1 day in Killarney
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Top things to do in Killarney in 1 day to make the most of your time

Killarney is a place that is incredibly special to us. That is because it was somewhere in Killarney National Park, Dave proposed. It was the perfect setting. The sun came out briefly and the lake glistened and the best part of it was, we had this moment all to ourselves. Apart from proposing, you might be wondering what the best things to do in Killarney are? Well luckily we have put together this guide to help you plan your trip. This is our guide to spending 1 day in Killarney.

Looking for things to do in Killarney Ireland? Here is our guide to spending 1 day in Killarney from exploring the beautiful National Park to sipping pints with the locals.

About Killarney

Killarney is a town located in County Kerry in Ireland. It is hugely popular with tourists keen to see Killarney National Park. On top of that it is also a popular overnight destination for those planning to drive the Ring of Kerry. If you have a look at the map below this will give you an idea as to where it is located.

One of the things we really loved about visiting Killarney is that it is only a small town, with a population of about 14,500 people. It has a welcoming feel and is tourist friendly. There are so many cosy pubs with great atmosphere and if you are lucky you could catch a traditional Irish music session. Inside you can rub shoulders with tourists and locals alike, whilst you sip Guinness and fill up on Irish stew.

There are some people that will tell you that Killarney is charmless or too touristy, but if you listen to that advice then you are really missing out. Yes there are a high number of tourists and a lot of the restaurants and pubs cater to that. But it is also a really friendly place and that is what Irish charm is all about if you think about it.

And if you are wondering if Ireland is worth visiting this is a handy post.

1 day in Killarney – Getting here

Before you start thinking about things to do in Killarney, you need to know how to get there. Killarney is located in the Republic of Ireland, not far from the west coast. It is in the more southern part of the island and is close to a number of airports.

Dublin airport is the biggest airport in Ireland and if you are driving it will probably take you around 4 hours to get to Killarney. Shannon airport is another airport with great flight connections particularly if you are travelling from the US. It takes just under 2 hours to drive from here to Killarney.

If you are flying in from Europe, Cork airport is about 1.5 hours away by car. But if you are after something closer then there is Kerry Airport, however there are only a few destinations you can fly in from such as London, Dublin, or Frankfurt so that won’t suit everybody’s travel schedule.

Things to do in Killarney -Getting around

When planning your 1 day in Killarney you will need to know how to get around. You can book tours and day trips if you are staying overnight in Killarney, which makes it easy to see the sights. There is also a new shuttle bus service that will take you to the main sights in Killarney.

We highly recommend renting a car and driving around particularly if you are only planning on spending 1 day in Killarney. The good thing about renting a car is that you can see what you want when you want to. You can create your own itinerary and stop off at various sights along the way.


  • Bigger isn’t always better in Ireland. Particularly in and around Killarney the roads can be quite narrow and a smaller car is a lot easier to manoeuvre.
  • Pre-book for the best rate.
  • A lot of cars in Ireland tend to be manual (or stick) so specify if you would like an automatic.
  • Always pay extra for insurance and breakdown cover.
  • If you get a GPS it might not always pick the best route, so carefully check before setting off. You might end up down a very small country road because the GPS says it is faster, but sometimes it is not. We ended up using Google Maps on our phones because you can alter the route a lot more. We found this better than paying for a GPS.
  • Bring a phone charger for the car. Not all cars have USB ports so we recommend buying a cheap charger that connects to the cigarette lighter. You never know when you need to charge your phone especially if you are using it for Google Maps.

Things to do in Killarney – Where to stay

There are so many hotel options in Killarney to suit all budgets. We ended up staying at the Killarney Riverside Hotel which we loved. It is a 4 star hotel located along Muckross Road. The hotel isn’t smack bang in the middle of the town, but in about 15-20 minutes by foot, you are amongst the hustle and bustle. The hotel also has parking which was important for us as we were of course planning on driving around Killarney.

Another top recommendation is the Killarney Towers Hotel and Leisure Centre. There is public parking across from the hotel, but you do need to pay for it so if you are renting a car it is still possible to park nearby.

