Killarney is a quaint, quiet, and beautiful pocket in the east of the Emerald Isle that is a cannot-miss for those visiting Ireland. Regardless of if you have time for a 1, 2, or 3 days in Killarney itinerary, you’ll have a fair list of sites to see. The ideal trip should be a collection of stunning scenery and charming small towns.
The town sits right next to Killarney National Park, home to lovely hiking trails and views. It’s a charming town that serves as the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, a famed route through the Iveragh Peninsula. Killarney is a comfortable home base to explore the region.
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How Many Days in Killarney?
If you want to move between smaller towns frequently, 1 day is enough time to walk through the town and explore a small section of the national park. However, you might still feel rushed to see as much as possible.
With 2 days in Killarney, you can see the town and venture out to see some of the surrounding region. There are scenic hikes, waterfalls, and mountains a short bike ride away.
Two days is the sweet spot for how long to visit Killarney Town itself and some of the picturesque surroundings, especially if you are short on time while traveling.
If you have the time to spend 3 days, you can truly see the area at your leisure and have time for all of the top things to do in Killarney. One day can be spent wandering the national park, day two can be spent exploring nature nearby, and day three can lead you away from the town on a day trip.
Getting To & Around Killarney
It’s both affordable and efficient to take the Irish Bus Service between destinations while here. You can also take the bus to get between towns near Killarney. The Killarney Shuttle Bus is the best way to get between the landmarks in Killarney National Park.
Kerry Airport is the nearest airport, located about a 15-minute drive from town. Cork is another option. It’s a larger airport and takes a bit over an hour of driving to reach Killarney.
There is a small train station in Killarney that has direct lines from Cork and Marrow. If you’re arriving from further away, you’ll have to transfer at one of these stations.
Alternatively, you can opt to rent a car. This is the most flexible way to get around, especially if you plan to take a day trip out of Killarney like to the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula. You can browse Rentalcars.com to find the best options on car hire.
The best way to get around Killarney Town is on foot. It’s a small town that lends itself to being very walkable. It’s easy to access the national park by foot from your accommodation in town, however, you might want to take the bus, drive, or bike to nearby hikes.
Bikes are a common way both locals and visitors get around town and the national park. You can easily rent a bike from a rental company in town and many accommodations will rent bikes out to their guests.
Biking is a great way to explore the trails of the national park and reach the landmarks inside the park like the Lakes of Killarney, Muckross House and Abbey.
It is also possible to take organised day tours to nearby sites such as this full-day tour going to Killarney National Park and parts of the Ring of Kerry.
1, 2 or 3-Day Killarney Itinerary
Use these suggestions when planning out all of the amazing places to visit in Killarney. From the national park to the charming town, there is quite a lot to do in the region that you’re sure to fall in love no matter how long you have.
Day 1 – National Park, Ross Castle, & Muckross
Explore Killarney National Park
With 1 day in Killarney, you can create quite a comprehensive Killarney National Park itinerary.
A trip to this town is incomplete without a day spent exploring the park. Here, you’ll find the highest mountain range in Ireland, historic castles, tranquil lakes, and beautiful landscapes to keep you in awe.
The park is about 10,000 hectares with hiking trails, both paved and not, for visitors to take as they explore the park. Killarney National Park became the first national park in Ireland in 1932.
Some highlights in the park include the red deer herds, which have been in the area since Neolithic times, and the largest area of yew woodland in Western Europe where some trees are thought to be over 200 years old.
Here, you’ll explore the many habitats and cultural landmarks the park has to offer.
Visit Ross Castle
Your trip to Killarney National Park should have Ross Castle high on the list. The castle dates all the way back to the 15th century and was home to the chiefs of the Clan O’Donoghue. Set on the banks of Lough Leane, one of the three Lakes of Killarney, Ross Castle is a landmark steeped in local lore.
The legend states that the chieftain O’Donoghue sleeps at the bottom of the lake. On the first day of May every seven years, he rises from the lake on a white horse. If you see the spectre, you’re thought to have good luck for the rest of your life.
Whether you believe in the story or not, it’s well worth a visit. During the summer months, you can sign up for a guided tour inside, but the grounds surrounding the castle are open year-round.
Visit Muckross House
This 19th-century mansion is a pocket of the park that is frozen in time. The house and gardens sit about 3.6 miles from Killarney town on the banks of Muckross Lake.
It was originally built for the Herbert family, who also took charge of building an expansive garden that is still present today. The garden is best visited in spring and summer.
Visitors can venture inside the home for a small visitor’s fee. It’s decorated like it would’ve been in the 19th century. When you walk through the halls and peer into each of the rooms, you can imagine what life in this stunning mansion might have been like for its residents.
See the Muckross Abbey ruins
Add another bit of history to your Killarney National Park itinerary with a visit to the Muckross Abbey ruins. This old monastery doubles today as a modern graveyard and is located about a five-minute walk away from Muckross House.
The earliest sections of the monastery are thought to have been built in the 15th century. The monks who resided here were forced out in the 1650s by Walter Cromwell and his army. Today, you can wander these moss-coated ruins.
