The muse of many an Irish singer, Killarney is undeniably one of the most beautiful towns in Ireland. Located in County Kerry in the Republic’s southwestern region, the pleasant town can be found perched on the stunning northeastern shore of Lough Leane, making for dramatic views of the beautiful lake waters and surrounding mountain ranges of Killarney National Park.
In addition to the picturesque landscapes, Killarney has a robust culture, a vibrant history, and, of course, a classic small-town charm. Offering a taste of the lush emerald-green Irish countryside, just about every nook of the mesmerizing area is as magical as the next, making it the perfect travel destination for any wanderlust explorer.
Top Things To Do In Killarney, Ireland
From historic castles to spellbinding coastal views, here are all the best things to do during a visit to the remarkable town of Killarney.
Explore Killarney National Park
A breathtaking view of the lakes of Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is worth visiting for more reasons than just its breathtaking scenery. Home to the Lakes of Killarney — Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, or Middle Lake, and Upper Lake — and the mountain ranges of the Purple Mountain Group, the Mangerton Mountain Group, and part of the Shehy Mountains, the area is certainly one to see.
However, it also contains several historic landmarks, including the Old Weir Bridge, the Muckross House and Abbey, Ross Castle, and many more.
- Address: Killarney National Park, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 HE3C
- Hours: There is 24-hour pedestrian access
- Cost: Free admission (attraction prices may vary)
While trekking through the National Park, visitors may encounter swarms of biting flies, or midges, which are especially prevalent on warm, humid days. Ticks, which can carry Lyme disease, may also be present, especially off the beaten tracks.
Stroll Through The Killarney House And Gardens
Purple and red flowers in front of the Killarney House And Gardens
While in the National Park, a stop at the Killarney House and Gardens is definitely in order. Stroll through the grounds to see the gardens, or pop into the house for exhibits, which serve as a visitor center of sorts for the park.
- Address: Killarney House, Muckross Road, Killarney, Ireland
- Hours: Open daily from 9:15 am to 5:15 pm; gardens are open from 8 am to 5:30 pm (seasonal hours may vary)
- Cost: Free
The Killarney House is closed at lunchtime from 1 pm to 2 pm daily, and the last entry is at 5 pm.
Explore Ross Castle
A cloudy grey sky over Ross Castle in Ireland
Nestled lakeside on an inlet of Lough Lane in the National Park, Ross Castle was built in the early 15th century for a local ruling clan known as the O’Donoghues Mór (Ross) and later served as the ancestral home for the Brownes of Killarney. The iconic tower house can be explored via a guided tour only.
- Address: Ross Rd, Ross Island, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 V304, Ireland
- Hours: Open daily from March 3 to November 7 from 9:30 am to 5:45 pm (last admission is at 5 pm)
- Cost: Starts at €3 ($3.24 USD) for students and €5 ($5.39 USD) for adults
Visit The Muckross House
The incredible Muckross House in Ireland
This 19th-century Victorian mansion is an opulent estate featuring a garden, a farm, and even a restaurant for hungry visitors. Built in 1843, the Muckross House provides tourists with an excellent glimpse into the history of that time.
- Address: Dromyrourk, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
- Hours: Visit the website for a complete list of seasonal hours
- Cost: €7 ($7.55 USD)) for adults and €6 ($6.47 USD) for seniors for the House and Farms; children ages 3 to 5 have free admission to the House and €5 ($5.39 USD) for the Farms; €5 ($5.39 USD) for children ages 6 to 18 for the House and Farms
Located adjacent to the Muckross House at Carrigafreaghane, Co. Kerry, Ireland, the Muckross Abbey served as the burial place for local chieftains and is another must-see stop.
See The Gap Of Dunloe
The rocky hillside along the route to the Gap Of Dunloe
For an Ireland adventure like no other, stroll through the scenic narrow mountain pass that separates the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range to the west and the Purple Mountain Group to the east. The route gives visitors incredible views of the rugged mountains and Ireland’s lush green landscape.
Drive the narrow route is advised against, especially in the daytime, as the road is typically busy with pedestrian traffic, farm animals, bicyclists, and jaunting cars, a horse-driven two-wheel carriage.
Drive The Ring Of Kerry Loop
A stretch of Ireland’s rugged coastline along the Ring of Kerry
Stretching for more than 100 miles, the Ring of Kerry is a scenic route that affords motorists striking views of the rocky coastline, green rolling hills, and quaint Irish towns along the way.
Undoubtedly one of the best free things to do in Ireland, it loops around the Inveragh Peninsula, spectacular sights include the magical overlook known as Ladies’ View, Killarney National Park, and countless historic treasures.
Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral
Located west of Killarney, this Catholic cathedral church is beautiful inside and out. The stunning architecture of the church is sure to amaze any curious traveler, regardless of religious beliefs.
- Address: New St, Inch, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
- Hours: Mass times include Monday to Saturday at 10:30 am and 6:15 pm; Saturday Vigil Mass at 6:15 pm; and Sundays at 8 am, 10:30 am, and noon
Set Sail To Innisfallen Island
Innisfallen Island is definitely one of the best islands to visit in Ireland. Situated in Lough Leane, one of Killarney’s three lakes, the island served as the home for a monastery founded in 640 AD by St Finian the Leper.
