Your Ultimate Guide to Adventure, Culture, and Natural Beauty in Kerry

Nestled in Ireland’s picturesque southwest corner, County Kerry is packed with day trips perfect for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike. From the serene boat rides around Valentia Island to scenic drives along the Ring of Kerry and the vibrant culture of Dingle Town, here’s your guide to making the most of this breathtaking county.

1. Drive the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic 179-kilometre loop around the Iveragh Peninsula, renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes and charming villages. Starting from Killarney, you’ll journey through a tapestry of rugged coastlines, emerald-green fields, and craggy mountain ranges. Must-see stops include the picturesque village of Sneem, the serene beaches at Waterville, and the panoramic Ladies View overlooking the lakes of Killarney. Historical highlights such as Muckross House and Ross Castle offer a glimpse into Ireland’s storied past. The Ring of Kerry encapsulates the region’s cultural heritage and natural beauty, promising an unforgettable road trip.

A photo of Valentia Island lighthouse taken from the water on a sunny day, with still water.

2. Explore Valentia Island

Valentia Island, perched on Ireland’s westernmost edge, boasts breathtaking landscape and a rich tapestry of history waiting to be discovered. The adventure begins with an unforgettable boat tour around Valentia Island, with Aqua Terra Tours. Feel the thrill of Kerry’s Wild Atlantic Way while cruising along its dramatic coastline, soaking in mesmerising views and uncovering its rich culture and heritage. Marvel at the majestic Valentia Lighthouse, standing tall against the Atlantic backdrop, and delve into the island’s industrial past below the Slate Quarry. Explore the island’s historic significance by following the same Transatlantic Cable route that once connected Europe with North America. After the tour, be sure to include a visit to the Skellig Experience Centre, where you’ll immerse yourself in the captivating story of the Skellig Islands and the resilient monks who once inhabited them. Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll through the charming village of Knightstown or challenge yourself with the Bray Head Loop Walk. 

3. Hike Carrauntoohil

For an exhilarating adventure, hike Ireland’s tallest peak, Carrauntoohil, reaching 1,038 metres. Start your journey from Cronin’s Yard or Lisleibane and follow the Devil’s Ladder route for a challenging climb, traversing steep inclines and rocky terrain. At the summit, be rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. If the ascent feels too ambitious, Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula offers a gentler climb while still providing spectacular views. Whichever mountain you choose, hiking in Kerry will immerse you in Ireland’s rugged beauty.

The wonders of the night sky from the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve

4. Stargaze at Kerry’s Dark Sky Reserve

Nestled within Kerry’s International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only four Gold Tier reserves worldwide, this celestial haven promises unparalleled stargazing adventures. Shielded from light pollution between the Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Ring, the reserve offers pristine views of the Milky Way and celestial marvels. Join Aqua Terra for an unforgettable journey on their Winter Dark Sky Cruise, operating from October to mid-January from Valentia Island. Departing from this enchanting locale, this tour provides exclusive access to prime stargazing sites within the reserve. Navigate through the harbour and into Dingle Bay using the stars above, witnessing shooting stars, distant planets, and radiant constellations in a mesmerising display. It’s a truly enchanting experience under the guidance of expert navigation by the stars.

5. Set Sail to the Skellig Islands

The Skellig Islands stand as iconic symbols of natural and historical significance. Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a 6th-century monastic settlement accessible via its steep, ancient steps. Ascend to the summit for breathtaking ocean views and marvel at the monastery’s remarkable stone beehive huts. Nearby, Little Skellig hosts a sprawling seabird colony, including adorable puffins and majestic gannets. Embark on a boat tour with Aqua Terra to explore these awe-inspiring islands where nature and history intertwine seamlessly. The multi-lingual audio guide provides a comprehensive round-the-islands tour offering you an experience you won’t find elsewhere on the Skellig Coast! It’s an immersive experience like no other, where every detail of these remarkable islands comes to life.

Wildlife viewing at the Skellig Islands

6. Experience Irish Culture in Dingle Town

Dingle Town, on the Dingle Peninsula, is known for its vibrant culture, colourful streets, and welcoming pubs. Wander through artisanal shops, indulge in fresh seafood, and tap your feet to the lively traditional music. Beyond the town, the peninsula itself is dotted with archaeological sites, including the Gallarus Oratory, and natural landmarks like the towering cliffs at Slea Head. In Dingle, immerse yourself in the unique blend of tradition and adventure that defines this coastal gem.

7. Explore the Slea Head Drive

The Slea Head Drive, a circular route on the Dingle Peninsula, offers spectacular views of the Atlantic and the Blasket Islands. As you wind through narrow, coastal roads, marvel at rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and rolling pastures. Stop at the Fahan Beehive Huts to glimpse Ireland’s ancient past, and visit the Blasket Islands Visitor Centre to learn about the islanders’ legacy. At Slea Head itself, the westernmost point of Europe, the wild ocean and iconic crucifix statue offer an unforgettable backdrop. The drive encapsulates the unspoiled beauty of Ireland’s western coast.

8. Wander through Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Encompassing lush woodlands, serene lakes, and the stunning MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the park is ideal for hiking, cycling, and boating. Visit the 19th-century Muckross House, or take a jaunting car ride to Ross Castle. Marvel at Torc Waterfall’s cascading beauty, and enjoy the wildlife at the edge of Lough Leane. The park also serves as a gateway to the Ring of Kerry, providing a tranquil retreat from the road while showcasing the region’s diverse landscapes.

9. Walk the Kerry Camino

Inspired by the pilgrimage routes of Spain, the Kerry Camino is a 57-kilometer trail between Tralee and Dingle. The route, which loosely follows St. Brendan’s Way, winds through lush woodlands, charming villages, and coastal cliffs. Walkers can collect stamps along the way, adding an element of adventure to the journey. The trail is divided into manageable sections, allowing for exploration at your own pace. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual explorer, the Kerry Camino offers a spiritual and scenic trek through Kerry’s magnificent landscapes.

10. Visit One of Many Blue Flag Beaches

Kerry’s coastline is home to several Blue Flag beaches, each offering pristine sands and inviting waters. Inch Beach, with its expansive shoreline, is ideal for surfers and families alike, while Ballybunion’s two beaches are perfect for a refreshing dip. Rossbeigh Beach, near Glenbeigh, offers stunning views of the Dingle Peninsula, while Ballinskelligs Beach is close to the Skellig Ring. Whether you’re sunbathing, swimming, or simply strolling, these Blue Flag beaches provide a peaceful escape amidst Kerry’s striking coastal beauty.10. 

Kerry is a feast for the senses, with each unique destination offering its own flavour of Irish culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re cruising the Atlantic towards the historic Skellig Islands, conquering the heights of Carrauntoohil, or relaxing on one of Kerry’s pristine Blue Flag beaches, day trips in Kerry promise an unforgettable journey. This is just a handful of the many things to see and do in Kerry, so plan your trip and let the magic of Ireland’s southwest coast leave you spellbound!