There are so many beautiful locations around the Kingdom of Kerry including some spectacular lakes in Killarney.
The main ones are Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and the Upper Lake, collectively known as the Lakes of Killarney.
Ger and I love hiking and we are always blown away by the views of the lakes when we reach the top of the mountains around Killarney.
On a clear day, the view from Torc Mountain is breathtaking!
In this blog post, we will share information about the three main Lakes of Killarney, along with other stunning lakes and attractions in the area.
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Side Note: Here Are Some Amazing Tours You Can Do In Killarney!
Also here is a Ring of Kerry: Lakes of Killarney Scenic Coach Tour, which has over 90 positive reviews!
You can also do a Lakes of Killarney Boat Cruise on Lough Leane!
About Lakes In Killarney
There are three main lakes in Killarney, Lough Leane (a.k.a Lower Lake), Muckross Lakes (a.k.a Middle Lake) and the Upper Lake.
The three main lakes are known collectively as ‘The Lakes of Killarney’.
There are other lakes dotted around Killarney which add to the beauty of the landscape. There are many hikes and walking trails that go around these lakes.
The lakes in Killarney are a key part of the Killarney National Park. The lakes and woodlands are surrounded by the MacGillycuddys Reeks Mountain Range.
Torc Mountain, Carrauntouhill and Purple Mountain all offer great hiking trails and stunning views of the lakes in Killarney.
Many people ask can you swim in Killarney lake, and the answer is yes but it’s not recommended. (More on this later…)
The Main Lakes Of Killarney
Lough Leane, also known as the Lower Lake, is the largest lake of Killarney. The River Laune flows from Lough Leane out into Dingle Bay.
It is about 19 square kilometres in size making it the largest body of fresh water in the area.
On Lough Leane or Lower Lake Killarney fishing is very popular. If you don’t want to catch a fish yourself you can enjoy a tasty salmon at Kitty O’Sé’s Restaurant instead!
Inishfallen Island is an island in Lough Leane and is home to the ruins of the Inishfallen Abbey.
Another notable site on Lough Leane is Ross Castle. Built in the late 15th Century, Ross Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Killarney.
You can even take a boat tour out onto this Killarney lake from Ross Castle to Inishfallen Island!
Muckross Lake, also known as the Middle Lake or Torc Lake, is just south of Lough Leane. There is a paved hiking trail of about 10 kilometres circling the lake.
Muckross Lake is Ireland’s deepest lake, reaching depths of 75 meters in parts.
In 2003, sonar was used to determine fish populations in the Lakes of Killarney. During these scans, a large solid object was recorded in the water.
This gave rise to the story of ‘Muckie’ the lake monster!
Some people say it’s just a myth but who knows what secrets the deepest lake in Ireland holds?
The Upper Lake is the smallest of the three Lakes of Killarney located to the southwest of Muckross Lake (the Middle Lake). The Upper Lake is about 16 km from Killarney.
There are spectacular views of the MacGillycuddys Reeks Mountain Range and the surrounding greenery from the Upper Lake.
Other Lakes In Killarney
The Devil’s Punchbowl is a lake you will come across if you decide to take on Mangerton Mountain in Killarney National Park.
The mountain is over 830 metres tall and offers a panoramic view across Killarney National Park and the Lakes of Killarney.
The Devil’s Punchbowl is a glacial lake carved into Mangerton Mountain. The water’s dark colour contrasts starkly with the surrounding greenery.
Lough Guitane is a freshwater lake just outside Killarney. The lake is situated beside Crohane Mountain.
This is a beautiful place to explore and offers a moderate 4-hour hike if you want a better view of Lough Guitane and the surrounding landscape.
The Black Lake is situated in the Gap of Dunloe, a beautiful valley between the MacGillycuddys Reeks and Purple Mountain carved out by a glacier over 20,000 years ago.
The Gap of Dunloe is a stunning area with pristine lakes, green fields and tall peaks. You can take boat tours, jaunting car tours or even walk around the area.
You can even drive the Gap of Dunloe if you are confident on narrow, windy roads!
The Black Lake is one of the five lakes in the Gap of Dunloe. Although these lakes are much smaller than the Lakes of Killarney, they are well worth visiting.
Things To Do Near Lakes In Killarney
You could spend forever exploring everything there is to see in Killarney National Park.
There are countless walks and trails through woods and around lakes. Not to mention the beautiful mountains you can hike.
Not many people know this but there are caves in Killarney National Park, dotted around different places but they aren’t signposted so you will have to explore and find them for yourself!
Ger and I have come back to Killarney National Park so many times now and we still find something new and exciting every time we visit!
The Gap of Dunloe is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Ireland. The valley carved out by a glacier can be explored by car, bike, on foot or on a guided tour.
We rented a car for our trip to Killarney to give us the most flexibility and freedom. Ger decided he would drive up the Gap of Dunloe as he’s used to the narrow country roads in Ireland!
Note: We recommend DiscoverCars (it’s super affordable and reliable!)
You can take a boat tour or even hop on a jaunting car if you also want some extra information about the area from a local tour guide.
