Local Attractions & Tours
Sightseeing & Touring in Killarney & the Southwest
For so many reasons, Killarney is the ultimate base for touring in Ireland's spectacular Southwest. It is centrally located and is the automatic start & finish point for doing the Ring Of Kerry and The Dingle Peninsula. It also has the world class hospitality facilities demanded by today's discerning traveller and the people of Killarney have a 250 year tourism tradition behind them, making their welcome and service professional as well as warm and friendly. Finally, in itself, Killarney Town & Valley is worthy of multiple day explorations whatever your interest e.g., spectacular landscapes, wildlife & wilderness, history & heritage, outdoor activities, dining and entertainment, wellness & wellbeing, and much, much more
Principal Tour Options
The Tours detailed below represent only a limited selection of the Principal Touring Routes. The Killarney and South-west region offer numerous other touring options to the visitor, many of which can be tailored to suit specific requirements and indeed in most cases, constructed as you go along by simply exploring the landscape at your own pace. (All of these Tours can be completed by private car, incoming group coach or locally organised coach tours)
Jaunting Car Trips
The traditional way to tour all of the local 'beauty spots' is by Jaunting Car (local 'unique' horsedrawn carriage), in the company of a 'Jarvey' (driver & guide) who will spin the 'old stories' at every corner on the road. Jaunting Cars are available for large groups and independent travellers. Tours include The Lakes, Ross Castle, Muckross House & Gardens, Torc Waterfall and, just about anywhere in Killarney you might want to visit.
Boat Trips & Inisfallen
No visit to Killarney is complete without taking a boat trip on its famous and enchanting lakes. The visitor has a choice of organised group boating trips in open lake boats, group & independent trips on the all-weather luxury Lake Cruisers or, in 'self-propelled' rowing boats. One stop you should make is Inisfallen Island and its monastic ruins dating back to the 11th Century.
Killarney Valley Highlights
Including Aghadoe, Muckross, Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall & Ladies View
This is the Local Highlights Coach Tour of approximately 3 hours duration, taking in all of the key local attractions e.g., Aghadoe (panoramic view of Killarney Lake district) including the ruins of the 11th Century Aghadoe Church & Round Tower and the 13th Century Norman Castle of Parkavonear, Kate Kearney's Cottage (Gateway to the Gap of Dunloe), Ross Castle(15th Century restored Castle), Muckross House, Gardens & Traditional Farms(Magnificent Victorian Mansion & Gardens in the National Park), Torc Waterfall and Lake Views etc. [ Ample time is allowed for photo stops, shop visits and lunch ]
In the mid-1700's, driven by Thomas 4th Viscount, the "hamlet" of Killarney began to develop as a town and simultaneously as Ireland's first and still premier visitor destination. There are many features within the town's architecture which date back to the early and mid-1800's. The oldest (albeit perhaps least impressive) public building is Killarney House which dates back to the 1740's - this is scheduled to be restored, refurbished and re-opened to the public at some time in the future. Other buildings of note are; Deenagh Lodge (1834), Killarney Courthouse (1835), Killarney Railway Station (1853), The Malton Hotel(Formerly the Great Southern - 1854), the Pugin designed St. Mary's Cathedral (1842-1855), the Pugin designed and influenced Bishop's House & Seminary (1860-61), The Old Monastery (1861), Presentation Convent & School (1875-86), Franciscan Friary (1867) and St. Mary's Church of Ireland (1812-89).
Gap of Dunloe
Arguably, the most varied and exciting tour in Ireland. The Gap of Dunloe Tour is of approximately 7 hours duration. The day begins with a coach ride to Kate Kearney's Cottage where, after partaking of suitable refreshments, the visitor then travels through the 7 mile Gap of Dunloe mountain pass on horseback, horse-drawn trap or on foot if so desired, to Lord Brandons Cottage on the shore of the Upper Lake. Lunch can then be had before departing by boat through each of Killarney's three Lakes, arriving at the 15th Century Ross Castle, where your coach awaits to return you to Killarney. [ Barbecues can be arranged for Groups and, the Tour can also be arranged in reverse order ]
Muckross House & Traditional Farms
A visit to Killarney, or indeed Kerry, is not complete without a visit to the world renowned Muckross House & Gardens. One of Ireland's most popular visitor attractions, this magnificent Victorian mansion was built in 1843 and forms the centrepiece of the equally renowned Killarney National Park. The elegantly furnished family rooms in the upper floors and the spartan servants quarters in the basement, clearly depict the 'upstairs - downstairs' divide of that era. The Gardens are renowned world-wide for their beauty and, in particular they are noted for their fine collection of Azaleas, Rhododendrons, extensive water garden and an outstanding rock garden hewn out of natural limestone.
