The Final Draft > Travelling to Kilkenny: A Visitor’s Guide
Travelling to Kilkenny: A Visitor’s Guide
Ah, Ireland! The land of saints, scholars, and scenic landscapes. If your travels take you to Dublin, Belfast or Shannon, you might be tempted to venture a little further afield to explore other gems of the Emerald Isle. One such gem is Kilkenny, a medieval city known for its iconic Kilkenny Castle, intricate cathedrals, rich cultural heritage, and of course the world famous Smithwick’s brewery site . In this guide, we’ll detail the best ways to get from Dublin to Kilkenny, making your journey as smooth as a pint of the finest Irish stout.
KILKENNY FROM DUBLIN CITY
1. By Train
Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours.
Where to Board: Dublin Heuston Station.
Advantages: The Irish Rail system is efficient and offers scenic views of the countryside. Trains are generally punctual, and you can avail of free Wi-Fi on board.
Booking: Tickets can be purchased online on the Irish Rail website or at the station. For the best fares, consider booking in advance.
2. By Bus:
Duration:Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
Where to Board: Dublin Busáras (Central Bus Station) or various stops in the city.
Advantages: Buses run frequently, and some routes might offer direct services without stops, making the journey quicker.
Booking: Companies such as Bus Éireann provide this service. You can book online or directly at the bus station.
3. By Car:
Duration:Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
Route: The primary route is the M9 motorway, which connects Dublin to Kilkenny.
Advantages: The freedom to travel at your own pace, stop along the way, and explore nearby attractions like the Rock of Cashel.
Scenic Route and Places to Visit between Dublin and Kilkenny
The people of Carlow would be highly offended, as would those in Castledermot with their High Crosses and Round Tower if you didn’t drop in on your way to Kilkenny. Exit the motorway into Castledermot and after visiting there, head along the old road into Carlow. Visit Brownshill Dolmen and go for a walk by the River. Afterwards, continue out the old Kilkenny road until the turn off for Milford and visit the Milford weir for a swim.
Rental: Numerous car rental companies operate out of Dublin Airport and the city centre. Do remember to familiarize yourself with Irish road rules, especially if you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road.
4. Guided Tours:
Duration:Usually a full day, including return.
Advantages: A hassle-free way to explore Kilkenny with the added benefit of a knowledgeable guide. These tours often include other stops, making the most of your day out.
Booking: Various tour companies operate from Dublin, offering day trips to Kilkenny. Check online reviews and compare itineraries to choose the best fit for your interests.
KILKENNY FROM BELFAST CITY
So, you’ve researched things to do in Kilkenny, but what about those must-see places on your way to Kilkenny. Journeying from the vibrant cityscape of Belfast to the medieval charm of Kilkenny is a journey through the tapestry of Ireland’s history, culture, and scenic beauty. While Belfast is in Northern Ireland and Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland, traveling between the two cities is straightforward. Here’s a handy guide to ensure your journey from Belfast to Kilkenny is both enjoyable and efficient.
1. By Train
Duration: Approximately 3.5 to 4.5 hours.
Where to Board: Belfast Central Station.
Route: Take a train from Belfast to Dublin Connolly Station. From Dublin, transfer to Heuston Station (via tram or taxi) and then board a train to Kilkenny.
Advantages: Comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi on most trains, and a scenic route that showcases the picturesque Irish countryside.
Booking: Tickets can be purchased online via Translink for the Belfast to Dublin journey and the Irish Rail website for the Dublin to Kilkenny segment.
2. By Bus:
Approximately 4 to 5 hours.
Belfast Europa Buscentre.
Often cheaper than train travel and offers direct routes without the need for transfers.
Several bus companies offer routes from Belfast to Kilkenny either directly or with a change in Dublin.
Bus Éireann and other private operators provide this service. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the bus station.
3. By Car:
Duration: Approximately 3 to 3.5 hours.
Route: : The primary route is the M1 motorway from Belfast to Dublin, then the M9 motorway from Dublin to Kilkenny
Scenic Route and Places to Visit between Belfast and Kilkenny.
Traveling by car from Belfast to Kilkenny takes you through a beautiful portion of Ireland, and there are many scenic and historically significant places to visit along the way. Here are five recommendations:
- Newgrange in County Meath: One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world.
