High ropes at Castlecomer Discovery Park
Amid global health concerns and travel restrictions, an increasing number of people are planning a ‘staycation’ this Summer. Kilkenny, in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, offers a broad range of family activities from leisurely walks, picnics to adrenaline filled afternoons that are sure to satisfy all the ‘would-be’ travellers that plan to stay at home this year.
Here Visit Kilkenny, has listed 10 reasons for families to visit Kilkenny this year.
1. Castlecomer Discovery Park
For families who love an adrenalin filled day followed by a picnic, then Castlecomer Discovery Park is the ideal place. The 80-acre activity park features a wide range of exhilarating activities for all ages, from the fun and challenging tree-top walk high amongst the sycamore trees to archery and zip lines. For the younger children, there's a playground, an elf and fairy village, a giant bouncing net and a Junior Woodland Adventure Course where children navigate a series of low-risk challenges, balancing and steering their way through the obstacles.
2. Nore Valley Park
Set in Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny, Nore Valley Park is a family-run camping and caravan park as well as an activity centre and open farm with a variety of animals. Mobile homes and Lodges are available for rental. For children who adore animals, Nore Valley Park offer families an opportunity to bottle feed the baby lambs, or handle a small rabbit. Picnics are encouraged and a small on-site shop offers coffee and tea and home baked treats.
3. Kilkenny Castle Park & Playground
Kilkenny Castle is one of Ireland's most iconic and historic sites, year-round tours are available, and the parkland of the castle has 50 acres to explore. Kilkenny Castle Park provides the ideal spot for a picnic no matter how big the family are!! The park also has one of Kilkenny’s only outdoor cinemas which runs throughout the summer; woodland walks & a superb children’s playground with swings, slides, bridges and benches for adults too and is open until 8.30pm during the summer.
4. Dunmore Caves
Dunmore Caves is the perfect location to go cave exploring with the kids and is just a 10-minute drive outside the city. A series of limestone caves can be toured with a guide for as little as €13 for a family. The knowledgeable guides will fascinate young and old alike with the gory history of the caves. The caves boast wonderful examples of stalagmites and stalactites. The highlight of the tour comes when all the lights get switched off! It also has an Exhibition area for those who don’t wish to visit the dark depths of the caves!
Visit: www.heritageireland.ie/en/ south-east/dunmorecave/
5. Medieval Mile Museum
No visit to Kilkenny is complete without a trip to the Medieval Mile Museum in the converted St. Mary’s Church. Situated in the centre of the city and of the Mile, this is a wonderful place for families and group tours to experience life centuries ago in the city. The 45-minute guided tours are available from €12/€5 for adults/children, and the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events.
6. Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
The stunning Woodstock Gardens are located in the south east of Kilkenny just outside the picturesque village of Inistioge. The gardens, overlooking the River Nore Valley, offer visitors a wide variety of attractions and are a relaxing and beautiful environment in which to spend a day!
There are picnic tables around the gardens, a playground and an orienteering course for the more adventurous families. There is a €4 admission fee per car, payable on exit.
7. Kilkenny Cycling Tours
What better way to see the city while taking in some exercise than taking a guided cycling tour! Kilkenny Cycling Tours offer three guided cycling tours per day during the summer from customer’s hotels or a pre-arranged location in the city centre. The tour is approximately two hours and can be shortened or extended to suit all ages.
Bike and Hike involves cycling from Kilkenny City to scenic Bennettsbridge. The cycle is about 10km and takes approximately 45minutes. Self- guided tours are also available.
8. Glamping at Butterfly Valley Glamping
Butterfly Valley Glamping is a small, intimate glamping site located in the countryside, just outside the town of Thomastown in County Kilkenny. The site consists of a mix of glamping accommodation including Bell tents and Eco Pods set on wooden decks. Facilities include a fully equipped kitchen and dining area, toilet and shower facilities (including wheelchair accessible shower and toilet), covered BBQ area and campfire area.
Set in a beautiful location overlooking the woods and River Nore, the area has a number of activities nearby such as walking, cycling, canoeing, horse riding and fishing.
9. National Reptile Zoo
Meet some of the world’s rarest and most unusual animals at Ireland’s only reptile zoo! Situated in Kilkenny City, the National Reptile Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of these amazing creatures and their habitats. Open 10am to 6pm, seven days a week, year round, the zoo has over 50 exhibits, Animal Encounter Zone, Nocturnal Realm, Media Room, Education Rooms, Coffee Shop, Souvenir Shop and Play Area, we can keep the entire family entertained and educated all at once! When it comes to looking for things to do, the Reptile Zoo is the obvious answer!
10. Kilkenny City Road Train
All aboard! The Kilkenny City Road Train Tour is a wonderful way to see all the historical sites and points of interest in Kilkenny city. Departing from Kilkenny Castle you will be taken on a historical and fascinating tour with a full commentary of detailed insights, facts, and folklore of the medieval city. Rated as the number 1 Tour it has also seen it been awarded the "Certificate of Excellence" by Tripadvisor.com, which is awarded based on consistently earning great reviews from travellers!