Things to do in Kerry

Plan your visit to Kerry, Ireland: find out where to go and Things to do in Kerry with Rough Guides.

Kerry Travel Guide: Top Things to do in Kerry

Explore more of Ireland with the Rough Guide to Things to do in Kerry Ireland

What a magnificent part of the world! The Atlantic, with all its incredible movements, breathtaking lakes that were artfully crafted for lovers and poets alike, and the mountains that loom tall and looming with their lush, evergreen foliage.

Located on the southwest coast of Ireland, County Kerry boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. The Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500 km coastal route, passes through the county, offering breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters. The dramatic headlands, including the famous Skellig Michael, have been featured in legendary movie scenes such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

However, County Kerry isn’t just about its coastline. The picturesque lakes of Killarney National Park, including Lough Leane and Muckross Lake, are nestled among the county’s formidable peaks, including Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil. From scenic kayak trips to spectacular hikes, there’s so much to explore in Kerry.

For those interested in Irish heritage and culture, County Kerry also offers numerous opportunities to learn about the country’s history and traditions. Visit the town of Dingle to experience traditional Irish music and language, or explore the ancient stone forts and castles that dot the countryside.

In short, County Kerry captures the essence of Ireland’s rugged beauty, rich history and unique culture, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

Drive the Ring of Kerry

Things to do in Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is an awe-inspiring coastal drive that spans over 179 kilometers and provides unforgettable views of the Iveragh Peninsula, one of the most scenic locations in Ireland. As you embark on this journey, you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning contrasting landscapes of mountains, beaches, cliffs, and valleys. 

The Ring of Kerry is not just a driving route but a scenic circuit that takes you through picturesque towns and villages like Killarney, Waterville, Kenmare and Caherciveen where you can soak up the culture, enjoy traditional Irish music and savor local cuisine. Moreover, the friendly and hospitable locals offer you a warm welcome that will make you feel right at home. 

Whether you are into outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or kayaking or just want to explore the natural beauty of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is the perfect destination that will give you an authentic Irish experience.

Explore more of Ireland with the Rough Guide to Things to do in Kerry Ireland

The Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

It is quite convenient to arrive at the Dingle Peninsula and one could easily be tempted to remain within the charming town of Dingle itself, known for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere, as well as its genuine friendliness. Its renowned hardware pubs are famous for offering both a pint and some wellies. 

Nevertheless, for those who venture beyond the borders of the town, a spectacular adventure awaits. One can explore 6,000 years of history along the Kerry coastline, accompanied by the pounding waves, salty winds, dramatic cliffs and wide racing skies. 

A great number of remarkable historical sites are worth a visit, such as Gallarus Oratory, an Early Christian church perched above the rippling blue waters of Smerwick Harbor. Coumeenoole Beach allows for breathtaking views of the Blasket Islands, while Conor Pass, the highest mountain road in Ireland, offers an exceptional experience every day.

Popular Accommodation in Kerry

Muckross Park Hotel & Spa: Muckross Park Hotel & Spa perfectly balances 18th-century style with 21st-century splendour. Experience 5-star luxury from breakfast through to bedtime. Charming, modern and magnificently elegant, a warm welcome and award-winning service await you just 4km from Killarney Town.

Park Hotel Kenmare: Long regarded as one of the world’s most revered and inspirational luxury hotels, Park Hotel Kenmare is set among established gardens which slope down to Kenmare Bay.
Heritage and luxury are combined in this historic hotel which dates to 1897.

During all this time the hotel has been a haven for discerning visitors seeking the ultimate escape in one of the most special places in Ireland. Kenmare is a Heritage Town like no other. Just a two-minute stroll from the hotel there are a variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and cafés to explore.

Coastline House B&B: The beautiful Coastline House Coastline House Bed & Breakfast enjoys a superb location on Dingle’s beautiful seafront on the Slea Head Drive side of town on the Wild Atlantic Way. We offer our guests high-quality accommodation just a five-minute walk from the pier and all attractions including restaurants, shops and pubs with traditional Irish music. Our Fáilte Ireland 5* accommodation has become synonymous with high quality and excellent value.

 

The Skellig Ring

The Skellig Ring

Skellig Ring boasts a beautiful scenic drive encompassing a wild and rugged stretch of Ireland’s coastline, featuring some of the most stunning scenery in County Kerry. It is safe to say that it surpasses the beauty of the rest of Ireland and serves as a highlight of the popular Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive.

