There’s nothing like a good day outside and that’s why outdoor adventures are a huge part of our lives. When I look back on the last year’s journey along Ireland’s rugged coast, it struck me that it wasn’t about big shiny moments but more about the art of making the small things the biggest things.
It was about meeting the morning with freshly baked bread, so fresh nothing else was required to ease into a perfect Thursday. It was about making time to sift through the million pieces of sand in search of pink seashells. It was about after nap cuddles and it was about a chance to be thankful for life itself and an opportunity to do something special.
One of the places on our two-week Ireland road trip itinerary, where we happily traversed across five different counties and gasped in amazement of myriad of views on offer, was County Kerry nicknamed the Kingdom. It is one of the most sought after destinations in Ireland as it brims with majestic landscapes at every turn.
It’s a place where the lush green forests are thriving with bluebells, and where the mountains reach down to the lakes forming beautiful vistas. It’s a place where green farm fields are crisscrossed by stone walls, where Irish is still widely spoken and where you’ll find Ireland’s highest mountain range offering world-class hiking, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.
Upon our arrival, Glenbeigh village greeted us with bright blue sky and warm sunshine. Good weather makes a massive 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?
As this was Ericeiras second 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 which are free of charge and decided to leave the interior of the house for the next time. If you are interested though, entrance cost 9 euros for an adult.
How To Spend a Brilliant Weekend in Beautiful Killarney, Ireland
Trying to plan the perfect Killarney road trip? We’re here to help make the process a little less stressful!
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. Consisting of jaw-dropping scenery, sweeping coastal views and many interesting attractions connected by narrow, winding roads, you’ll be glad to visit this part of Ireland.
Here’s everything you need to know before you pack your bags and travel to Killarney located in County Kerry.
Top things to see and do
No trip to Killarney is complete without a drive-through Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass carved by glacial ice that separates two mountain ranges, and along the world-famous Ring of Kerry, not to mention visiting Killarney National Park, taking a boat to Skelling Michael and going for a drive around Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head.
We only had a weekend to wander around this part of Ireland and decided to visit 3 of the most famous spots, and we can highly recommend them to our fellow travellers.
Stop by Ross Castle
Sitting pretty on the lakeshore and attracting visitors from all around the world, is one of Killarney’s main attractions-beautiful Ross Castle that was 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, but in the summer of 1644, the English managed to reduce 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.
Ross Castle is a hectic place during the summer month. If you wish to visit with a tour, keep in mind that site is restricted and can only accommodate groups of 15, and photography is not permitted.
Drive Ring Of Kerry
A panoramic road that surrounds the Iveragh Peninsula with a length of nearly 180 kilometres is probably the most famous visitor attraction in Kerry. With plenty of sights along the way, think Aghadoe viewing point, Derrynane fairy trail, Loher fort and Parknasilla, it’s best to cover the loop in several days.
The 180 km circuit route that begins in Killarney shouldn’t take longer than a day to drive, but breaking it up into in days will provide you with less crammed itinerary and more time to take in the scenic views. Make sure you take a break from driving to experience the vast variety of nature and the local culture.
Wander around Mucross House
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.
Designed by Scottish architect William Burns for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife Mary Balfour Mucross House is fully furnished 19th-century mansion overlooking Muckross Lake. The house was sold and passed onto various owners until donated to the Irish Free State.
Explore vibrant Killarney Town
In Killarney Town, 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. The town itself, with candy-coloured buildings lining little streets, is small enough to explore on foot.
Whether you desire to listen to traditional music, stroll down small alleyways or pick up some classic Irish sweaters, there is so much to see and do that you could easily spend your whole Irish holiday in Killarney and surrounding areas.
Capture the beauty of fairy-tail forests
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’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.
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.
Explore the Lakes of Killarney
Killarney National Park is home to three scenic lakes – Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake which you can admire either by going on the hike or from a boat tour. Lough Leane, with a number of small forested islands scattered throughout the 4,700 acres of water, is the largest one and with the Kerry Mountains in the background, make for perfect landscape photographs.
On the clear day the lakes with their mountainous background provide visitors with a chance to get off dry land and onto the water for a memorable way to savour Killarney’s landscape. You can hire a boat at Ross Castle and arrange one of the experienced boatmen to take you out on the open water, take a trip on the waterbus or catch a boat from Muckross House to Dinis Cottage.
Visit Killarney National Park
Visiting Killarney National Park, a place that encompasses some of the best scenery in Ireland, is at the top of many travellers Ireland bucket list. We’ve now visited the town and the park five times, staying nearby for several days each time and devoting our time to various tourist attractions.
Killarney National Park located in County Kerry is Ireland’s first national park and is well known for its natural scenery and also man-made beauty. The park cover over 25,00 acres and is family-friendly. You can take in the panoramic view at Ladies View, climb Cardiac Hill, go for a ride in a horse carriage and spot red deer.
How to get to Killarney
From Dublin | 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 County Kerry at least once a year, and it takes nearly 4 hours, sometimes even more if we stop for snacks in a beautiful Adare village. Either way, driving to Killarney is the fastest and cost-effective option if travel in a group.
Public transport | Another option is to travel by train. Trains depart for Killarney from Dublin Houston 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.
Tours | There is also plenty to choose from Day Tours from Dublin (costing around 65 EUR per person). 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- It’s generally cold and rainy in Ireland, make sure you wear layers and dress for the weather.
- Killarney 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!
- Kerry is a Gaeltach region of Ireland, so why not try speaking Irish: Dhia Dhuit (D-a gwuit) – Hello, Slán (slawn) – Good bye, Cé mhéid? (k ved) – How much, Gura faith agat (gur-a maa aa-gat) – Thank you
- Shop around for Skellig Michael boat trip tours and pick a right one as some boats only circle the islands.
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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!