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20 Best Things to do in Killarney Ireland (2024 Edition)

20 Best Things to do in Killarney Ireland (2024 Edition)

The best things to do in Killarney Town are arguably the National Park and Muckross Abbey, but there’s plenty of choice!

This picturesque town of Killarney is finely plonked on the shores of Lough Leane, one of the three Lakes of Killarney.

It’s arguably one of Ireland’s top tourist towns, mainly due to it being the traditional starting point for the Ring of Kerry.

If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney, you’ve your choice of walks, hikes Jaunty rides, waterfalls and plenty more, as you’ll discover below.

The best things to do in Killarney

The map above will give you an insight into the best things to do in Killarney Town, like St. Mary’s Cathedral, Muckross House and more.

It’ll also give you an eyeful of the various things to do near Killarney, from the Dingle Peninsula and Kenmare to beaches and more. Scroll to read all about ’em!

1. Rent a bike and cycle around Killarney National Park

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Renting a bike (there are plenty of rental shops in the town) and cycling around Killarney National Park is one of the best things to do in Killarney, in my opinion.

If you enter the park at Ross Castle, you can follow a trail along the lakes of Killarney and on towards Muckross House and Gardens.

From here, you can continue on to Torc Waterfall. All in all, a cycle around the park can take between 1 and 3 hours, depending on how long you spend at each attraction.

2. Take a traditional jaunting car


Photos via Shutterstock

One of the more unique things to do in Killarney is to take a tour on one of the traditional jaunting cars.

You’ll see them as you walk around the town and you can book onto this 1-hour guided jaunty tour (affiliate link).

Over the course of the trip, you’ll see Ireland’s highest mountain range, Ross Castle and plenty more whole hearing stories about the area from the Jarvey guide.

If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney and you’re a fan of unique experiences, this is worth considering.

3. Take the Lakes of Killarney cruise

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

For a unique perspective on the town and its surrounds, take this this 1-hour (and very reasonable) boat tour that takes you around Killarney’s lakes.

The tour takes place on a glass-covered boat with heating and it gives you a completely different perspective of the national park and the many Killarney attractions.

You’ll drift by the 6th-century Innisfallen Monastery, see the highest mountain in Ireland and, at times, see Red Deer and White Tailed Eagles.

4. Embark on the Ring of Kerry

ring of kerry route 2024

Arguably one of the top things to do in Killarney is to start the Ring of Kerry Drive from the town (Killarney is the official start point).

The ‘Ring’ follows the N71 and takes in many of the best places to visit in Kerry in one long swoop.

You’ll want to allow 7 – 10 hours at a minimum for the Ring and, if you have the time, I’d strongly recommend add in the Skellig Ring, as it’ll take you to the likes of the Kerry Cliffs and Valentia Island.

If you’re looking for things to do around Killarney, this is a great, structured way to see the best of the county.

5. See Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the best things to do in Killarney, especially if you’re fond of the outdoors, is to visit Torc Waterfall

The best time to plan this short walk into your trip is just after heavy rainfall because the 70 foot waterfall will be more dramatic. 

Start at the Torc Waterfall Parking area and follow the short (3 minutes max) trail to the waterfall.

Breathe in the clean, fresh air and listen to the immense power of the water tumbling down.

6. Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral

Killarney Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney Town and you’re a fan of history, head straight for St. Mary’s Cathedral (you can’t miss it!).

Built in the 19th century, it was designed in a Gothic Revival style by Augustus Pugin, an English architect.

Construction kicked off in 1842 and finished in 1855. Interestingly enough, St. Mary’s is one of the tallest churches in Ireland, standing at an impressive 280 feet in height.

7. Step back in time at Ross Castle (Killarney Castle)

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ll often hear people refer to Ross Castle as ‘Killarney Castle’. You’ll find this 15th-century structure perched on the edge of the lake, a short distance from Muckross Abbey.

Ross Castle was built by O’Donoghue Mór. According to legend, O’Donoghue’s spirit lies in a deep slumber beneath the waters of the nearby lake.

It’s said that on the first morning of May every 7 years, O’Donoghue arises on a white horse and circles the lake.

If you or one of your party has limited mobility and you’re looking for things to do in Killarney that won’t be overly strenuous, then pencil in a visit to Ross Castle.

There’s a car park a stone’s throw from the castle, so you won’t have far to walk. If you’re looking for the finest castles in Ireland, you’ll love exploring this place. 

8. Conquer the Torc Mountain walk

torc mountain walk

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney that’ll 1, take you away from the crowds and 2, treat you to incredible views, add the Torc Mountain walk to your Kerry itinerary.

In this guide, you’ll find an overview of the walk – in a nutshell: the shorter walk takes around 3 hours and it packs a punch.

It’s reasonably doable for most fitness levels and the views throughout really are spectacular. The start point is also a handy spin away from the town.

9. Whittle away an evening in a traditional pub

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

There are few ways to whittle away an evening that are as enjoyable (in my opinion!) as a few hours spent in an old Irish pub.

Thankfully, there are several old-school pubs in Killarney where you can toast a day spent exploring.

Personally, I love the Laurels and O’Connor’s, but there’s some other great spots worth nipping into, as you’ll discover here.

10. Try one of the Killarney National Park walks

There are several brilliant Killarney National Park walks, of varying lengths, that you can spend a morning or afternoon tackling. 

The park is home to 26,000 acres of Irish lush landscape and boasts a spectacular mountain range which sweeps down to reveal crystal clear lakes.

Woods and waterfalls speckle the landscape to create an oasis of scenic beauty waiting to be explored.

