Ireland is renowned for breathtaking natural beauty, a thriving capital city and of course, locals enjoying plenty of “craic” over a pint of Guinness! In southwest Ireland, the town of Killarney is undoubtedly a perfect example that epitomizes the Irish culture in more ways that one. During our 48 hours in Killarney (we actually spent a little longer but much of our time was spent at the TBEX Europe conference!) exploring the town and further afield, we discovered why this town is such a thriving destination that should be on everyone’s radar.
As you venture away from Dublin, the real beauty of Ireland can be found and as we started out on our epic Ireland road trip, we had every intention of discovering what life in Ireland is really like. As we share our experiences in Killarney and County Kerry in general, we hope that you will be inspired to add this region to your next Ireland adventure.
The inherent beauty throughout this area is such that you cannot help but fall in love with it. Whether you are an avid landscape photographer that will immediately fall in love with the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry or perhaps a Lord of the Rings fanatic, this part of Ireland offers plenty for every type of traveler. Let’s take a look at how you can maximize your time while spending a few days in Killarney.
Where to Stay in Killarney?
Killarney is home to a plethora of accommodation options. From luxury hotels to budget hostels, you can be sure to find something that will fit your needs. We initially planned to stay at the Gleneagle Hotel which is conveniently located next to the INEC Conference Centre but just before heading to Ireland, we stumbled across an opportunity that we couldn’t resist.
The Belmont is a 3,100 sq/ft period-style home that is available for rent courtesy of Luxquisite Property Lettings. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms and can easily accommodate up to eleven guests! The luxury, modern design of the interior offers a distinctive blend to the period-style architecture on the outside.
But that’s not all…in fact, that’s not even the start of this AMAZING house! If you love technology, you are going to LOVE this house. It’s the epitome of an ultra “smart” home with everything synced together to create an experience you will never forget.
The moment you enter the door and press the “welcome” touch button, the house springs to life. The lights throughout the home turn on, the blinds open, the TV/radio turn on…all with the touch of one single button!
Luxquisite properties are amazing Luxury Self-Catering Guest House lettings located in the heart of Killarney town centre.
If you are interested in reading more about our experience at the Belmont, check out our review here as we share the very best of why we think Luxquisite Property Lettings is the best place to stay in Killarney!
We realize that this option may not be for everyone but if you are traveling as a group or perhaps on a family vacation, this may be a great alternative for self-catering accommodation.
If you are looking for something a little more affordable, be sure to check out some of the top recommendations on Booking.com. We always use this website, especially for last-minute bookings as you can find some great deals!
Local Killarney Culture
Ok, so you have found the perfect place to stay in Killarney but now you are ready to head out and explore everything this town has to offer. Don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed because there are plenty of things to do that will keep you occupied for several days…and that’s just within the town center!
Let’s start with some of the finest examples of gorgeous architecture throughout the town. Ireland is a proud nation of faith and this is typified by the number of places of worship that are scattered throughout the country.
Killarney is home to several beautiful churches and cathedrals that are iconic landmarks even for folks that are not particularly religious but want to admire the inherent beauty of these architectural masterpieces.
St. Mary’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral that dates back to 1855 when the doors first opened. This cathedral is situated in a fairly unique location in terms of it being away from the hustle and bustle of Killarney town center.
The setting is typical of a priory (in the heart of a field) rather than a cathedral but this distinctive feature combined with the Gothic Revival style architecture ensures visitors flock from all parts to see this majestic sight.
For those of you that want to experience a church in the center of Killarney, St. Mary’s Church of Ireland is another architectural gem worth visiting.
Known locally as the “Church of the Sloes,” which actually is the meaning of the town itself – Killarney, this is the perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to experience a traditional Irish place of worship while exploring Killarney.
Killarney Brewing Company
Are you ready to sample some of the finest local craft brews in southwest Ireland? Head to the Killarney Brewing Company and experience a delicious array of brews while listening to an expert share the history of this company and the process behind creating these local specialties.
What was once the original Killarney Mineral Water drinks facility has since been transformed into one of Ireland’s most sought-after independent craft breweries and it’s no surprise that this company considers themselves to have “Ireland’s finest range of craft beers.”
Killarney’s Finest Pubs
Whether you spend a day or a week in Killarney, your experience will likely involve some time in one of the many pubs throughout the town.
