How to Spend One Day in Killarney, Ireland (2023)

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If you want to spend one day in Killarney, you’ve found the right blog post! We spent the perfect 24 hours in Killarney while studying abroad in Dublin.

Nestled amidst the majestic landscapes of County Kerry, Killarney, Ireland is a destination that will steal your heart. With its breathtaking natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality, it’s arguably one of the most special places in Ireland to visit.

Picture vast ancient forests, shimmering lakes, and cascading waterfalls in abundance – the scenery in this little corner of the world is pretty special.

But what if you only have one day in Killarney? Is that enough time to explore the area and fully experience its renowned beauty? Absolutely! In fact, the region was actually declared Ireland’s ‘best day out’ in 2015 – it’s a brilliant place for a day trip, but to get the most out of your time, you’ll definitely need to do a bit of planning. 

That’s where this blog post comes in! We’ve crafted the perfect one day Killarney itinerary to ensure you get the absolute most out of your visit. Read on to discover how you should spend 24 hours in the magical Killarney.

🚗 Don’t forget to book your Ireland rental car! Click here to check rates. 🚗

One Day in Killarney Itinerary

Grab Breakfast at Café du Parc  

A plate with eggs benedict on it.

Start your morning by fueling up for your one day in Killarney with a tasty breakfast at Café du Parc, a charming cafe nestled in the heart of the town center. Their breakfast menu is incredibly varied – so much so that it’s hard to pick just one meal!

From traditional Irish breakfast classics to creative and innovative dishes, Cafe du Parc caters to all taste buds. Indulge in their fluffy pancakes drizzled with creamy maple syrup, or savor their signature Eggs Benedict with perfectly poached eggs and velvety hollandaise sauce.

For a lighter option, their homemade granola with fresh fruits and yogurt is a refreshing choice. The cafe prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients, ensuring that each dish bursts with flavor and showcases the best of Killarney’s culinary delights.

Explore Muckross Castle and Gardens 

Small garden area in front of a large historic building.

Muckross Castle holds a fascinating history that spans several centuries. Built in the 15th century by the MacCarthy clan, the castle witnessed the changing tides of Irish history.

Over the years, it served as a stronghold, a dwelling for wealthy landowners, and even a hunting lodge. In the 19th century, Muckross Castle underwent significant renovations under the ownership of the Herbert family, who transformed it into a Victorian mansion complete with turrets, bay windows, and intricate stonework.

Visitors can wander through the elegantly furnished rooms of the castle, marveling at the intricate craftsmanship, ornate ceilings, and period furnishings that will transport you back in time. It’s a fascinating place to explore and serves as a testament to Ireland’s rich history and natural beauty.

The castle sits on sprawling 11,000 acres of land and contains meticulously manicured gardens – take a stroll around them and admire the vibrant blooms, tranquil ponds, and ancient trees, all set into a scenic backdrop of surrounding lakes and mountains. 

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    Hike in Killarney National Park 

    Small waterfall flowing down rocks in a wooded area.

    One of Killarney’s biggest draws for tourists is the remarkable Killarney National Park, which is one of the country’s largest (and most impressive!) National parks.

    This enchanting park offers a diverse range of landscapes, from rugged mountains and pristine lakes to lush forests and picturesque waterfalls. A visit to Killarney National Park is an absolute must on any one day Killarney itinerary. 

    There are a fantastic range of outdoor activities on offer within the park, and it’s one of Ireland’s best hiking spots. Since you only have 24 hours in Killarney and want to explore as much as possible, it’s probably best to choose one of the shorter hiking trails on this trip.

    The hike to Torc waterfall is a great pick for anyone short on time – it takes about 1 – 1.5 hours and is a must-do for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. 

    As you embark on the trail, you’ll find yourself surrounded by ancient woodlands, lush greenery, and the soothing sounds of nature. The hike offers a perfect blend of scenic beauty and adventure, with well-marked paths leading you through the enchanting forest.

    As you approach the majestic Torc Waterfall, the sight of cascading waters tumbling down from the heights is truly mesmerizing – and a worthwhile reward for your hike. 

    Eat Lunch at Ladies View Cafe Bar 

    After a busy morning exploring and hiking, you’ll definitely have worked up an appetite! Many of Killarney’s restaurants are located in the town center, with fewer options surrounding the National Park. Luckily, you don’t have to head back to town for lunch, though – every minute is valuable when you’ve only got one day to spend in Killarney! 

    Visit the Ladies View Cafe Bar, which is located just a 12-minute drive from Torc Waterfall. The cafe and rooftop bar makes a fantastic spot for lunch, providing delicious homemade food served amidst unbeatable natural beauty.

    Situated near the renowned Ladies View scenic viewpoint, this cozy café offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.

