Here are the places in Kerry that everyone should experience at least once.
There are plenty of great ways to explore the spectacular Killarney National Park but journeying through the ice age formed Gap of Dunloe is a bucket list trip for many. Gather at Kate Kearney’s Cottage on the northern side of the pass before experiencing the famous mountain pass with Gap of Dunloe Tours.
Enjoy views of native oak and yew trees as you explore the 100km2 of parkland, designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Keep an eye out for red deer during your time here – this is the only place on mainland Ireland that you can find them.
Explore hidden islands and inlets as you kayak across the legendary Lakes of Killarney with Outdoors Ireland or Mór Active. Find out how this stunning landscape was formed and uncover the incredible history and wild nature of one of Ireland’s most beautiful places.
A spectacular driving loop around the Iveragh Peninsula, The Ring of Kerry is 179km of breathtaking beauty that takes in Torc Waterfall, Moll’s Gap, Muckross House and much more. If yours is a flying visit, the drive can be completed in a day. But if you have more time, take it at your leisure and really soak in the atmosphere of this otherworldly place.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Skellig Michael is a tiny 6th century monastic settlement perched on a jagged rock, 11km off the coast of Kerry in the roaring Atlantic. If that’s not enough to entice you, it also stars as a Jedi refuge in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Catch a boat trip to the island from Portmagee, Caherdaniel or Ballinskelligs Pier.
Boats run on a seasonal schedule but if your timing and the weather is right — this is one not to be missed (note: Skellig Michael remains closed to visitors for 2020).
Five minutes from Caherdaniel, it’s worth stopping to visit Daniel O’Connell’s ancestral home, Derrynane House, where many relics of The Liberator’s life and career are preserved. Afterwards, take a scenic stroll through the lush grounds of Derrynane National Historic Park.
Starting and finishing in lively Killarney, The Kerry Way is an epic, long-distance walking route that takes 11 rewarding days to complete. Take your time as you hike rural roadways, picturesque valley passes and forest trails, as well as parts of Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry.
Travel across the road bridge from Portmagee to Valentia Island or, if you’re visiting from April to October, by car ferry from Cahersiveen. On the southern tip of the Island, Bray Head is a spectacular viewing point where a bracing, uphill stroll to the cliff-top signal tower is rewarded with panoramic seascapes featuring the Skellig and Blasket Islands and Dingle Peninsula.
No trip to Kerry is complete without a stop off in Dingle, with its cosy pubs and resident dolphin friend. Wetsuit up and head out on the water with Irish Adventures. If you’re lucky, Fungie might make an appearance and jump over your kayak as you venture into the beautiful bay.
Afterwards, reward your efforts with a trip to Dingle’s famous Murphy’s Ice-Cream. Try local favourites Irish Brown Bread and Dingle Sea Salt flavours.
While you’re in Dingle, explore island life at Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir (The Blasket Centre) in Dún Chaoin, before taking the boat to the largest of the islands, Great Blasket. A compelling snapshot of times past, you’ll learn about the unique community of hardy, Irish-speaking storytellers that lived on the island until 1953.
From Dingle, Slea Head Drive is a jaw-dropping jaunt around the peninsula’s Blue Flag beaches, sheer cliff faces, historic forts, and dramatic Atlantic vistas. Give yourself at least a half day to complete the 47km loop, so you can have plenty of stops to take it all in.
Just 40 mins away, Blennerville Windmill is perched on the edge of Tralee Bay where it meets Dingle Peninsula. The site marks the main port of emigration for Kerry locals fleeing the Great Famine and it was once home to the famous emigrant ship, The Jeanie Johnston.
Climb to the top of the working windmill, learn more about the hardship of emigration at the visitor centre or peek through the telescope which overlooks Slí na nÉan or The Way of the Birds.
Whatever the weather, Kerry’s beaches have some of the most postcard-worthy panoramas in the country and the sandy stretches that surround the seaside town of Ballybunion in North Kerry are no different. Separated by steep cliffs, Men’s Beach and Ladies’ Beach have names harking back to the days of separate bathing and are ideal for beautiful cliff walks with dizzying views over Loop Head.
With so much to explore in picture-perfect Kerry, you’ll soon be heading back for more.