The 21 Best Attractions & Things To Do in Killarney, Ireland

There are plenty of amazing things to do in Killarney, whether you want to sample traditional Irish foods, stay in a lake hotel, drive the Ring of Kerry, or soak in the history of Ireland.

From spectacular natural views like the Gap of Dunloe and Purple Mountain to boat tours across misty lakes, Killarney, Ireland, has something for everyone to enjoy. 

21 Top-Rated Things To Do In Killarney

1. Killarney National Park

It would be a mistake not to explore Killarney National Park. Killarney National Park was the first national park in Ireland, and it covers over 10,000 hectares of forests, beautiful lakes, as well as the highest mountain range in Ireland. 

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountain range reaches over 3,000 feet in elevation, and here you can find hiking trails through the mountains for all skill levels of hikers. 

Most of the range is within the borders of Killarney National Park, and you can climb to get splendid vantage points of the three lakes and highlands below. 

2. Ross Castle

On the edge of Lough Leane sits Ross Castle, the last fortress to surrender to Oliver Cromwell. The tower house of Ross Castle has been restored on the inside and is a great place to see what life would have been like for the people who occupied it. 

You can even get a quick drink at the on-site coffee shop. 

3. Torc Waterfall

At the base of Torc Mountain and sheltered in a lush forest is the 20-meter tall Torc Waterfall. The falls come from runoff from the Devil’s Punchbowl further up the mountain and the walk to get there is full of natural beauty. 

4. Visit Muckross House and Abbey

Muckross House is a Victorian mansion, once owned by the Herbert family, just outside the Killarney town center in Killarney National Park. It sits on the shore of Muckross Lake, also called Middle Lake, and is a fun place to take a tour of the luxurious interior, stroll through its garden, or see its hunting lodge that once belonged to Henry Arthur Herbert. 

While at Muckross House, you can see how people practiced traditional crafts like farming, weaving, and pottery. Or, you can visit the room that Queen Victoria stayed in in 1861. 

Meanwhile, a short walk away from Muckross House stands the ruins of Muckross Abbey. The abbey dates back to 1448, and the Franciscan monks who sheltered there were frequently the targets of raids, leading to a bloody history for the buildings. 

5. Innisfallen Island

If you want a little adventure, take a kayak tour to Innisfallen Island. The boat trips are a great way to explore the Lakes of Killarney and take in spectacular nature views while learning about Irish folklore and history. 

As the largest island in Lough Leane, you will find that Innisfallen Island is a great place to explore if you find the town and other attractions a bit touristy. 

You’ll need to take a boat trip to get there, but you can kayak out on your own or take a boat tour instead. 

6. Killarney Brewing Company

Ireland is famous for its beer and especially whiskey, so a brewery should absolutely be on your Ireland itinerary. The Killarney Brewing Company offers tours of its facilities with complimentary tasting sessions and has a connected bar and restaurant. 

The brewing company is one of the best things to do in Killarney and a great way to experience Irish culture. 

7. Killarney House

Now part of Killarney National Park, the Killarney House was once one of the most opulent mansions in Ireland. It burned down in 1913, but you will now find it restored and decorated with an impressive antique collection.  

8. Ladies View

Ladies View is one of the best photo opportunities you’ll get, overlooking the Lakes of Killarney and the surrounding mountains along the Ring of Kerry. 

Ladies View got its name from an 1861 royal visit when Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting toured the location and fell in love with the view. 

9. Crag Cave 

Officially discovered in the 1980s, Crag Cave is a wonderful opportunity to get underground and explore nearly four kilometers of tunnels, chambers, and stunning rock formations. The cave, which is over a million years old, now has a restaurant and children’s play area. 

10. Gap of Dunloe

A gap lies between the eastern Purple Mountains and the western MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Named the Gap of Dunloe, the area has some of the most picturesque sights in Ireland. 

Between the rugged mountains, you can get a great view of the sky, three of the Lakes of Killarney, and the town below. You can even stay in luxury hotels or even a castle nearby and have a fantastic view of the narrow mountain pass from your window. 

