If you don’t believe in love at first sight then you’ve never been to Kilkenny. As the smallest city in all of Ireland (there are 25,000 residents), Kilkenny swaps the traffic and crime for cobblestones and medieval charm. It’s a place most visitors instantly love the moment they drive into town. Impeccably clean and impossibly friendly, it’s a city that’s famous for its historical sites by day and dining and pub life by night. Most visits begin at the Kilkenny Castle—a towering, stone, Norman edifice that’s been standing for 800 years. Wander the alleyways past colorful storefronts selling fine, locally made crafts, or have a drink in a traditional pub where locals have drank for centuries. Take a long, romantic stroll along the banks of the River Nore, or tour the impressive Black Abbey—a Dominican Abbey by the original city walls that dates to 1255. Finish the day at one of Kilkenny’s award winning contemporary restaurants, and submit to being completely enamored with this jovial inland city.
By car, Kilkenny is located 90 minutes from Dublin, two hours from Cork, and an hour from the nearest airport in Waterford. By train, Kilkenny is 90 minutes from Dublin, and since it’s a popular weekend getaway for locals, visiting during the middle of the week will ensure there are fewer crowds.