rock of Cashel and Dunmore Caves. Our last two days in Ireland were busy and exciting, and the ideal way to end our time in Ireland.

 

Kilkenny itinerary
Enjoying the grounds around the Rock of Cashel.

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Background To Our Stay In Kilkenny

We started our morning in Limerick at No. 1 Pery Square hotel, a small beautiful boutique hotel. At this point in our trip, we had three of our children aged 14, 16 and 18 years old. Prior to arriving in Limerick, we had spent:

In addition to visiting these cities and towns, we had explored:

 

 

Accommodation in Kilkenny

We stayed at the Pembroke Kilkenny right in the centre of Kilkenny. The Pembroke Kilkenny is a four star boutique hotel with very large and comfortable rooms. The location was superb. Except for our day trip to Dunmore Caves just outside of Kilkenny, we parked our car in the hotel’s free parking lot and walked everywhere.

For accommodation at the Pembroke Kilkenny or elsewhere in Kilkenny, I would recommend exploring the interactive map below from booking.com which provides reasonably priced accommodation in your preferred location.

 



Booking.com

 

Morning Day One Of Kilkenny Itinerary

Rock of Cashel 

History of the Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel is the remains of a collection of buildings on top of a hill overlooking the town of Cashel. They were built over hundreds of years beginning almost a thousand years ago. The oldest building is the round tower built in 1100. It is 28 metres (or 92 ft) high. There is also St. Patrick’s Cathedral built in the 13th century and the Hall of the Vicars Choral built in the 15th century. Next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is Cormac’s Chapel which has 800 year old frescoes lining the archways.

The Rock of Cashel’s early history begins in the 5th Century when St Patrick converted Aenghus, the King of Munster, to Christianity. At the time, the Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. In 1101, the Rock of Cashel was given to the church as a gift. Today, the Rock of Cashel is considered one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture found anywhere in Europe.

Kilkenny itinerary
Some of the remains of the extraordinary Rock of Cashel.

 

Location of Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel is an easy and pleasant drive from either Limerick or Kilkenny.  It is exactly half way between the two.

 

 

From Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel is 62 km or a 50 minute drive.

 

Since we began our day in Limerick, we stopped at and explored the Rock of Cashel on our way to Kilkenny. However, the Rock of Cashel would be an easy half day trip from either Limerick or Kilkenny.

 

 

Important Details for any visit to the Rock of Cashel 

There is paid parking just below the Rock of Cashel which accepts credit cards. From there, it is a short 10 minute walk up hill to the entrance into the Rock of Cashel. Tickets cost €8 for adults and €4.00 for children with family rates. Credit cards are also accepted here.

Included in the cost of admission is a 45 minute guided tour of  St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the round tower and the high cross. You do not have to do the guided tour – you are free to roam the grounds on your own. However, access to Cormac’s Chapel is only by guided tour for which you have to pay separately. In addition, it is only offered on a first come first serve basis – you can not purchase tickets in advance. They cost an extra €3.00 per person or an extra €8.00 for a family.

Kilkenny itinerary
Some of the amazing remains of the Rock of Cashel.

You should allot 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the Rock of Cashel if you plan to do both guided tours. It is a significant cultural site in Ireland so I would plan to arrive before 11:00 am or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds and any delays in accessing one of the guided tours.

The Rock of Cashel is open all year round although it is closed on significant holidays. You should check the website for any updates.

 

Our Impressions of Rock of Cashel

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Rock of Cashel. The views of the town and the countryside below were stunning. The grounds around the historic buildings were lovely with lots of tombstones scattered about to make for some very interesting reading. We took both tours and loved the history that unfolded before us. The 800 year old frescoes in Cormac’s Chapel were staggeringly well preserved.

Kilkenny itinerary
Some of the 800 year old frescos.

 

Travel Tip for Rock of Cashel

Timing

Upon arrival, we purchased the additional tickets to Cormac’s Chapel and immediately, joined the next free guided tour of the Rock of Cashel. I thought that one tour would lead to the other. However, that was not the case. We had to leave the guided tour of the Rock of Cashel a little early in order to meet outside Cormac’s Chapel for that tour. Accordingly, before purchasing your tickets to Cormac’s Chapel, I would clarify with the ticket counter how best to organize your time so that you can enjoy both tours without time issues.

 

Children at the Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel would be a welcoming spot for young children. The entrance and the parking lot are close by so walking to the site is minimal. The grounds around the Rock of Cashel are flat, with lots of grass, and the tombstones are strewed about for some pretty good hide and seek. Most of the free guided tour is outside either on the grass or in the ruins so kids do not need to be completely still or quiet during most of the tour.

Kilkenny Itinerary
Some of the local children entertaining the visitors to the Rock of Cashel.

 

Afternoon Day One Of Kilkenny Itinerary

Lunch – Things to do in Kilkenny

We arrived in Kilkenny in the early afternoon. After checking into the Pembroke hotel, we crossed the street and ate a delicious lunch at the Hibernian Bar. We sat outside and enjoyed lovely views of Kilkenny Castle. The restaurant is also located right at the corner of two main streets in Kilkenny so the people watching was fantastic.