There is certainly no shortage of pubs to be found and regardless of whether you prefer the traditional Irish pub setting or perhaps something with a little more flamboyance, Killarney is home to a variety of public houses that you need to visit.
Murphy’s Bar, Courtney’s Bar and J.M. Reidys are all examples of some of the popular choices around the town but there is really only one pub that we want to recommend. The Shire is everything you could wish for in a pub yet it is the unique features that make this such a popular attraction for visitors to Killarney
If you love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will immediately fall in love with The Shire. After visiting “The Shire” in New Zealand, we instantly knew that this Lord of the Rings themed pub was going to be an amazing experience.
The design of The Shire throughout the interior immediately transforms you into Middle-earth while you can never be sure when the next character out of The Lord of the Rings will pop up to welcome you into their natural habitat.
Perhaps sampling one of the delicious brews known as Gandalf, Frodo and Bilbo will convince you that The Shire is the best place to relax in Killarney but in our opinion, it’s the friendly service that you can expect from Ollie and the bar staff that will immediately make you feel at home and part of the Shire family!
Enjoy Fine Local Cuisine
Killarney is home to a number of restaurants to satisfy everyone’s appetite. If you are looking to experience a stereotypical Irish dish such as Fish and Chips or Shepherd’s Pie, why not head to one of the aforementioned pubs for a delicious pub meal. Alternatively, there are a number of restaurants located throughout Killarney that will likely attract your attention.
The Porterhouse Restaurant is an original gastropub that not only features a distinctive blend of local meat and seafood dishes but also a vegan menu to ensure everyone is catered for.
From gourmet burgers to traditional Irish lamb stew, the Porterhouse restaurant offers an eclectic array of dishes that will entice you through the doors.
A full bar featuring specialized whiskeys and gins along with local craft brews is yet another attractive reason for visiting this restaurant.
Looking for something a little more unique while in Killarney? Rob’s Ranch House is the typical Texas-style ranch restaurant that you would expect to find in the Southern United States but certainly not Killarney, Ireland!
We just had to experience this and honestly, the food was excellent! The blend of Irish and southern style cuisine worked well and the decor throughout this restaurant was a great addition.
Killarney National Park
Not only is Killarney a really cool town to experience because of the local culture, it’s also in a great location on the doorstep to Killarney National Park. The reality is, anyone visiting Killarney can experience the best of both worlds – urban and rural in the same trip!
A few minutes drive or bike ride from the town center across the River Flesk and you are immediately transformed from life in the town to the heart of a breathtaking natural landscape.
Be sure to read what we experienced during our Killarney National Park tour. Ross Castle is a gorgeous spot to relax and enjoy the sunset with the lake in the background while the Ladies View is perhaps one of the most iconic scenes throughout County Kerry.
A breathtaking panoramic scene looking throughout the valley is a real sight to behold and if it’s good enough for Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting, well it’s good enough for us to experience!
If you love waterfalls as much as we do, taking the short stroll from the Ring of Kerry road to Torc Waterfall will be a worthwhile experience. Don’t expect to stumble across Niagara Falls but regardless, I don’t think you will be disappointed with what you see!
Day Trip to Dingle
A visit to Killarney not only gives you the opportunity to experience a beautiful town and national park but it also opens the door to exploring the wider region of County Kerry. A number of day trip options are available including a full experience around the Ring of Kerry but we have another favorite spot that we would love to recommend – Dingle!
If you have seen the movie Leap Year, the town of Dingle will be a familiar name, despite the major geographical flaws in the movie. However, regardless of whether you compare yourself to Amy Adams, the Dingle Peninsula is definitely one of the spectacular spots in Ireland that you cannot afford to miss.
A quirky and quaint fishing village is how I would explain Dingle yet perhaps the real highlights await you when you venture along the Wild Atlantic Way on the Slea Head Drive loop that you can easily spend several hours experiencing.
Take some time to appreciate the beauty surrounding this rugged landscape before heading back into Dingle to enjoy some of Ireland’s best ice cream at Murphy’s!
Killarney may not be the first destination you associate with Ireland but after spending a few days here, we can well and truly attest that this is a location that needs to be on your radar.
When it comes to Irish culture, there are not many spots around Ireland that offer everything that Killarney does. It’s the perfect location to explore the outdoors, while at the same time offering the opportunity to enjoy a typical Irish pub experience over a pint of Guinness or Gandalf’s Ale if you follow our recommendation and visit The Shire!
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