There’s an almost endless number of unforgettable things to do in Kerry.
Honestly, you could spend a month in this mighty little corner of Ireland and you’d still have only scratched the surface.
From cliff walks, hikes, traditional pubs, distilleries, museums, mountains, lakes and… OK, I’ll stop now as I could end up yammering away here for the next hour.
You get the picture – there’s plenty to see and do! In the guide below, you’ll find an absolute heap of different things to do in Kerry. G’wan, scroll away!
Table of Contents
Things to do in Kerry, Ireland
If you’re stuck for time, here’s a quick outline of the top 15 places to visit in Kerry (out of 42) from the guide below:
- Head off on a scenery-packed 2-day road trip
- Dodge the crowds and spin along the Ballaghbeama Gap
- Drive or cycle the Ring of Kerry
- Spin along the often-missed Skellig Ring
- Visit the Dark-Sky Reserve
- Let time stand still on Valentia Island
- Lace-up your hiking boots and climb Mount Brandon
- Tip along Slea Head
- Spend a morning walking at Torc Mountain
- Visit Coomanaspig Pass (one of the highest places in Ireland that’s reachable by car)
- Hit the waves in Ballybunion
- Cycle, run or walk along the Gap of Dunloe
- Walk the Dingle Way
- Brave the narrow road at Conor Pass
- Take a ferry to the Great Blasket Island
1. Head off on a scenery-packed 2-day road trip
48 hours is a tiny amount of time to spend in Kerry. However, if you haven’t much time to spare and you fancy heading off on a Kerry road trip for a weekend, you can still squeeze in quite a bit.
In our guide to spending 48 hours in Kerry, you’ll find a full 2-day itinerary that you can use to explore Kerry over the course of a weekend.
It’s packed with things to do in Kerry, places to see and there’s also recommendations on where to eat, sleep and where to grab a post-adventure pint.
Related read: Check out our guide to the 20 of the best things to do in Dingle.
2. Dodge the crowds and spin along the Ballaghbeama Gap
A spin along the road up the wonderful Ballaghbeama Gap is the perfect activity for those of you looking for things to do in Kerry that’ll take you away from the crowds.
Ballaghbeama cuts across the mountains in the centre of the Iveragh Peninsula. The road takes you along an isolated scenic route where you’ll meet little traffic, plenty of sheep and endless mountain views.
I did this drive with my Mam a few years ago and we’ve been chatting about it ever since. Take your time, soak up the views and enjoy the silence.
Related read: Check out our guide to the 20 of the best things to do in Killarney.
3. Drive or cycle the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is arguably the best-known driving and cycling route in Ireland. This is a 179km-long, circular route that takes in a clatter of the best scenery in the county.
If you’ve never taken a spin along it before, you can expect rugged landscapes, mountains, rural coastal towns and villages and much, much more.
Related read: Have a nosey at our detailed guide to driving and cycling the Ring of Kerry. You’ll find the best things to see and do on the route.
4. Spin along the often-missed Skellig Ring
The Skellig Ring is an often missed 18km route that links the town of Waterville to Portmagee village via Ballinskelligs.
Expect raw, wild, magnificent scenery, with the jagged outline of Skellig Michael on the horizon rarely far from view.
The Skellig Ring is a pretty straightforward drive that doesn’t need a whole load of planning. You’ll discover sights and scenery around every narrow bend.
Related read: Check out our guide to driving the Skellig Ring in Kerry. There are LOOOADS of things to see and do.
5. Spend the night in a very swanky castle
Fancy splashing the cash and staying in one of the many castle hotels Ireland has to offer? Give Ballyseede in Kerry a crack!
You’ll find Ballyseede in Tralee in Kerry, a stone’s throw from the Dingle Peninsula. Visitors to this hotel can expect an elegant interior, cosy drawing rooms, and plenty of nooks and crannies to relax in.
The castle dates back to the late 1500s and is set on 30 acres of native woodland. Oh, if you’re a fan of dogs you’ll be happy to know that there’s a resident wolfhound.
Related read: Read more about Ballyseede in our guide to the best Irish castle hotels.
6. Or stay somewhere where you can soak up a mighty view
If you fancy spending the night somewhere different, then you’re in luck. Kerry, like many other parts of Ireland, Kerry is home to an ample number of quirky rentals.
In our Airbnb Kerry guide, you’ll discover a clatter of the most unique Airbnbs Kerry has to offer, from island boathouses to luxury coastal escapes.
7. Visit the Dark-Sky Reserve (one of the most unique things to do in Kerry)
There’s a corner of Kerry that has been designated an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Known as the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve, it’s one of only 3 Gold Tier Reserves on the planet and the only Gold Tier Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sounds cool, but what does it mean? It means that on a clear night the sky in this part of Ireland is scattered with astronomical sights that you can admire with the naked eye.
8. Let time stand still on Valentia Island
If you read our recent guide to Valentia Island in Kerry, then you’ll know I’m borderline obsessed with this place.
Valentia Island is pretty damn special. The island boasts a wealth of history and the scenery throughout is incredible.
