Howaya! In the guide below, you’ll find a shed-load of the best things to do in Killarney.
If you keep on readin’ you’ll find everything from scenic spots that’ll knock you sideways to man-made attractions that are rich with history.
Table of Contents
Our favourite things to do in Killarney
We’ve split this guide up into a few different sections to make it easier for you to skim. The first section of the guide tackles our favourite things to do in Killarney.
The second section is packed with active things to do in Killarney and the third has advice on what to do in Killarney at night. Right – dive on in!
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. 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
3. 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.
4. 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.
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 lot 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.
The most popular things to do in Killarney Town
If you don’t have a car and if you’d rather skip cycling, don’t worry – there are plenty of things to see in Killarney Town that are a short walk from the centre.
Below, you’ll find everything from ancient sites and fine places to eat to scenery, mighty pubs and much more.
1. Step back in time at Ross Castle (Killarney Castle)
You’ll often hear people (incorrectly) refer to Ross Castle as ‘Killarney Castle’. You’ll find Ross Castle, another fine 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.
2. Make your belly happy
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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 Tou.
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.
6. Then visit Muckross Abbey
You’ll find Muckross Abbey a handy 5-minute stroll from Muckross House. 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.
7. Try your hand (literally) at Falconry in Killarney National Park
I’ve never been overly keen on Falconry, but I’ve heard rave reviews from a lot of people that have tried Falconry in Killarney National Park.
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.
This is a great experience for the family and if you’re looking for things to do in Killarney as a group, you can get discounted rates.
8. Take a Jaunting Car Tour
If you’ve limited mobility (or if you fancy a unique experience) try a Jaunting Car tour. You’ll find these in Killarney Town and at the entrances to the park.
This is a very different way to experience the town and you’ll be treated to some fine storytelling in the process.
Jaunting Cars have been doing the rounds in Killarney for many a year. You can either book online or walk up to one and work out a price.
What to do in Killarney if you’re looking to get active
Some of the best things to do in Killarney, in my opinion, involve heading out of the town and either climbing a mountain or heading off on a cycle.
If you’re into that kinda thing, too, you’ll enjoy the next section of our guide. It’s packed with Killarney activities that’ll get the heart-rate up.
1. Or cycle the Gap of Dunloe (via a mini boat tour)
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.
2. 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.
If you’re looking to experience nature up close and personal, get this on your to-conquer list. Just don’t fall in, because the water in Ireland is pretty damn cold!
3. 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 (there’s a great little cafe here).
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.
4. 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.
What to do in Killarney at night
So, you’ve had your fill of adventure and you’re looking for food, music, pints, and some places to kick-back and relax.
If you’re staying in the town and you’re wondering what to do in Killarney at night, you’ve your pick of activities.
In this section, we’ll show you everything from pubs with live music in Killarney to a place where you can chill in a jacuzzi and admire the mountains.
1. Catch some trad music in one of Killarney’s buzzy pubs
If you’re looking to round off a day in style (or if you’re after things to do in Killarney in the rain), get yourself to a pub (here’s a guide to Killarney’s best pubs).
Now, let’s make one thing clear – you don’t need to be a drinker to enjoy Killarney’s pubs (although it would help!).
There are plenty of pubs in Killarney that play live traditional music, so you can chill with a pint or a Coke and listen to tunes.
Murphys Bar and O’Connor’s are two solid options if you’re looking for pubs in Killarney that bang out trad music.
2. Chill in a jacuzzi by the mountains
I’ve wanted to visit the Lake Hotel in Killarney for a stupid amount of time. This place just looks beyond class (slang for ‘great’, for our non-Irish readers!).
The view from the jacuzzi is just beyond ridiculous. Imagine kicking back here and gazing out at the mountains on the horizon. Magic!
Here’s some Killarney accommodation guide to dive into if you’re wondering where to stay:
- 15 Best Hotels In Killarney (From Luxury To Pocket-Friendly)
- Airbnb Killarney: 8 Unique Airbnbs In Killarney
- Killarney Bed And Breakfast Guide: 11 Brilliant B&Bs In Killarney You’ll Love In 2021
- 5 Of The Fanciest 5 Star Hotels In Killarney Where A Night Costs A Pretty Penny
3. Or spend the night somewhere funky
There’s a clatter of very unique Airbnbs in Killarney that’ll treat you to a fine bit of alternative accommodation.
Activities in Killarney: What 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!
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?
- Torc Mountain Walk
- The boat tour from Ross Castle to Lord Brandons Cottage
- Rent a bike and cycle around the national park
- Take a jaunting car tour of the Gap of Dunloe
What are the most popular places to visit in Killarney?
- Ladies View
- The Gap of Dunloe
- Killarney National Park
- Muckross House
- Moll’s Gap
What are the most unique Killarney activities?
- Take a kayak over to Innisfallen Island
- Visit the folks at Killarney Falconry
- Conquer Cardiac Hill
Is Killarney a tourist trap?
Like many busy tourist towns, you’ll find some tourist traps. But, if you use the guide above, you’ll dodge the worst of them!