Tourist Places To Visit In County Kerry
County Kerry is a vibrantly green and scenic region in southwest Ireland. Some of the country’s highest mountains are situated here, along with fantastic coastlines and a culture so rich that it seeps into every aspect of the county. With an impressively relaxed ambience and iconic ancient structures worth exploring, County Kerry is one of the most interesting holiday spots in Ireland and doubles up as a great nature retreat when you need a break from your routine. There are also enough pubs, cafes, museums and other forms of entertainment across various towns in Kerry to keep you as busy during the evenings as you would be while out wandering amongst the scenic beauty during the day. Here are all our top recommendations with the best places to visit when in County Kerry.
Skellig Michael is made up of twin rocky islands that are situated around 12 km off the coast of Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry and have been around for more than a thousand years. There was a Christian monastery founded here between the 6th and 8th-century that was home to a few monks, which was eventually abandoned in the 12th-century. The islands are a major tourist spot in the area today and receive more than 10,000 visitors annually. Most of the island does remain remote though and accessibility is not very easy; this has allowed the region to remain exceptionally well-preserved. Skellig Michael was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. There are a few dive sites around the island as well that open up during the summers.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a circular tourist route that stretches for almost 180 km in Kerry; starting from Killarney, extending to Kenmare and around Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin, before ending back in Killarney. Visitors to the county will find this route to be one of the most interesting things they do and the most beautiful sights they see when they are here. Well-frequented by tourists as well as locals, there is a treasure of places to visit as you drive through the route. Castles, parks, villages, chapels, museums and many other attractions make the Ring of Kerry a must-visit when you take a trip to the county. The Kerry Way is a walking trail that runs its own route near the Ring of Kerry and is perfect for hiking and trek enthusiasts.
The Dingle Peninsula
Ireland’s westernmost peninsula, Dingle is made up of rugged yet gorgeous landscapes that are perfect for enjoying long walks and bicycle rides. Catering to a wide range of tastes, there is plenty to do in the main town area here for all kinds of travellers; pubs with traditional music performances, great restaurants with great food, aquatic entertainment, trekking through heritage trails and much more. The entire peninsula can be explored on a single day trip, and driving through this region will pretty much feel cruising through an open-air museum. Some of Ireland’s most famous landmarks like the Gallarus Oratory can also be found here.
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park isn’t just one of the top places to check out in Kerry but also in the entire country. Ireland’s oldest national park can be explored in a number of ways; visitors can walk, drive or have a Kerry-style carriage take them around. The best spots to visit in the park are the Muckross Lake, the visitor centre at Muckross House, the Ladies View scenic viewpoint, and the Torc Waterfall situated just a short hike through the woods away. There’s accommodation available at the park as well, where visitors can spend a few days and be amazed by the sights of the only population of red deer here in Ireland. Killarney National Park is also home to a wide range of other diverse species, some of which are rare. Boat trips are easily arranged as well on the many lakes present in the park.
Kenmare is a coastal town situated ideally close to the Ring of Kerry, making it easily accessible to explore. The town has been laid out on an X-shaped street plan that boasts numerous local attractions worth exploring like art galleries, craft stores and many other restaurants and cafes. In Irish, the name for the town translates to ‘little nest’, which is often used as a reference to its location between two mountains. The colourfully painted houses and shops that line the streets are one of the most distinct characteristics of Kenmare. This tidy little town has a lovely harbour as well from where you can enjoy beautiful views of Kenmare Bay to as far as the eye can see on a clear day.
A coastal town that is also a seaside resort, Ballybunion is a picturesque region where visitors get to indulge in a variety of activities like swimming, surfing, fishing etc. while exploring the ancient castle ruins of the town. Two of Ireland’s finest golf links courses can also be found here, which will truly be a treat to the lovers of the sport. Its Blue Flag beaches are great for enjoying various leisure activities on a fine sunny day, with plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants present here as well to spend some relaxing hours in.
Gap of Dunloe
A narrow mountain pass that runs in the north-south direction separating the McGillycuddy Reeks in the west and the Purple Mountain Group in the east, the Gap of Dunloe’s scenic beauty makes it one of the most popular tourist spots in County Kerry. It is a fantastic place to try out some hillwalking routes, including the walk between Head of the Gap and Kate Kearney’s Cottage, extending to about 6 km. A couple of crags here can also be used for rock climbing. Gap of Dunloe is most commonly visited as part of a half-day or full-day tour from the town of Killarney.
The Blasket Islands have been uninhabited since 1954 but are still visited by tourists as part of day trips from the mainland. The Great Blasket Island is the principal island in the group and can be reached through ferries. There is an abundance of diverse wildlife dispersed in between green landscapes and mountain tracks, with interesting prehistoric remains of ancient structures. There are also self-catering accommodation options available here with basic amenities suitable for both individual and group travellers.
One of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, Derrynane Beach is situated near the town of Caherdaniel and is also the winner of a Blue Flag award. The golden sands and the serene waters of the beach are great for sunbathing and swimming during the summers, or even for a simple walk that can be enjoyed all through the year. The Derrynane House is located near the beach, which was once the home of a notorious smuggler in the region. The house is currently furnished with the memorabilia of the smuggler, which includes an impressive chariot that he used to ride around Dublin after being released from prison in 1844.
The name of this lovely village means ‘The Harbour’ in the Irish language. The town’s Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge serves as the connecting link between Valentia Island and the rest of the mainland. It also serves as the starting point for tourists travelling to Skelling Michael. One of the best things to try in Portmagee is the town’s fresh mussels, which can be found in most restaurants here. The cliffs of Portmagee are an amazing spot for walking, with dramatic drops and amazing views of Skellig Michael in the distance. Avoid the cliffs during strong winds though; buses can’t get here easily and the crags can get treacherous.