Imagine you’re journeying to the heart of Ireland, where Celtic history and modern creativity meet. You’ve just set foot in the charming town of Kells. Its ancient monastic roots and the vibrant local culture make it a must-visit destination. If you’re thinking of things to do in Kells, prepare to have your itinerary filled with a fascinating mix of attractions.
Popular Tourist Attractions in Kells
The Kells Round Tower
Stepping off the main street, one of the first things you’ll notice is the majestic Round Tower. This historic structure, like an ancient sentinel, still watches over the town from its hilltop location. A marvel of stonework, the Round Tower is a testament to Kells’ monastic history.
Kells High Crosses
Visiting Kells without experiencing the grandeur of the High Crosses would be a miss. These towering sandstone crosses, intricately carved with biblical scenes, stand as reminders of Ireland’s early Christian era. With each one carrying a unique story, they offer a fascinating dive into history.
St. Colmcille’s House
St. Colmcille’s House, a stone’s throw away from the town centre, is another historical wonder. This oratory is a beautifully preserved example of an early Irish church. Its striking architecture and serene ambiance make it a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling town.
Headfort House and Gardens
The grand Headfort House, with its elegant gardens, is the epitome of Irish aristocratic life. The house, featuring Robert Adam’s neoclassical designs, and the tranquil gardens offer a stunning combination of architectural beauty and natural serenity.
Top Things to do in Kells
Explore Kells Heritage Trail
For those who love history and scenic strolls, the Kells Heritage Trail is a must-do. The trail winds through the town, passing key historical sites. Each step takes you deeper into the town’s rich past.
Attend the Hay Festival Kells
If you’re in town around June, do not miss the Hay Festival Kells, an international literature festival that transforms the town into a vibrant cultural hub. You’ll be amazed at the range of workshops, performances, and book readings.
Visit the Market Cross
The Market Cross, located in the heart of the town, is a bustling hub of activity. Experience the local atmosphere, browse through a range of shops, and maybe even pick up a souvenir or two.
Wander Around Girley Bog
Girley Bog, a natural reserve just outside of Kells, is a haven for nature lovers. Its pristine trails, diverse flora and fauna, and serene views make for an unforgettable adventure.
Must-See Places in Kells
St. Columba’s Church
Located in the town centre, St. Columba’s Church, with its stunning stained-glass windows and peaceful atmosphere, is a must-visit. The church houses relics that testify to Kells’ religious significance.
Kells Monastic Site
The Kells Monastic Site, home to the Round Tower and High Crosses, is a captivating glimpse into the town’s spiritual past. Walking around the site feels like stepping back in time.
The Spire of Lloyd
A short drive from the town centre takes you to the Spire of Lloyd, an 18th-century “inland lighthouse.” The views from the top are worth every step of the climb.
Town of 1000 Welcomes
Don’t miss the unique experience of the ‘Town of 1000 Welcomes.’ This initiative by locals offers you a chance to enjoy genuine Irish hospitality over a cup of tea or coffee.
Best Places to Visit in Kells for First-Time Visitors
Book of Kells Exhibition
As a first-time visitor, make sure to visit the Book of Kells Exhibition at the local library. It provides insights into one of Ireland’s most famous cultural treasures, originally crafted in this very town.
Headfort Golf Club
For golf enthusiasts or those who fancy a leisurely outdoor activity, the Headfort Golf Club is a must-visit. The club’s exquisite course provides a delightful and challenging golfing experience.
Kells Courthouse Tourism and Cultural Hub
The Kells Courthouse, recently converted into a cultural hub, is another must-see. Here, you can get a detailed introduction to Kells’ rich history and vibrant contemporary culture.
Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival
Experience the rustic charm of Kells by attending the Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival, a celebration of Ireland’s agricultural heritage. First-time visitors will be enamored by the vibrant parade, vintage machinery, and local music.
Best Places to Visit in Kells for Families
Experience an age-old Irish tradition with your family at the revived Tailteann Games. These ancient athletic games offer a host of activities and spectacles that will delight kids and adults alike.
Take a trip to Causey Farm, a working farm that offers fun and interactive tours. It’s a great way for children to learn about farm life and meet a range of animals.
For a family day out in nature, Mullagheaun Forest is an excellent choice. With its enchanting woodland trails and picnic spots, it promises a delightful adventure for the whole family.
Visiting the fully operational Martry Mill is a unique educational experience. Here, families can learn about the traditional process of grinding grains into flour.
Best Places to Visit in Kells for Couples
Vanilla Pod Restaurant
For a romantic dinner, head to the Vanilla Pod Restaurant. With its charming atmosphere and excellent menu, it promises a memorable dining experience.
Enjoy a peaceful stroll with your partner in the tranquil Balrath Woods. The woodland trails and serene pond make for a perfect romantic escape.
The Headfort Spa
Indulge in a spa day at the Headfort Spa. Their luxurious treatments will leave you feeling pampered and relaxed.
Solstice Arts Centre
Take in a show at the Solstice Arts Centre, which hosts a range of performances from theatre to music. The cultural buzz of the centre makes it a perfect date night spot.
Best Places to Visit in Kells on a Budget
Kells’ Street Art
Kells’ vibrant street art scene is a free, open-air gallery. Just stroll through the town, and you’ll encounter beautiful murals adding a splash of colour to the streetscape.
Blackwater River Walk
The Blackwater River Walk is another budget-friendly activity. Enjoy the serene environment and wildlife along the river – it won’t cost you a penny.
Free Music Sessions
Head to local pubs like The Headfort Arms or The Railway Bar, where you can often catch free live music sessions.
Kells Municipal Public Library
Visit the Kells Municipal Public Library, where you can explore local history and literature at no cost.
