Upon our arrival, Glenbeigh village greeted us with bright blue sky and warm sunshine. Good weather makes a huge difference for travelling around Ireland, particularly in early spring, so we literary jumped from joy and rushed straight to nearby Rossbeigh beach.
The ocean is the closest thing to my heart, and as we walked down the erratic shoreline, I couldn’t help but question what is streaming trough Ericeiras mind? Does she notice lacy ripples, velvety sand and every shade of blue before us? Is she curious about treasures hiding in depths of the uncharted aquatic world?
Located in southwest Ireland on the shores of Lough Leane and surrounded by beautiful valleys and mountainous landscape, Killarney is a place like no other. The town itself, with candy coloured buildings lining little streets, is small enough to explore on foot.
In Killarney, you’ll find perfectly poured pints of Guinness, authentic Aran sweaters, traditional lamb stew served with soda bread on the side, traditional music and jaunting cars. There is so much to see and do that you could easily spend your whole Irish holiday in Killarney and surrounding areas.
How To Have A Brilliant Time In Beautiful Killarney National Park
No trip to Killarney is complete without a drive trough Gap of Dunloe and along world famous Ring of Kerry, not to mention Killarney National Park, Skelling Michael, Dingle Peninsula which is less crowded and Slea Head.
This place has so much eternal beauty to offer and so many unusual places to see that creating that perfect itinerary can be challenging. Make sure you don’t over plan-leave some room for flexibility and fun!
We only had a weekend to wander around this part of Ireland and decided to visit 3 of the most famous spots; we can highly recommend them to our fellow travellers.
#1. Explore fairy tail forests in Killarney
Head into the wilderness and start your journey by exploring beautiful woodlands! The timing of our long weekend voyage to Killarney couldn’t be any more immaculate as scenic woodlands around the region and everywhere else in Ireland turned in to something special.
I adore this time of the year because magic happens when a little plant with glossy green leaves and bell-shaped blossoms wake up. It’s safe to say; bluebells are the spring seasons most beautiful wildflowers. Thriving beside each other in their thousands, they visually revive forests back to life.
Wild garlic starts to blossom around the same time as bluebells, and the best places to look for them are damp shady woodlands. A lush blanket of little white star-shaped flowers combined with distinctive garlic smell makes it easy to identify them.
My earliest memory of wild garlic comes from childhood when my family would make annual trips to the forest to pick the bright green leaves to make a salad. But it was here, on the Emerald Isle, that I had a chance to see them in full bloom. The leaves of the plant are not only edible, but they are also popular in cooking, especially in making Wild Garlic Pesto we have yet to try out.
#2. Wander around Muckross House and Gardens
As this was Ericeiras very first trip to the Kingdom of Kerry, we set out on the mission to show her most beautiful sights, starting with a 65-room Muckross House, located about 6 km outside of Killarney town.
We settled to explore the Gardens(free of charge) and decided to leave the interior of the house for the next time. If you are interested though, entrance costs 9 euros for an adult.
We made an effort to get up early, and it certainly paid off, we had a rare chance to walk around the mansion gardens with no one else around. On the grounds itself, we had a lovely surprise. Rhododendron trees were in full bloom, and they are a sight to behold, showing off a fantastic array of pink and purple colours.
#3. Visit beautiful Ross Castle
Further down the road, sitting pretty on the lake shore and attracting visitors from all around the world, is one of Killarney’s main attractions-beautiful Ross castle (built in the late 15th century by O’Donoghue Mór).
Back in a day, Ross castles functions were to safeguard its inhabitants against enemy attacks and to provide shelter. In the summer of 1644, the English reduced a good deal of the castle to ruins.
Today, Ross castle has been carefully restored and is open for visitors from April to October. You can see inside only as part of a guided tour which costs 4 euros for an adult and usually takes 40 minutes.
I’m so glad we ventured outside the castle walls into surrounding woodlands and managed to cram in The Ross Castle and Demesne Loop walk. The hiking trail was wide enough for a buggy (quite bumpy in some parts), and at the end, we were rewarded with a fantastic view over the lakes.
How to get to Killarney
The quickest route to get to Killarney with the car is to take N7 all the way to Limerick and then to whichever town/village you are staying at. We drive to Kerry at least once a year, and it takes nearly 4 hours, sometimes more if we stop for snacks in a beautiful Adare village. Driving to Kery is the fastest and cost-effective option if travel in a group.
Another option is to travel by train. Trains depart for Killarney from Dublin Heuston Station every two hours (23 EUR one way). Travel time is just over 3 hours, and it’s best to buy a return/round ticket right away instead of separate one-way fares(works out cheaper). It takes around 5 and a half hours to travel from Dublin to Killarney by bus, with one change in Limerick and tickets cost around 30EUR.
There are also plenty to choose from Day Tours from Dublin (around 65 EUR). Keep in mind, pick-up times are super early, just after 6 am. Day trip routes usually include all the top tourist attractions from Muckross House and Gardens to Dingle Bay and Inch Beach.
Tips, hints, and things to do in Killarney
- Give yourself a whole day or two, if possible, to drive The Ring of Kerry. The drive itself may look small on the map, but there is a lot of ground to cover with plenty to see and do.
- Many visitors choose to travel around Ireland with a tour bus. Don’t be put off by driving on the left-side, rent a car, keep your eye out for pull-offs on the side of the road and stop for photos as much as you like.
- In Ireland, weather can change in seconds, and you can even experience four seasons in one day. Pack your rain jacket and don’t wait for the rain to stop.
- If you want more than just scenic views, than look up! When conditions are right, and skies are bright at night, Star Clusters, Milkey Way and Nebula’s are on display.
- Sort out your accommodation well in advance. Hotels along Ring of Kerry in Killarney book up very fast in the summer and around Bank Holiday weekends.
- Some of the best coastal views are from the Skellig Ring Scenic Loop which does not allow bus traffic. On a bright and sunny day, you can even see the Beara Peninsula and Bull Rock.
- Reach out to the locals and other hotel guests. Ask sightseeing recommendations from your B&B owner and get tips from travellers who have already toured the area.
- Shop around for Skellig Michael boat trip tours and pick a right one as some boats only circle the islands
- Ross Castle is a hectic place during the summer month( and if you wish to visit inside of it keep in mind that site is restricted and can only accommodate groups of 15), and photography is not permitted.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Killarney National Park and Killarney town? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Killarney National Park and have travel related questions!