Killarney is the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, an amazing scenic drive in southernIreland. The winding drive cuts through Killarney National Park, and around coastal roads for about 180 kilometres of awesome views and seaside towns. We mostly explored inside the Killarney National Park, but that has enough activities to keep you occupied for days. However the town of Killarney is not to be ignored, containing countless pubs and shops to find your perfect Ireland keepsake. A trip to Ireland is incomplete without a visit to Killarney in County Kerry!
How to Get There
Killarney is a 4.5-5 hour drive from Dublin, 2.5-3 hour drive from Galway and a quick 1-1.5 hour drive from Cork. Everything is no more than an easy days drive away in Ireland,but to explore it the best we recommend renting a car and allow time for lots of stops to enjoy the countryside!
What to Do
- Ladies View – An awesome view of Killarney National Park at the start of the Ring of Kerry, only a 30 min drive from Killarney. It was so great it is now starring as our cover photo for this post! If it’s muddy (as it often is with the rain in Ireland) you can access the rock with the best view from a short trail just past the main parking area while keeping your feet dry. There is a small coffee shop here as well, and if you walk back towards Killarney for just a couple minutes you can check out some beautiful castle ruins just at the side of the road.
- Moll’s Gap – This is as far as we went down the Ring of Kerry as we were limited by time. It’s another 6 kilometres past the Ladies View, and though it’s not as famous and doesn’t offer quite the view, it’s still pretty cool. There’s not much signage; you can find it just 5 minutes past the Kissane Sheep Farm at a fork in the road beside the Avoca Shop. Turn left and park there, and you’ll see the road carved through
some rock. We walked down that road and it opened into a pretty nice view of a valley, as well as a view of the road curling around the mountainside. We were also greeted by a family of sheep, who didn’t seem too pleased that Alex jumped the fence for a picture!
- Torc Waterfall – The waterfall is well marked, and only a 20 minute drive from
Killarney. The stunning waterfall is only a 200m walk from the parking lot, but there are three other hikes that start here. We took the yellow trail which was the shortest, and it took us about 40 mins (including stopping for pictures!). Ittakes you up the mountain to the river which supplies the Torc Waterfall, then backdown through lush green forest. It’s insane how green everything is! If it’s not green, it’s covered in green moss. We definitely recommend the hike, it’s a great way to stretch your legs after being in the car for so long.
- Ross Castle/Innisfallen Abbey – This castle hugs the shore of Lough Leanne, just a 5 minute drive from the centre of Killarney. The castle itself is awesome, but we enjoyed the trip over to Innisfallen Island the most. For 10 euro/person you can take a motor boat over to the island to visit the ancient Innsifallen Abbey. The Abbey was occupied by monks since the year 640 (wow!), and the ruins on the island date back to the 12th or 13th century. The island is also home to a herd of very friendly Sika deer! You get about 40 mins on this magical island, and we were lucky enough to have the place almost completely to ourselves. The whole trip takes about an hour; try to find Jerry and his dog Bella on his boat called the Otter. He was super knowledgeable and loved telling us about the island and surrounding area. You can also rent a row boat for 5 euro/person/hour to explore the island and surrounding area, and if you want to see the inside of Ross Castle you can take a 40 min tour for 5 euros or 3 euros if you’re a student.
- Aran Sweater Shopping – We saw lots of Aran Sweater Shops throughout Ireland, but Killarney had the largest we had seen the whole trip. We couldn’t believe the number of colours and styles they had, and how a shop could operate on solely selling sweaters knit from sheep wool from the Aran Islands. If you’re looking for a sweater this is the place to go, they start around 70 euro and most are between 80 and 120 euro. You also get a 20 euro discount coupon on your next purchase of 100 euros or more at the Aran sweater market, so if you’re buying more than one keep that in mind!
What to Eat
- Laurel’s Pub – We ate dinner here and it was great. The food is a little expensive, but the portions are huge. We split a plate of fish and chips and that was plenty (and amazingly delicious)!
- Pubs are everywhere in Killarney (not unlike the rest of Ireland) and it seems that every night has live music somewhere! So just wander into town, listen for whatever style suits your fancy and head on in for a pint!