Killarney National Park holds a special place in the hearts of Irish outdoor enthusiasts. There are few places in the country that offer as much as Killarney. It offers rugged peaks, expansive lakes, stunning waterfalls, and delicious places to eat. In Killarney there is a long list of things to do, making it a perfect place for your next Weekend Wander.

Best Hikes and Walks: Killarney National Park

Killarney has some incredible trails right out of the town. There are beautiful waterfalls, blissful lakeshore trails and climbs that will get your heart pumping.

Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall: Conall Whelan

Ross Castle Walk, Killarney

Distance: 6km – 2 hours

Difficulty: 2/10 Easy

Route here

One of our favourite ways to explore a new place is to walk directly from our accommodation. If you do this in Killarney you are likely to find Ross Castle. This impressive 15th-century structure was the ancestral home of the Chiefs of the Clan O’Donoghue, later associated with the Brownes of Killarney. Situated at the edge of the beautiful Lough Leane (Pronounced Lane). The castle is well worth a visit, partly due to its charming location right at the other end of the lake but also for its fascinating architecture. Starting at Ross Castle you can walk along the lakeshore to Library Point, this limestone structure is the perfect place for a mid-walk picnic or simply a place to sit and watch the world go by. You will be able to see the historical island of Inishfallen in the distance and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks towering over the landscape.

Torc Mountain & Torc Waterfall via Cardiac Hill

Distance: 13km – 4 hours

Difficulty: 7/10 Moderate

Route here

One of the most famous parts of Killarney National Park is its many waterfalls. The most well-known of which is Torc Waterfall, and for good reason! This waterfall is easily accessible for families as it is only a few hundred meters from the car park, however, we would recommend taking the long way around! Starting at the Torc Waterfall car park head west along the shore of Muckross Lake (Ireland’s Deepest Lake). After about a mile you can turn left and head up the infamous Cardiac steps. This 600-meter section of trail climbs over 200 meters. It is a very steep climb but the pay-off views over Killarney and the lakes we believe to be worth it. Enjoy the gently rolling trail down to the Old Kenmare Road where you have the option to turn right and head for Torc Mountain or continue straight down to the waterfall.

To make this hike easier (3/10 and 1 hour) follow this alternative route.

Mangerton: The Devil’s Punchbowl

Distance: 10km – 5 hours

Difficulty: 8/10 Hard

Route here

If you are looking for a challenge in Killarney National Park we would advise heading for Mangerton. Mangerton is, to the best of our knowledge, one of only two 800m+ mountains in Ireland that can be accessed on foot from a major town, the other being Slieve Donard in County Down. Mangerton is one of the more straightforward 800m+ mountains in Ireland. The climb up is relatively gentle, for a mountain of this size, and doesn’t involve any exposed scrambles. The route is also quite easy to follow which makes it a great option for a group hike. Good hiking equipment and clothing are essential for this hike year-round as it is quite an exposed peak.

It is always worth checking the weather before embarking on any hike or walk in Killarney and making sure you have the right gear.

Staying Safe in the Hills: Tips with DWMRT

Best activities: Killarney National Park

Ross Castle by kayak
Ross Castle from Lough Leane Kayak Tour: Matthew McConnell

Kayaking to Inisfallen

Head out on the water. On a recent trip to Killarney, we joined a kayak tour to Inisfallen Island. Inisfallen is an island on Lough Leane. A monastery was established here by in the 7th century and the famed ‘Annals of Innisfallen’ were compiled and completed by the resident monks over the course of a few hundred years. It is reputed that Brian Boru, a famous high king of Ireland, received his education on the Island.  On the kayak tour, you will learn about the geography of the landscape, and admire the majestic Reeks that tour over the lake. Kayaking is an excellent way of exploring the National Park and gaining a fresh perspective. Kayak tours cost €50 with Wild n Happy and take place Tuesday – Sunday from March – October.