Skellig Ring is a destination that provides a peaceful and serene experience as it attracts fewer crowds than the Ring of Kerry. This remote part of Ireland has narrow rural roads that are unsuitable for large tour buses, guaranteeing tranquil moments. While the Ring of Kerry is one of the top attractions in the Emerald Isle, it is often crowded during the summer; this is usually not the case for this regional road.

Moreover, the Star Wars movies made popular the edge of western Europe not too long ago. Therefore, if you are a Star Wars fan and seek to explore the home of Jedis, the journey to a galaxy far, far away is now convenient. Without any further delay, discover all there is to know about Skellig Ring before your visit.

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Killarney National Park

Things to do in Killarney

We cordially invite you to venture to the globally acclaimed Killarney National Park, situated in County Kerry, to indulge in its picturesque surroundings. The park encompasses an expansive 10,000 hectares of breathtaking lakes, mountains, and woodlands. 

You will be mesmerized by the scope of rugged, mountainous terrain within the realms of Killarney National Park, notably exploring the stunning McGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, the highest peak in Ireland, soaring over 1,000 meters. Nestled at the base of this impressive range lie the world-renowned Killarney lakes, a magnificent sight to behold. 

A visit to Muckross House, the central focus point of the National Park, is a must, with its exquisitely manicured gardens and an impressive late 19th-century mansion. Take a leisurely stroll and bask in the intrinsic beauty of this location, peppered with native oak woods, yew, and an abundance of evergreen trees, shrubs, bryophytes, and lichens. On a fortunate day, you may even catch a glimpse of the graceful red deer that roam the national park.

Discover Valentia Island

Valentia Island

Valentia Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Irish history and take in some scenic views. The island is easily accessible by bridge or ferry and is located in County Kerry. 

There are several historical sites to explore, including the Skellig Michael Experience, where visitors can get a glimpse into the rich Irish history and culture. Additionally, the island is home to the famous Valentia Slate quarry, which has been in operation since 1816 and remains a bustling industry to this day. 

For those looking for a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, the Bray Head Walk offers a stunning coastal trail with magnificent views of the Skellig Islands and Dingle Peninsula. Fresh sea air and breathtaking scenery await you on Valentia Island – don’t miss out on this incredible experience!

Siamsa Tire National Folk Theatre

Siamsa Tire National Folk Theatre

If you’re seeking to immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant traditional folk culture of Ireland – then look no further than Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre. Located in Tralee, County Kerry, Siamsa Tíre is an incredibly lively and bustling arts center that truly captures the essence of Ireland’s living heritage. 

It is the only theatre in the nation that focuses primarily on preserving and sharing the country’s authentic music, song, and dance traditions.

For over five decades, Siamsa Tíre has played host to an annual Festival of Folk every summer. This highly popular festival features incredible theatrical performances by the theatre’s professional cast of performers, who are renowned for their limitless passion and energy in keeping Irish traditions alive. 

Visitors also get to enjoy the interactive Folk Homecoming Exhibition which showcases the rich diversity of Irish folk culture and how Siamsa Tíre has nurtured it over the years.

Aside from the festival, visitors can enjoy immersive experiences such as guided tours by the National Folk Theatre cast, backstage tours, intimate performances and workshops. Learn to play traditional tunes on instruments, sing songs from the Siamsa Tíre repertoire, or even dance some regional traditional steps under the guidance of acclaimed traditional arts masters from the National Folk Training Academy.

There’s even more to look forward to throughout the year, from touring productions to art exhibitions by local, national, and international artists, musical performances, and much more. Siamsa Tíre is a true highlight in the Irish cultural scene – showcasing the incredible diversity that Ireland has to offer.

Popular Tours From Belfast

Giant Causeway Tour

Belfast Shore Excursion

Rossbeigh Hill Walk

Rossbeigh Hill Walk

If you’re looking for a leisurely walk that’s open to people of all levels and abilities, then you’ll definitely want to check this one out. This gratifying and enjoyable circular walk is approximately three miles long and takes about one and a half hours to complete. 

Although the climb is initially steep, it only lasts for a short while, and the rest of the walk is on relatively smooth, old roads. Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking and picturesque vistas of Rossbeigh Beach, Dingle Bay, Wynn’s Folly, and the old railway track. 

