As a student studying abroad in Ireland, I had a set list of places I wanted to be able to explore during my semester so that I could explore as much of the country as possible. Killarney was definitely on that list, mostly for all of its stunning coastal views and cute Irish towns. I knew that I really wanted to try to make it to Dingle Peninsula, which was nearly impossible to do with any tour company. However, I ended up finding my favorite Irish town during my day trip to Co. Kerry with Paddywagon Tours, which I honestly did not expect!
Dublin is about a 3.5 hour car ride away from Co. Kerry, so I knew that it was going to be hard to find a way to make a day trip out of it. I knew that I definitely wanted to be able to see some of Dingle Bay and more of the best outdoors areas of Ireland, like Killarney National Park. After a Google search, I found out that Paddywagon Tours offered a tour that would suit all my needs! I ended up doing the Kerry Tour from Dublin. The tour costs €79, unless you’re a student, so I paid €75. Not bad for a day filled with so many beautiful stops!
We chose to get picked up at Paddy’s Palace on Lower Gardiner Street which was at 6:20 AM. Pickup is so early because the destination is so far away! We essentially chose to get picked up at the first stop because there are three pickup locations and we wanted to guarantee that (1) we would be able to sit next to each other and (2) we’d actually be on the same bus. I highly suggest getting picked up at the first stop if you want to be able to 100% sit with the people you’re traveling with!
I feel like I say this all the time, but I definitely think it’s best to bring a backpack. My roommate and I each packed a backpack filled with some snacks (mostly just way too many Penguin bars, which I highly suggest trying), a water bottle, an umbrella, a jacket, and some money. There is a stop for lunch in Killarney, but you’ll definitely get hungry on the road, so bringing snacks is essential. Bringing water is always good too, because it can get stuffy on a bus! We were lucky enough to go in April, so we got to wear shorts for the day, but still brought a jacket just in case.
About 2 hours into the trip, we made a pit stop at Adare in Co. Limerick. This is a lovely little Irish village that’s well-known for its thatched roof houses. It’s also one of Ireland’s prettiest towns. This was about a 20 minute stop mostly for photo opportunities, but it definitely piqued my interest in possibly visiting Adare for a bit longer in the future!
Sadly, one of the cottages had just lost its thatched roof due to a fire. However, there were still many that I took some photos of. Just look at how beautiful they are! I loved looking at them. My roommate said that they all looked like they just got a fresh haircut, haha!
Our next stop was another 1.5 hour drive away, so it felt good to get off the bus while in Adare to get my legs moving! The stop was at Muckross House and gardens, which is an elegant 19th-century mansion located right in Killarney National Park.
It felt like something right out of Downton Abbey! There were even multiple horse-drawn carriages that would take people around the gardens, though we opted to walk around. Most of our drive into Killarney, it was so foggy, so I was extremely happy that as soon as we got off the tour bus, it lightened up tremendously!
I think the fact that it was nestled in Killarney National Park only added to its beauty. There was a beautiful little lake too just a quick 5 minute walk from the mansion, so we of course went down there for a photo opportunity or two.
On my tour, it was even mentioned that Queen Victoria had actually stayed at Muckross House and that the owners of the mansion completely redid the inside just for her, so that she could see the beautiful lake and mountains from her room! How awesome is that!?
You can tell that it’s still a *little bit* foggy in the distance of the photo above, but about an hour before this we couldn’t even see the mountains because of the fog, so I’m so happy with the way that this shot turned out! It looked like the perfect place to sit and enjoy a picnic. I mean, just look at that view!
There is a lovely little cafe near the gardens, and since it was so hot and we had finished most of our water, we decided to treat ourselves to some pink lemonade which was absolutely splendid! It kind of tasted like pink sparkling lemonade. It sounds like a weird combination, but I swear it was good!
After leaving Muckross House, we hopped back on the bus for a quick 5 minute drive down the road to Torc Waterfall. The waterfall is 66′ tall! It was insane. It was also crazy how green this area was. I’ve never seen something so vibrantly green in my life! This was one of the highlights of my day, and I even look back at it as one of my favorite sights in all of Ireland.
The cool thing is that there are hiking trails right near the waterfall, though since we were only there for about a half hour, we didn’t have time to do that. I definitely want to go back one day and explore more of the area!
Next, we finally got to go explore Killarney! This town is absolutely stunning and is so quintessentially Irish. I definitely wish I had been able to spend more than two hours here! We walked around a bit and grabbed lunch at Salvadors. I definitely suggest the “hot stuff” pizza… I personally didn’t find it that hot and I usually can’t handle spicy!
Killarney felt so different from Dublin so it was great to be able to experience it! We also tried Murphy’s Ice Cream for the first time here, which I really recommend. It tastes like soft hard serve… I don’t know how to explain it! But it’s made right in Dingle, which is so close to Killarney.
On our way out of Killarney, our tour guide was nice enough to bring us to a great viewing spot of Killarney National Park! He said that they normally don’t make this stop, but it’s one of his favorite views and he just had to show it to us. The fog seemed to be back around this time, but the view was still breathtaking! I could’ve sat there for hours and just enjoyed it.
After leaving Killarney, we drove a little bit to Inch Beach, which is one of Ireland’s most famous beaches because of how long it is! It goes on for 3 miles. Yes, you read that right! There were even surfing lessons for super cheap, which I totally would’ve done if I had more time. This is also a good stop to grab some snacks at the cafe if you’d like.
The beach is surrounded by beautiful hills, too, which we would soon drive along to see more of the Wild Atlantic Way!
Lastly, we drove along the Wild Atlantic Way and got to enjoy beautiful views of Ireland’s western coastline. This is really one of the most beautiful areas of all of Ireland, in my opinion. I just couldn’t get enough of the views! After hearing some fun facts and stories about the area, we started the 3.5 hour ride back to Dublin. We made it home around 9 PM, and we were absolutely exhausted!
In the end, I’d definitely suggest taking a day trip to Co. Kerry with Paddywagon Tours if you’re staying in Ireland. It’s definitely a great way to dip your toes into one of the most beautiful areas of Ireland! It has made me want to go back to Co. Kerry in the future and perhaps spend a week or two exploring the area more in depth.
If you’re interested in seeing this trip in video format, definitely check out the vlog my roommate and I made below!