Best Day Trips from Kells
Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an easy day trip from Kells. The site, dating back to the Stone Age, offers an incredible glimpse into Ireland’s ancient past.
Dublin, with its vibrant city life and cultural hotspots, is another great day trip. Explore the history-rich Dublin Castle, sample a pint at the Guinness Storehouse, or stroll around the beautiful Phoenix Park.
Visit Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Its impressive size, preserved condition, and historical significance make it worth the trip.
The Hill of Tara
Another historical site within a short drive from Kells is the Hill of Tara, an ancient ceremonial site that was once the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
Hidden Gems in Kells
One of Kells’ best-kept secrets is the Kells TypeTrail, a unique art project that celebrates typography and design. As you walk around the town, keep an eye out for these creative installations.
Maudlin Cemetery, though seemingly unassuming, is a serene and historical spot often overlooked by tourists. The old stone ruins and ancient graves impart a sense of tranquility.
Oldcastle, a charming village on the outskirts of Kells, is a hidden gem. It’s home to Loughcrew Cairns, a collection of ancient passage tombs that are lesser-known but equally fascinating as Newgrange.
Bective Abbey, a Cistercian abbey situated on the banks of the River Boyne, is another under-the-radar spot. Despite its ruined state, the abbey retains a hauntingly beautiful charm.
Off-The-Beaten-Path Places in Kells
Venture a bit off the beaten path to Knockdrin Castle, an imposing Gothic revival castle set amidst vast grounds.
Loughcrew Adventure Centre
For a fun-filled day, head to the Loughcrew Adventure Centre. This offbeat location offers a host of activities, including ziplining, rock climbing, and obstacle courses.
The Ballinlough Castle Gardens
The stunning gardens of Ballinlough Castle, usually overlooked by tourists, are an offbeat spot worth visiting. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes, beautiful lake, and diverse flora.
Slightly off the main tourist routes, Fore Abbey’s ancient ruins and intriguing ‘Seven Wonders’ make it a fascinating detour.
Best Places to Eat in Kells
The Bective Restaurant
The Bective Restaurant is renowned for its mouthwatering dishes and cozy ambiance. Try their locally sourced steak or fresh seafood.
Zucconi’s Restaurant, a family-run establishment, offers delicious Italian fare. Their homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza are must-tries.
Cafe Therese, located in the town centre, is perfect for a quick bite or a relaxing coffee break. Their scrumptious pastries and hearty sandwiches are delightful.
Tom Sheridan’s Bar and Restaurant
Tom Sheridan’s offers a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Irish dishes. Their lamb stew and fish & chips come highly recommended.
Must-See Sporting Teams in Kells
Kells Rugby Football Club
Catch a match of the Kells Rugby Football Club, a vibrant part of the local sporting scene. Their energetic games offer a taste of Irish sportsmanship.
Kells Handball Club
Experience the unique sport of Handball at the Kells Handball Club. Whether you’re a fan or a newbie to the sport, their games are thrilling to watch.
Gaeil Colmcille Gaelic Athletic Association
No visit to Kells would be complete without experiencing Gaelic football at the Gaeil Colmcille GAA. The local passion for this traditional Irish sport is palpable.
Kells Anglers Association
If you’re a fishing enthusiast, the Kells Anglers Association offers must-see fishing competitions on the River Blackwater.
Night-Life in Kells
The Lantern Lounge
The Lantern Lounge is a popular nightspot in Kells. Its lively ambiance, great music, and a wide range of beverages make it a perfect place to let your hair down.
For a more traditional experience, head to Ryan’s Bar. The friendly staff, live traditional music sessions, and local patrons make it a memorable night out.
The Vintage Lounge
Experience the sophisticated side of Kells’ nightlife at The Vintage Lounge. Their curated selection of wines and cocktails, coupled with a cozy atmosphere, makes for a refined evening.
The Silver Tankard
A favorite among locals, The Silver Tankard is a classic Irish pub. Enjoy a pint, friendly banter, and occasional live music at this cozy watering hole.
Conclusion – Things to do in kells
As our journey through Kells comes to an end, it’s clear that this enchanting town, steeped in history and pulsating with local charm, has something to offer every visitor. From ancient monastic sites to vibrant cultural festivals, serene nature trails to bustling local pubs, Kells encapsulates the essence of the Irish spirit. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, you’ll find an array of things to do in Kells. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure into the heart of Ireland. See you in Kells!
FAQ - Things to do in Kells
Kells is best known for its rich monastic history, symbolized by the Round Tower and High Crosses, and as the original home of the famous Book of Kells. The town is also renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, with the annual Hay Festival Kells being a major highlight.
Absolutely! Kells is a treasure trove of historical sites, natural beauty, vibrant cultural events, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re interested in history, arts, outdoor activities, or just looking to soak up some local charm, Kells offers an array of attractions.
A full day would give you a good introduction to Kells, allowing you to visit key historical sites and enjoy the local atmosphere. However, if you want to experience everything the town and surrounding area have to offer, consider spending a few days.
Kells offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Irish fare to international cuisine. Some of the top choices include The Bective Restaurant, Zucconi’s Restaurant, Cafe Therese, and Tom Sheridan’s Bar and Restaurant.
Yes, Kells is a great destination for families. With attractions like the Causey Farm, Mullagheaun Forest, and Tailteann Games, as well as various family-friendly restaurants and accommodation options, Kells offers plenty of activities for families to enjoy together.
Kells’ convenient location makes it a great base for exploring more of Ireland. Popular day trips include Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Dublin, Ireland’s bustling capital, Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, and the Hill of Tara, an ancient ceremonial site.