Killarney is a lovely little town in the south west of Ireland. It is a stop on the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way so a perfect place to stay a night or two if that is where you are exploring. The town itself also has quite a bit to offer from a lovely national park with a fabulous castle and three lakes to its own Gin and take on a horse and cart! Here is What to do in Killarney:
1. What to do in Killarney – Killarney House
Killarney House was originally built in 1872 and is now home to a modern visitors centre. There isn’t a lot to get excited about in the house as it is more used for events but the gardens out the back are lovely. This is a great place to go when there is some nice light as there are the stunning mountains in the background. This is also the gateway to Killarney National Park.
2. Head out on some Jaunting Cars
They love a horse and carriage or a jaunting car in Killarney! Apparently, this has been around for years and years and is a tourism tradition. You can “catch” a horse and carriage primarily from the main roundabout area in the centre of town just near Killarney house.
You can use the horse and carriage instead of a taxi to get around eg take it to your hotel or I think the nicest way to use them is to have a ride around Killarney National Park (see below).
3. Visit Killarney National Park
Killarney was the first national park in Ireland and became so in 1932. It covers over 100 square metres and includes waterfalls, 3 lakes, a castle, islands and so much more!
There are loads of options for getting around the lovely Killarney National Park. Obviously, there is walking and/or running! You can also get the classic Killarney horse and carriage to take you through. But I think the best option is to hire a bike which is what I did. This means you can explore quite a bit of the park in a relatively small amount of time. You can also cycle through the park to get to Ross Castle which is a very nice thing to do. I found it very flat, virtually no hills, so it is a nice easy cycle.
If you like cycling and are visiting Ireland check out this great post on The Ring of Kerry Cycling.
You can also play golf in the National Park if you fancy it!
4. Photography Ross Castle
Ross Castle is quite a scenic and dramatic castle from the 15th century. It has lakes on either side so great for photos. On one of the lakes, there are quite a few options for both boat and kayaking trips which looked lovely. I didn’t bother to go inside – it houses a collection of 16th and 17th century furniture. But you can climb the walls a bit and get some nice photos.
5. Explore The Kerry Food and Drink Experience
Upscale food and beverages have definitely come to the region of Kerry! Check out the website. Killarney is at the centre of their fantastic Kerry Food and Drink Experience map and app! This covers breakfast experiences, farmers’ markets, food stores, restaurants, cookery schools and what they call visitor ready food adventures.
I sampled a few of these locations over my time there. One highlight was the Dingle Whiskey Distillery which you absolutely must do if you can. The oysters at Glenbeigh Shellfish are amazing! Try to sample:
6. Drink Gin
The Ross Bar in the centre of town not only as its own brand of Gin it also has pink leather booths. And a pink theme. They serve Irish martinis with gin or vodka, dirty or plain, shaken or stirred. They stock 60 different gins and their special touch is adding some grapefruit to the martini.
7. Eat Out!
Killarney is a little on the old-fashioned side when it comes to food. There are a massive number of ice cream shops and sweet shops so there are obviously some sweet tooths around here! The main high street is quite kitsch – not a lot to see but worth a wander. This is the place to go if you would like to purchase a “traditional” souvenir. There are also quite a few fish and chip shops. And of course pubs galore!
Check out Jams for lunch. This little café is just off the high street. It has a range of options from sandwiches to a delicious Irish stew which I sampled. Order at the counter (there are quite a few options like homemade lasagnes, quiches etc as well) and then you can eat there.
The best coffee in Killarney is at Lir Coffee. Fabulous chocolates – very reasonably priced and tasty truffles. Apparently, you need to make sure that it is a female that is your barista as the male owner is not a top barista! I also tried Underground coffee on the high street. It was ok but Lir was much better.
Looking for some more activities in Killarney? Check out this post on Things to do in Killarney
What to do in Killarney – where to stay
I stayed at Gleneagles which is down the Muckross Road. It is about a good 10 minute walk into town. Gleneagles was good value for money but it was a bit tired. There was a big breakfast buffet but to be honest it was a bit like going back in time in terms of being quite basic and not terribly healthy food. They do have a giant pool etc and I think this would be a great place to stay if you were with kids.
As the boutique adventurer where I should have stayed was at The Brehon next door. This was much more up to my levels of thread count! They also have a great restaurant and bar where I ate one night and it was delicious!
What to do in Killarney: Getting There
There are 2 airport options for Killarney. You can fly into Kerry airport which is probably about a 25 minute drive from Killarney. This is a very small airport that doesn’t have that many flights – and most of them you have to fly Ryan Air ugh! The other option is Cork which has more flights but you will be looking at at least a 60 minute drive to the town of Dingle.
What to do in Killarney Useful Links:
Killarney has a great tourism website that will also help you plan a visit.
Or if you are coming from a bit further away why not check out my two favourite airlines:
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Posts on Things to do in London
Whilst in Ireland I used the fab Hidden Ireland Tours to get around – they were brilliant!
Or check out some of these solo tour options for Ireland:
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Thanks to TBEX Ireland and Tourism Ireland for sponsoring my Killarney Day Trip
Also published on Medium.