A Weekend in Kilkenny, Ireland
Hi friends, welcome to a new travel post! Today we’re sharing everything we know & love about the beautiful medieval city of Kilkenny!
This post has been three years in the making, so I’m excited to finally share it! We visited most recently back in July for the Bob Dylan/Neil Young concert & finally managed to gather enough material to write a cohesive and informed blog post – and amen to that, I’ve been dying to share some of these photos on here for bloody ages!
Side note: the concert was the bomb diggity.
Kilkenny is genuinely a lovely city to visit. It’s literally an hour & a half from Dublin and just perfect for a day trip or weekend away. It’s the cobblestones, cute pubs, and great restaurants that keep us going back for more, but there’s also a lot of sightseeing options if that’s more your thing. We’ve included heaps of recommendations below, including thoughts on accommodation, food, drinks, and attractions.
Where to stay in kilkenny
Pembroke Kilkenny // our number one choice when visiting the city. It is unfailingly perfect every single time – the staff, the rooms, the atmosphere, the location, even the breakfast! The only thing left to say is three short words: we’ll be back.
Butler House // a close second to the Pembroke. Location wise they are practically next door to each other, and Butler House definitely wins on the aesthetically pleasing side of things: a charming historic house covered in ivy, with beautiful gardens & a feel of rustic luxury to it. Definitely the classier place to stay.
Where to have coffee in kilkenny
Cakeface // this is my ideal kind of coffee shop: perfect coffee & delicious baked goods. We went back twice, once opting for a raspberry white chocolate + pistachio cake, and once for a chocolate biscuit dome, both of which were 100% divine. There’s a choice of two different coffee brands to choose from – with tasting notes to help you pick which you’d prefer – that change every few days, so you can try something new each time. I had barista envy when I was casually given a swan in my flat white. And no, this isn’t the only coffee place in Kilkenny, but it is the only good coffee place.
Where to eat in kilkenny
Campagne // our first Michelin starred restaurant! We went for the exceptionally good value lunch menu, and every single item we tried – from crispy sweetbreads to juicy pork belly to tomato parfait to melt-in-the-mouth mashed potatoes – was impeccable & incredibly delicious. We shared a cheese plate & a lemon posset for dessert and not one crumb was left behind afterwards. Such a lovely experience!
Butcher // go here for 3 very good reasons: meat, cheese, dessert. We shared an epic cowboy steak, cheesy potato gratin and extra cheesy mac and cheese. I regret not one calorie; the sides were laced with mozzarella. We almost decided against dessert because of the above, but we relented & ordered the signature dish: salted chocolate peanut butter tart, with PB pretzel ice cream & salty pretzels on top. It was the dessert of our dreams.
Zuni // consistently good. A lovely space – right across the road from both hotels mentioned above – with nice staff, and delicious food. Every time I go I order the black pudding scotch egg & will 100% order it again next time. Dessert highlights include an old-fashioned yet extra flavoursome lemon meringue baked alaska; trust us.
Foodworks // recommended to us by Kilkenny natives. In fairness, it has been two years since we last visited, but from what I remember we did rather enjoy ourselves here. It’s slightly more expensive than what we normally pay for lunch out, but the food was lovely, as was the setting.
Cafe Roma // yes, it’s a chipper. It is, however, a really good chipper, and Boyfriend’s granddad used to bring him and his siblings here when they were kids, so ..
Where to drink in kilkenny
Bridie’s Bar & General Store // my favourite place for a drink in the city. There’s a lovely olden time feel to the place – with a cute little store area in the front and an adorably quaint bar through to the back. It’s dimly lit with candles all over & there’s a touch of romance in the air. Our favourite place to linger for a beverage or two. The bar takes its name from Bridie Langton, whose family still own this location and the one next door.
Left Bank // a cool, hipster kind of place with great cocktails. I’ve stopped in a few times over the years and I feel like I discover quirky new things about the place each time: the paintings move, there’s odd bits & bobs hanging all over the bar etc etc. Definitely worth a visit.
Langtons Bar // kind of a Kilkenny institution. At night there’s live music and the likes, but we prefer it during the early evening when there’s a more casual kind of atmosphere.
Where to visit in kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle // actually very cool! I was skeptical, but this is definitely worth the entrance fee – Boyfriend & I loved it! The castle is beautifully restored to its former glory, with pictures up around the place of the restoration process, which in itself was fascinating to see. Added bonus: there’s a magnificent picture gallery inside the castle with some wonderful pieces of Irish heritage on display.
Kilkenny Design Center // a beautiful space right across from the castle, selling the wares of Irish makers and designers. We have a mooch around each time we visit, just to experience the loveliness of the shop.
Wander // aside from whatever attractions may grab your attention, Kilkenny is a very lovely city to just wander around. There are quaint little weaving paths around the place, beautiful medieval lanes to amble through (Butter Slip being my fave), viewpoints to look out over the river at, etc.
If you’d like to follow along with our travels in real-time, be sure to check out my Instagram!