The Ring of Kerry is one Ireland's top visitor destinations. This iconic drive takes in some of the country's most captivating scenery, winding through the picturesque valleys and along the coast of County Kerry. Trips last a full day so you can pack in as many sights as possible.
On these Killarney tours, you'll journey past rolling hills, plunging cliffs and shimmering lakes, stopping at several locations along the way. The landscapes in this region are so diverse it's like exploring Ireland in miniature.
Highlights of the trip include Killarney National Park, where you'll discover the 15th-century Ross Castle down beside Lough Leane. Meanwhile, the dramatic Torc Waterfall was just made for photos and Muckrock House gives an insight into 19th-century mansion life.
You'll also stop in the quaint coastal town of Kenare, which is overlooked by the imposing Caha Mountains. A trip to Derrynane Beach is in order if weather permits, and at Kells Bay Gardens you'll discover one of Europe's finest subtropical plant collections.
If you're into nature and adventure, then there's no better place in Ireland to explore than Killarney National Park. Here, you'll be fully immersed in the countryside with a local guide on hand to show you the way. Famed for its wild landscapes, the country's first national park is the perfect escape from the city bustle.
Killarney National Park is often incorporated into multi-destination trips that also take in the Ring of Kerry. Shorter excursions focusing on hiking and horse riding are available too. Keep your eyes peeled for red deer, which are often spotted in the park.
There are several walking trails in Killarney National Park, with something to suit all abilities. Alternatively, you can harness your inner cowboy and head out on a guided horse riding tour. You'll skirt the edge of Lough Leane, enjoying the views from the saddle.
Horse carriage tours are another option, for a more leisurely outing. From your comfy seat on the wagon, you'll see Ross Castle, a historic monastery and the country's highest mountain.
Experience the national park from a different perspective on these relaxing Killarney tours. Lough Leane – the largest lake in Killarney – provides the setting for your adventure. The voyage takes place on a comfortable, heated boat with panoramic windows for optimum viewing.
As you cruise along the lake, you'll pass some of the prettiest islands and castles in Killarney National Park. You'll get to see the famous Ross Castle as well as the ruins of St. Finian's Monastery over on Innisfallen Island. Meanwhile, on Pass Ross Island, the ancient yew forests capture the imagination of nature enthusiasts.
Before returning to shore, your captain will take you to the base of the MacGillycuddy Reeks mountain range. From here, you'll see Ireland's highest peak – Carrauntoohil. It looks even bigger from down on the water.
Taking a boat trip is the ultimate way to spot wildlife. Red deer and white-tailed eagles are regularly seen from the water, as well as otters and red squirrels. The crew will point out the best places to look.
The Dingle Peninsula is another popular day trip from Killarney. This remote headland is both wild and charming, with plenty of appeal for all types of travelers. It doesn't take long to reach the peninsula from Killarney, so you'll have plenty of time to explore.
First up on most of these Killarney tours is the southern tip of the peninsula. This is a great vantage point to enjoy views of the Blasket Islands and admire the rugged cliffs that plunge into the sea. Your journey continues on the scenic Slea Head Drive which hugs the coast and passes the iconic Carhoo Bay.
Enjoy lunch in the small town of Dingle where there are plenty of options for sampling traditional local cuisine. Stroll down to the beach and watch for harbor dolphins – they're sometimes spotted close to shore.
The grand finale of your Dingle Peninsula excursion is a stop at Inch Beach. This long stretch of sand is one of the most famous beaches in Ireland and home to several photo-worthy vistas.
The Gap of Dunloe is a mountain pass running through County Kerry. Separating the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountain range this narrow ravine makes for one of Ireland's most scenic drives. If you don't fancy tackling the road yourself, there are several day trips available.
First up is a hike through the Gap of Dunloe. The route is almost 11 kilometers long and takes in valleys, hunting lodges and rivers as it meanders through the mountains. Expect the walk to last around 2.5 hours.
For something more leisurely, you can enjoy a jaunting car ride over the pass instead. This is a fun diversion in a traditional horse-drawn carriage, taking you back to times gone by. You'll cross the Old Weir Bridge which is one of the iconic sights of the pass.
Many tours include a boat trip through the Lakes of Killarney to round off the day. From the water, you'll be treated to sweeping views of the MacGillycuddy Reeks before passing Ross Castle and returning to Killarney.
If you've heard of just one of Ireland's natural attractions, it's likely to be the Cliffs of Moher. This rugged coastline is a frequent stop on Killarney tours and is a favorite with nature lovers. Excursions often include visits to Bunratty Castle and the Burren for a fun-packed day out.
The Cliffs of Moher are the highlight of any visit to the Wild Atlantic Way. This is one of the most dramatic sections of the Irish coast, and you'll feel like you're standing on the edge of the world. If you're here in summer, you'll get to see the nesting sea birds too.
