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Best Things to Do in Killarney Ireland: Ultimate Travel Guide

These are the best things to do in Killarney, Ireland that you’ll love. In the middle of my three week road trip of Ireland, I spent five days in Killarney during a travel blogging conference. I had lots of time to explore Killarney, discovering all of the best activities and attractions in this beautiful town.

There’s a reason why Killarney is so popular. First, it’s a great home base for exploring one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. You can easily drive to the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, the Gap of Dunloe, go hiking at Carrauntoohil (the highest mountain in Ireland), and so much more.

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Things to do in Killarney Ireland

Of course, you’ll want to spend some time in Killarney itself, too. Downtown Killarney has lots of restaurants, cafes, and places to go shopping. There are also bustling pubs with live music, and a great craft brewery right in town.

Between exploring downtown Killarney, visiting Killarney National Park, taking a road trip around the Ring of Kerry, and bonding with new friends at the local pubs, there are so many fun things to do in Killarney that will keep you entertained.

Best Things to Do in Killarney: Explore the Town

The best things to do in Killarney Ireland

How could you not instantly fall in love with Killarney? Surrounded by picture perfect landscapes, pristine lakes, and rolling hills, it’s no wonder that Killarney is such a popular place in County Kerry, Ireland.

Even if you’re only spending 1 day in Killarney, you’ll want to wander around town to absorb its lively atmosphere. Stroll past bright and vibrant buildings, painted in all the colors of the rainbow. Take the time to walk down each narrow alleyway because you never know what you might find around the corner.

I stumbled upon this decorated alleyway to discover a poem written on the ceiling. As it turns out, it’s the lyrics of a popular parlor song by from the 1800s:

Alley in downtown Killarney Ireland: By Killarney's Lakes and Fells song lyrics

By Killarney’s lakes and fells,

Emerald Isles and winding bays,

Mountain paths and woodland dells,

Mem’ry ever fondly strays;

Bounteous nature loves all lands;

Beauty wanders everywhere,

Footprints leaves on many strands

Edmund Falconer (1814–79)

There are cute coffee shops all over town, as well as unique and local gifts in the shops. If you need to do any souvenir shopping for your loved ones back home, Killarney is a great place to find touristy gifts and handmade goodies. There are also many amazing restaurants for all tastes in Killarney (more on that in a bit!).

Downtown Killarney Ireland - Exploring all the alleyways and adorable streets with colorful buildings
Downtown Killarney Ireland - What to do in Killarney

Don’t miss out on the pub scene in Killarney. After a day of sightseeing, venture to downtown Killarney in the evening to have a pint or two with the local crowd. There’s always live music happening all over town. The locals in Killarney are so warm and friendly, so you’re bound to make some new friends!

Aim to spend at least half a day in the town of Killarney itself. Soaking up the atmosphere of the town itself is one of the top things to do in Killarney. I recommend walking around town in the late afternoon, stopping for a coffee, going out for dinner, and then going on a pub crawl later that night.

Visit Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is Ireland’s first national park, established in 1932 when the 4300 hectare Bourn Vincent Memorial Park was donated to the Irish State. In 1981, Killarney National Park was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its ecological importance and cultural history. It features a wide variety of species across diverse habitats, including native forest and the only herds of red deer in all of Ireland.

You can easily spend half a day or a full day exploring Killarney National Park depending on what you do. I recommend driving to the various sites, although it’s also possible to spend the day cycling in Killarney National Park. Here’s what to do in Killarney National Park for a memorable day exploring nature and history.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle at Killarney National Park

Ross Castle is a 15th century castle, built by the local ruling clan, O’Donoghues Mor (Ross). It’s a popular attraction in Killarney. It’s free to visit the outside of the castle and the surrounding property. If you’d like to visit the inside of the castle, you must take a scheduled guided tour.

Ross Castle

The entrance fee is €5.00. While I am sure that the tour is fascinating (and I’m certain the view from the top of the tower is quite spectacular!), we were a little short on time and opted out of the hour long guided tour.

Swans in Killarney National Park near Ross Castle

Even if you don’t decide to take the tour, a trip to Ross Castle is one of the top things to do in Killarney. Be sure to visit Ross Castle when you’re here. The castle looks quite spectacular on the dramatic backdrop of the lake and the rolling hills. There’s a little bridge with swans all around too, adding to the picturesque scene.

Muckross House

Muckross House

Muckross House is a Victorian Mansion on Muckross Lake in Killarney National Park. The interior of the house portrays the extravagant and elegant lifestyle of the upper classes in the 19th century. Beneath the main levels, you’ll have a window into the lives of the servant class and their daily tasks.

The gardens at Muckross estate are also quite beautiful. There’s an expansive rock garden, a fine collection of azaleas and rhododendrons, and a large water garden. A guided tour of the house lasts approximately an hour, and admission is €9.00. If you love history and pretty places, Muckross House is one of the best things to do in Killarney.

