A short hop from Shannon Airport, Killarney in southwest Ireland serves as the jumping-off point for the scenic, sprawling, and lake-dotted Killarney National Park—which, if you have only one day to explore the region, is where you’ll want to focus your attention. Here are some ideas on the best way to spend 24 hours in Killarney.
Get off to an early start at Killarney National Park’s two biggest crowd-pullers: the 19th-century Muckross House mansion and the 15th-century Ross Castle. These heritage properties are situated in the eastern part of the park, about 15 minutes from town by car. If you don’t have access to a car, a hop-on hop-off bus gets you to both. For a more traditional method of transport, clip-clop your way past Ross Castle on a jaunting car (pony and trap), or—if you don’t mind working up a sweat—on a bike.
Having explored the historical houses this morning, devote the afternoon to soaking up the scenery. Take a sightseeing cruise or go kayaking on the Lakes of Killarney, admiring views of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks range. Opt for a private lake cruise to disembark at Innisfallen Island, where you can view the remains of a old monastery.
Alternatively, explore on foot. Join a guided walking tour or trek solo along the Gap of Dunloe, a picturesque glacial valley propelled into the spotlight after a visit from Queen Victoria in 1861. Some guided afternoon tours combine lake cruises with free time at the Gap of Dunloe.
Back in town, it’s time to kick your feet up for a night of dining and drinking. Sample Irish delicacies such as boxty (potato cakes) and lake-caught fish at a local restaurant, then head to one of Killarney’s many pubs for a post-dinner pint or two. With any luck, you may even get to witness a traditional Irish music session. Killarney Brewing Company, which produces small-batch beers inspired by Irish legends, is a must-visit for craft beer enthusiasts.