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Where is Killarney, Ireland?
Killarney is a charming town located in the heart of County Kerry, Ireland. It is a prime spot along Ireland’s breath-taking tourist trail, the Wild Atlantic Way, with many tourists also using the location as a base for their travels around the Ring of Kerry.
With its mountain ranges, valleys, lakes and coastline as well as its vibrant, nineteenth-century buildings, a stunning national park, historic landmarks and a range of shopping locations, Killarney really does have something for everyone! Not sure where to start? Let our list of the top 10 Killarney points of interest be your guide!
A major tourist hub, Killarney has three times the number of visitors than locals (who are extremely warm and welcoming to guests). Killarney tends to be crowded during summer months. Bear in mind that accommodation rates are lower during spring and autumn, both great times to visit the town!
Killarney can be reached by car and is accessible from Ireland’s major cities, such as Cork and Dublin, via bus or train.
How far is Killarney from Dublin? The journey is just over three hours on the Dublin to Killarney/Killarney to Dublin train. The journey takes nearly double the time by bus.
How far is Killarney from Cork? The journey takes about an hour and a half on the Cork to Killarney/Killarney to Cork train, and around the same time by bus.
Kerry Airport is also located 13km from Killarney town centre.
For those without a car, Killarney itself is easy to get around, either on foot or by using one of the many tours operating in the area.
There are tons of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to cosier B&Bs.
There are tons of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to cosier B&Bs.
Some hotel favourites include The Ross, Murphy’s of Killarney, The Killarney Royal and The Brehon. Check out The Garden’s B&B, Killarney Inn, Greenmount B&B and the Old Weir Lodge, if you would prefer a B&B stay.
Related Article: Top 10 Things Associated with Ireland
What to visit?
- Killarney National Park
Where is Killarney National Park? The first national park in Ireland, Killarney National Park borders the town.
Visitors to Killarney can enjoy the park’s 103 km² of lakes, forest and mountains in a number of ways. Simply purchase a map from the Killarney tourist office and walk the many park trails. Alternatively, take the hour-long guided walk that departs from the funeral parlour opposite St Mary’s Cathedral at 11a.m. each morning. It is also possible to drive through the park.
As well as exploring the park itself by foot or on wheels, it is possible to rent kayaks and discover its beautiful lakes (more on those later). You may also want to grab a bite from Jam Café, or even try your hand at falconry!
Killarney National Park boasts a wealth of notable locations, such as Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall and Muckross House.
Ross Castle is a 15th century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane. It is open seasonally for tours of its interior, which is decorated to reflect castle life in the 1400s. However, its exterior and delightful views can be enjoyed, free of charge.
Torc Waterfall can be accessed via a number of Killarney National Park’s trails. 80 foot tall, the waterfall is most impressive during or after heavy rainfall.
Get to Ladies View early during the summer months to avoid the rush and find a parking space. Enjoy the view and a coffee on the elevated seating of the Ladies View Café.
- Muckross House
Although Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens are technically the same location (Muckross House is located inside the park), the stately mansion and vast gardens deserve to be a point of interest in their own right!
Built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and Mary Balfour Herbert, Muckross House continued to exist as a private residence until 1932, when it was donated to the Irish Free State.
A one-hour tour of the Tudor interior leaves every 30 minutes during high season, but the landscaped grounds are open to all.
The nearby Muckross Traditional Farms, thanks to its animal petting area, is a family favourite.
Just over a mile from Muckross House is Muckross Abbey, a Franciscan Friary founded in 1448 and abandoned in the 1650s when its monks were driven out by Cromwellian forces. A short walk from the Abbey will bring you to a graveyard and Muckross Lake.
- Ring of Kerry
This 175 km, scenic circuit around the Iveragh Peninsula makes for a great day trip. Allow for plenty of stops along the way to enjoy majestic views of ocean and mountains, and be sure to plan the trip for a clear day!
Top tip: head to Kenmare along the south of the peninsula first, so as not to end up stuck behind tour buses.
Highlights include Kenmare, Glenbeigh Beach and Moll’s Gap, a mountain pass on the N71 road from Killarney to Kenmare with magnificent views and a pleasant ‘Avoca Café’.
Adventurous drivers can stray off the main road and discover quieter (but equally beautiful) routes, such as the one from Glencar to Sneem.
The Kerry Way, also surrounding the Iveragh Peninsula, is a walker’s version of the Ring of Kerry road tour. 213 km long, the marked trail avoids traffic.
Hikers can break the route up into smaller sections and travel from one guesthouse to the next over the course of 8 days. It is possible for luggage to be sent to the next stop in advance of arrival.
- Killarney Lakes
Killarney’s three lakes are Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. It is possible to walk and hike along trails surrounding the lakes, which can be explored further by rented kayak and boat tours.