11. Blarney Castle

Perhaps the most popular tourist attraction for anyone visiting the town of Killarney, Blarney Castle is home to the famous Blarney Stone. A legend states that anyone who kisses the stone will get the gift of beguiling talk, the ability to speak well and convince others. 

Sitting in the Irish countryside, Blarney offers more than a well-known tourist attraction. The gardens around the castle stretch 60 acres and include a 100-year-old rhododendron arboreum, exotic tropical plants, and even a toxic garden.  

12. Dingle Peninsula

A place with something for everyone, the Dingle Peninsula is one of the westernmost points in Ireland. It’s a popular spot for boat trips, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and climbing. 

Dingle is also home to the most extensive collection of 1,000-year-old Irish standing stones, called Ogham Stones. 

13. Cliffs of Moher

It’s worth a day trip to drive out to the Cliffs of Moher. They run for 14 kilometers along the coast and, in some places, stand well over 200 meters above the water. 

A walk along the cliffs should be on anyone’s itinerary who decides to visit Killarney. 

14. Mary’s Cathedral

One of the most stunning religious sites in Ireland is St. Mary’s Cathedral. Opened for worship in 1855 and completed in 1912, the cathedral is supposed to look like the Ardfert Cathedral it was replacing. 

Inside, you can find high vaulted ceilings, beautiful stained glass, and fine art. 

15. Hike the Meeting of the Waters

The Meeting of the Waters is where the Upper Lake, Lough Leane, and Muckross Lake all meet. You’ll need to take a tranquil hike through the surrounding nature to get there, but it’s well worth it. 

Here, you will find the 16th century Old Weir Bridge and the Dinis Cottage Tearooms. 

16. The Irish Whiskey Experience

If you aren’t yet tired of whiskey, stop by the Irish Whiskey Experience. You can learn about the process of distilling and then try out whiskey paired with cheese from local, traditional farms or artisan chocolate. 

Plus, if you’re looking to impress at your next dinner party, you can take a cocktail-making course to learn the art of a good drink. 

17. Killarney Wine Rooms

Visiting the Killarney Wine Rooms is one of the best ways to relax and splurge after a long day of hiking. Inside, they have an Enomatic Wine System that recommends and lets you sample a massive range of wines using a prepaid card. 

After you’ve tried that, have a fancy dinner while you’re there. You can try some delicious food and choose from an incredible number of wines selected from famous vineyards around the world. 

18. Drive the Ring of Kerry

If you’re visiting Killarney, you should take a day trip around Kerry Way. 

You can see most of the best historic sites and the best scenic views of County Kerry on the drive. Killarney National Park, Ladies View, Watersville Beach, and the Kerry Bog Village Museum are all fun things to do on your day trips in this area. 

Or, if you have time for an extended day trip, you can take the Skellig Ring as well. It’s essentially a longer version of the Kerry Ring that takes you along the Wild Atlantic Way and past the Skellig islands that were a filming location for Star Wars. 

19. Stay in a Luxury Castle Hotel

Thanks to the town’s tourist population, many of the castles in County Kerry are now hotels. Ballyseede Castle, Ballinalacken Castle Country House, and The Dunloe Hotel are some of the most popular historical attractions where you can spend the night. 

20. Take a Jaunting Car Tour

One of the best things to do in Killarney is to take a tour around in a horse-drawn carriage. These tours have been going on for over 200 years and let you explore the history of County Kerry at your own pace. 

21. Hike Ireland’s Tallest Mountain

For hiking lovers, you should definitely take a trek up Carrauntoohil, the tallest mountain in Ireland. The most popular starting point of which is at Cronin’s Yard. 

If you want to hit the three tallest peaks in Ireland in one go, take the Coomloughra Horseshoe hiking trail.

Conclusion

You won’t run short of things to do in Killarney. 

One of the best ways to experience the area is to take a day trip (or two) and make stops along the Ring of Kerry. You can hit plenty of historical and religious pit stops and take in the beauty of the southwest coast. 

For up-to-date information on which attractions are closed due to the pandemic, check out the city’s official website

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