The nearby Muckross Traditional Farms are full working examples of rural life in the 1930's. Take a stroll down memory lane to a time before the advent of electricity, when all work was carried out using traditional methods. Meet and chat with the farmers and their wives as they go about their daily work in the houses, on the land and, with the animals.
Together with the Craft Workshops in Muckross House, the superb extensive Gardens and, the surrounding National Park, this is a location of immense beauty and historical interest. An experience not to be missed and never to be forgotten. Muckross House & Gardens are open all year (excl. Christmas) and the Traditional Farms are fully open May - September inclusive, with limited opening during March, April and October. Entrance to the National Park and Muckross Gardens is free. Special Group Rates apply to the House and Farms and substantial savings can be made by buying a 'joint ticket' for both attractions.
Ross Castle & Ross Island
Original home of the O'Donoghue Ross Chieftains in the 15th century and, believed to be the last significant fortress to fall to Cromwell's armies in Ireland, Ross Castle has been magnificently restored to its former glory. Standing on the shore of Lough Leane, this castle is open to visitors (Guided Tours) from April to October inclusive.
Ross Castle is located on Ross Island. Its human habitation history goes back some 9000 years with one of Europe's earliest Bronze Age Copper Mines dating back some 4500 years. A most informative and pleasant Mining & Nature Walking Trail takes you through the Island - allow c. 60-90 minutes.
Founded by the Franciscans in the 15th century, this unique Abbey was plundered by Cromwellian forces in 1652. Although a 'ruin', the building is in a remarkable state of preservation with the walls of the Cloister and its associated Buildings in their original and complete state. Access is all-year round and is free.
Dinis Cottage is a former hunting lodge which dates back to the 1700s. It is located on the shore of Muckross Lake, close to the Meeting of the Waters - where the three Lakes of Killarney meet - So it is a natural meeting place which is accessible by boat from Dundag Pier and can be reached on foot by following the Dinis track c.1 mile/1.6km from the Kenmare Road entrance and approximately 3 miles/5km from Muckross House. Dinis Cottage is located at two of Killarney's most famed beauty spots i.e., The Meeting of The Waters and The Old Weir Bridge.
With the exception of the winter months, Dinis Cottage provides a welcome repose for the visitor with a wide variety of fresh home baked refreshments in a unique atmosphere where you will be regaled with stories of famous visitors past and present as well as folklore relating to the area.
Touring - Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is the most renowned Day Tour in Ireland. Throughout its 110 miles, the visitor will travel around the MacGillicuddy Reeks and the Iveragh Peninsula, along the breathtaking Atlantic Coast, Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay, returning to Killarney through the famed Molls Gap, Ladies View and Killarney National Park. En route, are the lovely coastal villages of Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem and the thriving market towns of Killorglin and Cahersiveen. The "original Ring of Kerry" (and still the best option) takes you from Sneem to Kenmare and then back to Killarney. The beautiful town of Kenmare is a must for the independent traveller. If time is pressing the route may be shortened by going directly from Sneem to Killarney. The Ring embraces many points of historic and archaeological interest such as, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre, The Skellig Experience(Valentia Island), Derrynane House, prehistoric Staigue Fort and Kenmare Heritage Centre. Allow ample time for photo stops, shop visits and lunch. Check with Coach Tour Operators on this site for details of Guided Tours.
Touring - Dingle & Slea Head
Slea Head is Europe's most westerly point and its outlying historic Blasket Islands are known locally as the 'next parish to America'. The unsurpassed beauty of its rugged coastline and landscape inspired the famous film director David Lean, to shoot his epic film 'Ryan's Daughter' on location in the Dingle Peninsula. The landscape is dotted with ancient historic sites and early Christian dwellings such as, Gallarus Oratory [9th century Christian Oratory], Beehive Huts (early Christian Monks dwellings) and the Blasket Islands Interpretative Centre. The route passes through Milltown and Castlemaine before arriving at the beautiful fishing harbour town of Dingle, home of Dingle Oceanworld and Ireland's favourite dolphin - 'Fungi'. Then onwards around Slea Head and back via Dingle to Killarney. Allow c. 6 hours for a leisurely tour. Check with Coach Tour Operators on this site for details of Guided Tours.
Forming the coastal boundary between Kerry and Cork, the Beara Peninsula is the third of the great touring areas of the south-west.
Loo Valley, Glengarrif, Beara Peninsula, Blarney & Cork.
These routes take the visitor through Kilgarvan, Kenmare, numerous coastal villages on the Kerry coast and through the Cork coast fishing ports of Castletownbere, Bantry and the beautiful town of Glengarriff and nearby Garnish Island Italian Gardens. The Cork City & Blarney Castle Tour, embraces all the magic these famous places have to offer. Check with Coach Tour Operators on this site for details of Guided Tours.