While there is much to do in the immediate vicinity of Killarney, you'll find equally as much if you venture out a ways. A car is highly recommended- unless you decide to tour the Ring of Kerry- for these trips.
Ring of Kerry
The Iveraugh peninsula is probably the most traveled area in Ireland. And it is beautiful. But take my advice and avoid it. Yes, a bus tour is nice but your kids will get very bored very quickly. I did when I visited solo as an adult. If you choose to drive the Ring of Kerry you are suggested to travel anti-clockwise (the same way as the tour buses). My advice: Skip it. The “ring” is very commercialized and you'll see land and seascapes just as beautiful from the Dingle Peninsula.
The Dingle Peninsula is a Gaeltacht, so you'll see signs in both English and Irish. Dingle is a lovely sea side town, well known for it's resident dolphin Fungi. A drive along the Dingle Peninsula will take you to the Iron Age Dunbeg Fort, bee hive homes once occupied by monks, the Gallarus Oratory and Ogham Stones.
Popular with nature buffs and hikers you'll see few people along its walking paths. With the rugged beauty people surge to the Ring of Kerry for, plus ancient archeological sites, this is Ireland at her most incredible.
The Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is about 5 miles out of Killarney. It is, as it's name suggests, a “gap” between two mountain ranges and was, for centuries, the main trade route into Killarney. Motorized traffic is forbidden (unless you actually live in the gap, so jaunting carts are available for hire. Horses are also available for riding, but unless you are used to an English saddle I recommend (from experience) a cart- or walking. There is also a 40 or 60 mile bike loop from Killarney if cycling is more your thing. At the opening of the Gap- which leads to the Upper Lake – you'll find Kate Kearney's Cottage. Kate was famous for her hospitality and her potín , “Kate Kearney's Mountain Dew”, which was highly illegal. Now you'll find souvenir shops, a restaurant and popular “Irish Nights”.
Heading out of Killarney on the Cork Road (N22) you can't help but notice the carved rocks along the road way, created by internationally respected sculptor, Tighe O'Donoghue of Glenflesk and his son, Eoghan. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the rearing unicorn, Capall Mor, on a cliff edge near Clonkeen. It's magnificent (I wish we had stopped to get a photo- I found one online, courtesy of GlobalPost.com; Ann Lane.)
Kerry Glass Studio & Visitor Center
If you love Kerry glass you saw while shopping in Killarney be sure to visit this studio. Watching an artisan blow glass is truly incredible. There is also a shop – it's difficult to leave without a souvenir.
If you are an family of adventurers this underground wonderland may be for you. This is a great stop if you have older and younger children because they have an indoor play area to keep the little ones entertained while the older children explore.
Kennedy's Pet Farm
I shared an entire post about this fun petting zoo a few miles outside Killarney.
Do you have a favorite activity near Killarney? Please share it in the comments!
Portions of this post were taken from the original published at my Family Rambling site.
Good to know! When I was there a few years ago you couldn’t enter the Gap in a car at the north end.