With historic hikes, legendary lakes and fantastic folklore, the town of Killarney in County Kerry is a fan-favorite among tourists and avid adventurers alike.

But with so much on offer, deciding how to spend your time can be a challenge! To help, we’ll take you through some of our favorite things to do in this iconic Irish town. So, whether you want to perfect your par, visit a Victorian mansion, or kayak the day away, you can get the most from your visit.

Get Your Nature Fix at Killarney National Park

We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with Killarney’s largest (and perhaps most well-known) outdoor attraction: Killarney National Park

Officially recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981, more than 10,000 hectares of wildlife-filled woodlands, expansive lakes and towering mountains make up this park’s unforgettable landscape. 

With plenty of trails and opportunities to go off the beaten track, there’s no better way to spend a sunny day than exploring the park on foot, bike, or even horseback! 

Whichever you choose, be sure to keep an eye out for otters, American minks, white-tailed eagles, sika deer, and the many other captivating creatures that call the park home along the way.

A large lake and rocky mountains in Killarney National Park. Photo: Justus

Hike or Climb Ireland’s Most Challenging Mountains 

WIth peaks aplenty, Killarney is truly a mountaineer’s playground. 

If you’re new to climbing, why not try your hand at Torc Mountain? At a reasonable 535m high, and with a glittering waterfall at its base, the hike up this mountain is a breeze thanks to a boarded path that goes all the way to the top. You can learn more about Torc Mountain’s geological origin and some of the myths and legends surrounding it on our guided Torc Mountain Hike

Intermediate to experienced climbers might set their sights on Carrauntoohil — Ireland’s highest peak at a respectable 1,038m. The ascent takes 4-6 hours, depending on which route you take, but the time will fly by as you soak up the picture-perfect panorama of Killarney’s lush green forests, lakes, and rugged mountain ranges.

For hardcore hikers, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are a worthy challenge. At 21 km-long, and taking an average of 10-12 hours to complete, it’s not for the faint-hearted! Immerse yourself in Irish mythology as you walk in the forgotten footsteps of the Fianna, and enjoy amazing views of the Reeks and Black Valley. 

Adventure addicts won’t want to miss the chance to climb in one of Killarney’s most dramatic destinations: the Gap of Dunloe. From the top, enjoy stunning views of steep cliffs and Killarney’s three majestic lakes. 

Want to step it up even more? Double the thrills with an awesome abseil on our Rock Climbing & Abseiling Tour in Killarney.

A man standing on top of a mountain overlooking a large body of water on a cloudy day. Photo: Lukas Medvedevas. Killarney

Putt Like a Pro on the Greenest of Golf Courses

Whether you’re chasing an ace or more of a part-time putter you’ll find several golf courses within hitting distance of Killarney’s historic town center. 

Soak up fantastic views of Ross Castle and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks as you take on the 9-hole parkland course at Ross Golf Course, considered by many to be one of the best 9 holes in Ireland.

If you prefer a longer course, the six-time host of the Irish open, Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, is home to two 18-hole championship courses that are sure to have you bringing your best game. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy award-winning Irish cuisine against the beautiful backdrop of Lough Leane in the club’s Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant. 

Go Kayaking on the Lakes of Killarney

If you’re crazy for kayaking, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Killarney!

Nestled between the towering ranges of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, lie the three lakes of Killarney – Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. 

Steeped in Irish folklore, the lakes are said to be haunted – so keep an eye out for wandering spirits as you paddle past the 15th-century Ross Castle, ancient limestone caves, and spot the eagles and deer that inhabit the surrounding islands. 

Cycle the Captivating Coastlines of the Kerry Way

Although often thought of as a hiking trail, there are also several cyclable sections of the Kerry Way. With epic coastlines, vast green flats and imposing mountains, it’s the perfect way to experience the wilderness of south-west Ireland on two wheels. 

For the best weather, go in May or June, and if you’re visiting at the weekend be sure to set off early before the narrow roads get busy with caravans and rental cars. 
If Kerry is top of your to-do list, have a look at our 3-day Discover Wild Kerry Tour, which includes The Ring of Kerry, Killarney, and Dingle as its main stops.

A cyclist riding on a road, surrounded by green fields, trees and mountains. Photo: Ciarán Ó Muirgheasa. Killarney

Marvel at the Magnificent Muckross House and Gardens

Set a mere stone’s throw from Muckross Lake, against the stunning natural backdrop of KIllarney National Park, this 19th-century country mansion features beautiful gardens and three traditional working farms.

Travel back in time to a forgotten Ireland as you take in the stately Victorian architecture, wander through gorgeous gardens, and learn about traditional farming methods and machinery.

If you’ve got little ones in tow, be sure to check out the farm’s petting zoo, woodland play area, and bouncy castle, before setting down for a picnic or enjoying a delicious meal at the Garden Restaurant. 

A large stately house, green lawns and flowerbeds. Photo: Chris Carter. Killarney

Kick Off Your Killarney Adventure Today!

With so many outdoor activities on offer in Killarney, you’ll be spoilt for choice! 

If you’re ready to embark on your next Irish adventure, take the hassle out of your trip with one of our tours of Killarney or our Ireland multi-day tours

Packed with awesome activities and attractions, we’ll take you off the beaten path to discover the incredible landscapes, local traditions, and captivating culture that make this Emerald Isle so special.

Leave a Reply