    The menu features a variety of mouthwatering dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, including fresh seafood, hearty soups, gourmet sandwiches, and traditional Irish specialties. Spend some time relaxing here and soaking up the incredible view before heading to your next activity. 

    Drive some of the famous Ring of Kerry

    Small curved road looking out over a large field by the water.

    The 111-mile Ring of Kerry is a popular driving route that encapsulates the natural beauty of the Emerald Isle. Driving the ring takes you on a captivating journey through the enchanting landscapes of County Kerry, and you’ll see everything from majestic mountains and dramatic coastlines to picturesque villages and ancient ruins.

    Every twist and turn of the Ring of Kerry reveals a new breathtaking vista – it would be criminal to visit Killarney without experiencing the Ring of Kerry! 

    Since you’re spending just one day in Killarney, the best idea would be to drive a section of the ring rather than the full loop. Start at the Ladies View Point (which is across the road from the cafe recommended above), and follow the Ring of Kerry (or the N70 as it’s also called), stopping as often as you’d like.

    As you’ve only got an hour or two to spare, you probably shouldn’t head much further along the road than the small village of Sneem before turning back – but don’t worry, this stretch of the ring provides some incredible views. 

    Explore downtown Killarney 

    large shopping street with people walking along both sides.

    There’s one activity not to be missed before it gets dark during your 1 day in Killarney, and that’s exploring the town itself! The quaint town of Killarney is a picturesque gem that exudes Irish charm, and spending an afternoon exploring it is a fantastic idea.

    Its streets are bursting with color, with each shop, pub, and cafe painted a different shade of the rainbow. It’s a lively town center, and a wander through the main streets is one of the best ways to experience the buzzing atmosphere and meet some of Ireland’s warmest and most welcoming locals.

    There are a multitude of independent shops and boutiques in Killarney, and it’s a great place to do a spot of shopping.

    You could pick up some incredible handcrafted goodies and souvenirs, or just browse and admire the shops – either way, it’s an enjoyable place to explore. A stroll along the eclectic high street is a fantastic way of unwinding after your busy day of sightseeing. 

    Have Dinner at Cronins 

    Killarney has a range of fantastic dining options, and you won’t struggle to find a delicious meal during your evening here. The family-run Cronin’s Restaurant is a hidden gem and is the perfect pick for dinner during your one day in Killarney.

    From the moment you step inside, you’re greeted by a cozy ambiance and friendly staff who make you feel like a welcomed guest – this is a prime spot to experience the hospitality Ireland is famed for. 

    Cronin’s prides itself on showcasing the finest flavors of County Kerry, with a menu that highlights the region’s bountiful produce and culinary traditions. Indulge in their signature dish, the succulent Kerry lamb, perfectly cooked and accompanied by a medley of locally sourced vegetables.

    For seafood lovers, their fresh catch of the day is a true delight, bursting with the flavors of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Pair your meal with a carefully curated selection of wines, or opt for a pint of traditional Irish stout to complete the experience. 

    Attend a Trad Session at Killarney Grand Hotel

    A close up view of a person playing the violin.

    Experiencing a trad music session in Ireland is an absolute must for any visitor seeking an authentic cultural experience, and Killarney is arguably one of the best places to do so. It offers a glimpse into the soul of Ireland, allowing you to connect with the country’s traditions, stories, and community spirit.

    The infectious rhythms and melodies create a joyful celebration that is truly unique. As you immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of a trad session, you’ll witness the skill and passion of talented musicians who bring these centuries-old tunes to life.

    The Killarney Grand Hotel is a historic establishment within the trad music scene – it’s been a hub for music and merriment for generations. As you step into the lively pub, the air is filled with the infectious energy of musicians tuning their instruments and the warm chatter of fellow music enthusiasts.

    Take a seat, order your favorite pint, and prepare to be swept away by soul-stirring tunes. Skilled musicians, adorned in traditional attire, skillfully play the fiddle, accordion, tin whistle, and bodhran, creating a symphony of sounds that fills the room. The vibrant atmosphere is contagious, and without realizing it you’ll find yourself clapping and tapping your feet. 

    The Killarney Grand Hotel’s trad music sessions take place every night, and are a true celebration of Irish culture and a testament to the rich musical heritage of the region. Spending the evening here is the perfect end to your one day Killarney itinerary. 

    🚗 Don’t forget to book your Ireland rental car! Click here to check rates. 🚗

    Final Thoughts: Killarney in a day

    There is so much to explore in this wonderful corner of County Kerry. While one day in Killarney isn’t enough to experience absolutely everything there is to do there – it’s certainly possible to make the most of your time and experience a good chunk.

    From the charming town center to the majestic landscapes of the National Park, you’re sure to leave with a newfound love of Killarney. 

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