National Park Guide:

Killarney National Park

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Killarney National Park

Day Trip Guide

Our Killarney National Park Day Trip Guide will give you a quick insight to Ireland’s first national park. If you’re from the USA like us, other national park systems sometimes leave us with a desire for more. We ended up meeting a couple Americans that we in Belgium that didn’t even know Killarney was a national park.

I’ll put it this way, Killarney is a beautiful lush green park in Ireland with a few mountains, lakes, and walking trails. It came to be in existence thanks to Bournes family donating their immense 11,000 acre estate to form the national park.

Nonetheless, we highly recommend taking a day trip to Killarney National Park because it has so much history. Below is a list of cool things to see in Killarney National Park, along with a few  things to think about in order to get there. See a breakdown below of costs and carbon footprints between 3 methods of transportation.

How to get to Killarney

So you land in Ireland, now you're probably wondering how to get to Killarney. Since Dublin in the major hub of Ireland, I will focus on the routes between Dublin and Killarney. By bus, it would take roughly 4.5 hours to reach Killarney from Dublin. A return ticket online through Dublin Coach from Dublin to Killarney is €40/adult, or €20 each way.

The closest airport to Killarney is the small Kerry Airport, roughly a 25 minute drive from Killarney National Park. On Google Flights, direct connections from DUB to KIR range around €50/person, before checking baggage. However, renting a car could be a cheaper per person cost compared to flying. This depends whether or not you rent a car out of Dublin or other cities like Shannon or Cork. Read more about our car rental experience in Ireland here.

Consider your Carbon Footprint

Depending on your method of transportation to Killarney National Park, your carbon footprint is an important thing to keep in mind. Yes, some methods are quicker or cost more than others, but considering your carbon footprint is another important consideration. For instance, take a look at the breakdown below between 3 different modes of  transportation.

How to get to Killarney National Park
  • Cost: €20/adult (One Way ticket) [1]
  • Carbon Footprint: One-Way
    • Distance 320 km
    • 0.01 metric tons CO2e per person [2]


  • Cost: €100+/day [3]
  • Carbon Footprint: One-Way
    • Distance: 350 km
    • Average fuel economy: 6 liters/100 km
    • 0.05 metric tons of CO2e per car [4]


  • Cost: ~€50/person + luggage fees [5]
  • Carbon Footprint: One-Way
    • Airports DUB - KIR
    • Economy Class
    • 0.02 metric tons of CO2e per person [6]

On average, it looks like taking a coach bus is the most cost effective option and has the lightest carbon foot print. Yes, we were guilty of driving a car throughout Ireland for our road trip. Though the average fuel economy in our petrol car was slightly above average (6.8 liters/100 km), we had 4 people which averages out to be 0.0125 metric tons of CO2e per person.

All in all, driving a car between 4 people leaves a slightly higher impact than us taking the bus. However, it was cheaper and a smaller carbon footprint than each of us flying. Check out this cool website to calculate your estimated carbon footprint before making your day trip to Killarney National Park.

Things to see in Killarney

Some cool things to see in Killarney National Park are located closer to town around the Muckross Estate and Lough Leanne, the main body of in the park. Though we didn't get to do any real hikes, this park has a few hiking trails that can be completed on a day trip to Killarney National Park.

Muckross House

Entrance Cost: €9.25/adult (House only)

Hours: 1:00PM-6:00PM*

William Burn, a British architect, originally built this lovely lakeside estate in 1843 for the prestigious Herbert family. The estate traded hands a couple times, even once belonging to Arthur Guinness. Eventually in 1932 the final owners, the Bournes family, donated the house and the 11,000 acre estate to become the first national park within the Republic of Ireland.

*Hours vary depending on the season. See the timetable based on month/season here.

Day Trip Guide to Killarney National Park - Muckross House
Things to see in Killarney National Park - Muckross House

Muckross Abbey

Entrance Cost: Free!

Hours: 8:00AM-8:00PM

Though it’s not related to the Muckross House, Muckross Abbey was originally founded in 1448. Throughout it’s time, it was subjected to many raids and became quite damaged.

Nowadays the Abbey still stands but is mostly missing the roof. Despite it’s history, this Abbey is fairly well preserved. Unfortunately we did not visit this site but would recommend it if you’re interested in more of the history behind the land that makes up Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle

Entrance Cost: Free!

Hours: 9:30AM-5:30PM

You’re bound to see tons of castles in Ireland, but how many times can you say you’ve seen a castle within a national park? Originally built in the 15th century, Ross Castle sits on the edge of Lough Leane, the largest lake in Killarney National Park.

This castle is open to the public and doesn’t have an entrance fee if you don't plan on climbing the tower. We thought this place was great, plus we love not paying for attractions which makes this another one of the great free things to do in Killarney National Park.

Killarney National Park Day Trip Guide

Killarney Hiking Trails

Of course hiking is probably among the best free things to do in Killarney National Park, or any national park for that matter. We were traveling with Molly’s mom and brother when we did a day trip to Killarney so we didn’t get the chance to do any hikes. However, we did get some good recommendations if you want to do some hiking here.

This is a small island where Ross Castle is located. It has a few short hiking trails, all 5 Km (3 miles) or less. All the trails run partially along Lough Leane and have little to no elevation gain. You could easily complete one of these trails is less than 90 minutes. Click here to read about some of the trails on Ross Island.

Ross Island 2 - 800 16x9
Things to see in Killarney National Park - Ross Castle Island

Located on this mountain is the Torc Waterfall, which is probably one of the most popular natural attractions in Killarney National Park. The full waterfall loop is roughly 6.5 Km (4 Miles) and is rated as moderate on Alltrails. If you want to do some other hikes on Torc Mountain check out this link here.

Out of all the cool things to see in Killarney, we highly recommend checking out the Ring of Kerry if you’re coming to Killarney National Park. Yes, the Ring of Kerry runs along the National Park, but you’ll need to drive on it for a while to get a real experience. If you’re just taking a day trip to Killarney National Park it might be a good way to end the day, especially if you’re continuing on south like we were.

Where to stay in Killarney

We ended up spending to nights in Killarney. Though, we lucked out Molly's mom was accompanying us so she offered to cover the lodging. If we didn't have such a generous offer then we would likely be staying in a hostel somewhere in town.

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorms: €10.00+

Private: €18.00+

Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Self-Catering Services, Free parking, Tea & Coffee Making facilities

Photo Courtesy:

Dorms: €14.00+

Private: €16.00+

Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Kitchen, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Laundry facilities

Photo Courtesy:

Dorms: €23.50+

Private: €29.38+

Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Kitchen, Luggage Storage, Travel Desk, Laundry facilities

Photo Courtesy:

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