Kilkenny is a pocket-size city that packs a lot of punch into its medieval streets. Twinkling with Irish charm, you’ll come to the ‘Marble City’ for its staggering architecture, and find yourself extending your stay thanks to its awesome culture.
But even though Kilkenny is Ireland’s smallest city, deciding where to stay in Kilkenny can still prove challenging.
The neighborhoods do vary rather a lot, in terms of attractions, nightlife, and accommodation in Kilkenny. This is why we’ve compiled this guide to Kilkenny’s best neighborhoods; to help you find the right hotel for you.
So, read on through our summaries to discover the city’s top 4 areas to stay. Make sure that you find somewhere that suits your budget and travel preferences.
Let’s get started with the best areas to stay in Kilkenny.
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Kilkenny
- Where to stay in Kilkenny the first time – Central Kilkenny
- Where to stay in Kilkenny on a budget – Macdonagh Junction
- Best neighborhood in Kilkenny for families – Thomastown
- Best area to stay in Kilkenny for nightlife – Rose Inn Street
- Take a tour of Kilkenny Castle and explore the riverside gardens
- Clamber atop the Round Tower at said cathedral once you get there!
- Let the kids run riot at Kilkenny Castle Playground
Table of Contents
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are the best places to stay in Kilkenny.
Best Hostel in Kilkenny – Kilkenny Tourist Hostel
This hostel has scooped up praise from travelers from around the world! The location is super central, staff are friendly, and the facilities are top class.
You can prepare your own meals in the shared kitchen and share stories with fellow travelers around the fireplace. They have dorms and private rooms available.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Kilkenny – Garden Studio
A short walk from the Medieval Mile, this minimalistic garden studio is a kooky little place to call home for a few nights! The gracious host provides coffee and a coffeemaker plus breakfast items.
There’s a mini-fridge, Wi-Fi, plus free, secure parking. Sit back with breakfast or a glass of wine on the outdoor patio!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Kilkenny – Zuni Hotel
This awesome hotel in Kilkenny is central and within easy access of the railway station, top attractions and nearby nightlife. Furthermore, the rate includes a delicious breakfast!
They have a number of rooms available including honeymoon suites. It’s a modestly sized hotel, with a homely feel in its chic rooms.View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Kilkenny
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Rose Inn Street
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Life in the smallest city in the Republic of Ireland heavily revolves around the city center. It’s where the bulk of the attractions are, including the swoon-worthy old Medieval architecture.
Pop over the bridge and once on the east side of the River Nore, you’ve got slightly less pretty but extremely functional places to stay, and a decent number of shopping opportunities.
Kilkenny’s neighborhoods stretch out into the wider county around the city. More like suburbs, these plots offer a slice of Irish country living. There are plenty of hiking trails through these bonny hills, forestry and ancient ruins to get your blood flowing!
So now, where to stay in Kilkenny?
If you’re looking for where to stay in Kilkenny your first time, stay in the walkable Central Kilkenny. That way you can nip to as many museums and landmarks as you like, and make it to the pub in time for a happy hour pint of Guinness.
Alternatively, Macdonagh Junction is a short walk away just over St. John’s Bridge, and is the best neighborhood to stay in Kilkenny on a budget.
Drive around 30 minutes southeast of Central Kilkenny and you’ll get to the village community of Thomastown, which has some excellent accommodation options for families. If you’re looking for where to stay in Kilkenny with kids, look no further.
Ireland is renowned for its vivacious nightlife, and Rose Inn Street delivers the goods. Certainly, this is definitely the best area to stay in Kilkenny for party animals!
4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Kilkenny
Now, let’s take a look, in detail, at the 4 best neighborhoods to stay in Kilkenny. They’re each a little different, depending on the type of experience you’re after.
Central Kilkenny covers the west banks of the River Nore which curves its way through the city center. This neighborhood is where you will find the juiciest historical sites (including the castle!), as well as lively inns and pubs.
We recommend Central Kilkenny for those looking for the best area to stay in Kilkenny to see all the major sites by day, and soak up the awesome Irish nightlife.
Central Kilkenny is walkable, you’ll not need to worry about splurging on taxis or checking bus timetables!
Things to See and Do in Central Kilkenny:
– Take a tour of Kilkenny Castle and explore the riverside gardens
– Wander the Medieval Mile trail from the castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral – do it solo or join a guided walk for all the history tidbits
– Clamber atop the Round Tower at said cathedral once you get there!