Muckross House is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Killarney.
Muckross House and Gardens offers amazing walking trails around the gardens and along the lake shore.
You can even check out the traditional farms to see what farm life was like in Kerry in the past.
You can also walk to the secluded, hidden gem, Rosie’s Beach from Muckross House!
Ross Castle was built in the late 15th Century by the O’Donoghue Clan. Ross Castle was the last place in Munster to hold out against the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland.
Ross Castle has a tower house and keep and is perched on the edge of Lough Leane.
We got to see the sunset from Ross Castle!
Ladies View is an amazing viewing point along the Ring of Kerry just outside Killarney town. The famous viewpoint got its name when Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting admired the view during the Queen’s visit to Killarney in 1861.
It’s easy to see why it’s one of the most photographed places in Killarney.
A lot of cafes in Killarney have amazing views but the view from the rooftop at the Ladies View Cafe is unbeatable.
The Meeting of the Waters is situated where the Upper Lake, Muckross Lake, and Lough Leane come together. You can reach this spectacular spot by walking or by bicycle.
It is a 5km walk from Muckross House to the Meeting of The Waters.
In this area, you can also find the Old Weir Bridge and the hunting lodge, Dinis Cottage, which overlooks Muckross Lake.
Torc Waterfall is very popular and can get quite busy as it is so close to the town.
The waterfall is fed from the Devil’s Punchbowl, through the Owengarrif River and eventually leads into Muckross Lake.
Torc Waterfall is just 7km from Killarney town. There is plenty of parking close to the waterfall and many hiking trails start from here.
O’Sullivans Cascade is a stunning waterfall that you can visit in Tomies Wood.
There is a 6km looped hike up Tomies Mountain. It takes about two hours to finish the loop.
Most people do the loop counter-clockwise, heading up the hill to the right at the fork. You will reach the steps to O’Sullivans Cascade after about 5km.
Ger and I had plenty of walking done around Killarney National Park so we decided to skip the hike at Tomies and just visit the waterfall.
We took the route left at the fork and reached the waterfall after about 1 km!
Where To Stay In Killarney
Killarney is renowned for its beautiful landscape and hospitality and we have been impressed by both every time we visited.
Here are some of our favourite places that we have stayed in Killarney.
Luxury: The Europe Hotel and Resort
Description: The Europe is considered one of the fanciest hotels in Kerry. It has an amazing spa and brilliant restaurants.
Amenities: 3 swimming pools, 3 restaurants, spa, golf course nearby, free parking.
Price: €420 per night
Value: The Victoria Killarney
Description: The Victoria is a 4-star contemporary boutique hotel on Muckross Road in Killarney. The hotel’s location makes it a great base for exploring the beautiful Killarney National Park.
Amenities: free parking, free WiFi, hot tub, bicycle rental, bar, restaurant.
Price: €150 per night
Glamping: Killarney Glamping At The Grove
Description: This Killarney Glamping site is located in Ballycasheen, just a 5-minute drive from the town centre. There are glamping suites and luxury lodges to choose from.
Amenities: private bathroom, toiletries, kitchenette, double beds, heating, air-conditioning, bbq facilities, free parking.
FAQs About Lakes In Killarney
If you want to know more about lakes in Killarney and things to do in the area, we’ve got you covered!
In the following section, we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.
How Far Is Killarney From The Sea?
The closest beach to Killarney is Dooks Beach (39-minute drive). The nearest Blue Flag Beach to Killarney is Rossbeigh which is 34 km away. Killarney is located in the centre of Kerry so it doesn’t have any coastal beaches but there are beaches on the shore of Muckross Lake such as Dundag and Rosie’s Beach.
Where Can I Swim In Killarney?
Rossbeigh Strand, Inch Strand, Ballybunion and Banna Strand are sandy beaches near Killarney where you can swim. You can swim in the Lakes of Killarney too but this is generally advised against as there are no lifeguards. Also, the lakes are sometimes contaminated with blue-green algae making it unsafe to enter the water.
Is It Safe To Swim In Killarney Lakes?
Most would not consider the lake swimmable. The Lakes of Killarney have surprisingly strong currents and there are no lifeguards on the lakes so it is not very safe to swim here. At times there is also an algae advisory in place warning against entering the water due to a Blue-Green Algae contaminating the water.
What Is The Deepest Lake In Ireland?
Muckross Lake Killarney, also known as Middle Lake or Torc Lake, is the deepest lake in Ireland. Muckross Lake reaches a depth of 75 metres (246 feet) in parts. It is located in Killarney National Park and is one of the three Lakes of Killarney along with Lough Leane and Upper Lake.
There you have it, everything you need to know about the lakes in Killarney!
So what’s stopping you from booking a trip and exploring the beautiful town of Killarney?
Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe are two of the most beautiful places we have seen and the lakes in Killarney really make this area special.
Whether you want to take a stroll along the Muckross Lake shoreline or admire the views across Lough Leane from Tomies Wood, the scenery around Killarney is hard to beat.
If you want more information before starting your Irish adventure then check out the articles below.