For a great evening atmosphere stay close to Killarney town. There are lots of restaurants and pubs around here. If you are driving during your 1 day in Killarney then do make sure you pick a hotel with ample parking.

Things to do in Killarney

In this guide we wanted to differentiate between things to do in Killarney and things to do in Killarney National Park. Killarney as a whole is a place with so much character. Here are some of the best things to do when you are there.

And if you want more Irish inspiration checkout our Ireland bucket list.

Enjoy the pub culture

One of the best things to do in Killarney is by far visiting a pub. I know pub culture is huge in Ireland and we absolutely loved the atmosphere in Killarney. Because it is a popular tourist destination you can walk into a pub and find everyone having a fantastic time. Be sure to grab yourself a pint of Guinness or a tipple of whiskey, because when in Ireland right?

Sing your heart out

Music is a pretty big deal in Killarney especially ‘trad music’, so do go out of your way to find a pub with a trad band. It is so much fun and you will often find times when the whole pub is singing along. If you did want to catch a trad band, we highly recommend getting to the pub early, especially if you want a seat. It can get really busy especially in the summer when tourist season is in full swing.

Irish Food

Another thing we loved about Killarney was the food. Ok it might be geared towards tourists, but we had some really good meals in Killarney. Find yourself a pub and order up some Irish Stew or Bacon and Cabbage. The great thing about Irish food is that it is super comforting, and is like a hug in your belly.

St Mary’s Cathederal

It wouldn’t be an Irish town without a stunning Roman Catholic Cathedral to explore. The stained glass windows are beautiful and it is certainly worth a look in.

Do a ghost tour

If you are wanting to add something a bit spookier to your list of things to do in Killarney then you should try a ghost tour. Full of information on spooky happenings this is a must to add to your itinerary. You can find further information and book your tour with the Original Killarney Ghost Tour here.

Drive the Ring of Kerry

A lot of people use Killarney as an overnight base when driving the Ring of Kerry. If you find yourself in this part of Ireland then a Ring of Kerry absolutely has to be added to your list of things to do in Killarney.

You can book a Ring of Kerry tour in advance, or make you own way around the ring by car.

Things to do in Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park sits just next to Killarney town. So there really is no excuse not to visit. Here are some of the best things to do in Killarney National Park.

Lakes of Killarney

The Lakes of Killarney make up nearly a quarter of the Killarney National Park. There are three lakes; Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. If you have the time we recommend taking a cruise to really appreciate the mountain surroundings and incredible scenery. You can book a lake tour online in advance here.

Ross Castle

If you want to visit a historic Irish Castle whilst visiting the Emerald Isle then Ross Castle is the perfect place to go. Located on the edge of Lough Leane and built in the 15th Century, it is now a top tourist site and one of the best things to do in Killarney National Park.

Muckross House

Another popular tourist spot is Muckross House, a 19th Century Victorian Mansion. The mansion is set against a lakeside backdrop and has some of the most beautiful gardens waiting to be explored. The house has a total of 65 rooms and was built by British architect William Burn in 1843 in the Tudor style. The house had various owners but in 1932 it was presented to Ireland along with its 11,000 acre estate. It then became the first national park in Ireland.

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall is only 7 kilometres from Killarney Town so this is another must of things to do in Killarney National Park. It is a popular tourist stop and you might find coach loads of tourists coming to see it. If that happens we recommend waiting. They won’t be there long and it is easier to enjoy without crowds of people.

Also if you do have the time you will notice a set of stairs just next to the waterfall. If you head to the top you will get some fantastic views of the lakes, so do take advantage if you have the time.

Ladies View

One of our favourite scenic viewpoints in Killarney National Park has to be Ladies View. From here you get some pretty incredible views of the park. Apparently when Queen Victoria visited in 1861 her ladies in waiting were so captivated by the view that they named it after them.

There is a lot of parking around here, and as I am sure you guessed some fantastic photo spots. There is also a cafe around here so it is perfect for a mid day stop.

The Kerry Way

Ok so realistically if you only have one day in Killarney you probably won’t be walking the full 214 km trail. The Kerry Way begins in Killarney and takes about 9 days to complete. Still it is worth a mention as it is a prominent tourist attraction.