You can take a walk along the cliff tops, stopping for photos and embracing the fresh sea air. Then head up to O'Brien's Tower for the best views and pop into the visitor center to learn more about the local landscape.
Stretching for 8 kilometers, the cliffs tower over the waves crashing below. The highest point reaches 214 meters – from here you'll enjoy vistas out across the Aran Islands.
If you're looking for unique Killarney tours, then taking a ride in a jaunting car is the answer. These traditional horse-drawn carriage excursions let you explore life in the slow lane, giving you greater appreciation for the idyllic Irish scenery.
County Kerry is one of the country's most charming destinations, with leafy lanes, ancient history and emerald valleys punctuated by lakes. As you trot along the byways, you'll be experiencing the landscape like the travelers of 15th-century Ireland.
You'll begin your journey by heading out of Killarney to explore the surrounding countryside in the national park. The joy of these jaunting car trips is being able to go where modern-day vehicles can't reach. Hidden treasures and viewpoints await around every corner.
During the ride, your guide will teach you about the history and nature of the area. Some tours combine the carriage excursion with a boat cruise on Lough Leane and a visit to Ross Castle. Craft beer-tasting experiences back in Killarney can also be added to your itinerary.
Take to the lakes surrounding Killarney and discover a different side to the national park. You don't need any experience to enjoy a paddle here as full instruction will be given. You'll be accompanied by a guide, so you'll be in safe hands.
Starting at Ross Castle, you'll embark on a gentle paddle across Lough Leane. It's a peaceful experience and a fun way to discover more about this ancient land. In summer, you can pull up on a remote beach for a refreshing swim after your exertions.
Some kayaking excursions take you on a 3-hour journey by water to Innisfallen Island. Here, you'll visit the 6th-century abbey and see if you can spot the resident sika deer. It's a great place for a picnic lunch too.
For something more challenging, head down to the Blackwater River where waterfalls and wildlife await. Keep an eye out for otters and kingfishers. There are sections of white water to tackle as well as mill-pond pools where you can catch your breath.
Sitting prettily on the shores of Lough Leane, Killarney is a popular heritage town in County Kerry. Known as the birthplace of Irish tourism, Killarney has been attracting visitors since 1861, when Queen Victoria came to stay. She put the place firmly on the map, and today, people come here from all over the world.
Killarney is the perfect jumping-off point for the Ring of Kerry, which is one of the country's most famous driving routes. You can join a tour if you don't have a car. The landscapes in this region are some of the most dramatic in Ireland, while the historic sights give a glimpse into Ireland's past.
If you're looking for an immersive Irish experience, then Killarney ticks all the boxes. The culture is rich, the scenery is jaw-dropping and the welcome is warm. Many people incorporate a stay in Killarney with trips to Dublin, Cork and Limerick.
You can fly into Kerry Airport if you're traveling from Dublin or London. The nearby Cork Airport has more international connections for those arriving from abroad. Alternatively, you can enjoy a scenic train ride from Dublin to Killarney, taking in more of the Irish countryside along the way.
Killarney isn't a huge town so it's easy to navigate your way around the center on foot. Taxis are readily available for short journeys – head to College Square to find the taxi rank.
Most of the main attractions in the area are found out in the countryside. It's best to join a tour or hire a car for out-of-town sightseeing. Car rentals are available from Kerry Airport but be aware that parking can be difficult to find during the peak summer season.
Most visitors tend to stay in the town center where restaurants, shops and bars are close at hand. Many of the guided Killarney tours include pickups from hotels in central Killarney so you don't need to worry about transportation.
If you prefer to stay out of town, Aghadoe is a good bet. Here, you'll be surrounded by nature, and it can be a lot quieter than in Killarney itself. Meanwhile, the Deer Park district offers budget accommodation and is just a 20-minute stroll into the center.
To fully explore the Killarney region, plan to stay here for 2-3 days. This will give you time to enjoy the Ring of Kerry and the Killarney National Park at a leisurely pace.
Killarney makes a great base for exploring the Irish countryside. Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry are particular highlights, closely followed by the Dingle Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher. Each can be visited on a day trip from Killarney, keeping hassle to a minimum.
Don't miss taking a boat trip on the Lakes of Killarney or going on a jaunting car ride for a relaxing afternoon out. History lovers will enjoy checking out St. Mary's Cathedral with its photogenic Gothic Revival design. Ross Castle is another must – it's one of Ireland's most impressive fortresses.
If you're hoping for a traditional evening out in Killarney, then you're in luck. The town boasts several old Irish pubs where you can get stuck into a few pints of the local ales. When it comes to eating, try the "boxty", which is a potato pancake filled with meat or vegetables.
Up for an adventure? Book one of the self-guided Killarney tours by bike that take you into the wilds of the national park. There are several free things to do in Killarney too, including visiting Muckross Abbey and seeing the Meeting of the Waters at the Killarney Lakes.