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Hey there traveler!
Have you had Killarney on your mind? You’re not alone! This is another really great place in Ireland that you should absolutely consider visiting.
Killarney is located in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a great small town atmosphere with a lot of accessible nature escapes.
If you visit Killarney, you’ll have access to many outdoor activities. Think boat trips on Killarney’s lakes, hikes in the mountains, or renting bikes and cycling through the Irish countryside.
And Killarney town itself is really lovely. Lots of pretty shops, friendly people, and fun pubs to visit.
So if you’re interested, let’s take a look at all the best things to do in Killarney, Ireland.
If you find yourself in Killarney and are looking to get out in nature, then head to Killarney National Park, Ireland’s oldest national park.
There is so, so much to do here! You will really need to plan ahead and decide what you want to do because there’s no way to get it all in.
If you’re into hiking, there are several walking trails with difficulty levels ranging from multi-access (optimal for individuals with reduced mobility and small children) to very difficult (experienced hikers). Check here for specifics on each trail level.
If water is more your thing, then opt for canoeing or kayaking.You can take a kayaking tour from Ross Castle along the Killarney Lakes, or kayak to Innisfallen Island.
You can also tour Killarney House & Gardens. Killarney House is the remaining part of an estate and its gardens dating back to the 1700s.
Overall, Killarney National Park is a really beautiful place that can’t be missed. Let’s take a closer look at some specific spots within the park to check out:
Exploring Ross Castle is a good choice while you’re in Killarney National Park. You’ll find it on the edge of Lough Leane, one of the three Lakes of Killarney. The castle was built in the late 15th century and has a lot of great history.
It’s very picturesque here. And if you’ve got a history lover in your group, don’t miss it. Ross Castle is also good for the kiddos, and multi-generational groups as well.
Torc Waterfall is within Killarney National Park as well. It’s of course a beautiful sight. There are multiple paths up and around Torc Mountain. But the waterfall is easily accessible from the car park (parking lot) if you don’t feel like hiking.
The waterfall is about 20 meters high (like 65 feet) and is at its best after a heavy rainfall. Obviously it’s tough to plan a trip around the weather, but it rains fairly often in Ireland so your chances seem good.
If you end up taking a Ring of Kerry tour, you’ll be able to stop for views and pics.
Muckross House is a 19th century Victorian mansion that you can tour (ticket info here) throughout most of the year.
It’s really lovely and well-maintained, and has had some pretty interesting visitors in its history (think Queen Victoria). It’s a popular attraction for tourists and rightly so.
Muckross Abbey was built for Franciscan friars in the middle 1400s. The well-preserved ruins are open to the public. And the graveyard on the grounds of the abbey is still in use to this day.
There are three lakes of Killarney. Lough Leane, the largest of the three, has Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle on its eastern shore.
The other two smaller ones are Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. There are also paths along these beautiful lakes for walking/hiking.
If you have anyone with limited mobility in your group, or if you just feel like taking it easy, you can take a boat ride with a guide to catch all the scenery without having to hike around it all.
And if you’re really into the view of the lakes, then you’ll love Ladies View. It’s a viewing spot along the Ring of Kerry that is often thought of as one of the best (if not the best) views of the lakes.
Supposedly this was named after Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting as this was their favorite view of the lake. It really is a beautiful view. So if you’re driving around the Ring of Kerry, you’ll love this stop.
Another great stop along the Ring of Kerry route is the Gap of Dunloe.
This is an absolutely gorgeous spot that all will enjoy! The Gap is a mountain pass that lies between two ranges (MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain)
It’s an excellent place for walking or cycling and taking as many pics as you can. This is an activity for most ability levels; it’s long but easy.
At 1038 meters, Carrauntoohil is Ireland’s highest mountain. This is more for the able-bodied adventurers.
The routes are labeled ‘strenuous’, and the trails are long. It’s definitely a well-reviewed activity though and the views are gorgeous.
If you and your group are up for it, get a guide and go for it!
Believe it or not, there are other things to do in Killarney besides hiking and biking everywhere. And my personal favorite of them is visiting a pub or two.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being in nature. But I also really love drinking and listening to live music. Ireland has this in spades, and Killarney is no exception to the rule.
There are a fair amount of pubs here. So you can take your pick!
Murphy’s Bar is a popular one, the Laurels is a good one too. On my most recent visit, I had a really good time at O’Donoghue Public House (lots of great traditional Irish music at this one).
And I visited the Shire, which is a Lord of the Rings themed bar and cafe. It’s cute and kitschy, and worth a stop for sure.
You can also visit the Killarney Brewing Company. Here you’ll find a variety of well-crafted micro brews. Check the site for booking a tour.
Keeping in line with the theme of drinking, the Killarney Wine Rooms is also a popular choice.
You’ll find The Wine Rooms at the Great Southern Killarney hotel. Here you can enjoy a robust wine selection as well as a good meal. The head sommelier has picked stellar wines from vineyards all over the world.
You can also enjoy a wine tasting with a well-crafted charcuterie plate.
**If wine isn’t your thing, make a reservation for a traditional afternoon tea. Served daily from 12:30-5pm, this tradition has been going strong since Vicorian times. Price is 27.50 Euros per person.
Another thing to do in town is visit St. Mary’s Cathedral. This is a beautiful, gothic style church. It was built in the late 1800s and designed by the architect who also worked on the palace of Westminster.
12. Enjoy a “hawk walk” at Killarney Falconry
All ages and abilities can participate in this unique experience.
The birds are trained by professional falconers. And you’ll learn all about the hawks and the craft in a one-on-one or small group experience.
13. Take a Jaunting Car Ride
You might be wondering what this even is.
A traditional jaunting car is Killarney’s answer to a horse and buggy ride with a charismatic driver who will share with you all kinds of fun stories and history of the area.
It’s a popular tourist attraction and for good reason.
Pony trekking is a different way to enjoy the Irish countryside.
There are a few establishments offering horse riding activities and tours. Muckross Riding Centre is a family run business that has horses and ponies.
They offer rides for experienced riders as well as beginners and welcome guests of all ages.
-Killarney National Park
Not only are there countless things to do in Killarney, but there are many places to stay in Killarney as well. Ranging from budget all the way to luxury:
If you’re on a tight budget, there are hostels available. If you’re looking for something cozy, think about checking out a family run B&B. And then there are a multitude of hotels available in a range of budgets.
What you’ll want to consider is where you want to stay. Is being in the center of town important to you? (If you haven’t rented a car, this may be worth considering.) Or would you prefer something a little more out of the way (Have you rented a car? Is a more isolated, naturey view important to you)?
I recently stayed at Killarney Towers Hotel and really loved it. The location is conveniently in the town center, my room was immaculate, and the staff was so friendly. I recommend it!
I recommend anywhere from 2-4 days depending on what you plan to accomplish on your visit.
If you want to visit everywhere listed above and not feel rushed, then 3-4 days for sure. If you’re just planning to stop by to check out some sights and are not interested too much in nature, then you could get by with 2 days.
Personally, on my last trip I was only there for 2 days. And I plan to stay longer next time because it wasn’t enough for me.
Well, Killarney and the surrounding area is super beautiful. It’s like jumping into a postcard.
There’s really a lot to do here. And it’s got a variety of activities that will appeal to many different traveling tastes.
If you’re thinking about a trip to Ireland, consider a stop in Killarney. You’ll love it.