A Guide To The Village Of Portmagee In Kerry: Things To Do, Accommodation, Food + More

portmagee in kerry
Photo left by Johannes Rigg on Shutterstock. Photo right via the Moorings Guesthouse, Restaurant and Bridge Bar on Facebook

If you’re debating staying in Portmagee in Kerry, you’ve landed in the right place.

Although the village of Portmagee is tiny, it packs a mighty punch, and it’s for that reason that it’s a great spot to spend a night on your Kerry road trip.

Home to a handful of restaurants and places to stay, the village shot to fame when the nearby Skellig Islands were used during the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Portmagee to where to stay and where to grab a bite to eat.  

Some quick need to knows about Portmagee in Kerry

Portmagee in Kerry
Photo by Tom Archer via Tourism Ireland

Although a visit to Portmagee in Kerry is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

The beautiful County Kerry village of Portmagee located in the far southwest of Ireland is a historic spot with a booming tourism industry. The village is situated on the Iveragh peninsula south of Valentia Island

2. The departure point for the Skelligs

One of the reasons many people stay in Portmagee is that it’s the departure point for many of the Skellig Islands tours. The tours leave early, which is why a night spent in the village appeals to many.

3. The Star Wars link

Portmagee shot to fame when filming for both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi took place on the nearby Skellig Islands.

It was in one of the pubs in the village (the Moorings) that Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) was pictured pouring a pint of Guinness.

Things to do in Portmagee (and nearby)

One of the beauties of Portmagee is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Portmagee (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Take a boat to the Skellig Islands

the skellig islands county kerry
Photo by the Irish Air Corps

The Skellig Islands are two small, rocky islands about 13 km west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.

Made up of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, the former of the islands is known for a Christian monastery dating back to early Christianity which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Furthermore, the Skellig Islands are a renowned hotspot for bird watching in Ireland, sitting at the centre of an Important Bird Area that is home to some amazing and rare species. Some of these include gannets, fulmars, shearwaters and guillemots.

In fact, the area is renowned for its wildlife of all forms, with grey seals, basking sharks, minke whales, dolphins and sea turtles commonly found in the area.

2. Visit the Kerry Cliffs

the kerry cliffs portmagee
Photo left: VTaggio. Right: Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

Dramatic oceanside views are one of the highlights of a visit to this area of Ireland and the Kerry Cliffs provide one of the top examples of this in the entire nation.

Rising 300 metres over the Atlantic Ocean, the Kerry Cliffs are a dramatically unmissable sight. Rugged, raw and breathtakingly beautiful, a visit to this area of natural beauty should not be missed for anybody visiting the area.

On clear days, it is possible to see Skellig Michael from the cliffs, which provides a quality photo opportunity. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rocks are accessible via boat trip from Portmagee.

3. Explore Valentia Island

valentia island lighthouse
Photo by Chris Hill

Valentia Island is reachable via bridge from Portmagee. The journey takes just a few minutes and makes exploring this beautiful part of Ireland easy.

For those who prefer to use the ferry, the crossing takes 5 minutes and is a continuous shuttle operating every ten minutes, 7 days a week from April to October. 

One of the best ways to enjoy the sites and natural beauty of Valentia is to rent a bike, with plenty of stalls operating near the ferry terminal.

Main attractions here include the Slate quarry, the Lighthouse at the Cromwell fort and Geokaun Mountain with its spectacular views.

4. Do the Skellig Ring Drive

the skellig ring of kerry
Photo via Google Maps

A hugely popular scenic drive taking in the entire Portmagee area, the Skellig Ring Drive starts in either Cahersiveen or Waterville depending on where you choose to start.

Beach-lovers will enjoy beautiful Ballinskelligs with its Blue Flag beach (one of our favourite beaches in Kerry!).

In summer, this is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and families from across Kerry flock here. The renowned Waterville seaside village is another hotspot on the ring drive, offering up a chance to enjoy classic southern Irish seaside life for visitors.

Visitors to this part of Ireland can enjoy a wide selection of cliffs, seaside views, traditional villages and glimpses of rural Irish life as it is lived today in one of the Emerald Isle’s most remote segments.

Portmagee pubs and restaurants

places to eat portmagee
Photo left via Smugglers cafe on Facebook. Photo right: The Moorings Guesthouse, Restaurant and Bridge Bar

If you fancy a post-adventure pint or if you just want a quick meal before hitting the nest after a long day exploring, you’re in luck.