To begin, head out of Glenbeigh and turn right, crossing the enchanting stone bridge. Once on the other side, turn right again, followed by a left into a convenient car park located a short distance away. The well-marked and well-maintained trail is easy to navigate, with all junctions indicating a left turn. Enjoy your journey!

Ballaghbeama Gap

Ballaghbeama Gap

The Ballaghbeama Gap, located on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland, is a remarkable mountain pass. Despite its exceptional beauty, it remains relatively unknown to tourists who usually opt for the Ring of Kerry. 

The Ballaghbeama Gap is an unspoilt wilderness treasure, which crosses the mountains at the centre of the magnificent Iveragh peninsula. This almost otherworldly route is isolated and provides a unique experience for those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors.

Visit the Ballaghbeama Gap

The Ballaghbeama Gap in County Kerry is a must-see if you’re looking for majestic scenery while exploring a wilderness area. This mountain pass between Blackwater and Glencar offers stunning views that can be appreciated by car, foot or bike. 

However, it’s important to note that the road is steep, so a little bit of stamina is required to fully enjoy the experience. Whether you choose to take your time and stop frequently to admire the surroundings or prefer a speedy 30-minute drive without stopping, the journey is worth it. 

Keep in mind that if you decide to cycle, it may take around an hour and thirty minutes with breaks to catch your breath.

It’s important to remember that this area has limited phone reception, which means even the latest smartphone won’t help you navigate. We also recommend always traveling accompanied and letting someone know about your trip. 

That way, you can enjoy the stunning scenery without any worries or concerns. So pack your bags and get ready for a journey that’s full of beauty, wonder, and adventure!

Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs are a breathtaking natural wonder that should be on everyone’s bucket list. These world-renowned cliffs are widely acknowledged as the most spectacular in Kerry. What makes them so special is the fact that they stand over 1000 ft above the wild Atlantic, offering unparalleled panoramic views that will leave you awe-inspired. 

The Kerry Cliffs were formed 400 million years ago in a desert environment, which adds to their mystique and grandeur. As you stand atop these cliffs, the magnificent Skellig Rocks loom in the distance to the west. These rocks are one of only three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ireland, and visitors to the Kerry Cliffs get the closest view of them and Puffin Island.

There’s nothing quite like taking in the freshest air from the wild Atlantic while observing the thriving colonies of cliff birds. These cliffs are a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Our cliffs in Portmagee, located just off the Skellig Ring, provide a safe and natural environment to enjoy this spectacular location. 

The cliffs are just a 10-minute walk from our entrance, and we recommend at least an hour for a visit. However, many visitors spend a few hours relaxing, bird watching, and even return the next day or during their vacation.

To make the most of your visit, we suggest staying overnight in the local village of Portmagee. This charming village was voted Ireland’s top tourist town in 2012 and offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditional Irish music. So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, come to Kerry Cliffs, and let us show you what makes this spot so magical!

Conor Pass

Conor Pass

The Conor Pass, which is located in Ireland, claims its place as one of the highest mountain passes in the area, providing a unique and scenic crossing between the North and South coasts of the Dingle Peninsula. 

This picturesque and winding route spans approximately 12 km, stretching from Kilmore Cross in the North to the town of Dingle in the South of the Peninsula. From Cloghane/Brandon to Castlegregory, the Pass offers spectacular views of majestic mountains, captivating corrie lakes, and an enormous sweeping valley that sprawls beneath it.

The unique and natural beauty of the Pass offers an unforgettable driving experience as it weaves around towering rocky cliffs and high corrie lakes creating moments of awe and wonder. 

Drivers should be cautious of the extremely narrow routes on some parts of the Pass where only one car can pass at a time, requiring drivers to be more attentive and stop at wider sections of the road. As a safety measure, vehicles weighing more than two tonnes are prohibited from using the Conor Pass.

If you’re looking for more information on Conor Pass driving, check out a guide to driving the Conor Pass here. Two significant viewing stops along the way are worth stopping at, Peddler’s Lake to the North, and the summit. 

The scenic car park at the top gives excellent northern and southern views of the Dingle Peninsula, providing a perfect location to relax and take in the breathtaking vistas of the famous Wild Atlantic Way.

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall County Kerry

Sitting at the base of the majestic Torc Mountain, one of the most iconic landmarks in Killarney lies a true natural wonder – Torc Waterfall. The name itself carries a fascinating story, as ‘Torc’ means ‘boar’ in Irish, and is said to derive from a legendary boar hunt that took place in the area. 