– Let the kids run riot at Kilkenny Castle Playground
– Visit Ireland’s oldest brewery, Smithwick’s, and sample the goods
– Cycle or walk along the River Nore
– Nurse a Guinness and catch live music at the supposedly haunted Kyteler’s Inn
– Visit The Tholsel, an 18th-century toll gate now used as Kilkenny City Hall and a popular spot for buskers
– Go upmarket at the Marble City Bar and Tea Rooms
– Visit the beautiful Rothe House & Garden, a restored house from 1594
– Explore the St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum, housed in a 13th-century church
– Browse local handicrafts at the National Design & Craft Gallery
Best Hostel in Central Kilkenny – Macgabhainns Backpackers Hostel
You’ll love all the freebies at this friendly hostel – they provide free breakfast, Wi-Fi, free-flowing tea and coffee, free parking, and a free city map. They have a barbecue in the garden for guests to use, an ultra-comfy lounge and a nice big kitchen.
A great hostel in Kilkenny to make some new friends!View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Central Kilkenny – Wellington House
This tasteful, central apartment can accommodate up to 4 guests. It’s kitted out with a full kitchen so you can cook your own meals and relax in the lounge.
The apartment makes getting around the main sights of the city a breeze, and your host is highly rated by past guests.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Central Kilkenny – Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel
This hotel in Central Kilkenny has plenty of exciting perks to make your stay extra special! There is a large indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and gym to make use of, and a restaurant on the premises.
With a 4-star rating, the hotel rates are extremely reasonable and the location is excellent.View on Booking.com
Macdonagh Junction is a central neighborhood, over the river from Central Kilkenny. It is well-positioned for easy and quick access to the central hub, but hotel options are much cheaper.
That’s why Macdonagh Junction is our pick for where to stay in Kilkenny on a budget.
Another perk of Macdonagh Junction is that it is in an ideal position for getting to and from the train and bus station!
Things to See and Do in Macdonagh Junction:
– Check out the remains of Maudlin Castle (Caisleán Mhaidilín) which was part of a 16th-century hospital
– Get educated on Irish whiskey at the Dylan Whiskey Bar – ask the bartenders to help you pick
– Pop into local art galleries, the Kilkenny Art Gallery and Crawford Art Gallery, to support local artists
– Meet the exotic residents of the National Reptile Zoo, covering snakes, lizards and even crocodiles! You can even hold one of the scaly creatures if you dare
– If you’re traveling with little ones, take them to the Playstation or Kbowl for playtime and bowling
– Check out some of the local walking trails just north of the area, such as the Jenkinstown Loop or Freshford Loop which take you on a journey through the lush Irish country landscapes
Best Hostel in Macdonagh Junction – Kilkenny City Hostel
A stone’s throw from the old center of town, this is a great spot for backpackers to rest and make new travel buddies. The hostel provides a free breakfast, hot drinks, and Wi-Fi. Towels can be hired.
The hostel has been renovated recently so everything still feels spanking clean and new.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Macdonagh Junction – Classy 2 bed 2 bath apartment in Heart of City Centre
This brilliant apartment is suitable for a couple, family or group of friends and has lots of space at a great price. It’s very clean and kitted out with a top-notch kitchen for prepping your own meals, or ordering a takeaway!
Rooms are plush and comfy, with two modern bathrooms.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Macdonagh Junction – Celtic House B&B
This family-run bed and breakfast only has 4 bedrooms so it’s a quiet, chilled place to lay your head. Rooms are comfortably prepared and they have options for families or those traveling as a small group.
Breakfast is included in the rate and you can hire a bicycle from reception.View on Booking.com
Thomastown is a large, rural suburb 18 km south of Kilkenny. At its heart, is a small village-like hub of eateries, bars and stores. The River Nore flows through the centre, creating a pleasant, riverside ambience.
Thomastown has its own train station for quick access to Central Kilkenny. It’s worth noting that it would be beneficial to have a car to explore this neighborhood, as many of the most interesting attractions are slightly further afield.
Due to the peaceful surroundings and bucolic atmosphere, Thomastown is our recommendation for where to stay in Kilkenny for families.
Things to See and Do in Thomastown:
– Explore the ruins of the Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey, a relic of the 12th century, and the attached Jerpoint Park
– See the glassblowers in action at Jerpoint Glass Studio and pick up a souvenir to take home
– Pick up some fresh trout at the Goatsbridge Trout Farm to cook in your Air BnB – you can even take a tour
– Relax in the Camphill Watergarden
– Check out the local hiking trails, try the Brandon Hill Loop if you’re in moderate shape!
