Killarney National Park, with idyllic lakes and ancient woodlands backed by the serrated MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains, is an area of stunning natural beauty. The park is also historically significant, with two heritage buildings on-site: Ross Castle, a 15th-century fortress-turned-hotel, and Muckross House, a stately Victorian estate.
Covering around 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares), Killarney National Park is truly vast. Organized day tours can help ensure you get to see all the best parts of Ireland’s first national park. Choose between short 1- or 2-hour tours by jaunting car (a two-wheeled horse and carriage), guided walks, or boat cruises and kayak tours on the lakes of Killarney. Day tours depart from Killarney and Limerick, and include stops at key park attractions such as the Gap of Dunloe, Muckross House, Ross Castle, and the Ladies View scenic lookout. Some full-day tours combine Killarney National Park with the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, and Mizen Head. Multi-day tours depart from Dublin and incorporate sights in Cork, Kerry, and—during longer tours—the west coast of Ireland.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Killarney National Park is a must-visit for walkers, wildlife lovers, and history buffs.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring rainproof gear, as the weather here can be unpredictable.
- Day tours typically last between six and 11 hours.
- Most areas of Muckross House are accessible to wheelchair users. Ross Castle has only limited accessibility.
How to Get There
From Killarney town center, it is just a 10-minute walk or 5-minute drive to the entrance at the north of the park. Sights such as Torc Waterfall and Muckross House are farther from town (about 4.5 miles/7 kilometers), so it’s best to drive or go as part of an organized tour that offers transportation.
When to Get There
Summer is the busiest season at the park, yet it is also the mildest and, therefore, best for outdoor activities. Early morning and late afternoon offer quieter visits, while fall and spring bring more opportunities for solitude. Winter can be cold—but starkly beautiful.
Among the park’s biggest attractions is Muckross House, a 19th-century estate sitting upon the shore of the lake with which it shares its name. Queen Victoria stayed here during a visit to the national park in 1861. Today visitors can explore the impressive mansion’s interior, which is packed with period furnishings, as well as the manicured gardens and on-site farm dwellings that paint a picture of farming life in 1930s and 1940s Ireland.