In the photo above, you’ll see some of the views that you’ll be treated to as you stand and gaze out from the viewing point on Geokaun Mountain. This really is one of the best places to visit in Kerry. Trust me.
9. Lace-up your hiking boots and climb Mount Brandon
For those of you visiting Kerry and looking for a decent hike that offers magnificent views of the Kerry coastline, then this’ll be right up your street.
At 952 metres, Mount Brandon is one of the tallest mountains in Ireland. As you can probably gather, this is one for the more seasoned hikers (or for those with a guide!)
The Pilgrims’ Path is arguably the most scenic (and one of the most difficult) routes to the summit of Brandon. It follows a clear path and takes between 4 and 5 hours (depending on pace) to complete.
10. Spin along the Slea Head Drive
The Slea Head Drive is a circular route that begins and ends in Dingle. It takes in an abundance of attractions and fabulous views on the western end of the peninsula.
My only piece of advice for this drive is to stop and wander wherever and whenever the notion takes you.
The best parts of this drive aren’t the stops, they’re the ever-changing landscape that engulfs it. The next couple of stops on our list can be found along the Slea Head Drive.
Related read: Here’s a full guide to driving or cycling Slea head (includes all of the various different stop-offs, etc.)
11. Spend a morning walking at Torc Mountain (one of my favourite things to do in Kerry)
An early morning walk at Torc Mountain is hard to beat. The walk to the summit, which is reasonably moderate, takes between 2 to 2.5 hours and rewards walkers with scenery throughout.
Expect a panoramic view that takes in Killarney town, the National Park’s lakes, Muckross House, and more.
There’s clear paths to follow and sleepers (the wooden boardwalk seen above) that make the journey to the top all the easier.
12. Visit Coomanaspig Pass (one of the highest places in Ireland that’s reachable by car)
I came across this place by complete fluke. We were on a trip to Kerry in October, it had rained all day, and, just as we reached the area that I now know as Coomanaspig, the sun started blazing away.
Check out the photo above to see what I mean. It’s said that Coomanaspig Pass is one of the highest places in Ireland that you can reach by car.
If you approach from the Kerry Cliffs, you’ll climb a steep hill. It’s at the top of this hill that you can pull in and admire a mighty view of the surrounding countryside.
13. Hit the waves in Ballybunion
Now, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t know a good wave if it bit me on the arse. But I’ve heard tell from many a surf fanatic that Ballybunion is a solid spot to catch one.
For those of you looking to hit the waves during your visit to Kerry, the lads at Ballybunion Surf School will be more than happy to oblige.
You can join a lesson on Ballybunion’s Men’s Beach. If you’re brave enough to hop into the icy waters of the Atlantic, that is.
14. Cycle, run or walk along the Gap of Dunloe
A visit to the Gap of Dunloe should tickle the fancy of those of you looking for things to do in Kerry on foot! The Gap of Dunloe was formed around two million years ago when Killarney’s ice age took hold.
As the snow and ice were steadily pushed northward through the Killarney Valley, it gave the mountains their distinct, jagged appearance.
It was this event that resulted in the formation of what we now know as the Gap of Dunloe. You can park your car near Kate Kearney’s Cottage and ramble or cycle along the road here (takes between 2 and 3 hours, depending on pace).
15. Soak up some scenery at Ladies View
Ladies View is a scenic viewpoint on the Ring of Kerry, on the road that takes you from Killarney to Kenmare.
It got its name after Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting* visited here during the royal visit in 1861. I’ve visited here a handful of times over the years and the view is spectacular.
“Eh, sorry pal – what’s a lady-in-waiting?!”
According to Wikipedia, a lady-in-waiting is ‘a female personal assistant at a court, royal or feudal, attending on a royal woman or a high-ranking noblewoman. Historically, in Europe, a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman, but of lower rank than of the woman on whom she attended’.
16. Walk the Dingle Way
If you’re looking for things to do in Kerry on foot over a number of days, look no further than the mighty Dingle Way.
This is a roughly 176km route that takes walkers around the gorgeous coast of the Dingle Peninsula over the course of 8 days.
This one should appeal to the more seasoned walker, considering its length. With that being said, if you’ve less time to play with, you can easily join the trail at any number of points.
17. Brave the narrow road at Conor Pass
Conor Pass runs from Dingle out towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory, and is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, standing a whopping 410 m above the sea level.
The narrow road snakes alongside the mountain and weaves its way along sharp cliff faces on one side and an enormous drop to the other.
You can pull in at the side of the road before the pass and admire the views around you. Now, if you’re driving in Ireland for the first time, this may sound intimidating.
But don’t worry – take your time, drive carefully, and keep calm if a vehicle approaches you from the opposite direction.
18. Visit Dun Chaoin Pier: The quirky departure point for the Blasket Island ferry
Dun Chaoin Pier is the departure point for the Blasket Island Ferry. You’ll find it at the northern end of a small secluded bay enveloped by rocky cliffs.
You can take a stroll down the pier itself or admire the view from above (be careful – the cliffs here are unguarded and the area that surrounds them is uneven).
When viewed from above, the narrow, winding road that leads to the pier can only be described as a wonderful little slice of architectural madness.
