Swap tropical beaches for rugged landscapes (Picture: Getty Images)
From the white sands of the Maldives, to the cobbled streets of Santorini, when you’re considering where to go on honeymoon, you’re likely looking for sun, sea and romance.
But TripAdvisor’s newly released list of the world’s ‘best of the best honeymoon destinations for 2024’ includes an unexpected addition that’s a lot closer to home.
Killarney, in County Kerry, Ireland, made the list – joining the likes of Bora Bora and Bali, and even placing higher than the Caribbean island of Antigua.
‘Forget fashionable footwear, only your most comfortable shoes will cut it in Killarney,’ reads the TripAdvisor listing.
‘It’s a walking town, and every trail is a history lesson. Journey on foot through Ireland’s first national park, 26,000 acres of woodlands, sandstone mountains and low-lying lakes.’
So if the idea of a fly and flop destination makes you yawn, Killarney might be the perfect post-wedding trip. Here’s everything you need to know.
It’s pretty breathtaking (Picture: Getty Images)
How to get to Killarney
It takes around 1 hour 25 minutes to fly from London to Kerry, the nearest airport to Killarney, in County Kerry. Ryanair flights from Luton and Stanstead airports typically run once a day and while you might not be able to catch a flight every day of the week, the service is pretty regular.
It’s pretty affordable too. Even during the summer (we checked for flights in July), return fares for a long weekend can start from as little as £88 without baggage, while off-peak prices are even less.
Once you’ve made it to Kerry, you’re just an 18 minute drive away from Killarney. Alternatively you can use public transport, with a direct bus service getting you there in just 21 minutes.
The best time to visit
The best time to hop over the Irish Sea really depends on what you want out of your holiday.
If you want some beautiful warm weather to enjoy those long walks around Killarney National Park, then you’ll want to visit in either July or August, when temperatures peak and you’ll get the least rainfall.
The waterfall is best viewed after rainfall (Picture: Getty Images)
The summer months also play host to the 4th of July Festival, which celebrates their ties with the USA – there’s a parade, an outdoor concert and cinema experience.
Away from the summer months, you can’t forget St Patrick’s Day, which takes place every March 17. And Killarney goes all in. All of the buildings in the town – including historical landmarks – are lit up in green in the annual ‘greening’, and there are decorations and costumes galore. There’s also a parade, musical performances and a whiskey tasting.
Also in March, Killarney puts on their annual Wander Wild Festival, which encourages residents and visitors to soak up the great outdoors.
If you’re not a fan of crowds though – the little town is said to attract 1.1 million tourists a year – you might want to stay away during the busy months.
What’s the weather like in Killarney?
Well, let’s face it, you don’t go to Ireland to sunbathe. However, you can still enjoy some pleasant weather in summer, where temperatures peak at around 18C in August.
But be warned, whether you go in summer or winter, you’re likely to get wet, with the rainiest months being January to February, and October to December.
The best weather is in July and August (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
However, with every cloud, there’s a silver lining. The Torc Waterfall, just outside Killarney National Park is said to be the most stunning after heavy rainfall. The waterfall is around 80ft high, and visitors have called it ‘spectacular’ and a ‘must visit’.
Things to do in Killarney
Killarney National Park is the top tourist attraction in the area. It is one of Ireland’s oldest national parks and is home to more than 25,000 acres of mountains, forests and lakes. Ireland’s only herd of red deer also live here and is a special area of conservation.
Spy the red deer in Killarney National Park (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
There are lots of ways to see the park – whether that’s on two wheels (there are lots of cycling routes), on one of the many hiking trails suitable for all abilities, or in one of the traditional jaunting cars – a type of horse and cart. You can also go horseriding or take to one of the three famous lakes. You can swim, or take a canoe or kayak onto the water, but you’ll need a permit.
Muckross House in Killarney National Park is worth a visit (Picture: Getty Images)
And Muckross House, also in the park, attracts thousands of visitors every year The Victorian House has been resorted and guided tours are available throughout the day. The gardens include an arboretum, and a glass house – they’re best viewed at their most colourful in May and June when their rhododendrons and azaleas bloom.
And for a stunning viewpoint, head to Ladies View, said to be the best point to admire County Kerry. It’s named after Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting, who visited the site in 1861.
Ladies View is said to offer some of the best views (Picture: Getty Images)
Killarney town itself is also worth a mooch around. There’s independent shops and of course lots of traditional Irish pubs where you can grab yourself a pint of Guinness – after all, it’s said to taste better on the Emerald Isle.
How expensive is Killarney?
According to booking platforms, a four star hotel in Killarney during peak time (again, we looked in July), will start from around £133 per night for two. However, many people prefer to be truly at one with nature and camp. Pitch rates at Fleming’s White Bridge, Killarney Holiday Park, start from €34 for a standard size unit.
The top-rated pub in Killarney on TripAdvisor, is the Porterhouse. Here, the signature house beef burger costs €20.50. They also have a cocktail menu, with prices starting at €12.50.
It’s also worth noting that Killarney National Park is free to enter – so if you’re planning on spending most of your time exploring, you can do it on a shoestring.
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Paradise is closer than you think…