15 Fabulous Things to do in Killarney, Ireland

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Killarney is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations because the small town in County Kerry is close to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

Found in the south-west, Killarney has been attracting tourists since the Victorian era, when wealthy travelers would use the town to explore the Ring of Kerry, a tourist trail that’s enduringly popular even today, and that takes visitors around the most fascinating sights on the Iveragh Peninsula.

Tourism is big in the town, simply because there are so many great things to do in Killarney. You can road trip, hike, cycle, visit medieval churches and abbeys, discover serene lakes and explore national parks.

To help you to plan your trip to County Kerry, here are the best things to do in Killarney!

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)


15 Best Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland


1. Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park - Things to do in Killarney

The number one thing to do in Killarney is to explore Killarney National Park.

This vast area of woodland and lakes are found just outside the town, and it has the honor of being Ireland’s first designated national park when it was protected by law back in the 1930s.

Many of the best things to do in Killarney are found within the boundaries of the park itself, including the beautiful Killarney Lakes, Innisfail Island, and Muckross Abbey.

There are endless opportunities to hike, explore the pristine nature and to unearth the ancient human history within the park.

Our top recommended tours of Killarney National Park:

2. The Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry in Killarney, Ireland

Popularised in the Victorian era as travel became more accessible, the Ring of Kerry is one of the oldest tourist trails in Ireland. The route is roughly 100 miles long and it begins and ends in Killarney.

Traditionally, it was completed with horse-drawn carriages, but these days, it makes for an excellent road trip or a multi-day cycling tour.

The Ring of Kerry heads through Killarney National Park, before taking visitors on a loop around the wild Iveragh Peninsula, passing rugged coastline, epic valleys, incredible mountain scenery, and rural villages.

Our top recommended tours of The Ring of Kerry:

3. The Kerry Way

Approaching Carrountoohill in Ireland

Perhaps the most adventurous thing to do in Killarney is to tackle the Kerry Way. This is a long, 130-mile walking trail that takes most hikers at least 9 days to complete.

The Kerry Way begins and ends in Killarney, and is broken up into 9 stages, meaning that you can even just walk different parts of the trail on day trips from the town.

You’ll see the best of Killarney and County Kerry, on this incredible hiking trip!

4. Climb Carrauntoohill – Ireland’s Tallest Peak

Carrauntoohil in Killarney

Carrauntoohil is the tallest peak in Ireland, and it’s found in County Kerry, amongst the incredible MacGillycuddy’s Reek mountain range.  At over 1000 meters in height, the summit offers views for miles across the range.

There are several different walking routes through the mountains to reach the top of Carrauntoohil, with varying difficulties and levels of experience needed. It’s not easy of course, whichever route you choose, so be prepared for a tough day.

Our top recommended tours of Carrauntoohill:

5. Visit the Ross Castle

Ross Castle in Killarney

Located on the beautiful banks of Lough Leane in the heart of Killarney National Park, Ross Castle is an iconic attraction to visit.

This is always one of the best things to do in Killarney, as the historic castle dates far back to the 15th century and is still in remarkably good condition.

The tall keep is surrounded by stone walls and towers, and for centuries it was thought to be impregnable.

That didn’t stop armies trying to fight over it, especially given the troubled history of Ireland, and it was the scene of many battles during wars that swept through the county.

Our top recommended tours of Ross Castle:

6. See the Lakes of Killarney

Lakes of Killarney, Ireland

Killarney National Park is home to three large lakes, or Loughs, one of them being Lough Leane and the other two being Muckross Lake and the simply named, Upper Lake.

The three lakes form a unique network of waterways, as they are all connected to each other. There are several hiking trails that traverse the lake, making it a great place for walking in the outdoors.

You can also take boat trips across the water, or you can hire kayaks and canoes to paddle across the serene lakes.

Our top recommended tours of Lakes of Killarney:

7. Go to Innisfallen Island

Innisfallen Island in Killarney

In the middle of Lough Leane, the largest of Killarney’s three lakes, you can find Innisfallen Island.

As well as being a place of great natural beauty, this is one of the best things to do in Killarney because it’s one of the most historic places in the national park.