Rent a Bike

Killarney is a very bike-able town. If you haven’t brought your own bike down we would encourage you to rent one at one of the many bike rental shops in the town. On two wheels you can broaden your horizons. Explore Muckross Castle and Lake, head to the Blue Pool Nature Reserve or maybe even head through the Gap Of Dunloe. If you are stuck for time and want to experience as much of Killarney as you can, a bike is a way to go! Bikes can be rented from many different places. Prices can vary depending on the type of bike but you can expect to pay as little as €20 for a full-day rental of an adult’s hybrid bike.

Killarney Bike Rental

O’Sullivan Cycles

Cycling Killarney

Horse Riding

Many outdoor enthusiasts have fond memories of summers spent on horseback. If you want to experience the connection of human and animal again, we would encourage you to head to Killarney Riding Stables for some horse riding. Located about a mile west of Killarney Town and known locally as “O’Sullivan’s”, Killarney Riding Stables were established in 1968 by Donie O’Sullivan. To this day it remains a family business with Donies wife Noreen, their two daughters Lorraine and Aoife, and their son William all involved. They offer 1,2 and 3-hour treks (starting at €55) all taking in views of Ross Island and beautiful views of Killarney lakes and Mountains.

Sign up for an Event

Why not sign up for one of the many outdoor events that take place in Killarney National Park every year?

Challenge yourself with the Killarney Quest Adventure RaceAn annual multisport race that offers a variety of different distances to suit all ability levels. Read more…

Tackle the Ring of Kerry Cycle: This charity cycle takes in a 170 km circular route starting and ending in Killarney. With over 8,000 participants there is always a great buzz! Read more…

Head to Wander Wild FestivalIreland’s outdoor festival Wander Wild offers over 200 unique events for you to choose from over the course of the weekend. Events range from guided hikes to film screenings sunrise swims to kayak tours. Read more…

Eating Out: Killarney National Park

Superfood salad from the curious cat café
Lunch at the Curious Cat Café

Danu at The Brehon

On our last trip to Killarney, we stayed in the magnificent Brehon Hotel. Attached to this lovely accommodation option is Danu Restaurant. This restaurant offers a high-end dining experience in a casual setting. The food ranges from hearty mains to culinary experiences, meaning it truly caters for all. Whether you have been up Mangerton or just explored the town we would recommend going to the Danu.

The Curious Cat

A café located in Killarney town, The Curious Cat Café was the hidden gem of our recent trip to Killarney. After an afternoon of kayaking, we headed there for a feed and we were not disappointed. The Superfood Salad and Hummus Toast were just what the doctor ordered and the Detox Smoothie left us feeling light but satiated. The service was incredibly friendly and the outdoor seating was perfect.


If you’re feeling a craving for fish and chips after a long day in the outdoors Quinlan’s is definitely the place to go. This award-winning fish and chip shop is located on High Street, but to be honest we need not give you directions. You will smell the freshly cooked fish and chips wafting through the air from a mile off!

Map: Killarney National Park

Gap of Dunloe
Gap of Dunloe

Killarney is the perfect-sized town for a weekend break. You can easily traverse the entire town on foot and many of the attractions in the area are not far outside the town. Here are a few maps that you can use to plan your trip.

National Park Boundry Map 

Killarney Area Map

Killarney Town Map

Getting to: Killarney National Park

The road into Killarney
The road into Killarney: Matthew McConnell

By Car

If you are travelling with children or a lot of outdoor equipment car is probably your easiest option. Killarney is about a 4-hour drive from Dublin. We allow a bit more if you are going on Friday evening after work.

By Public Transport

Train: You can get a train from Dublin Heuston to Killarney town centre with one change and Mallow. The journey takes about three hours 15 minutes and costs €20 – €35 for an adult.

Fly: If you are coming to Kerry directly from London you can fly directly to Kerry Airport which is a short bus journey from the centre of Killarney.

Bus: There are a number of bus services that are also great options for getting to Killarney. There is also a Kerry local link bus service.


By Matthew McConnell

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