What to see in Killarney: 10 essential sites

It is one of the most popular and most touristic cities in Ireland. One of the main reasons for this is because it is at the front doors of the beautiful Killarney National Park. It is located in the county of Kerry, on the South-west coast of Ireland. Do you have questions about what to see in Killarney?

It is an impressive place with a combination of historical monuments, architecture and located in a natural wilderness. Therefore, Nathalie Languages organises linguistic immersion programs in Killarney.

What to see in Killarney: 10 special recommendations

Discover this precious city. You will fall in love with its natural beauty.

1. Killarney National Park

Killarney is found in the park, it´s an entrance and exit to the most important places in this natural reserve. If you are thinking what to see in Killarney, this visit it’s a must.

The park accounts for more than 102km of fauna and flora. In its interior you will be able to see disks of oak trees, with an enormous indigenous Irish forest. 

Taking walks, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon some red deer, which still exist in Ireland.

Throughout the Killarney National Park, you will be able to find farmer´s houses and very special routes for walking and cycling.

We recommend that you visit the information centre called The Gate Lodge. They will inform you about all that you want in order to explore the park.

2. Ross Castle

Are you thinking about what to see in Killarney? The Ross Castle is only 2 km from Killarney, on the edge of Lough Leane. It was built at the end of the 15th century and belonged to the O´Donoughue clan until the Desmond Rebellions in 1583.

The building consists of a tower with lookout points on each corner and is surrounded by a wall with round defensive towers. The interior of this castle is decorated with wooden furniture that dates from the 16th and 17th centuries.

This powerful monument is considered one of the best medieval Irish fortresses. After seeing the castle, you can explore Lough Leane by boat, especially during summer.

3. Killarney Cathedral

Construction started in 1842 and finished in 1855. It is a neogothic style Church, an impressive example of the Renaissance in Ireland.

Its structure with a narrow nave, tall tower and an entrance with a small low door, is a classic of the Irish medieval style.


4. The Torc Waterfall

You will find it 8km outside the city, in the hillside of the Torc mountain and inside the Killarney National Park. A beautiful waterfall with a glacier origin, 20 metres in height, and that was formed millions of years ago.

For walking lovers, it is a true pleasure to walk along a walk with a waterfall falling from above.

5. The Lakes of Killarney

There are three lakes that are very close to the city and that form part of the Killarney Nature Reserve. Lough Leane is the biggest, and the others are Upper Lake and Muckross Lake.

They are surrounded by the mountains Torc, Purple, Mangerton and Carrauntoohil. If you take the road that unites Kenmare and Killarney, the views of these lakes are spectacular.


And it is in this area where you will find the viewpoint “ladies view”, which we will explain below.

6. Ladies View

It is a viewpoint for enjoying the best sights of the area. When Queen Victoria visited the town in 1861, it is said that the ladies of honor gasped at the beautiful views of the countryside.

Since then, it gained this special name. And it truly is an extraordinary piece of natural art. After a walk through the green fields of Killarney, you will arrive at “Ladies View”.

Without doubt, one of the gems of Ireland. Think about Upper Lake, the Black valley, the Dunloe Gap, the mountains of Macgillycuddy Reeks, the mountains Torc, Purple, and Eagle´s nests.

Ladies View is on the well-known Ring of Kerry, only 17km from Killarney, on the way to Kenmare.

7. Muckross House

If you are thinking what to see in Killarney you must discover this precious house with beautiful gardens. It´s a Victorian mansion from the 19th century.

They began building it in 1839 and finished it in 1843. It is located near to the shore of Muckross Lake, one of the three lakes of Killarney.  

It usually is the exit point for exploring all of the spectacular countryside that surrounds it. It was built by Henry Arthur Herbet and the painter Maria Balfour Herbert.

But in reality it was the fourth house inhabited for generations by the Herbert family. The Scottish architect William Burn was responsible for the design.

The most noteworthy in Muckross House are its gardens, and how well they are kept. One of them is out of your dreams and is found in the middle.

It is the stone garden, and it gives the impression of entering into an Irish forest.

From the mansion we can continue to the Torc waterfall by getting in a horse-drawn cart driven by an Irish farmer; a pastoral route that is worth doing.

8. Muckross Abbey

If you are going on holiday to Ireland, you can´t miss these mysterious remains. This abbey was a monastery and today it is a fascinating site with ruins covered by moss and inside the Killarney National Park.

If you pass through this place, you will see that all that is left is a church without a roof, with one tower and small windows, a domed cloister and a patio with arches.

It holds a turbulent history of violence and destruction, but today you can enjoy a totally natural and calm environment.

It´s said that it was a monastery during the first days of Christianity in Ireland from the 6th century.

The original inhabitants were from San Francisco, but the armed forces of Cromwell set fire to the whole building and chased away the monks in the 1650s.

9. Ring of Kerry

One of the most impressive routes in Killarney, and in Ireland in general. The Ring of Kerry is a 177km road that crosses the county of Kerry.

It´s a route that takes you through dense forests, along sandy beaches, streams, waterfalls, and the Atlantic coastline.

It´s one of these experiences that you should enjoy if you travel around Ireland. The Ring of Kerry continues to attract tourists.

It is extremely beautiful and is the perfect starting point to carry out outdoor activities such as horse riding, fishing, walking, cycling… or simply to take in all its beauty.

Start in Killarney, hire a car or take a tourist bus and enjoy the natural wilderness. If you make this journey you will come across large towns but also small hamlets. An interesting sight is “Bog Village”.

It´s a replica of a hamlet from the 19th century with exhibitions and demonstrations.

There you will learn about life from this period, visit the iron factory, the forge, and henhouses. It is found between Killorglin and Glenbeigh.

Think about and explore the coves of the coast, such as the beach on the bay of Derrynane. Try the best fish and seafood in the restaurants in this area.

Taking this journey, you will be able to discover the Skellig Michael Island. There, there is an Irish monastery that is situated on a rock in the Atlantic.

And if you divert a bit off the route, you will be able to visit the Valentia Island and the special Glanleam gardens.

You could spend days exploring the Ring of Kerry and still wouldn´t have enough time to admire all of its natural beauty.

10. Gap of Dunloe

We finish the recommendations of what to see in Killarney with the Gap of Dunloe. Breathe the fresh air and think about the marvelous natural wilderness.

It´s a glacial valley which crosses from the west with the MacGillycuddy´s Reeks mountain range towards the East with the Purple Mountain. It´s a countryside that remains intact.

At the bottom of the valley there are 5 lakes united by the river Loe: Coosau Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake and Black Lough.

The Gap of Dunloe is 11 km long. We recommend that you walk or cycle along this narrow walk in order to enjoy your surroundings.

Here are our suggestions for 10 of the most impressive sights in Killarney.

Prepare your bag and start dreaming about this trip. Nathalie Languages wishes you a marvelous stay.

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