The island was first inhabited centuries ago, and you can still find the ruins of an early Christian Abbey that was built in the 7th century AD.

Monks lived here for hundreds of years, writing important local histories and producing works of literature until they were forced to leave in the 1500s.

You can catch a boat to Innisfallen Island from nearby Ross Castle.

Our top recommended tours of Innisfallen Island:

8.  See the Muckross House

Muckross House in Killarney

Between Muckross Lake and Lough Leane, you can find the grandiose estate of Muckross House. This elegant mansion was built by wealthy landowners in the Victorian era but is now part of the National Park.

You can tour through the landscaped gardens and wander through the extensive interior, exploring the stately rooms and enormous bedrooms that were a mark of the lavishness of the elite at the time of its construction.

Our top recommended tours of Muckross House:

9. Visit the Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey in Killarney

Not to be confused with Muckross House, Muckross Abbey is a historic piece of local heritage that’s also found in Killarney National Park.

The Franciscan abbey was built in the 15th century and it’s one of the most romantic locations you could imagine.

The abbey fell into disuse after it was caught up in the wars of Cromwell, and gradually began to crumble and all to pieces.

The ruins are covered in vines, large sections of the walls and most of the roofs have fallen away completely, but it still looks marvelously rustic within the park.

Our top recommended tours of Muckross Abbey:

10. Go to the Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall in Killarney

Another of the best things to do in Killarney is to visit the spectacular Torc Waterfall, which like many of the best local sights, is also found within the national park.

Torc Waterfall makes for a great outdoor spot to walk to, and it’s a pleasant stroll from Muckross House. The waterfall is surrounded by thick forest and is in the shadow of a tall mountain.

The water cascades for 20 meters down the rockface, before plunging into the boulder-strewn river below. You can even hike to the top of falls too, for a different perspective of this glorious natural attraction.

Our top recommended tours of Torc Waterfall:

11. Killarney House

Killarney House

Killarney House is one of the most iconic sights in town, as in the 19th century it went down in local history when Queen Victoria stayed here during her visit to County Kerry.

The house went through several different reincarnations, changing hands and being redesigned many times from the 18th century through to the 21st century when it was bought a few years ago by the Irish government and restored as a tourist attraction.

12. St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney

In the center of Killarney, you can find St Mary’s Cathedral, one of the grandest buildings in the town. The Cathedral was built during the mid 19th century, and the work was completed in 1855 when its doors were opened for the first mass.

Since then, it’s become an enduring figure on the skyline, with a tall spire that rises above most other buildings in Killarney, and a Gothic Revival style that gives it a classic Victorian look that’s part haunting and part elegant.

13. Have a Drink at the Killarney Brewery

Beer in Killarney, Ireland

One of the best things to do in Killarney town itself is to visit the local brewery.

The Killarney Brewery is a relatively new addition to the tourism scene, as they’ve only been in operation for a few years, but already they are becoming a firm fixture on the tourist circuit.

As well as brewing up some great local craft beers, you can take a tour of the facilities to see how it all began, and how they brew and bottle their products. If you love a good beer, then this is the place to visit when you are in Killarney.

14. Aghadoe

Aghadoe near Killarney

Aghadoe is one of the oldest parts of Killarney, and it’s found on the edge of the modern town, on a hilltop overlooking the national park.

It offers one of the most spectacular views over the three lakes below, and across much of the forest and the surrounding hills and mountains.

At Aghadoe, you can also find the ruins of an ancient abbey as well as an old castle, which both date back centuries, and have many intriguing tales to be told about them by the locals.

Our top recommended tours of Aghadoe:

15. Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe - Things to do in Killarney

The Gap of Dunloe is a spectacular pass that separates two of Ireland’s most impressive mountain ranges. Cutting between the Purple Mountains and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks ranges, the Gap of Dunloe has long been one of the best things to do in Killarney.

You can drive through the spectacular pass for incredible views, or you can hike through the surrounding mountains on dramatic walking trails that will leave you breathless.

Our top recommended tours of the Gap of Dunloe:

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Divergent Travelers, Lina & David Stock, in Killarney

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Top tips when visiting Killarney Ireland


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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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