Ross Castle

10 Best Attractions to Visit in Stunning County Kerry, Ireland

If you’ve never been to Ireland but have an image in your mind of what the country will look like, you’re likely envisioning the stunning natural landscapes of County Kerry.

Kerry is one of 32 counties in Ireland, and its nickname “The Kingdom” is for good reasons! located in the South West of Ireland the area is surrounded by natural beauty, rolling green hills, rigged coastlines, and picturesque villages that dot the landscape everywhere you go.

When considering a visit to Kerry, you should allow yourself at least 5 days to explore. The top towns to base yourself in are Killarney and Dingle, both have plenty of accommodation options and convenient access to Kerry’s top ten attractions.

Other notable places to stay are the picturesque village of Kenmare, the historic town of Cahersiveen, and Ballybunion, a coastal resort renowned for its sandy beaches and world-class golf courses.

Skellig Islands

The Skellig Islands, situated 8 Miles off the coast of Kerry, are two remote and rugged islands. Comprising the larger Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, they are famous for their distinctive beehive huts and are one of Ireland’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Between the 6th and 8th centuries, monks lived on Skellig Michael, building these unique structures that still stand today, resilient against the relentless battering of the Atlantic Ocean for centuries!

If you’re a movie enthusiast you may find these islands familiar looking. Skellig Michael served as a film location for scenes from the Star Wars franchise “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”.

Visiting these Islands is only possible in the summer months and it is highly advised to book tickets in advance.

The Gap of Dunloe

County Kerry Gap of Dunloe
Photo Credit: Kevin Stack

County Kerry is famous for its stunning landscapes and natural beauty. Killarney National Park showcases this beauty with lots of natural attractions, but there is one standout destination in the park- The Gap of Dunloe.

The Gap extends for 11 kilometers along a very tight and winding road, offering breathtaking scenery including towering mountain peaks, sheer cliffs, lush green valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and lots of sheep throughout the journey. Envision being in a real-life set of Lord of The Rings!

Most visitors will start their trip in Killarney town, where you have options to drive, hike, cycle, or even ride in a horse-drawn jaunting car through the pass.

Heads up for the nervous car drivers – This is a very narrow road and sometimes a bit tricky to drive if you are not used to Irish country roads. Entry is free.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle
Photo Credit: Kevin Stack

Constructed in the 15th century by the O’Donoghue clan, Ross Castle is one of Kerry’s most beautiful castles with lots of history and surrounding beauty.

The castle is on the shores of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park and only a short drive from Killarney. In the background, you can witness Ireland’s highest mountain – Carrauntoohill

For only a 5 euro entree fee, visitors can explore the inside of the castle, which has been restored to showcase period furnishings and artifacts, offering a glimpse into life in medieval Ireland.

Legend has it that the ghost of the O’Donoghue chieftain haunts the castle. Every 7 years he rises from the lake riding his magnificent white horse to inspect his former kingdom.

Carrauntoohill Mountain

Standing at a height of 1038 meters (3,406 feet), Carrauntoohill is Ireland’s highest mountain. If you love hiking then this natural wonder is a must-visit.

Hiking to the summit of Carrauntoohill is considered a challenging hike with steep and rocky terrain in certain parts.

There are several routes to the summit, varying in difficulty, but the most popular one is the “Devil’s Ladder”. Allow yourself roughly 6 hours to complete the Devils Ladder round-trip journey. Of course, this depends on your fitness.

However, along the way, you will come across stunning views of valleys and lakes. Once at the summit, more panoramic views will greet you of County Kerry’s lush green countryside, rugged coastline, and neighboring mountains.

Exploring Carrauntoohill is free of charge, and is best explored when based in Killarney.

Dunquin Pier

County Kerry Dunquin Pier
Photo Credit: Kevin Stack

The Slea Head drive is one of Ireland’s best road trips. Starting and finishing in the town of Dingle, the journey takes you through the majestic Dingle Peninsula.

Along the 40-mile-long drive, you will come across many great attractions such as Dunbeg Fort Beehive huts, and the Gallarus Oratory. But the highlight of the day is Dunquin Pier.

