If you’re looking for the ultimate guide of things to do in Killarney, Ireland then you’ve come to the right place. We visited the town of Killarney, Ireland for the first time back in 2017 after TBEX announced they’d be hosting their 2017 European conference here. Despite having actually never heard of the town (even though we live just a one hour plane right away in England).
We set off on our journey to Killarney with an open mind. Having already visited Dublin earlier in the year and fallen in love with the Irish charm. Quickly, we found that Dublin has nothing on this quaint little tourist town in the centre of Kerry. Since then we’ve gone back to visit Killarney on a number of occasions, during that time we’ve managed to put together this comprehensive guide of things to do in Killarney for future visitors of the town to maximise their visit.
- How To Get To Killarney
- What To Pack For Your Trip To Killarney
- Where To Stay In Killarney
- Things To Do In Killarney, Ireland
- Book A Tour Of Killarney
- Don’t Forget You’re Guide Book
How To Get To Killarney
Before you can consider things to do in Killarney, you’ll probably want to consider how you plan to get here. Depending on the location in which you’re travelling from is likely to depend on the method or methods of transport you can / should use for your journey.
Flying To Killarney
The nearest airports to Killarney are either; Dublin Airport or Cork Airport.
We’ve flown from Cork to the east coast of the USA thanks to the budget airline Norwegian Air, however, flights from within Europe (especially with budget airlines) are more likely to fly into Dublin.
The journey from Cork to Killarney is around 1.5 hours whether you drive or take the train. While the journey from Dublin to Killarney is around 3 hours by train or 4 hours by car.
Getting To Killarney By Train
There’s a direct train service from most major towns and cities within Ireland to Killarney. The train station is at the very top of Killarney town from here you can walk to most hotels within the town or take one of the taxi’s you’ll find waiting outside to your final destination.
When booking a train within Ireland we suggest using Trainline, they always have the most competitive prices and the user interface makes it easy to find and book the journey you require.
Driving To Killarney
Thanks to ferry connections from various points within Europe you could actually drive to Killarney rather easily. You’ll be able to select an arrival port of either Cork, Dublin or Rosslare and the drive from any of these ports direct to Killarney will take anything from 1.5 hours to 4.5 hours.
Driving certainly provides you with the flexibility to see more of what Kerry as a whole has to offer. So even if you’re not planning on driving from your original destination, certainly hiring a car from the airport on your arrival could be a great choice.
What To Pack For Your Trip To Killarney
Okay before we get started on the many things to do in Killarney, a quick packing list. Because there’s nothing worse than not bringing the right shoes, or enough layers etc… it can quickly ruin any great activity.
When it comes to travelling we always find it best to bring layers. It allows you to adapt your clothing to the day. We do this by layering items together. For example, we’ll take a thermal layer (depending on the time of year you’re visiting Killarney) then a t-shirt. Then in some cases, we’ll take a shirt if we fancy a thinner layer over the top.
Alternatively, if we’re planning a big walking day or look to be spending a lot of time out in the cold we’d partner that with a fleece before adding a coat on top.
Personally, I prefer a thin waterproof coat and focus the layering in fleeces, and layers. Helen however, loves to be bundled up so you’ll often find her in a thick parker like the Inga Jacket from the Craghoppers Autumn / Winter Range 2018.
There can be a problem with this, the main one being if you do get too hot and you have a big coat then you can take it off but you’re likely to still have to carry it around with you – and it can be heavy.
Socks are a great way to layer up and keep warm. Consider picking up some thick walking socks if you’re planning on going out walking.
Depending on how much luggage you plan to travel with will probably depend on your choice of footwear. In our case, if we’ve got a suitcase you’ll probably find us travelling in trainers and bringing along our walking boots in our suitcase.
If we’re planning on going hand luggage only then we’ll make a decision between the two based on the duration of our trip, current weather conditions in Killarney, and our planned things to do in Killarney.
Once again the backpack we travel with highly depends on whether or not we’re bringing a suitcase along with us or going hand luggage only. Even if we are bringing a suitcase we’d always recommend bringing an additional backpack for the days you’re out walking around the town.
Check out the amazing range of Craghoppers Luggage we’ve reviewed to get some inspiration.
I really want to get into the things to do in Killarney, but first, there’s a couple of other items I want to ensure you pack for your trip;
- First Aid Kit – Always better to carry around a small one, especially if you’re as clumsy as Helen and I.
- A Camera – Because there’s going to be some amazing photo opportunities during your trip to Killarney.
- Passport – So you can get into the country, and prove your old enough to drink the beer 😉
- Power Bank – Ideal for giving your phone a charging boost while you’re out exploring.
Where To Stay In Killarney
Killarney is home to some of the most luxurious and quaint hotels in all of Ireland… In fact, you’ll often find the problem with booking is choosing just one.
Things To Do In Killarney, Ireland
Walking Through The National Park
This will definitely be a must do on TripAdvisor and we would certainly recommend it even if you are not a keen walker this is something that everyone should experience. With many trails leading around the area and to different places to visit we opted to head over to Ross Castle. The national park is mesmerising and very peaceful.