 

Kilkenny things to do
The main intersection in Kilkenny with the Hibernian Bar on the far corner.

 

Walking tour of Kilkenny – Things to do in Kilkenny

We took a 90 minute walking tour of Kilkenny with Shenanigans Walking Tour for €20 per person. This tour highlights the history of Kilkenny and it’s medieval buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, Rothe House & Gardens, St Canice’s Cathedral & Round tower, Kyteler’s Inn (home of the famous Kilkenny Witch).

Kilkenny things to do
One of the main shopping streets in Kilkenny.

We really enjoyed the Shenanigans Walking Tour. What makes this tour unique is that the guide is not only a historian and story teller, but also a magician and comedian at times. If you are looking for a tour of Kilkenny that will keep your kids engaged and will make you laugh, then this tour is for you.

things to do in Kilkenny
Our guide doing a trick during the Shenanigans walking tour.

 

Travel Tip for Shenanigans Walking Tour

We knew that we would be arriving into Kilkenny after the normally scheduled time that the Shenanigan’s Walking Tour is offered. I contacted them and they were happy to offer me another tour later that day for the same price. Accordingly, if you are interested in a this tour but can’t make the scheduled time, do not hesitate to contact them.

 

Evening Of Day One Of Kilkenny Itinerary

Dinner at Ristorante Rinuccini – Things to do in Kilkenny

We had a late dinner at Ristorante Rinuccini, a high end Italian restaurant across from Kilkenny Castle and a few minutes from our hotel.

 

After several days of Irish pub food, we were very excited to have an Italian meal. In high season, reservations are a must – the restaurant was packed for most of the night that we were there. Service was excellent and the food was absolutely delicious.

things to do in Kilkenny
About to enjoy a delicious Italian meal.

 

Morning Day Two Of Kilkenny Itinerary

Kilkenny Castle and it’s garden – Things to do in Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle is found in the centre of Kilkenny. It is a beautiful castle that overlooks the River Nore. Kilkenny Castle has a long history that begins more than 900 years ago. In 1172, a simple wooden tower was built by Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare, the Anglo-Norman conqueror of Ireland better known as Strongbow. Shortly thereafter, his son-in-law erected the first stone castle with four towers, three of which remain today. In 1391, the castle was bought by the Butler family. Amazingly, it remained in their family until 1935, after which it fell into disrepair as it became too costly to maintain. In 1967, the City of Kilkenny purchased it for £50.

Today, two wings of Kilkenny Castle have been restored to reflect their 19th Century splendour and include a library, drawing room and the famous “Long Gallery”. The castle sits on over 50 acres (or 27 hectares) of gardens, with extensive walking and running paths, a rose garden, ornamental lake and playground for all to enjoy.

things to do in Kilkenny
The ceiling of the Long Room in Kilkenny Castle.
things to do in Kilkenny
One of the refurbished rooms in Kilkenny Castle.

 

Details of a visit to Kilkenny Castle

You have two options if you wish to explore Kilkenny Castle. You can take a self guided tour for €8.00 (less for seniors or children) or a guided 45 minute tour for €12.00 (again, less for seniors and children). The castle park and garden are not included in either of the tours but you are free to enjoy them whether you tour the castle or not.  Please click on this link for more information about the tours or when you can access the castle’s park and garden.

things to do in Kilkenny
Enjoying the park around Kilkenny Castle

 

Our experience at Kilkenny Castle

The Kilkenny Castle tour was excellent. Our guide easily covered the castle’s history and pointed out interesting aspects of different rooms. My kids easily stayed engaged and the 45 minutes went quickly.

After the tour, we explored the park and gardens on our own. This was definitely a highlight. They were truly beautiful. We walked around the whole park, enjoying the beautiful garden sculptures scattered around. It was clear that the park was a favourite spot for locals, their dogs and their families.

 

things to do in Kilkenny
The garden at Kilkenny Castle.

 

Afternoon Of Day Two of Kilkenny Itinerary

Lunch at Marble City Bar – Things to do in Kilkenny

We walked a few minutes from Kilkenny Castle to have lunch at the Marble City Bar.

We saddled up to the bar and had a delicious traditional pub meal.

 

Dunmore Cave – Things to do in Kilkenny

After lunch, we collected our rental car and drove 10 minutes to the Dunmore Caves.

The Dunmore Cave consists of 700 steps down into a series of unground chambers which were formed over millions of years ago. The cave contains amazing calcite formations, such as stalagmites and stalactites (formations that either form from the ground or the ceiling as a result of mineral deposits from water dripping over thousands of years). Dunmore Cave was first mentioned in the 9th century, and is most known for its connect it to a Viking massacre  in 928 A.D.

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Some of the 700 steps descending into Dunmore Cave.

