As I wrapped up four days in Dublin (you can read Part 1 of my travel diary here) I was very excited to start exploring the beautiful countryside of Ireland. Located Southwest in County Kerry, a charming town along the iconic Ring of Kerry coastal drive awaited. Killarney was my next stop and Part 2 of my Ireland travel diary.
Brimming with history, a beautiful National Park and soooo much Irish hospitality, Killarney was a stark difference from Dublin. Not only were the Irish accents more melodious but it’s in Killarney where I found the Ireland that I had always envisioned.
Just 3 hours from Dublin on Irish Rail and for only 23 Euros I arrived around lunch time. I decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Dublin and spent the remainder of my day exploring the town and took in a nice walking trail around Killarney National Park and the Muckross House & Gardens.
After a home made Irish breakfast courtesy of my B&B host Marie – the weather looking good, I committed to hiking the Gap of Dunloe. Hiking the gap was on my bucket list when I booked my trip.
The Gap is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain by glacial flows. The hike begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and the trail winds through the pass and descends into The Black Valley passing five lakes. Approximately 11 km, you can hire a horse drawn wagon BUT if you are able to walk you must WALK the gap to truly appreciate the beauty of the trail.
Travel Tip: I recommend hiring a tour company from Killarney to transport you to/from The Gap of Dunlop. The cost also includes a boat ride through the 5 lakes post hike. I booked all of my tours through my B&B by just calling into Deros Tours in the AM- they even picked me up! While I traveled in shoulder season (also recommended) in the summer months you may need to book in advance.
You can read more about my hike in my blog post “My 5 Core Elements on the Gap of Dunloe”.
A day trip on the Ring of Kerry is an essential part of any visit to Ireland. While I wished I had my own car with the ability to stop along route where I pleased, traveling solo it proved more convenient for me to join a guided tour.
The tour (although long) was a great way for me to take in all the beautiful scenery on the iconic drive without the hassle of navigating on my own – it’s literally stunning ocean and mountain views at every turn.
Since I couldn’t get enough of the scenery in County Kerry I decided to continue exploring the region on my last day. The Dingle Peninsula which stretches out into the Atlantic ocean, is the most northerly mountainous region which forms the indented coast of Southwest Ireland. I also had the chance to explore the quaint and charming town of Dingle.
Travel Tip: If spending another day on the road isn’t your cup of tea there’s much more to do in Killarney, here are just a few ideas:
- Climb Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil
- Killarney is infamous for its singing pubs. Usually live bands play everything from well known Irish ballads to covers from the latest bands. By the end of the night the whole pub is singing along and you can’t help but join in!
- Weather dependent, the Skellig Islands are about 10km off the western tip of the Iveragh Peninsula by boat. The Skellig Michael, was inhabited by monks for almost 500 years beginning in the 7th or 8th century. The monastery they built is well preserved and if you take the time out to visit I’ve heard it’s quite an impactful experience. I would recommend this only in the summer months.
Where I Stayed: B&B’s are the way to go in the Irish countryside. I love staying in boutique accommodations ranging from hotels, unique homes and bed and breakfasts. I’ve met some of the nicest people in them and I find that it gives you a unique perspective into those living in the region. In Killarney I stayed at the Orchard House B&B. I highly recommend this property due to its short walk into town, great breakfast and the host Marie is a true gem – I still remember our daily evening chats!
Do you enjoy exploring National Parks and hiking when you travel? What are some of your most memorable?