While Portmagee is small, it packs a punch pub wise. Below, you’ll find our favourite places to eat and drink. 

1. The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant

Known as a hotspot for Irish traditional music and decent pub grub in the heart of Portmagee, this popular pub is well worth dropping into.

The central locale of this bar makes it a hub in the town for both locals and tourists alike. Offering a real taste of authentic village life, the music here is as traditional as the decor.

2. Fisherman’s Bar & Skellig Restaurant

Offering delicious fresh fish in a warm environment, locals and tourists alike rate Fisherman’s Bar & Skellig Restaurant as one of the finest places to sample local cuisine in Portmagee.

The seafood platter here is the stuff of local legend, offering muscles, crab, prawns and a fried fish fillet as well as salad, chips and a little smoked salmon to boot!

3. Smuggler’s Cafe

With an emphasis on homely cooking in a chic cafe, the food and atmosphere at Smuggler’s Cafe combine to make this one of Portmagee’s top spots.

Naturally, the seafood here is excellent, coming in a range of guises including a salad, platter and various pasta dishes. Yet the goat’s cheese salad is just as good, as are the hearty sandwiches and the coffee, which is rumored to be among the best available in town.

Portmagee Accommodation

pubs in portmagee
Photos via The Moorings Guesthouse, Restaurant and Bridge Bar on Facebook

Although there are no hotels in the village, there’s several places to stay in Portmagee that boast excellent reviews.

Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.

1. The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant

Located overlooking Portmagee harbour, The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant is a lovely little hotel with luxuriously appointed rooms in a top locale.

The style of rooms here is a cross between traditional Irish and modern high-end, with soft-lighting and newly refurbished bathrooms.

The restaurant at The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant is known for serving delicious local seafood in chic surroundings, with classics such as crab and Irish beef both on offer.

Check prices + see photos here

2. Skellig Port accommodation

This gorgeous two-bedroom apartment is located close to Portmagee and offers self-catering accommodation in a stunning area.

Offering an in-house restaurant, this apartment boasts 2 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchenette with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 2 bathrooms with a hot tub.

With a terrace, free private parking and free wi-fi, guests at Skellig Port accommodation can enjoy a home away from home vibe.

Check prices + see photos here

3. The Ferry Boat

Located in the centre of Portmagee, this lovely family-run guesthouse is a small but perfectly formed spot to enjoy a homely atmosphere.

With a classic approach, guests here will feel truly welcomed by the kind and friendly owners, offering delicious breakfasts and other snacks in addition to all manner of advice on how best to enjoy the local area.

Check prices + see photos here

4. John Morgan’s House

With an enviable beachfront location, John Morgan’s House is a top-rated spot in Portmagee. Situated in the town centre, visitors to this holiday home will be able to access both beach and town centre during their stay with consummate ease.

The place is beautifully appointed with traditional decor and furniture that is nonetheless modern and easy to use. 

Check prices + see photos here

5. Seagull Cottage

This b&b offers simple but clean and well-appointed rooms not far from Portmagee. Ideal for tourists with a car looking to enjoy the local area’s stunning natural beauty, a stay here will be packed with the kind of down at home Irish country ambience that you simply don’t see enough nowadays.

Rooms come with a nice little welcome package of drinks, crisps and chocolate, all on the house. Ideal to refresh after a long drive!

Check prices + see photos here

FAQs about visiting Portmagee In Kerry

Since mentioning the town in a guide to Kerry that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Portmagee in Kerry.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best things to do in Portmagee?

  • Take a boat tour to the Skelligs
  • Explore Valentia Island
  • Visit the Kerry Cliffs
  • Drive or cycle the Skellig Ring

Where are the best places to eat in Portmagee?

  • The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant
  • Smuggler’s Cafe
  • Fisherman’s Bar & Skellig Restaurant

What are the best places to stay in Portmagee?

  • Seagull Cottage
  • John Morgan’s House
  • The Ferry Boat
  • Skellig Port accommodation
  • The Moorings Guesthouse

James Connolly is a professional writer based in London. Having lived in cities across the world including Mumbai, Medellin and Barcelona, he uses his expertise to write articles showcasing the best of global travel.

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