Sitting pretty on the River Nore, Kilkenny is located in Southern Ireland's lesser-trodden province of Leinster. Nicknamed "the Marble City", thanks to its history of black marble exportation during the 1800s, modern Kilkenny is more often referred to as 'the craft capital of Ireland'. With that in mind, we suggest skipping past the tourist trails around the 12th-century Kilkenny Castle and instead making a beeline for the community's thriving art scene. Tucked down narrow cobblestone streets, you'll find a treasure trove of independent craft stores and pioneering galleries.
This is a town easily explored on foot, but we'd also recommend checking out Kilkenny Cycling Tours. Covering 10km of ground on two wheels, you'll glide past iconic landmarks and hidden gems and veer off down back streets you didn't even know existed.
Keen to check out some local art? Make a pit stop at the National Design & Craft Gallery, where exhibitions are often a celebration of Irish crafts. Insider tip: there's a section on the gallery's website dedicated to delivering virtual exhibitions straight to your screen.
Where to stay?
Rest your head at Langtons House Hotel. This stylish, 35-key guesthouse has served as one of Kilkenny's best-loved landmarks since 1935. With a delightful bar-restaurant and a newly added theatre at their disposal, guests might find it a challenge to venture beyond the hotel's front door.
Where to go for breakfast?
Café la Coco. Slotted down Lower Patrick Street, this all-day feasting spot is at its best at breakfast. To swerve the snake-like queues, come for 10am. That way, you can bag an upstairs seat, before ordering a stack of bacon and maple pancakes. If the breakfast sourdough sandwich is on the menu, order it.
And for dinner…
Forest-green banquettes, fuschia-pink LED lights and blackwashed brick walls await at the Butcher. Just a five-minute stroll from the castle, its menu is stuffed with mouthwatering seaks and platters of freshly caught fish. Our order? The cowboy steak - best scoffed with a generous drizzle of the green peppercorn sauce. Be aware: the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and only operates on an evening basis, which may work in your favour if you're looking for a good spot to sip a cocktail or two with your meal.
Who to take with you
That friend who somehow manages to convince you to go out on a weeknight. They'll enjoy kicking back with a pint of Guinness at one of Kilkenny's traditional boozers.
When to go
Plan to be in town on the weekend of 1-3 July, when you can weave the legendary Longitude Festival into your stay. Sure, it takes place in Dublin's Marlay Park, but, having been festival-deprived for so long, we'd say the drive is totally worth it.
Essentials to pack
Visiting Ireland comes with the possibility of getting caught in the odd downpour. Pack this Kingsman chestnut wood-handle umbrella and stay dry in style.
How to get there
Fly into Dublin, from where the train journey to Kilkenny takes just shy of four hours.