– Potter around the quaint coffee shops and eateries in the center of the neighborhood, such as the Blueberry Cafe and the Riverside Cafe
– Scoff chocolates from the Truffle Fairy
– Grab dinner and a brew at one of the pubs along the riverfront
– Take a stroll along the River Nore at dusk
– Hire some bicycles and connect to the East Kilkenny Cycle Route which passes through the neighborhood
Best Airbnb in Thomastown – Beautiful B&B in the Thomastown Countryside
This lovely country house is just outside the center of Thomastown. The hosts have three rooms available, so can be rented by a solo traveler or a family can book all three.
The hosts live at the property but give their guests privacy. An Irish breakfast is provided to guests daily!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Thomastown – The Tower House B&B
Right in the centre of Thomastown, this small guest house is within walking distance to the train station and local eateries. Rooms are comfortable made up, and the building has a special rustic charm – plus ample outdoor space.
Family rooms are available and the rate includes breakfast and free Wi-Fi.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Thomastown – Mount Juliet Estate Manor House
This grand, 5-star property is as luxurious on the inside as you might expect! There is an indoor swimming pool plus a separate one for children.
There is also a sauna and gym, spa, and babysitting services to relieve parents! Rooms are stylishly appointed, and the property has gorgeous rural views.View on Booking.com
Kilkenny is an awesome city for nightlife. Pubs and bars are sprinkled throughout the city, but you’ll discover that the lion’s share of the after-hours joints are on Rose Inn Street.
This runs from the western bank of St. John’s Bridge until it becomes Patrick Street. Venues serve food, drinks and usually have live Irish trad music throughout the week.
As Kilkenny is a popular destination for Irish tourists and bachelor/bachelorette parties (or, stag and hen nights!), the pubs along Rose Inn Street can get pretty boisterous particularly at weekends.
In that case, Rose Inn Street accommodation is ideal for night-owls who want to party late. However, maybe choose a hotel elsewhere if you want to get your beauty sleep.
Things to See and Do in Rose Inn Street:
– Start your night at the top-rated Matt The Millers, then bar-hop your way southwards – don’t skip Syd Harkin’s Pub!
– Check out the sleek Left Bank, a renovated Bank of Ireland branch
– Ward off the hangover by grabbing a late-night burger from Abrakebabra
– Recover from your big night out with a nutritious brunch at Cafe La Coco
– Kilkenny is known to have more than its fair share of wayward ghouls and spirits; spook yourself out on a ghost walk which take place daily around 8 pm
– Take the last city tour with the Kilkenny sightseeing train, it usually leaves around 6.30 pm from the castle!
Best Airbnb in Rose Inn Street – Townhouse in the centre of Kilkenny
A lovely house that is perfect for solo or couple travelers with a spare single bed if needed! There’s a modest little terrace to relax on, or stick to the couch and cozy up around the fireplace.
A brief stroll away from the central attractions and nightlife, it’s a winner.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Rose Inn Street – Lanigan’s Hostel
Half hostel, half pub – pop downstairs and you’re in one of Kilkenny’s legendary drinking haunts! Choose to start your day with a hearty Irish breakfast, or order a packed lunch from the pub to take with you on your sightseeing days.
Rooms are ideal if you’re seeking a budget hotel in Kilkenny.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Rose Inn Street – Hibernian House
This charming hotel in Rose Inn Street includes breakfast in the rate and make you feel at home. All your amenities are included, Wi-Fi is complimentary and you’re within walking distance of the nearby restaurants and pubs.
Furthermore, there’s a tour desk to take the stress out of planning adventures!View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Kilkenny
And that’s the craic on Kilkenny, Ireland’s much-loved microcity! This friendly and energetic city has so much to delight any type of traveler.
It’s the awesome spot to start your travels through Ireland, or take some time to recharge after a few days in Dublin.
We hope our guide to where to stay in Kilkenny helps you narrow down the best neighborhood for you.
To recap our Kilkenny neighborhood guide, we recommend that first-time visitors and culture vultures stay in Central Kilkenny. If you’re traveling with kids or looking to get your fix of the great outdoors, head down to Thomastown for bucolic bliss.
Backpackers on a budget will favor the rates in Macdonagh Junction. Meanwhile, night-owls can stay up as late as they like on Rose Inn Street.
To conclude, our overall top pick for where to stay in Kilkenny is the Zuni Hotel – a unique little indie hotel which puts you in easy access to all the best parts of town.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.