Explore the ruins of the 12th-century Augustinian Priory and Romanesque Church and marvel at the wondrous wildlife that calls the island home.
- Address: Innisfallen Island, Ross Island, Co. Kerry, Ireland
See The Torc Waterfall
Water rushing down the rocks of Torc Waterfall
Nestled in a woodland along the Ring of Kerry at the foot of Torc Mountain, this incredible waterfall cascades down more than 65 feet. Park at the nearby Killarney National Park Car Park (which is located at Cloghereen Upper, Co. Kerry, Ireland) and make the 200-meter walk to the waterfall.
- Address: Cloghereen Upper, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
An aerial view of Lough Calee from the summit of Carrauntoohil
Hike to the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain, which towers above the earth at 3,407 feet. Part of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, trails to the top of Carrauntoohil include the Brother O’Shea’s Gully Trail, Devil’s Ladder Trail, the Caher Trail, and Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop, which take about four to eight hours to complete.
- Address: Coomcallee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Best Time To Visit
An early morning view of the Lakes of Killarney
Featuring a temperate climate of moderate rainfall year-round, warm summers, and cool winters, Killarney is a beautiful destination any time of year. Summer is undoubtedly the peak season as heavy crowds descend on the charming town each year.
For those looking for a quieter time to visit, the best time to travel to Killarney is during the off-seasons of the spring and fall (just be sure to keep an umbrella handy in case of unpredictable showers).
Best Ways To Get Around
A sweeping view of Ireland’s lush landscape
Killarney National Park is one of the town’s main attractions, and it’s actually surprisingly easy to navigate this corner of the world via bicycle; however, for those interested in seeing the more than 100-mile Ring of Kerry loop, a car is definitely preferred.
Where To Eat
The colorful buildings in Killarney’s downtown area
Ready to dine out in Killarney? Here are some of the best places to eat.
The Shire Bar & Cafe
- Address: Michael Collins Place, Lewis Rd, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 CP26, Ireland
Curious Cat Café
- Address: 1 New Market Ln, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 X9TD, Ireland
Caragh Restaurant & Lounge Bar
- Address: 106 New St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 HR58, Ireland
Hannigans Bar, Restaurant & Terrace
- Address: Kenmare Pl, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 PXK3, Ireland
- Address: College St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
- Address: 26 Plunkett St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Murphys Bar, Restaurant & Townhouse Killarney
- Address: 18 College St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 EFP1, Ireland
The Laurels Pub & Restaurant
- Address: Main St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Where To Stay
The sun sets over the Ross Castle in Killarney
Pick a place to hunker down in Killarney; there are plenty of accommodations for any budget.
- Address: Killarney, Beaufort
- Amenities: Restaurant, game room, and complimentary breakfast
- Address: Muckross Road, Killarney County Ker
- Amenities: Free parking
- Address: College Street, Killarney
- Amenities: Restaurant, room service, and bar/lounge
- Address: Muckross Road, Killarney
- Amenities: Restaurant, room service, bar/lounge, and free parking
- Address: Fossa, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93, Killarney
- Amenities: Outdoor/indoor pool, spa and wellness center, restaurant, room service, fitness center, bar/lounge, and coffee shop
- Address: Town Centre, Killarney
- Amenities: Indoor pool, spa and wellness center, restaurant, room service, fitness center, bar/lounge, valet parking, and coffee shop
Tips To Know When Visiting
A view of Lough Cummeenduff, Ireland during the fall
There are a few things to know before visiting Ireland for the first time. Namely, Ireland, known formally as the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland are actually two separate countries.
Although there’s no physical border, the former is part of the European Union and the latter is part of the United Kingdom. Those visiting Killarney in Ireland will be expected to pay in Euros and drive on the left-hand side of the road.
How To Spend The Perfect Day In Killarney, Ireland
The stunning rocks of the Gap of Dunloe
The best 24 hours spent in the Irish countryside of Killarney can best be spent sightseeing along the 111-mile circular Ring of Kerry route. Although many recommend driving the loop counter-clockwise, since many of the scenic views are on the left side and cars are driven on the left-hand side of the road, it’s best to navigate the route clockwise, traveling along the N71, N70, and N72.
Get an early start in the morning, and, before embarking on the tour of the Ring of Kerry, stop at the Ross Castle to explore the 15th-century fortress and see the nearby Innisfallen Island.
Then, depart Killarney and explore Killarney National Park, stopping to see the Muckross Abbey, Muckross Traditional Farms, and Muckross House. Continue on to see stunning views of Muckross Lake and Upper Lake before stopping in Kenmare to see the popular Kenmare Stone Circle.
Hop onto the N70, and drive along the coast for breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and lush countryside. Stop at the Mountain Stage Viewpoint for an even more spectacular vista and The Kerry Bog Village Museum before getting onto the N72 to take you back to Killarney.
When driving the Ring of Kerry, keep in mind that some parts of the route are narrow and only one lane, so drive slowly, especially when driving along the edge of the cliffs. Also, always be on the lookout for bicyclists, pedestrians, and animals.