A weekend in Killarney
Killarney is about as far as you can get from Dublin but this is a destination that is well worth the distance covered. Killarney is the gateway to some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery and a nice town to boot.
Killarney is a proper tourist town. Almost every building seems to be a hotel, there are pony and traps everywhere and everything seems to be geared towards servicing visitors to the town. Killarney does this with some considerable charm though and when you're surrounding by a huge amount of compelling reasons to come here it's no surprise that these logistics have had to be built up.
Obviously, the main reason anyone is in Killarney in the first place is to do the Ring of Kerry. A full day should be set aside to tour the 179 kilometres of one of the world’s best driving routes. Drive up into the hills past Lough Leane and create scenery-porn photos worthy at the spectacular viewing points of Moll’s Gap and Ladies View. Descend onto the famous coastal road for views of giant cliffs, rugged beaches and rocky islands – including the Skellig Islands made famous by two of the new Star Wars films. As you circle round to Killorglin on the north end photo stops will be numerous and the picturesque towns like Sneem and Cahirciveen will call out to you for a stop for a wander.
Between the attractive town of Killarney and Lough Leane lies the Killarney National Park. The many miles of paths in this pleasant forested area allow you to get lost for hours on foot or on a rented bicycle. Get from one side to the other to be rewarded by views of the lake and the ruins of Ross Castle.
Killarney is probably one of the best places to enjoy a jaunting car (pony and trap) ride. The pathways of Killarney National Park or the Muckross Estate are a million miles away from an uncomfortable, frankly embarrassing jaunting car journey you see people doing through the noisy, congested streets of Dublin. Alternatively, get the Big Red Bus hop on hop off service between the pretty spaced out attractions.
Just outside of Killarney, Muckross House and Gardens are good for a rainy day and the only attraction that you’ll really need to pay an entry fee to during your weekend. The usual collection of fancy bedrooms and opulent drawing rooms await you on a standard house tour and there's the added bonus of fantastic mountain and lake views plus native deer roaming around the vast estate.
There seems to be no shortage of accommodation in Killarney but it has one of the highest bedroom occupancy rates in the country. If on a budget then you’re likely to need one of the number of hostels, such as Killarney Railway Hostel and Neptunes, as the 3- and 4-star hotels can be a little pricey when available. If a splurge is on the cards there are some incredible 5-star hotels mainly outside the town, like the Muckross Park Hotel and The Europe, which offer incredible interiors and even better views.
There are also plenty of nice pubs and restaurants in Killarney but one place to be guaranteed live music every night is the Danny Mann Pub at the Eviston Hotel. The food’s pretty good too. Out on the Muckross Road by many of the hotels is the Killarney Brewing Company. The mircrobrewery offers tours or just sit in and enjoy the brews and delicious woodfired pizza.