Hike through the Killarney National Park

One of the best things to do in Killarney National Park is to just explore. There are so many little spots where you can pull the car over and go for a hike. A lot of them aren’t even sign posted so do keep your eye out. It really is a great way to get to grips with the park and see some of the sights that the tourist buses may not necessarily stop at.

Things to do in Killarney – Eating and drinking

Obviously something that we have to add to our list of things to do in Killarney is eating and drinking. Killarney is a vibrant town full of traditional pubs, music, and some fantastic food. It certainly plays up to its Irish roots with a number of pubs playing trad music, and restaurants serving the more traditional Irish dishes.

If you do get a chance to enjoy the nightlife make sure you visit some of the more traditional pubs in the town. John M. Reidy’s is probably one of the best bars to visit, as it is an institution in these parts. It was built in the 1870’s and has literally been everything from a sweet shop and apparently an agricultural supply store. Now though it is a nice little boozer with a fun atmosphere. Another great place, especially if you like Whiskey is Murphy’s Bar which has a really good selection.

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food as well in Killarney. One of our favourites has to be Bricín Restaurant and Boxty House. They do some really good traditional Irish food, one of the highlights being boxty. What is boxty you might be wondering, well it is an Irish style potato pancake, and honestly it is so good you have to give it a try. What we love about the restaurant apart from the food is the interior. It’s decorated with antique lamps, and pictures of ye old times handing from the walls.

1 day in Killarney – Is it enough?

You might be wondering if 1 day in Killarney is enough to see everything? Personally I think that 1 day in Killarney is a good amount of time to see everything. Keep in mind Killarney is only a small town, and the main attractions sit within Killarney National Park. Unless you are planning and doing several long hikes you don’t really need more than 1 full day here.

Best time of year to plan your 1 day in Killarney

To make the most out of longer days, and nicer weather, you want to plan your 1 day in Killarney around summer time in Ireland. The downside of this though is that it does get incredibly busy with tourists. For this reason, June/July are probably ideal, but do avoid August due to the school holidays. In August the price of hotels goes up and unless you book in advance availability can be limited.

Winter is not ideal at all as the weather can make driving quite dangerous. You are also very limited with your daytime hours. That’s not to say you can’t do it, but with the weather conditions, risk of flooding, and things like that it may not be hugely enjoyable.

The shoulder months of March, April, September and October are good if you want to avoid the masses but you aren’t too bothered about the weather. During these months you might experience a fair bit of rain, but general temperatures are mild enough to allow you to enjoy your 1 day in Killarney, without the swarms of tourists.

Perfect Packing List for 1 day in Killarney

If you are visiting in summer here are some of the must haves that you should add to your packing list.

  • Rain jacket
  • Decent walking shoes
  • Suncream
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Reusable water bottle

Killarney in 1 day – a recap

Hopefully this guide to visiting Killarney in 1 day will help you plan your own trip. Despite being a really touristy place Killarney has a lot of charm and a lot of natural beauty just waiting to be explored. We used Killarney as a base before driving along the Ring of Kerry. We actually didn’t realise how beautiful Killarney would be in its own right. It is definitely worth a visit and with a friendly and lively atmosphere it is a great place to spend the night.


  • The best time to visit Killarney is in the summer when the weather is good. It helps with driving too as some of the roads particularly in Killarney National Park can get very icy in the winter.
  • That being said if you visit in summer this is peak time so book well in advance for accommodation.
  • Carry an umbrella with you always. The weather can change pretty quickly.
  • Also when packing bring a lot of layers, even in the summer. Often the evenings can be slightly chilly, especially if it is raining.
  • In winter months days are short and long in summer months. In the winter daylight usually lasts from around 8am – 4pm. In the summer you are looking at around 5am- 10pm.

If you found this guide to spending 1 day in Killarney useful please don’t forget to Pin it for later.

Looking for things to do in Killarney Ireland? Here is our guide to spending 1 day in Killarney from exploring the beautiful National Park to sipping pints with the locals.

And if you are looking for some more Irish inspiration here is some further reading

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Ring of Kerry

Causeway Coastal Route

8 day road trip of Ireland

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Aran Islands

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