Are you heading to Killarney for a holiday soon? With so much on offer in this wonderful coastal town (and wider national park), you’ll be spoilt for choice! 

Nestled in the shores of Lough Leane in Ireland’s beautiful County Kerry, Killarney is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and vibrant culture of the Emerald Isle. 

To help you map out your adventure, here are the top things we think everyone should see and do for the ultimate Killarney experience.

Once you’ve checked them out, why not take a look at our range of Killarney tours? Many feature Killarney as a standout stop, and they are jam-packed with awesome activities, unforgettable sightseeing opportunities, and plenty of chances to enjoy the charming culture of this stunning location.

Wander in Wonder through Killarney National Park

For many visitors, one of the biggest draws to Killarney is its national park. Located just south-west of the town, the lush landscapes of Ireland’s first ever national park sprawl across an impressive 10,236 hectares – making it perfect for an adventurous (and free!) day out.

Partial to a paddle? Take a kayak out on one of the three picturesque lakes that make up a large part of the park’s area. Whether you choose Lough Leane, Upper Lake, or Muckross Lake, you’re sure to get a fantastic view of the park’s idyllic scenery from the water.

If you’d rather explore at your own pace, grab your trainers and meander through the magnificent mountains, hike-worthy hills, wondrous waterfalls and forgotten forests that make this park so popular. 

Want to cover more ground? No problem! The park has plenty of bike trails, and even jaunting cars, so you can see even more of the stunning surroundings.

For the full park experience, have a look at our 2-day Discover Killarney Tour. It includes kayaking, hiking and biking, as well as the option to add a hike up Carrauntoohil for an additional fee. 

Torc Mountain, in Killarney National Park. Photo: Raychel Sanner

Trek up the Magnificent Torc Mountain

With the fabulous falls of Torc Waterfall at its base, the ascent to the 535m-high peak of Torc Mountain is a must-do for any avid adventurer. 

A stone or boarded path extends all the way from the waterfall to the summit – so you can focus less on your footing and more on taking in the ancient woodlands and glittering lakes that make up this picture-perfect panorama.

Learn about the myths and legends surrounding Torc Mountain and its geological origin on our guided Torc Mountain Hike

Travel Back in Time with a Trip to Ross Castle 

Dating back to the 15th Century, and believed to have been built for Irish chieftain O’Donoghue Mór, the tower house and keep of Ross Castle stand proudly on the edge of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park.

Although the castle bears many legends, one of the oldest and most famous is that it could only be taken by ship.

Led by Lord Muskerry, the castle was successfully defended against Cromwell right up until General Ludlow (the Cromwellian commander), launched a large boat onto the lake. Believing the legend he had heard, Lord Muskerry and the defenders surrendered – making the prophecy a self-fulfilling one.  

Ross Castle in Killarney. Photo: Jo Stolp

Take the Drive of Dreams Around the Ring of Kerry (stopping at Ladies View)

One of Ireland’s most famous road trip destinations, the Ring of Kerry, is much more than just a drive! 

Winding some 179 km along the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, you can expect spectacular views of some of the most imposing mountains, captivating coastlines, golden beaches, sparkling lakes and picturesque villages that Ireland has to offer.

Why not stop off for lunch at the historically-named Ladies View, this awe-inspiring panorama showcases Killarney’s lakes at their finest, and is one of the most-photographed spots in the area.

Starting and ending in Killarney, you can finish this circular route in around 3-4 hours if you drive without stopping. But with so much stunning scenery to explore, we’d recommend leaving at least 7 hours for this all-day adventure!

Start planning your trip now, with our private, day, and multi-day Ring of Kerry Tours.

The Ring of Kerry Killarney. Photo: Nils Nedel

Mad about Mountains? Hike the Gap of Dunloe 

One of the most popular things to do in County Kerry is hiking the Gap of Dunloe. Most people start the hike at Kate Kearney’s cottage, just a 15-minute drive west from Killarney town.

Take the traditional route through the narrow pass between the Purple Mountain Group and Macgillycuddy Reeks mountains. Here you’ll make your way through jagged landscapes and glaciated lakes galore until you reach the finishing point at Lord Brandon’s cottage. 

At around 2.5 hours walk each way, or a 5-hour round trip, it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to enjoy all of the breathtaking beauty that rural Ireland has to offer.  

The Gap of Dunloe in Killarney, Ireland. Photo: Rory Hennessy

Wet your Whistle at Kate Kearney’s Cottage

Conveniently nestled near the entrance to the infamous Gap of Dunloe, Kate Kearney’s Cottage is the perfect place to enjoy some delicious pub grub and a tipple or two. 

Handed down through generations for 170 years, let locals tell you with tales of Kate Kearney, a well-known beauty who created her famous and illicit ‘Mountain Dew’ in this very spot! 

The bar serves seasonal food from noon most days, but it’s best to book ahead to ensure you don’t miss out on this unique combination of Irish hospitality and local legend!

Explore Local Traditions in the Town of Killarney

As well as there being lots of things to see and do near Killarney, the town itself also has plenty on offer for an authentic Irish experience. 

Take a rest from all your activities and sample local dishes in one of the town’s many restaurants, or see some traditional live music and indulge in a Guinness (or two!) at one of its famed pubs. 

Ready to Discover Killarney for Yourself?

With so many great things to see and do, we could happily talk about Killarney all day! 

If you’re ready to start planning your next Killarney adventure, have a look at our tours here.

Fitness fanatics will love our Rock Climbing and Abseiling Tour, while our 3-day Discover Wild Kerry Tour is a great option if you’ve got a little more time or fancy a romantic getaway. With pre-planned itineraries, you can sit back, relax and take in all the wonder that this charming corner of the Emerald Isle has to offer.

If you have any questions, just get in touch and one of our friendly experts will be happy to help.

At Wild N Happy, we pride ourselves on practicing responsible travel, keeping environmental impact to a minimum and giving back. That’s why, for every tour that you book with us, we’ll donate 3% through The Wild N Happy Foundation to a variety of environmental, social and economic initiatives that help to make the world a better place for everyone.

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