Muckross Abbey

Another stop at Killarney National Park are the well preserved ruins of Muckross Abbey. Originally known as the Franciscan friary of Irrelagh, Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 by Daniel McCarthy Mor.

You can visit the ruins of the church, a vaulted cloister, the square tower, the courtyard, and an ancient yew tree said to be as old as the church itself. The graveyard at the site still has present day burials, and it’s also the final resting place of three Gaelic poets ( Aodhagan O’Rathaille, Geoffrey O’Donoghue and Eoghan Rua O’Suilleabhain).

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Killarney National Park and belongs at the top of your list of things to do in Killarney Ireland. It’s a gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the park, tucked away in the forest. Torc Waterfall is about 20 meters high, and the waterfall looks best after a rainfall (which isn’t too much of an issue as this is Ireland we’re talking about!).

Torc Waterfall

There are two car parks for Torc Waterfall. One is less than a five minute walk away from the waterfall, and the other is a more vigorous hike (about 20 minutes away). Little did we know, but we parked at the car park that was a farther distance from Torc Waterfall. You’ll walk down a hill to reach the waterfall, but it’s a bit of a trek to get back up to the car park.

If you aren’t looking for a hike, make sure you reach the closer parking lot of the two. However, if you don’t mind a little bit of a hike, it’s quite wonderful to walk through the forest before you reach it. If you’re looking for what to see in Killarney, make sure that Torc Waterfall is on your itinerary.

The Lakes of Killarney

The Lakes of Killarney are three lakes in Killarney National Park: Lough Leane, Muckross Lake (also known as Middle Lake or Torc Lake), and Upper Lake. You’ll be able to view the Killarney lakes from above at The Ladies View lookout.

If you’re interested in getting out on the lakes themselves, there are a few tours that you can take. This two hour kayaking tour involves paddling on the Lakes of Killarney, admiring the scenery, spotting wildlife, and viewing Ross Castle from the water. For a more leisurely tour, why not take an hour long boat cruise of the Lakes of Killarney? Whether you take a tour or simply view the lakes from multiple vantage points, it’s one of the top things to do in Killarney.

The Ladies View

The Ladies View - The Ring of Kerry

Saving the best for last, the Ladies View is one of the most amazing things to do in Killarney Ireland. It’s a scenic viewpoint on the Ring of Kerry in Killarney National Park. There are epic views of the Lakes of Killarney, as well as the surrounding mountains. It’s called the Ladies View because Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting adored the view during the Queen’s visit to Ireland in 1861.

The Ladies View - The Ring of Kerry - Killarney National Park

There’s a car park near the Ladies View, as well as a small cafe, bar, and gift shop. You can also stop to use the restroom here, too. The open roof terrace is the highest bar in Killarney and offers brilliant views.

The Ring of Kerry From Killarney

Things to do in Killarney: The Ring of Kerry

One of the main attractions from Killarney is the stunning Ring of Kerry. Technically, Killarney and Killarney National Park is a portion of the Ring of Kerry. I suggest taking two days to explore the Ring of Kerry. Spend one day in Killarney and Killarney National Park, and the other day driving the rest of the Ring of Kerry (and Skellig Ring). 2 days in Killarney is the perfect amount of time if you’re trying to visit a bunch of places on an Ireland road trip.

Leprechaun Crossing - The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular road trips in Ireland. It’s a 120 mile drive around the Inveragh Peninsula. This route can get quite busy with tour buses, so I suggest leaving earlier in the day to beat the crowds (especially if you like stopping to take photos as much as I do!). However, the tour buses don’t venture off to Skellig Ring, which I loved just as much as the Ring of Kerry.

Some stops on the Ring of Kerry include: Moll’s Gap, Kenmare, Killorglin, Portmagee, and numerous scenic views along the way.

Sheep on the Ring of Kerry, Killarney
Things to do in Killarney Ireland: The Ring of Kerry

Where to Eat and Drink in Killarney

There was a wonderful vegan restaurant in Killarney called True Natural Goddess that has sadly closed since my visit. However, there are lots of fantastic restaurants in Killarney to enjoy a vegetarian or vegan meal. Plus, there are tons of pubs in Killarney with live music that you’ll surely love. Here are my top recommendations for where to eat in Killarney (and have a few pints!).

The Shire Bar & Cafe

The Shire Pub - Lord of the Rings pub in Ireland

The Shire was my local hangout spot throughout my five days in Killarney Ireland. It’s a Lord of the Rings themed pub where you’ll find hobbit hole doorways, locally brewed beer, and delicious food. We hosted a party during the TBEX conference at The Shire, complete with characters and giveaways.

The Shire Killarney Ireland - Best pub in Killarney

There was also live Irish music with musicians playing the guitar and the fiddle. It was a total blast! Definitely head directly to The Shire any night of the week for yummy food and drink, plus fabulous entertainment in a memorable environment.

