Kilkenny Tourism is preparing to re-open to visitors this year. The tourism organisation for the county is planning to highlight its range of outdoor attractions, well-being activities and authentic experiences in Kilkenny when it re-opens for visitors this Summer.
After a year beset with hospitality closures, Kilkenny Tourism is looking forward to a level of continuity in the sector and an opportunity to meet with visitors’ new expectations for outdoor, wellness and activity-based holidays and breaks.
Commenting on the planned re-opening of tourism in the county, Chairperson of Kilkenny Tourism, Ciaran Conroy said; “It has been an unprecedented year for the hospitality sector and at every corner our hotels, attractions and restaurants were met with challenges and closures. The pandemic has brought about a change to visitors’ expectations and motivations for travelling and this year, Kilkenny is preparing to meet those changes in attitudes by offering a full ‘outdoor-focussed’ experience to all our visitors in 2021.
He added: “As visitors seek uncrowded, safe and unspoiled locations, Kilkenny Tourism has ‘re-set’ and revaluated our tourism experience for the year ahead. Kilkenny offers such a variety of outdoor attractions that will reassure visitors they can be guaranteed an incredible holiday in the knowledge their safety is paramount and all their expectations are not only met, but exceeded!”
Kilkenny City ‘On Foot’
Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s easiest cities to navigate on foot and with the recent introduction of a new one-way system in the city, it’s now more accessible to explore than ever. So, take advantage and this year walk Ireland’s Medieval Mile with a local guide. The Medieval Mile links the 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral and the Anglo-Norman castle and runs through the heart of the city. This incredible journey on foot culminates with the opportunity to climb the 100ft, 9th-century Round Tower beside the cathedral where visitors can enjoy the most wonderful views over the city.
Medieval Kilkenny Tour
The Medieval Kilkenny Tour is an audio guide for visitors where they can discover the locations and history of Kilkenny’s many heritage sites in an easy to use and informative way. The audio story recounts the beginnings of the city in the 6th Century, when a monastery was founded by St Canice, and follows the fascinating history of the city through the centuries. The guide can be streamed to mobiles, tablets and computers. Visitors can download the guide here.
Outdoor Heritage Attractions
Scattered throughout Kilkenny are some fascinating outdoor heritage attractions. Located on the Medieval Mile, Rothe House, will transcend visitors to the late 16th century with its unique Tudor merchant’s townhouse and its manicured gardens and courtyards.
With a view of the stunning Kilkenny Castle, Butler House Gardens secluded walled gardens provide a beautiful backdrop across all seasons, particularly during the Spring / Summer when the gardens are in full bloom.
The 12th Century Jerpoint Abbey and Park offer guided tours of what was a medieval town and for the architecture buffs, the restored monastic ruins at the Abbey with its magnificently sculptured cloister arcade and exhibition centre is an exemplary experience of Ireland’s Ancient East.
A collection of medieval tower houses within enclosed walls awaits at Augustine Kells Priory. The priory consists of a church, a chapel, prior’s residence or sacristy and a number of domestic buildings all just waiting for visitors to explore.
Parks & Gardens
Nature comes in many shapes and forms, and this Summer in Kilkenny visitors can find hours of amusement set in the beautiful backdrop of scenic gardens, acres of parkland and woodlands to explore. Start by picking up a takeout picnic from either Cake Face, Aran, Langtons or the Kilkenny Design Centre, all located in the city centre. The outdoor adventure begins with a visit to Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum, where visitors will be treated to features like a walled garden, rose garden, rockery garden, an arboretum and many tranquil woodland walks.
Kilfane Glen & Waterfall (Open Jul & Aug) is a rugged but beautiful 6-hectare garden. The idyllic landscape comprises a 30-foot waterfall, rustic grotto and thatched summerhouse, where visitors may take a short break from strolling the grounds.
A short walk from the city centre, Kilkenny Castle Park includes all the walled demesne parkland to the south of Kilkenny. The estate overlooks the River Nore and features mature trees and shrubs with an ornamental lake are among the many places to explore. There is also a children’s playground located on the grounds.
Outdoor Guided Tours
To discover the very best of Irish ‘craic’, then this Summer visitors should take a Shenanigans Walking Tour with local historian Nevin Cody! With Ireland’s Medieval Mile cityscape as the canvas, the tour ‘lifts the veil’ of Kilkenny City and discovers the hidden secrets and humoursome stories surrounding the City.
What better way to see the City then on bike! Kilkenny Cycling Tours offer guided cycling tours of the city for individuals and families who enjoy the outdoors whilst getting some added cardio in!
Trail Kilkenny – Cycling & Walking Trails
The new year brings with it hope and resolutions for a better and healthier year ahead! Now more than ever, families, groups and individuals will be benefiting from the many walks and trails their counties have to offer. Trail Kilkenny has a series of walks and cycling trails that take place in areas of local heritage and natural history interest, taking both walkers and cyclists of all levels alongside rivers and canals, as well as through towns and villages and the great news is, they are all free of charge!
Family Outdoor Adventure
For families who love an adrenalin filled day, then Castlecomer Discovery Park is the ideal place. The 80-acre activity park features a wide range of exhilarating activities for all ages, from the fun and challenging tree-top walk high amongst the sycamore trees to archery and zip lines.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of this scenic valley, with acres of parkland and woodlands to explore, Nore Valley Park provides hours of amusement for the family. Here visitors will find everything from pet farms, archery, mini golf, go karts and tractor rides across the lush green lands of the farm!
Water Based holidays
Whether you are a seasoned canoeist, or you have never set foot in a boat, enjoying a few hours on the water with family or friends is the most satisfying experience you can imagine. From tranquil lakes, to gently meandering rivers, to white water adventures, visitors can choose a canoe or kayak experience with one of Kilkenny’s many water activity locations – Go with the Flow, Paddle your Own Canoe or Pure Water offer something for all water enthusiasts this year!
For those seeking a way to get back to nature, enjoy some fresh air and unplug for a few days, then Kilkenny has your perfect glamping retreats ready and waiting. Treat yourself to a cosy bed or idyllic campsite in a unique, comfortable home from home at Butterfly Valley Glamping; Brandon Hill Camping or Nore Valley Park surrounded by woods and rivers and of course, all the first-class facilities to keep every family fully equipped for the break!
This year, immerse yourself in the tranquil surrounds of the Waterside Guesthouse in picturesque Graiguenamanagh. An attractive old stone warehouse on the quayside of this charming village on the River Barrow makes a characterful setting for this guesthouse and restaurant. Offering hillside walks and forest trails, fishing and nearby water-sports; this is the perfect escape!
Kilkenny is spoiled with some of the country’s most beautiful vista’s across towns and countryside. Enjoy a leisurely ramble around the picturesque villages of Inistioge, Thomastown or Graiguenamanagh. Each are gems in Kilkenny’s crown, with tree lined walks, river-side tracks leading to Castles or 13th Century Augustinian Priories. While you are there, be sure to have a chat with the locals and ask about their villages history and discover what makes these unique havens in the heart of the county.