Ultimate Travel Guide to Killarney
Killarney is a lovely, small town on the shore of Lough Leane in southwest Ireland in County Kerry. Tourists frequently stop here when travelling along the scenic Ring of Kerry. The town of Killarney has a nice little charm sprinkled amongst an old European feel—Killarney is home to some famous 19th century cathedrals.
Additionally, Killarney is popular for its beautiful landscape. Killarney National Park is a breathtaking to say the least, and perfect for serious backpackers as well as families and the less adventurous travelers.
Killarney won the best-kept town award in 2007, and is filled with history, class, and charm. Killarney was an original religious destination when Ireland was first being settled and attracted monks from all over the world.
Today, all visitors will appreciate the tranquil nature of the town, and will fall in love with the incredible nature. Check out our travel guide that highlights many attractions and things to do in Killarney!
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How to get to Killarney
Killarney is located in the county of Kerry, Ireland. Travelers have several different options when choosing to arrive to their destination. If traveling by air, the two airports to choose from are Kerry Airport and Cork Airport. Kerry Airport is local—only about 15 minutes from the town—but a connection will be necessary.
Cory Airport, on the other hand, has several EU and UK connections, but is a little over an hour car drive from Killarney. However, having a car on hand would be a great idea if wanting to explore the Ring of Kerry. If travelling locally, there is sea, rail, and bus access to Killarney.
Multiple daily services between Ireland and the UK are in function, and the common ports to travel from are the southern Welsh ports of Fishguard and Pembroke or the UK services that run between Dublin and Holyhead in north Whales.
Conveniently, Killarney is directly linked by rail to Cork and Dublin. Trains run between these locations about 7 or 8 times daily. Finally, no matter where you are in Ireland, you are bound to find a ride with Bus Eireann.
Best time to visit Killarney
Unfortunately, weather in Ireland is very difficult to predict—tourists should prepare to experience all four seasons throughout their say. Generally speaking, May and September are good options. During these months, there are less tourists, so you’ll have a much easier time navigating crowds and finding accommodations.
Nonetheless, Killarney is one of those year-round towns. Being a popular destination for many tourists, the town is equipped for visitors during all 12 months. If wanting more action, you may want to avoid any major national holidays as many restaurants and bars will be closed.
How to get around Killarney
Getting around Killarney is easy! Because the town is so compact, tourists can either walk, drive, or take a shuttle bus. Everything is close together, and even the national park isn’t too far away.
The Killarney Shuttle bus operates between all major attractions in Killarney including the Muckross House and Gardens, Torc Waterfall, Ross Castle, and the Gap of Dunlow.
Both local and country-wide taxi options are available, and cars can easily be rented. Another great option is to rent a bike!
What to expect in Killarney
The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro as their currency, but Killarney and the rest of Northern Ireland use the pound sterling. Nonetheless, the Euro is often accepted in many places.
All banks have ATM’s to help with the exchange rate, and there are often exchange facilities open throughout the week.
Most places accept Visa and MasterCard, but American Express will most likely only be accepted at major chains. A lot of the smaller pubs in bars in Killarney will prefer debit cards.
Where to stay in Killarney
There are SO many options when staying in Killarney from luxury hotels to hostels to AirBnB to boutique hotels. The Killarney Royal, for example, is a charming boutique hotel located right in the center of town.
The hotel is family owned and was originally built as a townhouse because of this, each room is slightly different but still has the same antique charm as the rest of the space. The hotel also has a wonderful restaurant.
The Killarney Park Hotel offers a similar experience but with more of an old-world feel. The interior consists of vaulted ceilings, curved and paneled walls, rustic fire places, and open lounge rooms. Some of the rooms enjoy views of the mountains as well.
For those wanting to stay in cheaper accommodations, a hostel or AirBnB is a great option. One hostel worth noting is the Black Sheep Hostel. The Black Sheep Hostel is located right down town and is located to a lot of action.
The rooms and dorms are very nice, and there are shared common spaces such as a kitchen, recreation room, and work room. Travelers from all over the world choose this as their place to stay, and I guarantee that you wont be disappointed.
Finally, if wanting to book an AirBnb, I would recommend staying in the city center. AirBnBs can be booked for both solo travelers and groups alike—be sure to look for shared accommodations as well as private accommodations.
What to eat in Killarney
Killarney is a great place to try many of Ireland’s traditional dishes. A must try Irish dish, and the best way to start your day, is a full Irish breakfast.
Typically, a full Irish breakfast consists of bacon, sausage, baked beans, fried eggs, mushrooms, black and white pudding, toast, and tea. This massive meal will surely get your day going in the right direction! Some popular dishes for later in the day are fish and chips, Irish stew, colcannon, and brown soda bread.
The classics (such as fish and chips and stew) should definitely not over-shine the less internationally popular dishes. Colcannon, for example, is a delicious mixture of mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and is generally served as a side with ham. For those sweet tooth out there, you have got to try brown soda bread.
