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If you’re looking for the quintessential Ireland experience, there is no better place to visit than Killarney. There are so many incredible things to do in Killarney and I’m sharing my guide after visiting. With rolling landscapes dotted with sheep, stunning natural lakes with historic sites, and a bustling town, Killarney is a bucket list stop in Ireland.

And if you’re wondering how much time you should spend in Killarney — let’s just say there are endless day trips to take from here. That’s why I think Killarney is so wonderful to visit for not just one day but several. The town itself is packed with energy, and nearby, provides access to the most incredible natural landscapes that Ireland has to offer. It’s the best of both worlds.

I had the chance to visit Killarney last month with my husband and daughter on an epic Ireland road trip in partnership with Tourism Ireland. Our family trip took us around Ireland, where we traveled from Dublin to Kinsale, then out to Killarney, then back to Dublin. We used Killarney as our home base where we did several things each day.

Set in County Kerry, Killarney is highly visited during peak travel months, but you are always close to the outdoors where you can get out in nature. And if you’re traveling with kids, Killarney is so easy to navigate and stay in as the town itself is walkable.

If you’re looking for what to do while in Killarney, where to stay, and where to do your day trips, then this guide is for you!

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels and Things to Do in Killarney:

Hotels

  1. Great Southern Killarney, for the best overall hotel

Things to Do

  1. Killarney National Park Boat Tour
  2. Rent a Bike and explore Killarney National Park
  3. Take a Day Trip to the Gap of Dunloe
  4. Take a Day Trip to the Dingle Peninsula
  5. Take a Day Trip to the Ring of Kerry

For more Ireland resources, don’t miss my travel guides to Kinsale, Dingle Peninsula, and the Gap of Dunloe!

Travel Tip: The best way to explore Ireland is by driving yourself. We use Discover Cars for our rental cars in Europe, choose full coverage insurance, and opt for trusted companies like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt. Renting a car in Ireland is quite easy, and while you drive on the opposite side, you’ll get used to it quickly. Book your car with Discover Cars here.

The Ultimate Guide to Killarney


What to Know Before Visiting Killarney

Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland: Travel Guide

How to Get to Killarney

By Air

For international travelers, the most convenient way to reach Killarney is by flying into Kerry Airport (KIR), just 15 kilometers away. Alternatively, Shannon Airport (SNN) and Cork Airport (ORK) offer more flight options and are within a two-hour drive.

Rental Car

If you plan to self-drive, plan to pick up your rental car on arrival at the airport. We use Discover Cars for our rental cars in Europe, select full coverage insurance, and opt for a reputable company like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt. Renting a car in Ireland is very straightforward, and while you drive on the opposite side, you’ll get used to it quickly. Book a rental car with Discover Cars here.

From Dublin By Public Transport

You can take a direct train from Dublin’s Heuston Station to Killarney, with a scenic journey lasting around three hours. Buses from major cities like Dublin, Cork, and Limerick also provide regular services to Killarney.

How to Get Around Killarney

By Foot

The best way to visit the actual town of Killarney is by foot. Park outside of the city center and walk in, the town itself is not very large. To visit the greater region (which is what you’re likely here to do), you’ll need some kind of transport. There are jaunting cars to places in Killarney National Park, but a car is super convenient which is why my first recommendation is booking a rental car (we use Discover Cars). If you’re not interested in driving, then I would consider booking a tour.

By Tour

Ireland is well known for having several reputable tour companies that bring travelers around. This is such a convenient way if you’re not wanting to hire a car and drive on the opposite (though doable). I would consider these tours around Killarney:

Best Time of Year to Visit Killarney

The best time of year to visit Killarney is during the late spring to early autumn months, from May to September. During this period, the weather is milder and more pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 59°F to 68°F. May and June offer longer daylight hours, perfect for exploring Killarney National Park, the Ring of Kerry, and other outdoor attractions. July and August are the peak tourist months, bringing vibrant festivals, bustling markets, and lively local events. However, for those who prefer a quieter experience, September provides a balance of favorable weather and fewer crowds.

How Many Days to Visit Killarney

We did four nights in Killarney and could have spent at least a week. You can plan on a day in town and a day or two in the national park. From there, everything else is a full-day excursion like the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry.


Where to Stay in Killarney, Ireland

Great Southern Killarney

This four-star luxury accommodation in the heart of Killarney is where we called home for four nights. The Great Southern Killarney is by far one of the best hotel experiences we’ve had as a family. Within walking distance of the downtown, the location is unbeatable in itself. The hotel is grand and spacious and opens up to its private park (which features a kids’ park inside), making it feel a world away. The service is wonderful, and you feel right at home in the grand hotel. I cannot recommend this hotel enough for a short or long-term stay in this region. Book the best rates here.

Other Accommodations to Consider

There are several hotels to consider if the Great Southern doesn’t suit your needs. A few for consideration that stood out to me include:


The Best Things to Do in Killarney

Visit Killarney National Park

One of the best things to do in Killarney is to spend time in Killarney National Park. It’s only 10 minutes out of town and boasts an incredible landscape. The lakes of Killarney are here, including Lough Leane, Muckross Lake (Middle Lake), and Upper Lake. You can hike and walk around the lake, visiting several sights, like the famous Torc Waterfall at the base of Torc Mountain, take a boat to Innisfallen Island, and stop by Ladies View for incredible views. Killarney National Park is the beginning of the Ring of Kerry, so it’s quite popular to visit.

