Day Trip Guide:
Day Trip to Kilkenny
If you're wondering how to get to Kilkenny from Dublin, there are a few bus options below to choose from. The bus ride from Dublin is roughly 2 hours and will cost between €18-30 for a return ticket.
However if you're traveling locally between Graiguenamanagh and Kilkenny, then you can take the public bus. Despite where you're coming from there are plenty of free things to do in Kilkenny and absolutely worth taking a day trip to explore this cool little city.
How to get to Kilkenny
You might be wondering how to get to Kilkenny, especially if you don't have a rental car. There are several bus lines, like Dublin Coach or JJ Kavanagh, that run all throughout Ireland. Though we only have experience with these companies between Dublin and Kilkenny, these coaches are super comfortable and run between most Irish cities/towns.
On the other hand if you're staying just outside Kilkenny city, suchas County Kilkenny or County Carlow, there are local bus routes that are affordable and reliable. We made the day trip to Kilkenny from Graiguenamanagh in County Carlow; see the time table below for the 881 public bus.
Dublin ↠ Kilkenny
- Return Ticket Prices: €20 from City Centre, €30 from Airport
- Pickup Locations: Dublin City Centre, Dublin Airport
- Drop Off Locations: McDonough Junction, Ormonde Rd
- City Centre Departure Times: 6:00PM, 8:00PM, 10:00PM
- Airport Departure Times: Hourly from 6:30PM-11:30PM
- Return Ticket Prices: €18 from Heuston Station, €30 from Airport
- Pickup Locations: Dublin Heuston Station, Dublin Airport
- Drop Off Locations: Kilkenny Newpark Hotel, Ormonde Rd
- Heuston Station Departure Times: Every couple hours from 6:45AM-11:30PM
- Airport Departure Times: Every few hours from 2:00AM-11:00PM
Graiguenamanagh ↠ Kilkenny
The 881 public bus line runs from Graiguenamanagh to Kilkenny Castle throughout the day. It costs €8.5/adult for a return ticket between Graiguenamanagh to Kilkenny - see time tables and bus stop locations below.
5 Things to do in Kilkenny
Generally Ireland is pretty expensive, however are plenty of free things to do in Kilkenny. Arguably the most iconic attraction of the city is Kilkenny Castle. If you're into beer the original Smithwick's Brewery, founded in the 18th century, is located here and offers daily tours. However, our favorite thing we did in Kilkenny was wandering the streets and admiring the colorful buildings around the River Nore. The overcast sky created a lovely contrast behind the vibrant buildings of this quite little town.
1. The Smithwick's Experience
Entrance Cost: €14 Student/€16 Adult
Known for being an Irish beer, Smithwick's has its roots in Kilkenny. Founded in 1710, this brewery was functional all the way through 2013 when production moved to Dublin. Nonetheless, the original brewery still stands and offers tastings and tours.
2. Visit Kilkenny Castle
Entrance Cost: €8 Self-Guided Tour/€12 Guided Tour
You might start to notice that many places in Ireland have a main castle named after the town or city. That’s also the case for Kilkenny Castle, located on a huge plot of land along the River Nore featuring beautiful gardens and walking paths. It’s open for tours, however, the exterior and surrounding gardens don’t have an entrance fee making it one of the best free things to do in Kilkenny.
3. Walk to St. Canice Cathedral
Another cool historical site in Kilkenny is the St. Canice Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century. The Round Tower next to the cathedral dates back all the way to the 9th century! In fact, this Cathedral is the second oldest cathedral in Ireland after St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.
Though walking around the grounds of the cathedral is another one of the best free things to do in Kilkenny, you'll need to pay an entrance fee if you want to go inside. The Cathedral ticket is €4/adult, and the Round Tower ticket is €4.50/adult. However, it's possible to buy a combined ticket for €7.50/adult. We didn't feel like paying for any attractions during our day trip to Kilkenny so we just walked around the outside for free. It's worth noting that the hours of entry vary depending on the month you're visiting. Check out the full timetable here.
4. Wander the streets around River Nore
If you’re trying to ball out on a budget like us, then one of the great free things to do in Kilkenny is just walk around the town. We even found a café with Molly’s name on it! Kilkenny is rather small and quiet, but we were so thrilled to stroll these sleepy streets after spending a hectic week in India.
The locals are super friendly and were more than happy to tell you how to get around if you need any help. In fact, we ended up getting a bit lost and were directed back to the bus station by a generous local. We really enjoyed our day trip to Kilkenny and would love to come back again for a longer stay.
5. Check out Graiguenamanagh
A short bus ride away from Kilkenny is the village of Graiguenamanagh. This is actually where we did our Workaway and from where we caught a bus to Kilkenny Castle. Though it's a smaller village than Kilkenny, it's definitely worth a stroll along the river if you have the time. If you drove yourself down to Kilkenny from Dublin then it’s certainly possible to include this as a pit stop in your day trip to Kilkenny.
Where to stay in Kilkenny
If you’re looking to do more than just a day trip to Kilkenny, we noticed more than a few hostels in this small city. Take a look at some of our recommendations below.
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
Dorms: $22.65+ USD
Private Rooms: $25.48+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, 24 Hr Security, Tea/Coffee making facilities, Luggage Storage
Dorms: $16.99+ USD
Private Rooms: $19.25+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Self Catering Services, Tea/Coffee making facilities, Luggage Storage, Laundry Services
Dorms: $16.99+ USD
Private Rooms: $24.92+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Laundry Facilities, Self Catering Services, Luggage Storage