Brown soda bread is popular all throughout Ireland and the ingredients vary depending on where you are. Soda bread is a form of quick bread, meaning that it is layered with something other than yeast (in this case, baking soda). The other ingredients are simple: flour, buttermilk, salt, and often a secret ingredient of choice.
Some great places to try both traditional and modern dishes are Bricin, Gaby’s, and La Rambla Bistro. Killarney takes its food very seriously, and these restaurants surely won’t disappoint!
Things to do in Killarney
As you can imagine, Killarney is filled with things to do for families, backpackers, and couples. Check out this small list with some of our favorite things to do in Killarney:
Killarney National Park
Killarney national park is Ireland’s first national park. It was originally created when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932. Since the founding, the park has been substantially expanded—its property now spreads over 25,000 acres.
The land is very diverse and is home to a vast range of mountains, trees, and lakes. Interestingly, the animals are equally as diverse—the park has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because the park is home to many rare species. Nonetheless, it is completely up to the visitor when planning a trip to Killarney National Park.
A few specific things worth checking out are the Ross Castle, the Torc Waterfall, and the Muckross House. Ross Castle was estimated to be built in the late 1400s and is located on the Lower Lake in the National Park.
According to local legends, the original builder of the castle is said to still sleep deep under the waters of Lower Lake, and arises one every seven years on a white horse in order to take a glimpse of the castle. The castle is still furnished with many original pieces, and guided tours are available throughout the day.
The Torc Waterfall, on the other hand, is perfect for visitors that have obsessions with running bodies of water. The waterfall is only a short walk from the parking lot making it easy for less adventurous travelers to appreciate its natural beauty.
However, there is a 4.5km loop hike available for those wanting to check out the waterfall in more detail. Finally, the Muckross House is another excellent tourist destination.
This 19th century Victorian mansion is owned by the state and can only be viewed during a guided tour. The beautiful house and gardens are well worth touring due to its grand history and beauty!
The Kerry Cliffs make for the perfect day trip from Killarney! The Cliffs offer amazing views (over 1,000 feet high) of the Skellig Islands and Puffin Island.
In fact, it is believed that the Kerry Cliffs were formed over 400 million years ago! The Kerry Cliffs are only 80 kilometers away from Killarney and are easily accessible via train, bus, or car.
Upon arriving at the Kerry Cliffs, tourists can go on hikes, bird watch, or relax with a cup of coffee while taking in a 360 degree view from the Kerry Cliff Café!
Slea Head Route
Driving the Slea Head drive takes some time, but is definitely worth it. Located on the west coast of Ireland, Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula is one of Europe’s most scenic drives.
Visitors will appreciate both the ocean and mountain views while also having the chance to stop at various sites and villages.
For example, tourists love taking a pit stop at Dingle Town. Dingle Town is an energetic fishing port filled with pubs, restaurants, shops, and bed and breakfasts.
Another wonderful place to stop to explore would be the Reasc Monastic Site. This religious destination is home to ancient ruins dating back to the 7th century!
Blarney Castle is located in Cork, Ireland (about an hour drive from Killarney) and is also perfect for those looking to take a day trip outside of the city.
This historic castle is most famous for the Blarney Stone—according to local legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the gift of gab (the ability to be a smooth talker). Other attractions on the castle’s premise are the many different gardens.
Some of the gardens are themed and intricately built in to the estate. One of my favorite gardens, the Poison Garden, is home to a collection of international deadly plant species.
Finally, one thing that I would recommend for all visitors is to explore one of the many hiking trails that will allow you to view the castle along the baks of the River Martin.
These famous islands are located off the west coast of Ireland forming part of Kerry County. They were abandoned in 1954 due to a population decline but are nonetheless still a very attractive tourist destination.
In order to get to the islands, a ferry is necessary and depending on the time of year, a boat transfer may be needed as well.
The islands are known around the world for its mysticism, ruggedness, and grandiosity. Blasket islands are famous for its history of story-telling and literature, and the islands still definitely reap a sense of eeriness and spookiness.
Tourists will fall in love with the pure beauty of the islands, and will become mesmerized by uninhabited dwellings that still inhabit the land.
Regardless of what you want to do in Killarney, you are bound to enjoy your stay! The nature is incredible, the history is vast, and the food is delicious. Let our recommendations help plan this trip of a lifetime!
Recommended tours in Killarney
- The Ring of Kerry Day Trip including Killarney Lakes and National Park
- Private Tour: Ring of Kerry from Killarney
- Cliffs of Moher Private Tour from Killarney
- Private Tour: Dingle Peninsula from Killarney
- Full-Day Tour of the Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head, and Inch Beach
- Combination Killarney Jaunting Car Tour and Lakes of Killarney Cruise
- Killarney Super Saver: Dingle and Slea Head Day Trip plus Ring of Kerry and Killarney Lakes Day Trip
- Ring of Beara Day Tour from Killarney
- The Gap of Dunloe Adventure Day Tour from Killarney
- Hop On/Off Shuttle Visit National Park,Torc Waterfall,Muckross House,Ladies View
- Kayaking Tour from Killarney, Including Ross Castle
- Blarney Castle, Cork City and Cobh Private Tour from Killarney