Torc Waterfall in Killarney is hard to bate.
A visit to Torc Waterfall is one of the best things to do in Killarney, but it can be stressful, especially if you’re driving.
The Torc Waterfall parking area is regularly packed to capacity and there tends to be hundreds of people milling around the waterfall, which makes a visit pointless at times.
However, there’s ways around both of these issues. In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know if you fancy a stress-free visit to Torc Waterfall in Kerry.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Torc Waterfall in Killarney
Although you’d image a visit to Torc Waterfall would be nice and straightforward, for most people visiting it isn’t.
This is thanks to crowds and a tiny parking area. Both of which combine to make this a stop on the Ring of Kerry that a lot of people are forced to skip.
You’ll find Torc Waterfall in Killarney, along the Ring of Kerry, a stone’s thrown from the Town and just outside Killarney National Park.
2. How to get to Torc Waterfall by car, foot and bike
If you’re driving, head straight for the car park along the N71 Road. If you’re cycling or walking, avoid using the main road and get into the park. There’s clear cycle routes and it’s a mostly flat path to walk/cycle.
3. Parking (warning)
The Torc Waterfall parking area (here on maps) is tiny when you consider the volume of people that visit. The best way to avoid hassle here is to arrive either very early (e.g. 07:30) or very late (e.g. before sunset) when crowd levels are lower. There’s more parking down the road (here on maps) but extreme caution is needed as there’s no path.
4. The walk/hike
There are several Torc Waterfall walking trails that vary in length and difficulty. Arguably the most scenic it the Torc Mountain trail. Info on each trail below.
5. My two cents for a stress-free visit
I’ve been to Torc Waterfall 10 or 11 times over the years. On most occassions, I’ve driven, and on ever occasion bar 1 I had issues getting parking. The best way to see it is to rent a bike and get to Torc Waterfall via Killarney National Park.
About Torc Waterfall in Kerry
The waterfall is 20 metres (66 ft) high and 110 metres (360 ft) long and was formed by the nearby Owengarriff River as it drains from the uniquely named ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ lake.
Naming and mythology
There’s an interesting story about where Torc Waterfall gets its name, and it all begins with the meaning behind the word ‘Torc’ in Irish (it translates to ‘Boar’).
The area where Torc Waterfall is located is associated with the legend of a local man that was cursed by the Devil.
According to legend, the cursed man was transformed into a wild boar every night and it’s said that he’d spend his evenings roaming the area near the waterfall.
This continued until the man’s secret was revealed by a local farmer. The revelation of the secret resulted in the man bursting into flames and disappearing into the nearby Devils Punchbowl.
There’s another story that involves the warrior Fionn MacCumhaill killing a magical wild boar up Torc mountain with a golden spear.
How to cycle to Torc Waterfall and avoid all the hassle
The best way to see Torc Waterfall in Killarney is by bike. You can rent a bike from several different places in the town, and then spin straight into Killarney National Park.
Now, if you’re not used to cycling, don’t worry – I hadn’t ridden a bike in years until last summer, when we rented a couple in Killarney.
Then, you can spin out as far as Torc Waterfall. There’s some railings near the public toilets that you come to right next to the bridge, where you can lock up your bike.
From here, it’s a short walk across to Torc Waterfall. This is a nice and handy way of exploring Killarney and seeing the waterfall without dealing with the parking pains.
The Torc Waterfall walk
We’ve had a lot of emails over the years asking about the Torc Waterfall walk. Now, there’s a bit of confusion about what this walk actually is.
This is due to the fact that there are several walks in Killarney that start very close to Torc Waterfall. Here are two walks to try:
Walk 1: The walk from the National Park to Torc
The first ramble that the Torc Waterfall walk could be referring to is the walk from the National Park out to the waterfall.
You start this walk at whatever side of the park you’ve entered at and then continue out to Torc. This can end up being a long stroll, depending on where you enter the park.
Walk 2: Cardiac Hill
The second ramble that the Torc Waterfall walk could be referring to is Cardiac Hill, which starts a little bit up the road from Torc.
As you’ll discover in this guide, the Cardiac Hill walk can take in Torc Waterfall towards the very end (this walk takes around 1.5 hours).
Walk 3: Torc Mountain
The final walk that the Torc Waterfall walk could be referring to is the Torc Mountain walk. Now, I’ve done this walk a few times and I’ve never looped back to take in the waterfall.
Personally, I’d recommend doing the walk following this route and then walking over to Torc Waterfall after, if you fancy it.
Things to see and do near Torc Waterfall in Killarney
One of the beauties of visiting Torc Waterfall in Kerry is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter many of the most popular places to visit in Kerry, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Torc Waterfall. If you fancy a bite to eat there’s plenty of great restaurants in Killarney.
1. Muckross House and Gardens (15-minute drive)
Muckross House and Gardens are around 15 minutes from Torc Waterfall in Killarney, and they’re arguably one of the most visited attractions in the area. You can admire the house from outside, or you can head off on a guided tour.
2. Muckross Abbey (20-minute drive)
Muckross Abbey is another popular attraction in Killarney National Park. The gorgeous tree growing up through the centre has made it a beacon for photographers across Ireland. There’s no tour here, but you can take a stroll around it.
3. Ross Castle (24-minute drive)
A visit to the mighty Ross Castle is one of the most popular things to do in Killarney. You can park close by and soak up the views as you approach. There’s also a tour here that’s racked up decent reviews online.
4. Ladies View (24-minute drive)
Ladies Views is one of the most popular stops on the Ring of Kerry, and for good reason – the views here are outstanding. You can park up, grab a coffee and take it all in from a handy viewing point.
5. Moll’s Gap (31-minute drive)
The mighty Moll’s Gap is another handy stop just up the road from Torc Waterfall in Killarney. You can park across from the cafe and take it all in from the side of the road (be careful!) or from the elevated corner of the car park.
FAQs about visiting Torc Waterfall in Kerry
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park for the Torc Waterfall walk to how long it takes to get to it.
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.
Is parking at Torc Waterfall really a nightmare?
In my experience, yes – unless you visit very early in the morning or during the winter months. In the guide above, you’ll find a recommendation on how to avoid the hassle
How long does it take to walk to Torc Waterfall?
Killarney Town: 1 hour and 49 minutes. Killarney National Park: 2 hours and 15 minutes. Muckross House: 1 hour. Car park next to it: 3 – 4 minutes
Is Torc Waterfall in Killarney worth visiting?
On days when there’s hundreds of people milling around, no – it’s more hassle than it’s worth. If you visit before the crowds, 100% yes!
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.