11. Explore Muckross House

Muckross House 

Photos via Shutterstock

The now-iconic Muckross House is arguably the centre-piece of Killarney National Park.

Dating back to the 19th century, this historic building was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour Herbert, who was a watercolour artist.

There’s no mystery around where she nabbed her inspiration! The house, which is now a museum, can be accessed via a guided tour.

There are also several other attractions here, like the walled garden and the traditional farm. If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney when it’s raining, get yourself here.

12. Then visit Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

Another of the more unique things to do in Killarney is to take the spin to Muckross Abbey.

This section of the national park predates Muckross House, and historians have estimated that the first monastery was built as far back as the 6th century.

The Abbey ruins which still stand today date from the 15th century and have not been in use since the 1650s, when the monks were driven away during the Cromwellian war.

People that visit Muckross House often miss the Abbey, which is a shame! Make sure to pop into onto your Kerry road trip.

13. Try Falconry

Falconry Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

I’ve never been overly keen on Falconry, but the Falconry in the National Park is said to be one of the best things to do in Killarney for families.

Imagine standing in the middle of the National Park with a hawk swooping down from a tree towards you.   

Personally, I’d sh*t bricks. It’s said that you need to stand your ground and provide a steady landing place for the bird. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Killarney with hard to amuse kids, this is a great option.

14. Walk or cycle the Gap of Dunloe

gap of dunloe drive

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is one of the more unique things to do in Killarney. There’s a boat tour (info here) that leaves from Ross Castle and that takes you across the lake to Lord Brandon’s Cottage.

From here, you can take the 45-minute cycle down through the Gap of Dunloe. You can then park up at Kate Kearney’s and have a coffee.

The final leg of the cycle is the 40-minute or so spin back to Killarney Town. Make sure to book the tour in advance. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one in the town.

Looking for a place to stay? See our guide on where to stay in Killarney (it has a handful of great, central hotels)

15. See ‘Ladies View’

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

Ladies View is one of the most popular places to visit in Killarney, and for good reason – the view here is mighty!

This is another magnificent stop-off point on the Ring Of Kerry drive. From the viewing point you’ll be treated to a view that will quite literally knock you sideways.

A couple of things to note if you visit Ladies View:

  • The parking here can be nuts: there’s a tight area to pull in on the right of the road, if you drive from Killarney
  • If you park here, BE CAREFUL reversing – visibility can be limited and there’s a bend in the road not far from the parking area
  • There’s a cafe right next to Ladies View that has an elevated seating area that offers incredible views of the  surrounding countryside

16. Then stop off at Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ll find Moll’s Gap a short drive from Ladies View, on the road between Killarney and Kenmare. 

Moll’s Gap is a mountain pass on the N71 road from Killarney to Kenmare that offers stunning views as far as the eye can see.

If you’re cycling the Ring of Kerry and looking for a stop-off point, there’s a cafe right next to Moll’s (Avoca) where you can grab some chill time.

17. Make your belly happy with some exceptional food

restaurants in Killarney

There’s an almost endless number of restaurants in Killarney. Some are good, some are great, while others… well… others aren’t the Mae West.

In this guide, you’ll find plenty of great places to eat in the town. Or, if you fancy an early feed, hop into our guide to the best places for breakfast in Killarney.

18. Take a kayak over to Innisfallen Island

If you’re in search of slightly off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Killarney, this next one should be right up your street.

For the more adventurous, a Kayak tour is well worth considering. This is a fantastic way to spend half a day outdoors experiencing the best that Killarney has to offer (scenery by the boatload!).

There are a couple of tour providers offering Kayaking tours in Killarney. The tours take Kayakers over to Innisfallen Island, where they’ll explore the Abbey and discover some folklore along with the secrets of the lakes.

19. Conquer Cardiac Hill

Cardiac Hill

Photos left and top right: Sheila Berrios-Nazario. Bottom right: Britishfinance (Wiki Commons)

Cardiac Hill is one of the tougher walks in Killarney. Why? Well, you have to conquer hundreds of steps at the start.

However, once you’ve reached the top of the steps, you’ve some nice level ground to ramble along, with numerous viewpoints that’ll make the trek at the start well worth it.

The walk takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on pace, and you can find a full guide to it right here.

20. Visit one of the many things to do near Killarney

Ballaghbeama Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

Once you’ve ticked off the various things to do in Killarney, you’re in luck – there’s endless things to do near Killarney.

If you want to tackle some scenic drives, Ballaghbeama Gap, the Dingle Peninsula and the brilliant Slea Head Drive are all worth doing.

Or, you could head towards Kenmare Town and then tip onto the Beara Peninsula, which straddles both Cork and Kerry.

FAQs about Killarney

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what to do in Killarney when it’s raining to where to take the kids

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 things to do in Killarney?

The Torc Mountain Walk, the Dunloe boat tour, Torc Waterfall and Muckross Abbey are some of our favourite activities in Killarney.

What are the most popular places to visit in Killarney?

Ladies View, The Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Moll’s Gap are all popular things to see in Killarney.

What are the most unique Killarney activities?

Some of the more unique things to do in Killarney are to take a kayak over to Innisfallen Island, visit the folks at Killarney Falconry or Conquer Cardiac Hill.

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Aife Crean Scannell

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

You forgot Dinis loop. Dinis consists famously of the Meeting of the Waters Bridge, Old Weir Bridge and Dinis Cottage. And not to mention all the amazing and stunningly beautiful scenery on the way. There is also the Blue Pool walk. And Pike Woods walk. Also, my other favourites are Killegy Graveyard and Towerwood Waterfall.

Mary Ellen Freeman

Saturday 25th of January 2020

Loved reading your guide. We will be visiting Killarney in April.

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