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Top Things to do in Killarney Ireland Activities and Attractions
Fitness and Leisure Activities in Killarney
Walking and Hiking
The simplest way to explore Killarney and its surrounding areas is to do so on foot. It is up to you at what level of ease or difficulty you choose. Options exist for walking, hiking and mountain climbing. You could choose a low level parkland walk in the Killarney National Park, which has more than 10,200 hectares of unparalleled landscape to explore, 40 kilometres of internal roadways and 70 kilometres of paths and trails. Alternatively, you could choose to climb the mountain summits of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, which is home to Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain peak.
A popular walking route is The Torc Waterfall Loop which is suitable for all and only seven kilometres from Killarney on the road to Kenmare on the N71. The walk is around 300 metres to bring you up from the carpark at the bottom, to the waterfall at the top. If you want to venture on further, steps lead on to an additional viewing point higher up which gives a view over the Middle Lake, one of the three famous Lakes of Killarney. The waterfall is approximately 20 metres high and the best time to see it is after a heavy rainfall.
For cycling enthusiasts, a 28 kilometre route called the Killarney National Park Loop is a recommended way to explore by bike. It is a combination of private paths and selective sections of the main road from Killarney to Kenmare. Much of the route has bicycle paths and footpaths and the sections that cover the main road have cycle lanes by in large.
For those who love to be out on the water, one of the nicer ways to experience the Lakes of Killarney is by kayak. Outdoors Ireland runs half day and full day kayak excursions. The half day excursion can be taken in the morning or afternoon and begins from Ross Castle. They cater to beginners who need absolutely no experience to partake in a kayaking trip as they are led by an expert guide. Participants kayak across Lough Leane, the largest of the lakes and land on the mystical Innisfallen Island. For a unique option, their Sunset Kayak Trip is not to be missed!
Outdoors Ireland Sunset Kayak Trip on the Lakes of Killarney.
Rock Climbing and Abseiling
Since the early 1980s, rock climbing activities were being developed by local man Con Moriarty in the Gap of Dunloe, which is a short drive outside Killarney town. His company Con Moriarty's Hidden Tours Ireland offers day excursions to do rock climbing or abseiling within the Gap of Dunloe. It has become one of the leading places in Ireland to carry out these activities with hundreds of successful climbs recorded.
More for the adrenaline junkie that the leisure enthusiast, if you want to undertake a really memorable activity in Killarney, then abseiling down one of the giant cliffs that are part of this area will hit the mark! The excursions are operated on a group basis and prices are dependent on the size of your group. They are also operated at a time of your choosing and you can choose the level of difficulty.
Fishing and Angling
Fishing is free in Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and the Upper Lake. These lakes, collectively known as the Lakes of Killarney, are part of the River Laune catchment area. The River Laune provides anglers with excellent opportunities to catch salmon and sea trout. Access to the river between Killarney and its neighbouring town Killorglin is from the N72 which runs alongside the river.
• Salmon from January 17th until September 30th. • Sea Trout from January 17th until October 12th. • Brown Trout from February 15th until October 12th.
Many of the activities mentioned above can be organised directly for guests staying at one of the hotels in the Killarney Hotels’ Group.
Major Killarney Attractions and Places to Visit
Killarney National Park and the Lakes of Killarney
Killarney National Park has been designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO since 1981. As a result, it is part of a global network of natural regions that give priority to conservation work, research and educational initiatives. A unique way to explore the park is by taking a Jaunting Car through it. These can be easily found in Killarney town centre, or located in the grounds of Muckross House. They are also a great way to find out about the history of the park as the Jaunting Car drivers or ‘Jarveys’ (which they are known as), are very knowledgeable. If you are feeling active and you would prefer to ride a horse yourself, there are also options to do separate horse riding excursions through the park.
To explore the Lakes of Killarney, one of the best ways to do it is to get out onto the lakes. If kayaking seems like too much activity, or you are looking for something a bit more leisurely, then taking a boat trip is ideal.
Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms
This stately Victorian mansion was built in 1843. It acts as the central gathering point for visitors to Killarney National Park.The house itself is divided into the upper floors, which house the elegantly furnished family rooms, and the lower floors in the basement level, which house the sparse servant quarters. The division is a clear indication of the 'upstairs/downstairs' concept which is a reflection of the era the house was built in.
Outside the mansion, the gardens are expansive and world renowned. They include an extensive water garden, a rock garden made of limestone and collections of flowers such as Rhododendrons and Azaleas. The farms nearby are traditional in nature and act as preserved examples of life in the rural Irish countryside of the 1930s.
The house and gardens are open all year (the exception is Christmas). The farms are fully open during the summer months, but have limited opening hours during the spring and autumn. A full guide to the opening hours can be found here. While access to the gardens is free, the house and farm incur a fee and joint tickets to both can be purchased. Group rates are also available.
Much older than Muckross House, Ross Castle dates back to the late 15th century. It was built by a Gaelic Chieftain from the O'Donoghue Ross family. The castle has an Irish keep which was built on a rocky area called Ross Island on the shore of Lough Leane, the largest of the famous Lakes of Killarney. The castle has a long history and has served as a defensive stronghold through the centuries. It was a residence to the Browne family in the 1700s and later became an army barracks before being vacated in 1825. In 1970, the castle came into state ownership and has been restored by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in 17th century style. The OPW manages the castle which is open to the public by guided tour only.
Innisfallen Island and Monastery
Innisfallen Island is situated in the middle of Lough Leane. The island was home to a monastery which dates back to the 7th century. While the early dwellings that the monks would have lived in are long gone, as are the church buildings, the ruins of a church and an Augustinian priory building remain today. They are thought to date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. The monastery was a place of great learning in early Christian times and Brian Boru, Ireland's famous King, is said to have been educated there. In the 17th century it was destroyed by the Cromwellian army and deserted. In the 18th century, it became a popular location for wine, food and entertainment for various guests of the Earls of Kenmare. During the 19th century, poets and writers including Thomas Moore visited the island. It is isolated, but nowadays it is only a short boat trip away from Killarney leaving from Ross Castle Pier and Reen Pier.