With its rolling hills, deep blue lakes and thick woodland, the 10,000-hectare Killarney National Park offers endless exploring opportunities. There's a real mix of things to discover here: at the core of the park are a number of historical sights including Muckross House and Ross Castle, and around a quarter of the land is made up of lakes, with the rest consisting of spectacular woodland, hills, and waterfalls.
The famous Ring of Kerry road, another defining feature of this area of Ireland, runs through the park, so even if you don't have time to stop, driving through on an Ireland road trip is enough to soak up the scenic landscape. If you can spare a moment on your drive, though, we recommend a quick stop off at the Ladies View towards the south end of the park for the best photo opportunities.
Obviously we can't tell you all of the scenic spots as we'd be here all day, but there are a few stand-out features we think you should know about.
Torc Waterfall: At around 70 feet high, Torc Waterfall is a beautiful water feature on the east side of the national park. It's just a five minute walk from the Ring of Kerry road, and a real gem nestled in the woods. The best time to see the cascading water is just after heavy rain, so make the most of those Irish downpours!
Meeting of the Waters: As this poetic name suggests, this idyllic point in the National Park is where Killarney's famous three lakes (the Upper Lake, the Lough Leane, and Muckross Lake) converge. The area is incredibly serene, with breathtaking views across the water, reached only by walking either five kilometres from Muckross House, or by driving to Dinis Cottage and parking there for a shorter 15 minute walk.
Mangerton Mountain: For the hikers among you, the round route to the summit of Mangerton Mountain is one of the most spectacular you'll find in the park. The walk takes you along a steep mountain track to the Devil's Punchbowl (a hidden mountain lake), before a climb to the peak. The climb is pretty tricky, but the views are definitely worth the effort if you're up for it.
Bordering the lakes in the north of the National Park there are a number of historical points of interest if you're able to drag yourself away from the stunning scenery.
Muckross House and Abbey are great places to start as they're probably the most famous places that draw in the crowds. The house is a well preserved Victorian mansion with beautiful gardens to explore, and the Abbey a beautiful old Irish monastery, both sitting on the edge of Muckross and Lough Leane lakes.
Ross Castle, a majestic 15th-century castle, also stands tall on the banks of Lough Leane and is a beautiful addition to the park's scenery. The grounds are free to wander, or it costs €5 to explore inside.
North of Ross Castle you'll find the slightly more recent Knockreer House which was built in 1958 to replace Killarney House after it burnt down in 1913. Today, the house is a national park education centre, and although it's not open to the public it has a beautiful terraced lawn and a summerhouse which look out over the lakes to the mountains.
Killarney National Park
Ireland V93 CK73