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From bracing walks to renowned galleries, there’s a lot to see and do in this bustling city.
The colder months are made for city breaks, and a trip to Kilkenny promises visitors the perfect winter getaway.
The moody light and cool weather add to the bewitching atmosphere of this fascinating town, while there are plenty of great pubs and restaurants to stop off in to warm up. What’s more, Kilkenny is home to a huge selection of indoor attractions, so whatever the weather, you’re guaranteed a brilliant time.
Ready to start planning your next break to Kilkenny? Here are our top recommendations to add to your winter break itinerary to make the most of your next city getaway.
Wintery days call for gallery visits, and with a huge collection of modern and contemporary art, the Butler Gallery is a must-see in Kilkenny. The building itself is the magnificent and historic Evans’ Home, and it hosts a vast permanent collection. This winter, be sure to catch some of the Butler Gallery’s great exhibitions. The O’Malley Collection Exhibition celebrates the artwork of Irish artist Tony O’Malley while Yvonne McGuiness’ Rehearsals is a solo exhibition of fabric and film.
Once you’ve taken in the gallery’s works, warm up with a specialty tea or coffee from the Wild Flower Café. Nab a cosy spot indoors, or, if you prefer, take a seat outside and admire the pretty surroundings as you sip your hot drink.
As you approach the Smithwick’s Experience, make sure you breathe in the scent of hops in the cool winter air, then prepare to step back in time with a brewing tour. During this tour, a local guide will share the Smithwick’s story with you as you explore this charming brewery. You’ll even get the chance to get involved in the Smithwick’s process as you try your hand at milling the malt, stirring the mash and smelling the hops. Then, enjoy a complimentary pint of ale in the tasting bar.
After your tour, stroll through the town and then pop into Café la Coco where you can treat yourself to some freshly baked goods as you warm up with a cup of coffee.
As well as being a buzzy urban hub, Kilkenny City is also well connected to some great nature walks, and the Nore Valley Walk allows you to seamlessly incorporate the great outdoors into your next city break. Starting off in Kilkenny City, this 11km route leads you across rural scenery and peaceful riversides. Breathe in the cool air and feel the fresh breeze on your face as you explore this trail which will lead you to the picturesque town of Bennetsbridge, a creative hotspot that’s home to artisans of pottery, glass and candles.
Finish up your time in Bennetsbridge with a delicious hot coffee and a toastie from Crafted, a quaint art café on Main Street.
In the moody light of winter, Ireland’s castles become particularly atmospheric, and this is definitely the case for Kilkenny Castle. This castle is a Victorian remodelling of a thirteenth century defence castle, and it houses 800 years worth of history. Explore the castle’s magnificent collection of tapestries and paintings and get a sense of how the Butler family lived by checking out the dining room and Victorian nursery on a guided or self-guided tour. After your tour, explore the surrounding parklands, which include a manmade lake, a terraced rose garden and woodlands.
Once you’ve taken in that crisp winter air, settle in to one of Kilkenny’s cosiest pubs – The Left Bank – for a warming meal and a pint. After dinner, stick around The Left Bank as it transforms into a buzzy nightclub for the rest of the evening.
Take in the cool air with a brisk walk along the bustling cobblestones of the Medieval Mile before delving into 800 years worth of history at the Medieval Mile Museum. Embark on a guided or self-guided tour of this fascinating museum and wander the Rothe Chapel, check out the High Cross Exhibition and visit the surrounding graveyard. Following your visit, call in to the Kilkenny Design Restaurant and warm up with some of their hearty offerings, which include soups and sandwiches.
Round off your day with a pint and a meal at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar. This cosy establishment dates all the way back to 1703, and it’s a great spot to catch some live music on a crisp winter’s night.
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