As you make your way to this breathtaking attraction, you’ll be greeted by the lush greenery and stunning panoramic views that epitomize the legendary beauty of Killarney National Park. 

Located conveniently on the famous Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall is a must-see destination for visitors from all over the world. However, with its popularity also comes a high volume of traffic, especially during peak season.

Mount Brandon

Mount Brandon

Mount Brandon, otherwise known as Cnoc Bréanainn in Irish, which translates to “Brendan’s hill,” is a distinguished peak in Ireland, standing at an impressive height of 952 meters (3,123 ft). Its stature grants it a place among the top ten highest peaks in Ireland, sitting as the 8th highest peak on the Arderin list and the 9th highest on the Vandeleur-Lynam list. 

It’s also noteworthy that Mount Brandon is the highest Irish mountain located externally to the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks vicinity and bears the greatest prominence, aside from Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain.

Located on the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry, this mountain is located at the center of a long ridge known as the Brandon Group range of mountains. The range features seven other major peaks, including the similarly named Brandon Peak, all of which have spectacular heights exceeding 2,000 ft. Nevertheless, the context and positioning of the Brandon Group ridge have resulted in several inconveniences in the form of air accidents over the years.

Named after Saint Brendan, Mount Brandon and its adjacent range are also recognized as a sacred Christian pilgrimage trail known as Cosán na Naomh. Alongside that, the Faha Route, which takes approximately 4-5 hours and inherits the moniker of “The Pilgrim’s Path,” and traversing the entire range that takes around 6-7 hours, recognized as “one of the finest ridgewalks in Ireland,” are prominent hillwalking routes.

Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach Dunmore Head Kerry

Nestled on the striking South-Western tip of the magnificent Dingle peninsula, Coumeenoole Beach offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its remote location, this hidden gem serves as a captivating setting for any production, from independent films to blockbusters. 

As a matter of fact, it was the backdrop for the compelling 1970’s cinematic masterpiece “Ryan’s Daughter,” by illustrious director David Lean.

The beach area comes equipped with adequate parking facilities that offer space for approximately ten cars. While it is possible to drive right down to the picturesque beach, it is worth noting that larger vehicles may encounter problems, given the sharp incline and lack of turning room.

Coumeenoole is also without electricity and toilet facilities, so it may be prudent to pack your own amenities in case they are not available. As the nearest village, Dunquin lies four kilometres away. It’s important to note that swimming at Coumeenoole Beach is not advised due to the presence of strong currents.

The Skellig Islands

Skellig Islands

The island of Skellig Michael is truly a mesmerizing sight that lies like a grand dream in the midst of the vast Atlantic. This stunning wonder is the star of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and its history dates back to more than a millennium when the monks settled there. 

Skellig Michael is an enchanting and alluring destination that captivates your imagination with its long-standing story of perseverance, endurance, survival, and unrivalled architectural craftsmanship.

As you inch closer to the island and it emerges out of the endless ocean waters, the sheer surreal nature of this UNESCO World Heritage site comes to light. Skellig Michael is a peculiar location that is only reachable by boat and is battered by the unforgiving elements of the Atlantic. 

The island is home to many seabirds, which have added to its glamour and fame, making it an incredible and impossible place man could never have imagined. In the words of the famous playwright George Bernard Shaw, Skellig Michael is “a part of our dream world.”

Dun Chaoin Pier

Dun Chaoin Pier

Dunquin Pier is a magical location that is a must-visit for anyone exploring the West of Ireland. Known locally as Dun Chaoin, this narrow winding pathway is famous for its views of the sea and iconic Irish landscape. It’s an essential stop on Dingle’s spectacular Slea Head Drive and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and for good reason. 

The pier is picture-perfect, and the narrow path leading down to the water is nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, you’re likely to catch your breath as you take in the stunning sights that surround you.

Beyond its natural beauty, Dunquin Pier is also famous for its charming sheep. These fluffy creatures can often be seen meandering down the pathway as they journey from the pier to the mainland. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience that adds an extra touch of magic to an already incredible location.

Whether you’re a visitor or a local, Dunquin Pier is a must-visit destination. The stunning setting, dramatic coastline, and jutting rocks all come together to make it one of the most photogenic spots in Ireland. 

So pack your camera, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to experience the magic of Dunquin Pier for yourself.

