Killarney National Park: Exploring the Mountains, Lakes, and Castles
With evidence of prehistoric presences dating back to more than 4,000 years, Killarney is a truly enchanted, small part of Ireland. It is made of gorgeous green hillsides, dark looming castles, and sparkling lakes surrounded by massive mountains that still host ancient pagan pathways.
Visiting the Killarney National Park will take you on a journey full of mythology, wildlife, a rich history, and the best tourist attractions to get your blood pumping. End it with a night of pub dancing and scrumptious local dinner for an amazing tourist experience.
Let’s take a quick educational route through everything the park has to offer before you step through the (metaphoric) gates.
How to Get Around
One of the most important things to figure out before you start your journey through Killarney National Park is the transport. There are several options available for tourists depending on their preferences and transport budget.
1. Shuttle Bus
One of the best ways to make your way around any new location is to take the ever-dependable shuttle service. It gives you a great, close-up experience of life in that land while being cheap and convenient. What’s great is that you don’t need to drive yourself!
The shuttle bus service at Killarney will take you through all of the main attractions in the park – but you might have limited time since they run on a tight schedule.
2. Killarney Jaunting Carts
To truly dive into the old-timey experience of Killarney National Park, a horse-drawn carriage (locally called jaunting carts) is perfect!
These horse carriages are quite popular among tourists and you can easily pick your way around the park based on which attractions you want to see first. The carts can be booked for short, fun rides or a full tour with various stops.
3. Rental Car
Ireland has several rental agencies that let tourists rent out cars to get around with more convenience. It’s a great option if you have a higher transport budget and would like to discover the different places in your own time.
Our favorite part about rental cars is that we get to visit the remote areas alongside the common attractions and plan out the trip to avoid those huge tourist groups.
If all else fails, you can simply hop on a local Killarney taxi to get around. This should be considered your last resort though since it will charge you a ton and the experience won’t be as rewarding.
Where to Visit
The Killarney National Park is home to astonishing mountain ranges that loom over majestic castles and are surrounded by waterfalls and river bodies. Some of the must-see attractions there include the following.
1. Killarney House and Gardens
Built in the early 18th century, the Killarney House used to be a part of a much bigger estate but a large chunk of it was demolished. It was restored in 2016 and has since been used as a visitor center for the park.
There are guided tours held of the house every half an hour which are free of cost and seasonal walks around the massive gardens which overlook the Kerry mountain range.
2. Ross Castle
At the edge of Lower Lake, you will find the Ross Castle standing tall and proud. Built in the 1530s, this marvelous estate has been the settling of several battles throughout the centuries.
Legend says that the owner of the castle, O’Donoghue killed himself by jumping out of a window and into the lake and so he continues to haunt the caste – visiting every seven years on the first of May, riding a white horse.
A gorgeous island afloat the Killarney area, Inisfallen is the largest in Lough Leane. It is known for the ruins that are found on the island, with the first monastery dating back to the 7th century. Alongside stand the ruins of a 12th-century Augustinian priory with delicately carved Romanesque doorways.
Deeper into the island, you will find waterfalls and hiking trails that will leave you breathless!
The best way to get to Inisfallen is to take a 10 minutes motorboat ride from Ross Castle.
4. Ladies View
With magnificent panoramic views and a hike that will thrill the adrenaline junkie in you, the Ladies View is not a spot to be missed.
Just a short drive from main Killarney, this mountainside has the perfect view of the three mystical lakes. There is even a gift store for those necessary souvenirs and a café and bar to refresh yourself after the climb.
5. Old Weir Bridge
Much like the rest of the Killarney National Park, the Old Weir Bridge is a centuries-old arch bridge where the three mystical lakes intersect.
Believed to be from the 16th century, this bridge has no road access so you will need to either walk or bike your way to this enchanted, lush-green spot.
6. The Mystical Lakes of Killarney
So we’ve discussed how to get an aerial view of the lakes and even where to see them meet. Time to visit the actual lakes themselves.
The lakes of Killarney are a wonderful spot to enjoy a picnic amidst a scenic forest and encounter wildlife up close. Surrounded by large, towering mountains and greenery on all sides, these lakes are sure to leave you marveling at their beauty.
Lough Leane – The largest of the three. It has Inisfallen and all its hauntingly beautiful ruins.
Muckross Lake, Also called the Middle Lake. It has a long footpath called the Muckross Lake Loop that takes you on a hike of 3-5 hours and crosses the stunning, 60 feet high Torc Waterfall.
Upper Lake – The smallest lake, towards the south. This is a popular fishing spot where delectable salmon and trout are found in abundance.
What to Do
Although! you will spend most of your time at Killarney National Park sightseeing the wonders of nature and castles that seem to reach the skies, there are plenty of exciting activities to do as well. Some of which are:
- Adventure Sports like racing in October and March and rock climbing
- Sailing Killarney’s Lakes
- Red Deer Spotting
- ‘Treasure Hunt’ and Falconry in Killarney National Park
- Driving the Ring Of Kerry
- Climbing Carrauntoohil Mountain
To End Your Trip
Stop by Murphy’s of Killarney for a refreshing pink and some lively dancing. The locals are welcoming and the atmosphere is cozy, allowing you to relax with a plate of fish and chips after a long day of exploration.
If you’re ready to head on to your Killarney adventure, visit our website and pack your bags. Happy traveling!