Top 10 Towns to Visit in Ireland’s Southeast

View of Athy mooring area with Castle and bridge in background

Discovering the Charms of the Southeast

Ireland’s southeast is a region brimming with rich history, picturesque landscapes, and warm hospitality. From the medieval allure of Kilkenny City to the serene beauty of Carlow Town and the quaint charm of Athy, this part of the Emerald Isle offers a delightful mix of experiences. Here’s a guide to the top 10 towns to visit in the southeast of Ireland.

1. Carlow Town: A Riverside Retreat

Nestled along the River Barrow, Carlow Town exudes tranquillity and charm. The Carlow County Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past, while the Carlow Visual Arts Centre showcases contemporary Irish art. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank, explore the historic Carlow Cathedral, Carlow Castle and savour local flavours in the town’s delightful cafes and restaurants. If spending a day or two in County Carlow, check out our Over 100 Things To Do In Carlow

2. Waterford: Viking Heritage and Crystal Elegance

Waterford is a must-visit town in the southeast. One of Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford boasts a rich Viking heritage and is famous for its exquisite crystal. Explore the Viking Triangle, visit the Waterford Museum of Treasures, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship at the House of Waterford Crystal. The city’s lively waterfront and cultural festivals add to its allure.

3. Thomastown: Artisanal Haven

Known for its thriving arts and crafts scene, Thomastown is a haven for artisans and creatives. The historic Jerpoint Abbey is a highlight, and the town’s charming streets are dotted with galleries and craft studios. Enjoy a scenic walk along the River Nore and savour the local produce at one of Thomastown’s artisanal cafes. For inspiration on your visit to this beautiful town, have a look at our Tourist attractions and things to do in Thomastown, Kilkenny

4. New Ross: Maritime History and JFK Homage

New Ross, situated on the River Barrow, is a town with a strong maritime history. Visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience, a replica of a 19th-century emigrant vessel. The town is also home to the Kennedy Homestead, ancestral home of the Kennedy family, where you can explore the visitor centre dedicated to the legacy of President John F. Kennedy’s Irish roots.

Night photo of Whites Castle reflected in the river Barrow

5. Athy: Where History Meets the River

Athy, situated on the River Barrow, is a town steeped in history and natural beauty. See the impressive White’s Castle, a 14th-century fortress that offers insights into Athy’s medieval past. Take a scenic walk along the riverbanks or enjoy a boat trip on the Barrow. Athy is also renowned for its vibrant community events, including the Shackleton Autumn School, celebrating the life of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who hails from the town. While visiting this picturesque town, check out some our recommendations on Things to do in Athy – 2024

6. Enniscorthy: Castle Views and Rebellion

Enniscorthy, with its impressive Enniscorthy Castle overlooking the town, offers a perfect blend of history and literature. Explore the 13th-century castle, delve into the town’s 1798 Rebellion history at the National 1798 Rebellion Centre, or visit the close by birthplace of renowned Irish writer, John Banville.

7. Graiguenamanagh: Riverside Retreat

Tucked away on the banks of the River Barrow, Graiguenamanagh is a charming town surrounded by lush landscapes. Enjoy a scenic boat trip on the river, explore the medieval Duiske Abbey, and take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque riverbanks. The town’s welcoming atmosphere and historic sites make it a hidden gem in the southeast. With loads to see and do, have a look at our blog post Tourist attractions and things to do in Graiguenamanagh

Blue barge moored at quay on river with bridge and mountain in the background.


8. Bunclody: Golf and Gardens

Bunclody, located on the border of Counties Carlow and Wexford, offers a delightful mix of outdoor activities and natural beauty. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club, while nature lovers can explore the nearby Huntington Castle and Gardens. The serene countryside and warm hospitality make Bunclody a relaxing retreat.

9. Carrick-on-Suir: Riverside Romance

Nestled along the River Suir, Carrick-on-Suir is a town brimming with historic charm. Explore the Tudor-era Ormond Castle, stroll through the charming streets lined with Georgian architecture, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the river. Carrick-on-Suir is a haven for history buffs and those seeking a tranquil escape.

10. Kilkenny City: The Medieval Marvel

Known as the Marble City, Kilkenny is a medieval gem that seamlessly blends history with modern vibrancy. The iconic Kilkenny Castle, with its majestic gardens, is a must-visit. Wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the city, explore the medieval cathedrals, learn of Alice Kyteler and Petronilla de Meath and indulge in the lively arts and crafts scene. Don’t forget to catch a performance at the Kilkenny Arts Festival if you’re visiting in the summer. In inspiration in this historic city, check out Things to do in Kilkenny

Ireland’s Southeast Towns

In conclusion, the southeast of Ireland is a treasure trove of experiences, from the medieval allure of Kilkenny City to the riverside retreats of Carlow or Athy. Each town has its unique charm, blending history, culture, and natural beauty to create an unforgettable journey through Ireland’s enchanting southeast.

Red passenger boat passing the Home Rule Club in Kilkenny city

25th June 2024


Clifford Reid

Written by Clifford Reid


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