National Parks In Ireland: Guide To First Time Visitors

There are 6 national parks in Ireland which have been attracting tourists for a long time. National parks are designated and protected areas by the state for the preservation and conservation of nature and wildlife. It is a great place to either relax, explore with friends and family or learn about nature and national treasures.

If you are planning to visit Ireland, here are the things you need to know before visiting these national parks in Ireland.

1.Killarney National Park – Kerry

Killarney National Park

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Killarney National Park in County Kerry is the first national park in Ireland and it was declared a national park in 1932. It is located near the town of Killarney and it covers 25,425 acres of protected land. The park is of high ecological value because of the quality, diversity, and extensiveness of many of its habitats.  There are also a wide variety of species in the parks and few of them are rare.

The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. Nature conservation is the main objective of the park protecting the various and rare species in the area and the ecosystem.

Things to do and see in Killarney National Park

1.Dinis Cottage

2.Knockreer Demesne

3.Inisfallen Island

4.Ladies View

5.the Meeting of the Waters and the Old Weir Bridge

6.Muckross Abbey

7.Muckross House

8.the Muckross Peninsula

9.the Old Kenmare Road

10.O’Sullivan’s Cascade

11.Ross Castle and Ross Island

12.Tomies Oakwood

13.Torc Waterfall

14.Walking and cycling along the trails

15. Take a boat trip on the lakes

16. Enjoy the expansive gardens in Muckross

Opening Times

There is 24-hour pedestrian access to Killarney National Park throughout the year except for Killarney House and Gardens (9 am to 6 pm daily). To check the individual opening hours of each attraction, click here.

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Admission Fee

The admission to Killarney National Park is free. However, some of the attractions and activities have an admission fee. You can verify it from the visitor’s center by using the contact information below.

Contact Information

Email: infokillarneyhouse@chg.gov.ie

Phone: 085-8017973 

2.Glenveagh National Park – Donegal

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is one of Donegal’s treasures and Ireland’s second largest national park. The park is located 15 kilometers west of Letterkenny. It unfolds across 16,500 hectares of heathland, forest and bare mountain slopes around the amazing Lough Veagh.

Things to do and see in Glenveagh National Park

1. Explore Glenveagh Castle – one of the most amazing castles in Ireland.

2.The visitor center that shows the history of the national park

3.Hike to the viewpoint to see the panoramic view of the entire park

4. Enjoy a picnic with your loved ones by the lake

Opening Times

The visitor center is open from 9 am to 5 pm. The park is open from dawn till dusk. The castle tour is from 9 am to 5 pm but limited during off-peak and winter season. To verify the schedule, click here

Admission Fee

Admission fee is free for the park. But individual attraction such as the castle has an entrance fee.

For the castle tour admission fees: Adult Castle Ticket €7.00 | Concession Castle Ticket €5.00 | Family Castle Ticket €15.00

Contact Information

Email: glenveaghbookings@ahg.gov.ie

Phone: +353 76 1002537

3.Ballycroy National Park- County Mayo

Ballycroy National Park

Ballycroy is the last national park established in Ireland in 1998. Located in County Mayo, this park covers 42 square miles of land. It is a unique habitat with diverse fauna and flora. It is also known for its large expanse of blanket bog, amazing cuffs, and river habitats.

The blanket fog in Ballycroy is the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe and is highly protected due to its big role in protecting the ecosystem.

Things to do and see in Ballycroy National Park

1.Interactive Exhibition in the visitor’s center

2.Several walking and hiking trails. For more information on hiking trails, click here.

Opening Times

10 am to 5:30 pm from mid-March to 4th of November

Admission Fee

Free

Contact Information

Email: ballycroyvisitorcentre@chg.gov.ie

Phone: +353 (0) 98 49 888

4.The Burren National Park – Clare

Burren National Park

The Burren National Park is the smallest among the national parks in Ireland. Established in 1991, it only covers an area of 5.8 square miles near Doolin in County Clare.

The name Burren came from the word “Boireann” which means “great rock”. It is because the entire park is dominated by a glaciated karst landscape. Despite the soil being covered by rocks, the park has diverse and rich floras. During summer, these floras bloom in a way that will leave the visitors in awe because of the park’s natural beauty.

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Things to do and see in Burren National Park

1. Walk along several walking and hiking trails in the park. For more details on the trails, click here.

2. Visit Cliffs of Moher

3. Explore the nearby Dromore Wood Nature Reserve

Opening Times

April to September only. Daily between 9:30 am to 5 pm. To verify the schedule, click here.

Admission Fee

Free

Contact Information

Email: burrennationalpark@chg.gov.ie

Phone: +353-65-6827693 

5.Wicklow Mountains National Park – County Wicklow

Wicklow Mountains national park

Wicklow Mountains National Park is the largest national park in Ireland with an area covering more than 129,500 square kilometers.  It is also the only one located in the east of the country.

It extends from County Wicklow and a small area of Dublin which makes it one of the best day trips from Dublin.

The park contains a variety of attractions that include lush forests, fields, and mountains, and the historical Glendalough Valley. Glendalough features early medieval monastic structures.

Things to do and see in Wicklow Mountains National Park

1. Visit Glendalough.

2. Take a scenic drive through the mountains.

3. Go hillwalking in remote locations

Opening Times

The park is open at all times but the visitor center is only open from May to September daily between 10 am to 5:30 pm. From October to April during weekends from 10 am to 4:30 pm. If you are planning to stay in the park, for more information click here.

Admission Fee

Admission is free to the national park.

Contact Information

Email: wmnp@ahg.gov.ie

Phone: +353 761 002667 

6.Connemara National Park – County Galway

Connemara national park ireland

The Connemara National Park is the second smallest national parks in Ireland with only 30 square kilometers area size and located in the region of Connemara in Galway. It was established in 1990 and the area covers bogs, heaths, grasslands, and forests. It is well known for the diversity of bird life in the area.

Things to do and see in Connemara National Park

1.Exhibition on the Connemara Landscape (multi-lingual)

2. Check out the Connemara Ponies

3. Picnic areas and playground for kids are available

4. Walk along the nature trails. Make sure to check out the park rules before exploring the park. For more information, click here.

Opening Times

Visitor Centre – Open daily, 9 am to 5.30pm from March to November

Park Grounds – Open daily 9.00am-5.30pm all year round

Admission Fee

Admission is free to the national park and visitor center.

Contact Information

Email: cnp@chg.gov.ie

Phone: +353 76 100 2528 


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