Killarney is the ideal base for exploring County Kerry, a rugged, rural, and beautiful corner of southwest Ireland. See below for a 3-day itinerary that incorporates visits to three of the county’s scenic highlights: the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, and the sprawling and lake-scattered Killarney National Park.
On your first day, turn your attention to Killarney National Park, a 24,700-acre (10,000-hectare) expanse encompassing island-dotted lakes, ancient forests, and historical heritage properties. Join a guided highlights tour of key sights such as Ladies’ View lookout, the 19th-century Muckross House mansion, and the 15th-century Ross Castle. For a little more flexibility, use a hop-on hop-off park bus service to plan your own sightseeing itinerary, incorporating shorter guided excursions, such as jaunting car (pony and trap) rides, walking tours, lake cruises, or guided paddles in Lough Leane.
As the day draws to an end, return to town and head for High Street, where you’ll find a concentrated cluster of restaurants. Menus tend to make use of local produce, with Kerry lamb and beef, and Skellig Coast seafood, commonplace.
This 110-mile (178-kilometer) loop drive hugs the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, west of Killarney. You could drive yourself around the winding, 2-lane circuit, but if you want to tear your eyes away from the road and give in to the attention-grabbing scenery out the window, opt for a guided coach tour instead. Bike tours are an option too.
Alternatively, choose a private tour that allows you to dictate where and when you want to stop, and how active or gentle your experience should be—think an adrenaline-charged coasteering adventure or a quiet stroll along a white-sand beach. Either way, don’t miss Derrynane Beach, Valentia Island, and the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Skellig Michael.
If possible, linger until late. Dine in Caherdaniel, Cahersiveen, or Portmagee as darkness falls, then turn your head up to the star-filled night sky. Much of the region is a designated International Dark Sky Reserve, and on a clear night the stargazing opportunities are unrivaled in Ireland.
Though smaller in size than the Iveragh Peninsula, the Dingle Peninsula is no less spectacular and warrants a full day’s exploration. Embark on a coach tour from Killarney and cruise along the craggy Atlantic coast, pausing at scenic locales such as the edge-of-the-world Slea Head promontory and the village of Dingle, a small yet cosmopolitan town packed with colorful storefronts and characterful pubs. Private guided tours of the peninsula offer customizable itineraries, meaning you call the shots.
For a different perspective on County Kerry, take a food and drink–themed day tour from Killarney to Dingle, visiting artisan producers such as the Dingle Whiskey Distillery and the Killarney Brewing Company along the way. Back in Killarney, pull up a stool at one of the city’s many traditional pubs, where you can dine, drink, and—depending on the night—listen to live trad music being performed.