If you’re in search of the best things to do in Killarney Town and beyond, you’ve landed in the right spot.
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
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 Jaunty around the town and park
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. See Killarney from a unique perspective on The Lakes of Killarney cruise
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
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. Listen to the water crash at Torc Waterfall
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
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)
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
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
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 many 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. Nip inside Muckross House
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
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 your hand (literally) at Falconry in Killarney National Park
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
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.
15. See ‘Ladies View’
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
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 sea food
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.
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. Climb Carrauntoohil Mountain
The next stop on our list is for experienced hikers and hillwalkers only (unless you’re taking a guided climb with an experienced hiker/hiking group).
Standing at an impressive 1,038.6 metres, Carrauntoohill is the highest mountain in Ireland. One of the best starting points for the climb is Cronin’s Yard.
One of the most popular climbing routes is the Devil’s Ladder Trail. Said to be the more accessible of the routes, this is a 12km hike which involves some climbing and scrambling so you need to be relatively fit if you’re looking to attempt it.
Hop into our guide to the Carrauntoohil hike if you’d like a full breakdown of the most popular route up Ireland’s highest mountain.
20. Conquer Cardiac Hill
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.
21. Visit one of the many things to do near Killarney
Once you’ve ticked off the various things to do in Killarney, you’re in luck – there’s endless things to do near Killarney.
Ballaghbeama Gap (above) is a lovely scenic drive via a road that cuts through the mountains.
What activities in Killarney have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that there are plenty of other worthwhile things to do in Killarney that we’ve unintentionally left out of the guide above.
If you have a place to visit that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments section below!
Looking for somewhere to stay in the town? See our Killarney accommodation guides:
- The best Killarney Bed And Breakfasts
- The top 5 Star Hotels In Killarney
- Where to try glamping in Killarney and glamping in Kerry
FAQs about things to do around 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.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.