The Shire beer - Lord of the Rings themed pub in Ireland
Things to do in Killarney: The Shire Bar and Cafe

Since my trip to Killarney, The Shire has added its own cafe to the mix. Now, there’s an additional space to stop for a coffee, lunch, or brunch. They also have a hostel accommodation on site (dorm, double, and twin rooms) if you’d rather not have to go too far between the pub and your room.

The Shire in Killarney: Lord of the Rings bar
Lord of the Rings pub in Ireland - Gandalf
The Shire pub - Lord of the Rings bar in Killarney Ireland

The Porterhouse Gastropub

The Porterhouse Gastropub is a restaurant that has something for every taste. I was delighted to discover that there were a few vegan dishes on the menu. Since I visited Killarney, the Porterhouse has expanded their vegan offerings even more! They now have a special “vegan starters” section of the menu (stuffed pesto portobello mushrooms, homemade potato skins, and BBQ & Cajun cauliflower).

Red pesto tagliatelle at the Porterhouse Gastropub

Next, there are three vegan main courses: roasted balsamic beetroot and shallot tart, the red pesto tagliatelle with vegan cheese, and a homemade nut roast. There are also two vegan desserts on the menu: a sticky toffee pudding and a chocolate cake. I ordered the red pesto tagliatelle and the sticky toffee pudding, and both were so yummy. I highly recommend gathering the crew and going for dinner because the food tastes great, and it’ll please both the omnivores and herbivores of the crowd.

Vegan sticky toffee pudding at the Porterhouse Gastropub

Killarney Brewing Company

Killarney Brewing Company is a microbrewery in Killarney that you’ll need to visit if you love craft breweries. It’s one of the best things to do in Killarney for beer lovers and pizza lovers: they serve up delicious wood fired pizza at their tap room, too.

They have several varieties of beer, including seasonal ones that are offered for a limited time only. Sample the Devil’s Helles Lager, Rutting Red (Irish Red Ale), or the Full Circle IPA. If you’re looking for what to do in Killarney, why not book a brewery tour? This hour long tour of Killarney Brewing Company includes a short video at the start, a walking tour of the brewery, lots of story telling, and a beer tasting at the end. Tours run from March 17th until October 31st.

Where to Stay in Killarney Ireland

Where to stay in Killarney - Best places to stay in Killarney - Belmont Luxquisite Property Lettings - Luxury holiday home

If you’re seeking the ultimate in luxury, stay at the spectacular Belmont holiday home by Luxquisite Property Lettings in Killarney. The Belmont house is one of the best places to stay in Killarney. It’s a three-story, 3100 square foot house with an open plan kitchen, dining space, and living space. There are five bedrooms in this luxury rental home, sleeping up to 11 people.

Belmont Luxquisite Property Lettings  in Ireland

The Belmont is perfect for larger groups or families. It was also wonderful to stay in this modern home with a few of my fellow travel blogging buddies. With the lightning fast Internet, it was the best space to work, too. No need to find a coffee shop to get some work done. One of my favorite things to do in Killarney was simply relaxing in this luxurious home.

Where to stay in Killarney - Best places to stay in Killarney - Belmont Luxquisite Property Lettings - Luxury holiday home
Where to stay in Killarney - Best places to stay in Killarney - Belmont Luxquisite Property Lettings - Luxury holiday home

The Belmont house is right in town and you can quickly and easily walk all over Killarney from the house. We were content to leave the car in the driveway and walk all over town. Within moments, you’re right in downtown Killarney Ireland where all the action happens.

Where to stay in Killarney - Best places to stay in Killarney - Belmont Luxquisite Property Lettings - Luxury holiday home

Looking for a private tour, airport pick-up, or golfing experiences? Allow the amazing owner of Luxquisite Property Lettings, Ollie, arrange everything for you. He’ll connect you with local tour guides and private tour services, as well as airport transfers.

Even after reading this article about all of the best things to do in Killarney, there’s nothing like accepting advice from a local. While there are many luxury hotels in Killarney, why not stay in a luxury home with such personalized service? Read my full review of Belmont and be sure to book your stay.

Things to do in Killarney Ireland - What to do in Killarney - One day in Killarney

When to Visit Killarney

This beautiful little town is open to tourism all year long. However, it gets very crowded and busy in the summer, the height of tourist season. I recommend visiting in the spring or fall (March to May, or September to November).

There will be fewer crowds and the weather won’t be too cold. I traveled to Killarney at the beginning of October, and it was the perfect time of year. It wasn’t too busy and the temperatures were great. There are lots of great things to do in Killarney all year long, no matter when you visit.

We hope that you’re inspired to travel to Killarney, Ireland. It’s such a wonderful little town. There are so many fun things to do in Killarney town. I stayed in Killarney for five nights during a travel blogging conference. While you probably only need one day in Killarney itself, I recommend using the town as a base to take a road trip around the Ring of Kerry. Spend at least 2 days in Killarney for this reason. It’s possible to spend three days in Killarney or up to a week if you love to travel slowly.

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