This is a picturesque location renowned for its stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and dramatic cliff landscape. The pier serves as a departure point for boat trips to the nearby Blasket Islands.

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey
Photo Credit: Kevin Stack

Muckross Abbey is not to be confused with the more famous attraction of Muckross House. Despite being only 2 kilometers apart from each other, these are two very different attractions.

Located a short distance from Killarney, this ancient ruin is a historic Franciscan friary that dates back to the 15th century.

However, this abbey offers a bit more than the usual ruins of many abbeys you will see scattered around Ireland, the most famous feature of Muckross Abbey is The Ancient Yew Tree which grows inside the gothic courtyard.

This tree is believed to be over 700 years old and is one of the best photo opportunities in Ireland. Muckross Abbey is open all year round and is free to visit.

Cahergall Stone Fort

Cahergall Stone Fort, located near Cahersiveen in County Kerry, is one of Ireland’s best-preserved examples of an ancient ringstone fort.

These types of forts are typically built with dry stone walls, which means just placed without mortar. The main purpose of these stone forts was defense and protecting against raiders and wild animals.

The interior of the forts would have contained living quarters, storage facilities, and other domestic features.

The fort, which dates back to the 5th century is located on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside, providing more stunning views of the rugged landscape and nearby mountains of beautiful Kerry.

Cahergall Fort is open all year round and free to visit.

The Ring Of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Photo Credit: Kevin Stack

Visiting Kerry and not driving the Ring of Kerry is like visiting Ireland without having a pint of Guinness!!

One of the world’s best road trips, it will take you through the heart of Kerry on a 179-kilometer route. Along the way, you’ll discover countless viewpoints, attractions, natural beauty, the wild Atlantic Ocean, and many picturesque villages.

The route typically starts and ends in Killarney on a circular driving route. It is possible to complete the loop in one day, but if you have the time you can stop off in towns such as Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Waterville, Sneem, and Kenmare.

The best time to drive this epic route is in April – September. The weather may not be guaranteed but the longer evenings certainly are!

Inch Beach

Ireland is not famous for beaches, however, there are many stunning beaches here, and one in particular in County Kerry – Inch beach. Don’t let the name trick you, as the beach is 3 miles long.

Inch Beach is a blue flag beach which means it is compliant with European standards for bathing water. In the summer months, there are also lifeguards patrolling the area.

Located perfectly between Killarney and Dingle the beach is a perfect place for a leisurely walk, some surfing, a bit of fishing, and last but not least go for a pint!

The South Pole Inn

Last on the list of 10 Best attractions in Kerry has to be a pub!

After you have explored Inch Beach make your way to the nearby South Pole Inn.

The pub is one of Ireland’s most famous bars, especially for history enthusiasts as it was owned by the famous Irish explorer Tom Crean who participated in Antarctic expeditions alongside both Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott. After his courageous adventures, Tom Crean returned to his hometown of Annascaul and purchased the pub.

Today, the South Pole Inn serves as a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into Crean’s extraordinary life through lots of memorabilia, photographs, and stories of his expeditions.

The pub was made even more famous by Guinness in the 90s when they made an ad highlighting Tom Crean and his unbelievable adventures. Today the bar retains its traditional charm and welcomes visitors to enjoy a pint of Guinness and soak in the atmosphere steeped in history and adventure.

Final Tips for County Kerry

The best way to discover County Kerry is by car. You can either hire a vehicle or join one of many available tours.

Roads in Ireland are unique, and especially in Kerry. These roads are not for nervous drivers or the fainthearted. They can get very windy and tight in particular parts.

If you come across an oncoming vehicle, stop and pull in as much as you can. This will allow both cars to continue. Sometimes you or the other car may be required to reverse to a more suitable place to allow the other driver to pass.

Kerry is one of Ireland’s most beautiful places. The locals are very friendly, the history is rich and the landscape is gorgeous. Why wouldn’t you visit this part of the world?

This article originally appeared on The World Overload. Featured Photo Credit: Nicholas Rosen

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