Muckross House, Gardens And Traditional Farms

Muckross House, Gardens And Traditional Farms

Muckross House is undoubtedly a spectacular attraction located on the picturesque shores of Muckross Lake in County Kerry. Not only is it steeped in history – having been visited by none other than Queen Victoria – but it also boasts stunning grounds which are nestled within the stunning surroundings of Killarney National Park.

As one of Ireland’s pre-eminent stately homes, Muckross House is a prime example of Victorian architecture and interior design, with beautifully appointed rooms that give visitors a glimpse into the lifestyles of the country’s landed gentry. 

However, it is not only the grandeur of the upper floors that is on display in the mansion; a visit to the basement takes you back to the working conditions faced by the household’s help.

In addition to being a museum to the lavish lifestyles of the past, Muckross House is also a thriving hub for skilled craftspeople, who can be seen using traditional techniques to produce stunning examples of weaving, pottery and book binding.

The striking grounds surrounding the house contain a wealth of flora and fauna that thrive in the sheltered location and mild climate. From the stunning collection of rhododendrons and azaleas to the rock garden and an array of beautiful tree-lined lawns, this is a garden lover’s paradise.

A visit to Muckross House is not complete without a trip to the traditional farms, which authentically recreate rural life in County Kerry during the 1930s and 1940s. Spread out over a 70-acre elevated site, visitors can experience the sights and sounds of farming and craft practices of yesteryear, with the restored buildings and field systems adding to the authenticity of the experience.

Visit Dingle

Dingle Harbour Ireland

Dingle is one of the most picturesque towns situated on the southwestern coast of the Dingle Peninsula. Known as Daingin Uí Chúis in Irish, Dingle is a serene and tranquil fishing port that resides on the edge of a vast and natural estuary. 

The town is nestled between the mountains and the sea, offering visitors a harmonious resting place. The history of Dingle dates back to ancient times, and it has grown into a vibrant and charming settlement, which continues to enthrall tourists.

Dingle is the hub of the Dingle Peninsula, serving as its commercial and cultural center. With its population of 2000 and a substantial hinterland, the town boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere, bustling with activity. Dingle’s bright and colorful buildings, ancient streets, and green hillsides provide it with a distinct charm that visitors cannot help but fall in love with.

Although Dingle experiences a robust influx of tourists every summer, it is well equipped to handle the crowds efficiently. The town is renowned for its quality restaurants and food, unique shops and galleries, and the ever-friendly and charismatic “Fungie,” the resident dolphin. 

Dingle town comes alive in the winter, creating a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere for visitors and residents alike. Its vibrant nightlife and positive outlook towards life make it a town that never disappoints.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Ross Castle is an exceptional estate surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking scenery that is an idyllic destination for those in search of peace, tranquillity, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

Providing an enormous 120-acre estate nestled in the heart of picturesque mountains, lakes, and parkland, Ross Castle offers an array of amenities for guests to savour, ensuring an unforgettable experience. From an indoor heated swimming pool, a tennis court, billiards room, canoe and fishing gear, gardens, and a public forest trail, there is something for everyone.

Originally built in 1539 by the renowned Ferocious O’Flahertys, one of the most distinguished tribes in Galway, Ross Castle has a rich history that spans centuries. The Martin family that acquired the property later constructed a magnificent manor house on the castle ruins. 

Despite enduring two fires and neglect, the McLaughlin family acquired the castle in the 1980s and has since spent several decades restoring the estate to its current glory.

For those looking to host intimate gatherings or extravagant parties, the estate offers a marquee that is perfect for panoramic views of the stars and mountains. This setting can accommodate up to 150 guests. 

Additionally, the estate has The Park Hall, formerly servants’ quarters and a carriage house, and now a colonial-style lodging with eight bedrooms that can accommodate up to 16 guests, offering visitors large spacious common areas adorned in vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and a baby grand piano. The dining area can seat up to 25 guests with direct access to the billiards room, courtyard, and indoor pool area.

Additionally, with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and lakes and quaint features, St. George, previously the estate’s courtyard stables, is a two-story cottage that offers a perfect blend of old-world elegance and contemporary comfort, with six en-suite bedrooms ensuring a comfortable stay for all.

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Discover Irish Isle offers a range of resources to help visitors plan a trip to Ireland. Our blog post highlights the best things to do in the area and provides insider tips to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. 

We encourage you to explore our social media channels as well, where you can find additional information and travel inspiration. Trust our team of experts to guide you through the planning process and provide you with the tools you need to fully immerse yourself in the culture and attractions of Ireland.

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