Killarney National Park is a wonderful expanse of mountains and lakes in Ireland’s southwestern corner. It has a mix of flora and fauna spread out across its dense woodland and mountain peaks. Enter the Victorian mansion of the Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms for updated information from its visitor center.
Admire the rhododendrons and azaleas of the visitor center’s majestic gardens. Learn about the Irish agricultural methods of the 1930s at the farm museum. Lay down a blanket for a picnic on the shores of the Muckross Lake and gaze up at the Mangerton and Torc mountains. Walk to the nearby Torc Waterfall at the base of the latter.
Drive up past the enormous Lough Leane and the majestic 15th-century Ross Castle to reach the hilltop Knockreer House and Gardens, which contains the National Park Education Centre. Enjoy hot drinks and snacks in the 19th-century Deenagh Lodge Tearoom.
Embark on hikes with your family through the park’s undulating terrain. Capture photos of the stunning panorama at Ladies View, from which you can see the scenic Upper Lake and its enclosing rock formations. Cross the 16th-century twin-arch Old Weir Bridge.
Spot the red deer grazing in the meadows alongside the rare bank vole rodent and the pine marten, which resembles an otter. Gaze up at some of the more than 140 species of bird that decorate the sky, including the wood warbler, the endangered red grouse and the osprey. The lakes themselves contain brown trout and salmon, as well as several rare species.
Note that public access to the park is granted 24 hours a day year round, although the various cottages and cafés have their own opening times.
Killarney National Park is beside its namesake town in County Kerry. Arrive at the Dublin International Airport and drive southwest for 190 miles (306 kilometers) to reach the park. The journey will take around 4 hours, although you could break it up with a stop along the way in Limerick.