Known for its hurlers, its mad nights out and now for its adventurous activities… here are all of the best things to do in Kilkenny.

Kilkenny is more well known for a mad night out in the Left Bank rather than an adventurers paradise, but we were pleasantly surprised by all the ‘going ons’ in the home of the Cats. There are so many things to do in Kilkenny. So, spend a few days this summer trying out some of these awesome activities with your family or friends.

Things to Do in Kilkenny: On Land

Walking

Things to do in Kilkenny
Image: Luke Myers/Fáilte Ireland

For a short distance walk, there’s a beautiful 7km route known as the Castlemorris Wood Walk. There is also the Nore Valley Walk from Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge. This is a 12km walk along the river, where you will spot some stunning scenes like a diving kingfisher or a splashing otter on your rambles. As for a romantic meander, there’s the Canal Walk which takes place along the picturesque old canal.

For a long distance walk, there is the 104km South Leinster Way. It begins in the village of Kildavin, Co Carlow, runs through Co Kilkenny and finishes up in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. The route encompasses the peaks of Mount Leinster (796m) and Brandon Hill (515m) and of course a riverside stretch on the River Barrow. Them quaint towns of Borris, Inistoige and Graiguenamanagh are particular highlights. Alternatively, walking the entire Barrow Way is something everyone who is into walking should spend a few days doing. At 113km in length, this walkway follows Ireland’s second longest river, the River Barrow.

For a guided walk, the Paddy Lawlor from Hidden Trails will create tailored walks to suit your requirements.

Check out our full list of the best walks in Kilkenny.

Cycling

Things to do in Kilkenny
Image: Fáilte Ireland

For a spin on the bike in Kilkenny, there are plenty of options. A favourite of ours is the South Kilkenny Cycle Loop. A 41km route through Bennettsbridge, Stoneyford and Kells down idyllic country roads. There is also the longer North Kilkenny Cycle Routes at a distance of 82km. Pedal down quiet country roads and through the beautiful villages of Freshford and Castlecomer.

Bring your own bikes or hire one for the day with Kilkenny Cycle Tours. They also run tours through the historic town if you are not from the area.

Activity Centres

Things to do in Kilkenny
Image: Castlecomer Discovery Park

Castlecomer Park is the ultimate adventure park. They’ve got a climbing wall, ziplines, boats, raft building, archery and orienteering. Our favourite activity here is their tree-top walks. If you have a head for heights, take a stab at the 140-metre long course that overlooks the entire park. It’s the ideal place to spend a day with family, friends, team building, or corporate groups.

The Kilkenny Activity Centre is another option, especially for birthday parties or hens/stags. Their activities range from Splatball, Bubble Soccer, Paintball, to their ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Assault Course.

Things to Do in Kilkenny: In Water

Kayaking & Canoeing

Things to do in Kilkenny
Image: Luke Myers/Fáilte Ireland

The River Barrow is your one-stop shop for all your canoeing and kayaking needs. Follow the trail travelled by the High Kings of Ireland, the Monks and the Vikings and explore one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets, the River Barrow. Only local walkers and cyclists really get to experience its splendour on a daily basis. But why go by land when you can travel by water?! Pure Adventure offers fun day and half day kayak trips on the River Barrow. Their most popular trip is the Graiguenamanagh Loop through the beautiful rapids and weirs in the Wooded Barrow Valley. They also have SUPs available.

Or else, hire a canoe with Go with the Flow – River Adventures and paddle your way down the beautiful Barrow river. There is a navigation channel running the entire length of the waterway which avoids all weirs and rapids so it’s perfect for all abilities. If you have more than a day to spare, why not take the canoe for a few days and wild camp along the banks of the river! Have a read of our journey with Go with the Flow River Adventures.

If you are a local or living in Kilkenny, then they do have their own Aqua Canoe Club.

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By Orla O'Muiri

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