You can visit Muckross Abbey all year round, but it’s most pleasant during the warmer months.
Day 2 – Torc Waterfall, Torc Mountain & Lough Leane
If you have 2 days to spend in Killarney, use the second to dig deeper into the national park and experience all of the gorgeous natural scenery around.
Hike to Torc Waterfall and Torc Mountain
The view from the top of Torc Mountain is truly unmatched. There are two routes to reach the top: the short way and the long way. Most visitors opt for the shorter hike, which takes most people 2 to 3 hours to reach the top.
As with setting out on any hike, keep in mind the gear you bring. Sturdy shoes are necessary and walking poles could be useful. This is a moderately difficult hike, so make sure to take the trail at your own pace. The 360-degree view from the top of the mountain is well worth the climb.
Torc Waterfall is another great option–it’s also one of the most recommended hikes in Killarney. This means the parking lot tends to fill up quickly and you might encounter a lot of hikers on the trail.
To reach the falls, you’ll walk along the 5.4-miles looped trail. This is also a moderately difficult route. If you want to avoid crowds on your hike, opt for Torc Mountain.
Take a boat ride on Lough Leane
Lough Leane is the lake where most of the national park’s major historical landmarks were built around. You can easily see it from the shoreline while visiting these landmarks, or you can experience it from the water.
After you purchase a ticket, you’ll climb aboard a comfortable and heated craft at a dock near Ross Castle. Now, sit back and relax as the boat motors around the lake, offering fresh perspectives on the rolling hills, forests, and wildlife that encompass Killarney National Park. You can also perhaps visit Innisfallen Island and Abbey, an island in the middle of Lough Leane.
There are multiple tours per day and you can sign up for a transfer from Killarney town center to the dock or book in advance here.
Enjoy the food in Killarney
After a day spent hiking and admiring Killarney National Park’s sites, it’s time to enjoy the many incredible food options you have in the town of Killarney.
For authentic Irish cuisine, look no further than Bricín. This cozy and humble restaurant expertly cooks some of Killarney’s best Irish dishes.
For seafood, try the Mad Monk or Kitty O’se’s. One of the most popular places in town which also happens to be located near the town’s most popular pubs is Murphy Brownes.
No trip to Killarney is complete without capping off the day with a plate of beer-batter fish and chips.
Day 3 – Ring of Kerry
Drive the Ring of Kerry
If you have 3 days to spend in Killarney, you should consider driving some or all of the Ring of Kerry – on of the most popular driving routes for many on a trip to Ireland. You can either rent a car or sign up for a guided day tour, but a rental car grants you more overall freedom.
The road is easy to navigate–it’s one big loop over 111 miles and one you should drive counterclockwise as the road is narrow and tour buses frequent.
Summer is by far the most popular time as it offers the best chance for great weather and even better views, but this also means summer is the busiest.
Plan to leave early in the morning to beat the tour buses that will inevitably clog the narrow road throughout the afternoon. Spring and fall are also great times of year for the drive and have fewer visitors.
Some top attractions along the Ring of Kerry include: the Gap of Dunloe, Rossbeigh Beach, Derrynane House & Park, Kerry Cliffs, and Cahergal Stone Fort.
There are several pullouts along the route where you can stop to admire the view and snap a quick picture. The town of Killorglin is a great place to stop for breakfast as the town is known as “the first stop on the Ring of Kerry.”
It’s often common to start the Ring of Kerry in Killarney and end in the town of Kenmare (or vice versa), however, that isn’t necessary in order to enjoy this iconic part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Admire the view from Ladies View
Ladies View is a lookout point along the Ring of Kerry, but it can also serve as a short day trip from Killarney town.
The viewpoint is about 12 miles from Killarney and is considered one of the most photographed places in Ireland. The name, Ladies View, comes from the love of the view from the ladies-in-waiting of Queen Victoria during their 1861 visit.
Ladies View is a great place for an afternoon picnic or stroll and is one of the best places to visit in Killarney.
Where to Stay in Killarney
Old Weir Lodge – This lovely guesthouse is an excellent place to base yourself when exploring Killarney and its surrounding area. They have several comfortable rooms on offer, a great location close to the town centre and there is also a hearty breakfast available daily.
The Killarney Park – If you’re looking for a luxury stay, then lovely hotel in the centre of Killarney is an excellent choice. There are a range of gorgeous and spacious rooms available and plenty of luxe amenities to ensure that you’re well taken care of after a long day of sightseeing.
The Black Sheep Hostel – Backpackers, budget and solo travelers will love this hostel in the town centre of Killarney. Offering both dorms and private rooms, there are great common areas, a good atmosphere and clean facilities.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Killarney hotels!
Killarney boasts a small-town Irish charm while existing side-by-side with nature. The many habitats, landscapes, and historical landmarks in and around Killarney National Park make it truly a marvel to explore. Use these suggestions to help build an unforgettable Killarney itinerary.
Are you planning to visit Killarney? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!