There are almost endless outdoor activities in Killarney.
With its lakes, mountains and picturesque valleys, Killarney is the one of Ireland’s best destinations for outdoor lovers.
Below, you’ll find everything from hikes and walks to adventure tours, kayaking and much more!
The most popular outdoor activities in Killarney
The first section of our guide is packed with the most popular outdoor activities in Killarney Town and beyond.
Below, you’ll find everything from challenging hikes and handy rambles to some of the more popular things to do in Killarney.
1. Soak up the views on the Torc Mountain Hike
Torc Mountain offers a spectacular view of Lough Leane, Killarney National Park and the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.
To access the trailhead, drive down the N71 from Killarney towards Kenmare and take the first left after Muckross House to find the Upper Torc Carpark.
This 7.5km trail takes around two hours to complete but does include 535m of elevation gain.
The trail is made up of dirt paths and boardwalks making this a great trail for a dry day when you may have left your hiking boots at home.
2. Conquer Cardiac Hill
Cardiac Hill is a loop walk in Killarney National Park that will test your endurance. This loop walk is looped in one direction as it would be unsafe to try to descend the almost 1,000 steps at Cardiac Hill.
You can begin the walk from either Cardiac Carpark or Dinis Carpark off the N71 towards Kenmare. From there, you can follow signs for Cardiac Hill or for the Red Loop.
The entire trail is only 3.5km but the steep ascent means this will take you anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
3. Rent a bike and peddle around Killarney National Park
Cycling around Killarney National Park is a great way to take in all the most popular sights in just half a day (you can book a bike rental online here).
You can park your car and pick up your bikes at the Killarney Flesk Caravan & Camping Park right outside of Killarney on the N71.
The bike rental includes a helmet, high visibility vest, bike lock and a self-guided tour. You can cycle right into the park from the carpark and visit Torc Waterfall, explore Muckross House and Gardens and see the ruins of Muckross Abbey.
If you are feeling up for a longer cycle you can take the 12km path around Muckross Lake out to Dinis Cottage.
4. Walk the Gap of Dunloe and then take a boat back to the town
The Gap of Dunloe is a picturesque valley nestled between the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain.
This 5 hour tour starts with a 15 minute bus journey from Killarney to Kate Kearney’s cottage at the start of the Gap of Dunloe.
From there, enjoy a 2.5 hour walk along the winding road through the gap, passing idyllic lakes in the shadows of some of Ireland’s highest mountains.
At the end of the gap, you will take a boat from the Gearhameen River through the lakes of Killarney all the way to Ross Castle.
5. Hit Killarney lakes on a kayak
The Lakes of Killarney are the focal point of Killarney National Park and great way to explore them is by kayak. The kayak tours leave from Ross Castle and includes a visit to Innisfallen and a Bronze Age copper mine.
These guided tours are run from March through October and take approximately 3 hours. These trips are suitable for all experience levels and non-swimmers are welcome as well.
A kayak, paddle and flotation device are all included in your rental but we recommend you bring warm waterproof clothing and sun protection, depending on the weather.
More popular outdoor activities in Killarney and nearby
As you’ve probably gathered, there’s an endless number of outdoor activities in Killarney to tackle.
Below, you’ll find a handful more, with everything from guided hikes to one of the more popular things to do with kids in Killarney.
1. Take a guided hike of Carrauntoohil
Carrauntoohil is Ireland’s highest peak and climbing it is high up on a lot of people’s bucket list. This guided ascent takes 6 to 8 hours and is a challenging but incredible hike.
The hike starts from Cronins Yard which is about a 25 minute drive from Killarney and unfortunately is not accessible via public transport.
From there, your guide will lead you up the mountain to the summit where on a clear day you will be rewarded with an incredible panoramic view of the Beara Peninsula all the way to the Blasket Islands.
This is a strenuous hike so make sure to wear proper footwear, bring extra clothing in case of weather changes and most importantly, bring a hearty lunch and plenty of water.
2. Explore the national park on horseback
Horseback riding provides a more leisurely way to enjoy the outdoors and explore Killarney National Park. The tour starts just 2km west of Killarney town on the Dingle Road.
From there, you will enter the national park, riding along scenic park paths with mountain views and along the banks of Lough Leane.
The guided tour lasts approximately one hour and is suitable for all experience levels. The stables provide everything you need to safely enjoy your ride including boots and helmets.
If you’re looking for unique outdoor activities in Killarney that you can do with kids, this is well worth considering.
3. Explore Innisfallen Island
Innisfallen is a 21 acre island in the middle of Lough Leane. The island has a long history both based in fact and folklore and is teeming with wildlife.
To get to the island, take a 10 minute boat journey from Ross Castle.
On the island, you can explore 13th century monastic ruins and take a short 20 minute walk through the island’s woods where you are likely to spot deer and other wildlife.
4. Tackle the Tommies Wood walk
Tomies Wood is located in the west of the national park about a 15 minute drive from Killarney.
This section of the park reopened in 2020 and gives walkers access to a 6km loop trail with views of Lough Leane.
Tomies Woods is also home to the enchanting O’Sullivan’s Cascade which is only a 3km walk round trip from the carpark but does consist of over 130 steps.
If you are feeling up to it, combine the loop walk with a visit to the falls to see everything these wonderful woods have to offer. Visitors should be aware that the car park is small and does fill up on the weekends.
Killarney outdoor activities FAQs
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where’s good for rock climbing?’ to ‘Can you cycle the Gap of Dunloe?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best outdoor activities in Killarney?
The area boasts countless hikes and walks that are hard to beat (Torc, Tomies Wood, etc.). There’s also kayaking, cycle trails and horse riding.
What is there to do outdoors in Killarney with kids?
There’s plenty of family-friendly walks in the National Park and many of the adventure tours mentioned above are suitable for kids (check before booking).