 

Details of a visit to Dunmore Cave

Access to the Dunmore Cave is only by guided tour which lasts one hour. Entry is €5.00 per adult and less for children, students and seniors. Cash is ONLY accepted. Preceding the tour is a brief movie about the history of Dunmore Cave. There is also an interactive museum with artifacts found in the cave, including evidence of the Viking massacre in the 10th century.

You must be in good physical health to walk up and down the stairs into the underground chambers. There is no elevator or any other form of access to the mouth of the cave. It is cold, damp and occasionally wet below so you should wear long pants, a warm jacket, and closed toe flat shoes with a good sole to stay warm and prevent slipping.

Kilkenny itinerary
Inside Dunmore Cave.

Children are welcome, but they must remain quiet and largely still as the guide talks and tours the group around. Our guide was particularly strict and admonished a group of young boys who couldn’t stop talking or moving.

 

Our Experience at Dunmore Cave

The Dunmore Cave was a fun and interesting thing to do. We all appreciated exploring something very different from the historic sites that we had spent the last couple of days exploring in Kilkenny and Cashel. The tour is perfect in length. I would not have wanted to spend more than an hour below in the underground chambers.

 

Evening Of Day Two Of Kilkenny Itinerary

Dinner at Zuni – Things to do in Kilkenny

For our last meal in Ireland, we splurged and went to Zuni Restaurant. This restaurant was located right across the street from our hotel. This was a high end restaurant serving sophisticated food with french influences. It was absolutely delicious. The highlight was dessert when hot chocolate was poured on top of a large chocolate ball thus melting it and creating a decadent chocolate treat. It was the perfect way to end our Kilkenny itinerary.

Kilkenny itinerary
Some of the beautifully plated food at Zuni Restaurant

 

Conclusion

We really enjoyed our two day Kilkenny itinerary. Kilkenny offers beautiful accommodation, exciting restaurants, and lots of things to do that will keep everyone in your family entertained. In addition, it is only 1 1/2 hours away from Dublin International Airport so it is a reasonable destination to enjoy either upon arrival or just before departing Dublin. If you are looking to experience a vibrant Irish town with a beautiful castle and amazing history, then Kilkenny is the destination for you.

For more information and articles about our 10 day road trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland, please see below. 

If you would like to save this article for future use, please click on the “Save” button on the photo down below. 

Our two day Kilkenny itinerary that will entertain everyone. #travel #Ireland #Kilkenny #Europe #familytravel, Ireland travel, Ireland photography, Kilkenny things to do, food, restaurants, medieval castle, Ireland road trip, bucket list activities and attractions, Dunmore Cave, Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Shenanigans walking tour, Medieval mile, Ireland travel tips, Destinations in Europe, European travel, Europe travel destinations, Europe travel guide, interactive maps, teens, kids

 

18 Comments

  • Great post Nicole, loads of helpful details. I didn’t really know too much about Kilkenny but now I think I’ll have to add it to my list. I love a well-preserved medieval town and The Rock of Cashel is stunning. The cave looks super interesting too and it seems like Kilkenny had quite the foodie scene. Loving your Ireland posts, you saw so much in only 10 days!

    • Thanks Freya. Kilkenny does have the whole package. A lovely town with great sites to see and some pretty good food!

  • What a fantastic trip! We have 2 teens as well and we’ve been to Scotland, but never Ireland. Saved on Pinterest for the future.

  • Excellent and helpful post! We are booked in Kilkenny at a hotel on the castle grounds (The Butler Hotel), and I’m noting your choices for eating in that area. The walking tour sounds wonderful, too. I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed Kilkenny so much!

  • I haven’t ventured to Ireland yet, so I’m adding Kilkenny to the bucket list. I like how your two days in Kilkenny wasn’t too overpacked with going from place to place. Plus, it’s awesome to see that you can drive between the various attractions within reasonable times. Out of the attractions you mentioned, I would love to visit the Dunmore Cave. I’m fascinated by the limestone formation.

    • One of the nicest things about Ireland is that you don’t have to drive too far to see something interesting or beautiful. The Caves were definitely very a fun natural wonder to explore.

  • This looks like a great place to visit! The Rock of Cashe looks amazing and the Dunmore Caves look like the perfect place for me (although I’m not sure they would appreciate my daughter-she has a tendency to not sit still!) I honestly had never heard of this before, but you have inspired me to add it to the lsit!

    • I think they want children to be on the quieter side because it is dark in the caves andyou can’t separate too much from each other, plus the walls bounce noise off so easily. Maybe we just had a grumpy tour guide!!

  • Kilkenny would have been a dream when I was a teenager! Was wonderful as an adult, but to be able to take in that culture at a younger age would’ve been amazing.

  • This is exactly how I would want to spend a visit to Kilkenny. I am amazed by The Rock of Cashel–to think the oldest building dates back to 1100. Imagine what took place within and around these walls! Kilkenny Castle is right up my alley, too. I love the look of the drawing room and would love to see the “Long Gallery.” Thanks for the travel inspiration and these useful tips. I’ll put both to good use when I travel to this area.

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