- The Boyne Valley: Home to a plethora of historic sites including the Battle of the Boyne site and Trim Castle.
- Carlingford: Situated on the Cooley Peninsula, Carlingford is a coastal town with medieval streets, ancient buildings, and outdoor activities.
- Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary:This historic site boasts a complex of medieval buildings set against the backdrop of the Tipperary plains
- Kells in County Kilkenny: Before reaching Kilkenny, make a stop in Kells. It's a charming town with the historic Kells Priory, one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland.
The journey will present numerous picturesque towns, lovely landscapes, and hidden gems that showcase Ireland's beauty and history.
Advantages: Flexibility to travel at your own pace and explore other towns or attractions along the way.
Rental: Several car rental companies are available at Belfast International Airport or in the city centre. Remember to carry your driving license and familiarize yourself with driving on the left side.
4. Guided Tours:
Duration: Full day or multi-day trips.
Advantages: A hassle-free way to travel with the added knowledge of an experienced guide. Some tours may include other destinations, maximizing your Irish experience.
Booking: While less common than Dublin-based tours, there are companies offering guided tours from Belfast to Kilkenny. It’s best to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
KILKENNY FROM SHANNON
Nestled on Ireland's west coast, Shannon serves as a serene gateway to the wild beauty of the Shannon Estuary and the Cliffs of Moher. However, if you're seeking a taste of Ireland's medieval charm, a trip to Kilkenny, located in the heart of the country, should be on your list. This guide will help you navigate the picturesque journey from Shannon to the cobblestoned streets of Kilkenny.
1. By Train:
Duration: Approximately 3 to 4 hours.
Where to Board: While Shannon does not have its own railway station, the nearest one is in Limerick, a short 25-minute drive away.
Route: From Limerick, you'll board a train to Waterford, then transfer to a train to Kilkenny.
Advantages: Witness the lush Irish countryside from your window seat and enjoy amenities like free Wi-Fi on many routes.
Booking: Tickets can be bought from the Irish Rail website or directly at the Limerick train station. Advanced booking can save you money.
2. By Bus:
Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours.
Where to Board:Directly from Shannon Airport or from Shannon town.
Advantages: Bus routes may offer a more direct journey without the need for transfers.
Route:Various bus companies, including Bus Éireann, operate services from Shannon to Kilkenny, sometimes with a change in Limerick.
Booking:It's advisable to book tickets online or at the bus station for better rates and seat assurance.
3. By Car:
Duration: Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
Route: The most straightforward route is taking the M7 motorway towards Dublin and then the M9 motorway towards Waterford, exiting for Kilkenny.
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: Located just a short drive from Shannon, this 15th-century castle offers a glimpse into medieval Irish life.
- Lough Derg: This is one of Ireland’s largest lakes, offering scenic vistas and charming lakeside towns like Killaloe and Ballina.
- The Rock of Cashel: One of Ireland’s most iconic landmarks, this historic site boasts a collection of medieval buildings set atop a limestone hill.
- Jerpoint Abbey: Located near Thomastown, this well-preserved Cistercian abbey is known for its stone carvings, including a series of 12th to 13th-century tomb sculptures.
- Kells Priory:Before reaching Kilkenny, consider a detour to this remarkable Augustinian priory. Resembling a fortress more than a religious site, its extensive walls and towers make it one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland.
Advantages: Freedom to explore at your own pace, detour to attractions like the Rock of Cashel, and the ability to stop in quaint towns along the way.
Rental: Shannon Airport hosts multiple car rental agencies. Remember to drive on the left and familiarize yourself with Irish road signage.
4. Guided Tours:
Duration: Day trips or extended multi-day tours.
Advantages: Organized tours often come with added insights from knowledgeable guides and can encompass more destinations, ensuring a well-rounded experience.
Booking: While most tour operators focus on the more common routes from Dublin or Belfast, there are bespoke tours available from Shannon. Research and book in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Things to Note:
- Weather: Irish weather can be unpredictable. Pack an umbrella or raincoat, even if the day starts out sunny.
- Footwear: Kilkenny, with its historic streets and attractions, is best explored on foot. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Safe travels as you journey to the charming embrace of Kilkenny! Sláinte!