Killarney is one of Ireland’s most intriguing towns, and its surroundings are perfect for outdoor adventures. Ancient castles, cascading waterfalls and mountains – there are plenty of scenic and historical attractions. Travellers also come here to experience true Irish spirit (and the whisky too!) in its cosy pubs, where roaring fires and traditional Irish music make for a welcoming retreat after a day of discovery.
Killarney hostels are mostly based in the town itself. Cosy up by the fire in a restored 19th-century townhouse, one minute away from the town centre and Killarney National Park, or in a guesthouse beside the River Flesk. There are family-run hostels just outside town, for a peaceful stay with views of lakes and mountains. You'll find one Killarney hostel with a hammock, an organic garden and a resident hostel dog (Bob). Many hostels in Killarney offer a free Full Irish breakfast, and some will help organise trips and discounted tickets.
The majority of Killarney is covered by its own national park and a large lake at its centre. The hub of the area is Killarney’s town centre, which sits on the north-eastern shore of Lough Leane. Here you can stroll past its colourful buildings and pick up local handicrafts in its independent shops. To swap countryside for coastline for a day, you’re less than an hour’s drive to the Atlantic Ocean. Head to Rossbeigh for its Blue Flag beach, or journey along the peninsula to Dingle for cliff-top scenery.
There are a number of must-sees in Killarney National Park, like the indigenous herd of wild red deer and Torc Waterfall. The best way to see it is to take a boat or kayak tour around the lake. You’ll pass the 15th-century Ross Castle and Innisfallen Island, home to 640 AD monastery ruins. For some dramatic mountain scenery, take a boat trip through the winding mountain pass, the Gap of Dunloe, or climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain.
The nearest airport, Kerry Airport, is a 15-minute drive from Killarney town, while Cork Airport is 75 minutes away. From the UK, you can hop on the ferry from Fishguard and Pembroke to Rosslare. There are trains to Killarney from Cork and Dublin, and a bus service from most areas in Ireland. In town, the Killarney Shuttle Bus will get you to all the major attractions. For a more traditional way to get around, you could hire a Jaunting Car – a horse-drawn wagon.