Located on Lough Leane, Inisfallen Island is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey, founded by Saint Finian the Leper in 640 and remaining occupied for more than 950 years. It is possible to hire a boat from the front of Ross Castle to Innisfallen Abbey during the summer months.
Hotels near Killarney National Park and Killarney’s Lakes
Luxury hotels located around the lakes include Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Hotel Europe and Cahernane House.
Many of the hotels hav
e rear patio bars and restaurants, which back onto Killarney National Park itself. The Killarney Lake Hotel serves delicious cocktails.
- Downtown Killarney
Discover Downtown Killarney’s colourful buildings, restaurants and shops (and maybe purchase an Aran sweater while you’re there!)
A unique and fun way to explore the town is by an interactive scavenger hunt, which takes 1.5-2 hours and covers around 5 km of the area.
Marvel at St. Mary’s Cathedral’s stained glass windows. The Roman Catholic Cathedral, dating back to the 1800s, is located at Cathedral Place.
- Food and Drink
Killarney offers a range of cuisine, from seafood to traditional Irish fare.
Quinlan’s, a seafood restaurant, serves fresh, sustainably sourced seafood with a range of daily specials based on season and the fisherman’s catch.
Bricín Restaurant and Boxty House is both a local and tourist favourite for its delicious boxty (potato cake).
For dessert, try the Killarney Ice Cream Shop or if you’re travelling on to the Dingle Peninsular, venture to the wonderful Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle.
Killarney Brewing Company serves craft beers and wood-fired pizzas and also offers an entertaining brewery tour.
For Lord of the Ring Fans, Killarney’s LOTR-themed pub, The Shire, is a must!
The Danny Mann Pub is perfect for a cosy pint.
Irish pubs J.M Reidy’s, The Grand and O’Connor’s are great for experiencing some live, Irish traditional music with your pint!
- Killarney Mountains
Carrauntoohill – At 1038m, Carrauntoohill is Ireland’s highest mountain.
It has a number of possible routes, which vary in difficulty. Coomloughra Horseshoe and the Devil’s Ladder Trail are among the most popular. The former also takes in the challenging Reeks Ridge trail. The latter is a more accessible 12km hike.
A recommended starting point for the summit is Cronin’s Yard, where you can also grab a coffee in the nearby café.
The peak offers spectacular views. Bring proper gear, a map, food and water, tell someone you’re going there and make sure your mobile phone is fully charged should you run into any difficulty.
Torc Mountain – This moderate summit along a clear path is a favourite with locals and takes around two and a half hours. At its peak, Torc Mountain offers panoramic views of Killarney town, its lakes and Muckross House. Cardiac Hill is a steep ascent of hundreds of steps along the Torc Mountain slopes.
- Derrynane and Caherdaniel
Enjoy Kerry’s rugged coastline by taking a trip to Caherdaniel and Derrynane. Visitors can take a stroll along the beach, or try their hand at diving, hill walking and rock climbing in the local activity centre.
History buffs may enjoy a visit to Derrynane house, the home of 19th century Irish politician, Daniel O’ Connell.
Dining options include The Scarriff Inn or Iskeroon. Our recommendation is to visit the Blind Piper traditional Irish pub where the food is deliciously wholesome and they pull a mean pint of Guinness. Freddy’s too is a good choice for a post-meal pint and some live music.
- Skellig Michael
10km off the western tip of Iveragh Peninsula are the Skellig Islands, most notably Skellig Michael.
Skellig Michael was inhabited by monks for almost 500 years starting in the 7th or 8th century.
Boats depart from Ballinskelligs, Portmagee and Caherdaniel daily between May and September. Bear in mind that these trips are entirely weather dependant. It is necessary to book at least a day in advance and to check weather conditions with your boat operator on the morning of your excursion. The trip can be quite choppy and, even on calmer days, there is no guarantee that you will be able to land on the island. For that reason, those with seasickness or vertigo should avoid! Skellig Michael is a UNESCO world heritage site so already famous but made more famous for it’s appearance in recent Star Wars movies.
- Jaunting car
Perhaps the best trips in Killarney are made on horse and carriage!
Jaunting cars can be found in Killarney town, Killarney National Park or the Gap of Dunloe.
They are a wonderful opportunity to see the sights of Killarney while hearing some charming tales along the way.
As this list of the top 10 things to do in Killarney makes clear, the town offers not only a range of beautiful views and trails, but also historic sites, delicious food and even the chance to drink a pint fit for Bilbo Baggins himself!
Whether you are holidaying in Killarney, or stopping off in the town as part of a trip along the Ring of Kerry or the Wild Atlantic Way, you are bound to enjoy your time there, hopefully this list will help you do so!