I took a trail along the river to the lake edge and when they say lake edge they mean the whole edge. Once at the end of the trail you are completely surrounded by water. The view of the mountains in the background is beautiful. The walk for me was roughly 3-4 miles there and back, well worth the time and you won’t be disappointed. This was without a doubt my favourite thing to do in Killarney, Ireland.
Explore Muckross House
Muckross House is located 6km out of Killarney Town Centre and is often seen by many as the entrance to Killarney National Park. If you’re looking to visit the house then you’ll need to visit during the opening hours which vary depending on the time of year in which you’re visiting.
Muckross House is among one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Ring of Kerry so in peak season except the grounds to be busy with independent tourists and pre-arranged coach tours.
Built-in 1843 Muckross House is a great example of traditional Tudor architecture and should definitely be on your list of things to do in Killarney. While there’s no charge to walk around the grounds and through the gardens there is a charge to go inside in which you’ll be required to take part in a guided tour.
The guided tour is €9 for adults and €6 for children (between the ages of 6 and 18, under that age is free). The tour is approximately one hour long and leaves every 30 minutes. Again, these tours can sell out quickly during the peak season so be sure to pre-book your tour as soon as you arrive and explore the grounds during the ‘waiting time’ between your booking at the tour beginning.
Ride Around Town In A Jaunting Car
One way to explore the town of Killarney is on a Jaunting Car. These carts on two wheels pulled by horses were popular in Ireland back in the 19th century and Killarney is now one of the only places in Ireland where you can experience this mode of transport.
We suggest booking with a Killarney Jaunting Car with Tangney Tours which has been run by the Tangney family for more than 220 years.
Place A Bet On A Horse At Killarney Racecourse
Named the most scenic racecourse in Europe, Killarney Racecourse hosts a number of racing festivals throughout the year. However, Killarney Racecourse isn’t just home to horse racing as this venue is also the home of the Irish dance group the Celtic Steps.
Visit Ross Castle
Ross Castle is a restored castle in which dates back to the 15th century. The castle eventually was neglected and was bought by a man who then began the restoration to the castle. He then turned the castle over to the government as long as it was kept as a national park and no development was to be done in the area.
There are scheduled tours around the castle that last 40 minutes and cost €5.00 per adult and €3.00 per student/child. The tour was great to see the intimate structure of the building and the small details that went into the architecture even in the 15th century.
To get to the castle you can drive there and park up or you can walk through the national park from the town centre with ease. The walk was roughly 20mins and we saw some wonderful views along the way. I enjoyed seeing a field full of deer prancing and playing, you could even hear them from a distance.
Explore Killarney House and Gardens
Recently opened to the public offering tours around the house formally known as Kenmare House due to the original inhabitants being the Earls of Kenmare. The house was originally much larger and had more buildings within the land. The other parts of the property had burnt down and so the family relocated to the renovated stable block. This is the building you see today is where the McShane family lived up until 1988 and so it became apart of the National Park.
The house has recently opened up the 3 lower floor rooms that have been restored to show to the public the wonderful place in which the McShane family spent their days. The tour is currently free and lasts around 20-30 minutes. The upstairs room is currently undergoing restoration to become exhibition rooms so the entry for the tour may change.
If you aren’t too bothered about looking around the house, take a stroll around the gardens and see the beautiful flowers. The gardens are often worked on to keep the gardens well looked after and the flowers in season. If you are a photographer and looking to have a lovely backdrop the gardens are a beautiful place to be.
Embrace The Beauty of Torc Waterfall
3km south of Muckross House is Torc Waterfall. The waterfall is 75 foot high and feeds into the Owengarriff river. Torc waterfall is one of Killarney’s most well-known tourist attractions and a traditional stopping point for bus and coach tours.
Try The Local Cuisine
Though we are quite familiar with Irish dishes here in the UK it is something of a novelty to people around the world. We tried out a few different restaurants end enjoyed every one of them for different reasons, one of my favourites was Obriens, they made the best sandwiches with a lot of filling. For more details on restaurants click here.
If food isn’t your thing you can always check out the local bars and live music to hear some amazing traditional Irish music. Get that on your list of things to do in Killarney and you won’t be disappointed.
Take Irish Whiskey Tour
What we learnt from our first trip to Ireland was that you can’t get the full experience of Ireland until you have done a whiskey tasting. While neither Cora nor I are fans of whiskey anyway we went on 2 whiskey tours while in Dublin earlier in the year.
Though we didn’t go on one in Killarney there are plenty of places that offer whiskey tasting tours and bars that want you to try the local and homemade whiskeys. I would recommend you add this to the list of things to do in Killarney to get the full Irish experience.
As always if you think of anything you think should be on the list of things to do in Killarney let me know and I will add it in. If you have visited Killarney before let me know what you enjoyed and what you loved doing while you were there.
Sing In One Of The Singing Pubs
Killarney is well known for it’s singing pubs with many pubs have live music every night. The live music is likely to cover everything from traditional Irish folk songs to modern day covers and by the end of (or just an hour into) the night, you’ll likely find the entire pub singing along too.
Book A Tour Of Killarney
Of course, the list of things to do in and around Killarney, Ireland is pretty extensive – despite the size of the place. I’ve included a list of different activities and tours available to book with Get Your Guide to help you enhance your trip;
Don’t Forget You’re Guide Book