To truly appreciate all that Ireland has to offer, you really have to go beyond the bus tour and expand your horizons to feel the country’s terrain under your feet and breathe in its rich scents. And renting a bike for the day in a place, such as Killarney, is one of the easiest ways to do that.
This stunning little town is a quick stop on the Ring of Kerry, but a full day here allows you to see that it has so much to offer and is truly why this country earned the nickname “Emerald Isle.” Here are a few incredible, not-to-be-missed sights that you will find on your self-guided tour by bike.
Muckross House and Gardens
This beautiful estate is situated in the verdant Killarney National Park and features a must-see 19th century Victorian mansion that played host to Queen Victoria for two nights in 1861. Guided tours of the interior of the mansion are available or you can just stroll the grounds and enjoy the beauty of this estate's stunning formal gardens.
Take a break from your bike! Hire a horse-drawn jaunting cart so you can enjoy seeing the grounds, while listening to the syncopated “clip-clop” of the horse’s hooves against the trail. And if you want to skip biking all together, you can rent these carts to take you to and from town.
Killarney National Forest
The Killarney National Forest is a magical place filled with waterfalls, rugged mountains and lakes. One of the best ways to drink in the beauty of this area combines biking the path around the lake with frequent stops to get those Fitbit steps in by also hiking the nearby trails.
One of the most popular trails is the Muckross Abbey Loop – a 1.5-mile trail that will allow you to see a few historic medieval ruins. You’ll find several other paths throughout your bike ride that will give you the chance to see the Muckross Lake, the Brikeen Bridge, Dinis Cottage (old hunting lodge turned into a café) and more.
Bike and Hike to Torc Waterfall
One of the best places to hop off your bike is at Torc Waterfall. You’ll find a quick hiking trail that leads to the gorgeous falls, and for bikers who want to hike further, we suggest taking one of the additional trails located nearby that can take from 1 to 3 hours to complete. There is also a bonus if you can muster the energy to climb approximately 100 steps located to the left of the waterfall. Once you reach the top, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Lakes of Killarney.
Killarney House and Gardens
There are several reasons why visiting the Killarney House and gardens is a must. First, it's located in the middle of town, so it's easy place to start or finish of your bike tour. Second, it has recently undergone a very expensive as well as extensive renovation. Third, it's free to tour the house and gardens. And last, but not least, the tranquil gardens are bursting with color and majestic mountains set as the stunning backdrop. It’s all so Insta-worthy!
After a long day of exploring the area, you’ll probably work up an appetite. To take the edge off your growling tummy and to avoid getting hangry, we suggest a stop at Murphy's Killarney. This popular and well-known pub was established in 1955 and serves traditional fare, including bacon and cabbage, Irish stew and classic cottage pies. You'll, of course, want to wash it all down with a pint of Guinness. This bar is cozy and its décor features pitch pine that has been repurposed from an old church and stained glass windows. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an amazing trip to Killarney or other Irish towns? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with an Ireland travel specialist to plan your next vacay.