If you do a few things, one I’d consider is the boat to Innisfallen Island. This archaeological site houses the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey which was founded by monks in 640. You can get a private boat here in front of Ross Castle, or pass by on a boat tour like this one.

Killarney National Park Tour Options

If you’d like to visit via a tour, consider this Hop-on/Hop-off Bus, this Jaunting Car Tour, or this Horseback Tour.

See Muckross House and Gardens and Muckross Abbey

One of our favorite mornings out was walking the gardens of Muckross House along the lake. It is like a scene out of a postcard here and could spend a few hours. It was built in 1843, and the Muckross estate was donated to the Irish nation in 1932. The property now has the mansion open to the public along with a cafe, and a farm section to enter with littles.

Just down the street by either car or a proper walk is the Muckross Abbey — a spectacular sight not to be missed. The Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 by the Observantine Franciscans and has a rich history intertwined with the region’s cultural and religious heritage. One of the most impressive things, though, is the the ancient yew tree growing in the center of the cloister

Explore the Town of Killarney

Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland: Travel Guide

The town of Killarney is full of energy most especially on the weekend nights. There are several boutiques, pubs, and restaurants to enjoy in town. You could spend a few hours meandering through it all. Be sure to not miss St Mary’s Cathedral, known for its incredible interior and the historic Killarney House and Gardens.

Rent a Bike to Visit Killarney National Park

Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland: Travel Guide

One of our favorite mornings was spent riding bikes out to visit Muckross House and along the lake. The scenic trails make for a few hours of biking, and we found this bike rental company that had attachments for kids with helmets. It’s self-guided, so you can go as you like. We explored the park for a few hours. Book the bike rental here.

Explore the Gap of Dunloe

Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland: Travel Guide

The Gap of Dunloe became the top thing we did in Killarney, and it’s easy to see why. The Gap of Dunloe, nestled in County Kerry, Ireland, is a stunning mountain pass that stretches approximately 11 kilometers (7 miles) between MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain. This narrow, winding route is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, featuring rugged hills, serene lakes, and lush valleys. It looks like a living postcard with sheep that walk the roads and jaunting cars passing through.

Some helpful tips for the Gap of Dunloe include visiting later in the day if possible. It’s much easier to enjoy on foot than in the car so you could consider even hiking the entire path. You can’t access the green areas, aka, you’re walking on the road the whole time but it’s quite mellow. And if you’re looking for food, stop into Kate Kearneys Cottage.

Gap of Dunloe Tour Options

If you’d like to visit via a tour, consider this Full-day Group Tour or this Full-day Adventure Tour.

Adventure to the Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head Drive

Another fantastic day trip to block in during your time is out to the Dingle Peninsula. Stop into Dingle itself for a few hours, walk around, and grab a bite at The Fish Box. Afterward, head out to Slea Head Drive, one of the most incredible drives on the Wild Atlantic Way. There are several stops to be enjoyed from Ventry Bay Beach, to Coumeenoole Beach, and the famous Dunquin Pier. On your way back, don’t miss the views from Connor Pass.

Dingle Peninsula Tour Options

If you prefer to visit the Dingle Peninsula by tour, consider this Full-day Group Tour, this Private Full-day Tour, or this Full-day Tour (Stroller Accessible).

Embark on The Ring of Kerry Drive

Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland: Travel Guide

While you can see part of the Ring of Kerry in Killarney National Park, you can do much more from Killarney. It’s advised to start early and to travel counterclockwise (from Killarney through Killorglin) to avoid getting stuck behind tour buses. Some other top sites to consider visiting in addition to Killarney National Park and Gap of Dunloe are the Skellig Ring (for a detour to Valentia Island and views of Skellig Michael), and the picturesque towns of Kenmare, Sneem, and Cahersiveen.

Ring of Kerry Tour Options

If you prefer to visit the Ring of Kerry by tour, consider this Full-day Group Tour, this Highest-rated Full-day Group Tour, or this Private Full-day Tour.


The Best Restaurants and Pubs in Killarney

The Laurels Pub & Restaurant

We loved popping in for a traditional Irish meal at The Laurels Pub & Restaurant. The energy was lively on a Friday night, and the restaurant is a separate space from the pub side. You’ll find many classics on the menu from lamb roast to seafood chowder. I’d recommend booking in advance!

Brownes Bar at Great Southern Killarney

We had an outstanding dinner in the bar area at Brownes at Great Southern Killarney, which is more of a restaurant. The menu had several classics, but many modern takes. Do order the charcuterie board which has cheese and meats from the region.

LUNA coffee + wine

The spot for a proper coffee during the day, and come night time they do wine service.

Polly’s at The Ross

Head to the Polly’s for Mediterranean cuisine for a fresh take. The interior is stunning and feels very modern.

The Killarney Grand

My favorite experience was coming into the Killarney Grand pub for live Irish music. Local artists play here all the time, and we stopped in two different times to enjoy!


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1. Book Your Flights

I use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

I use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

I use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Rental Car

Self-driving is the best way to explore most destinations. I use Discover Cars for our rental cars, select full coverage insurance, and opt for a reputable company like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt.

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I use Priority Pass to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

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I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


Xx,
Jessica

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