The quirky road combined with the gorgeous rocky peaks that jut out from the water in front of the pier makes for a wonderfully unique scene on County Kerry’s dramatic coastline.
19. And then take a ferry to the Great Blasket Island
A visit to the Great Blasket Island will make you appreciate what Ireland of old would have been like.
You’ll find the island around 3 miles off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, roughly 13 kilometres west of Dingle town.
It’s here that you’ll have the opportunity to explore over 1,100 acres of unspoiled, largely mountainous terrain to your heart’s content.
If you’re looking for things to do in Kerry that’ll take you away from the crowds while immersing you in some of the best scenery Ireland has to offer, get yourself here.
20. Listen to the water crash at Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall is a handy 7 kilometres from Killarney Town. You can park the car here (note: this car park gets crazy at certain points of the day, and it’s pretty small) and take the short 200-metre stroll to the waterfall.
I can’t recommend visiting here enough. If you can, try and get here early in the morning (and by early, I mean early).
On my last two visits here the place was overrun with crowds, which made getting parking a nightmare and also meant the place was swarming with people.
21. Have a ramble around Killarney National Park (one of the best places to visit in Kerry, according to Tripadvisor)
A visit to Killarney National Park regularly tops the lists as one of the best things to do in Kerry. Why? Well, it has a little something for everyone.
From the numerous walk and hiking routes and the herd of native red deer to the magnificent mountainous terrain and so much more, the park has something to delight every kind of explorer.
22. Visit Ross Castle while you’re there
Ross Castle is a typical example of the stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages.
Although the date of when the castle was founded is unknown, it’s thought that it was built in the late 15th century by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains.
There’s a car park not far from Ross Castle, which hopefully means that those of you with limited mobility will find it easy to reach.
Head off on the guided tour. It takes 40 minutes and it’ll give you an insight into the history of the castle.
23. Watch cars wind along the road at Moll’s Gap
Moll’s Gap is a bendy pass that offers spectacular views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the surrounding area. It earned its name from a woman named Moll Kissane.
Moll ran a shebeen (a small pub) in the area during the construction of the original Kenmare Killarney road in the 1820s. It’s said that she was well liked in the area.
Possibly due to the fact that she sold homemade Poitin and whiskey to the men working on the road.
24. Spend a night working your way around Dingle’s many (and I mean many) great pubs
Dingle is home to two of my favourite pubs in Ireland; Dick Mack’s and Foxy John’s. However, there are plenty of other buzzy pubs where you can enjoy a pint or three.
if you’re visiting the town and fancy sampling the wares of many a bar, check out our guide to the best pubs in Dingle. There’s even a handy little pub crawl guide for you to follow.
25. Spend a weekend in the buzzy little town of Kenmare
Kenmare is one of those towns that I could see myself happily retire in. I spent 5 weeks here not long ago and I loved every minute of it.
Kenmare is surrounded by knock-you-on-your-arse scenery, the people are lovely (based on my last 4 visits), and there’s plenty of great restaurants and pubs to nip into.
There’s also plenty of walks to do nearby and an almost endless number of adventure opportunities a short spin away.
26. Listen to the waves crash at Coumeenoole Beach
Coumeenoole is a fantastic little beach that you’ll find along Slea Head that’s surrounded by jagged cliffs and spectacular coastal scenery.
This place really is wild. What you won’t get from the image above is the sheer power of the wind that gushes over you as you hop out of your car/off your bike here.
A place that’ll bash away the stickiest of cobwebs. For fans of the film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, you may recognise Coumeenoole Beach as it was one of the locations used in the movie.
27. Pop off the shoes and head for a saunter along Derrynane Beach
Derrynane is widely regarded as the best beach in Kerry. You’ll find the beach a short spin north of Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry.
The minute you hop out of your car (or off your bike) and gaze around, you’ll understand why so many people recommended adding it to your Kerry itinerary. Derrynane Beach is only goooooorgeous.
It’s reasonably sheltered and boasts a natural harbour, and there’s a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. A great little spot to clear the head.
28. Explore the 1 million-year-old Crag Cave
If you’re looking for things to do in Kerry when it’s raining, then get Crag Cave on your list. Crag was discovered by divers in 1983 and is thought to be over 1 million years old.
The cave here is an ancient fossil cave system that was once filled with water, which eroded the rock into a beautiful maze of carved tunnels and chambers.
I hadn’t heard of this place until a friend visited at the start of the summer. The reviews online are top-notch (4.3 out of 807 reviews on Google) and the tour sounds excellent.
29. Have the buzz at Killorglin’s Puck Fair
This is possibly one of the most unusual things to do in Ireland. It’s definitely our most unusual festival, anyway (it’s also Ireland’s oldest, as it happens!).
If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Isn’t that the mad festival down in Kerry where they do something with a goat?!’ then yes, you’re spot on. Every summer, the festival at Puck takes place.
The first day of the festival is known as ‘the gathering’ and involves the Puck goat being enthroned on a stand in the town square.
On the last day of Puck (‘the scattering day’) the goat is removed from his stand and his reign as king Puck ends. He’s then eaten by all in attendance… that’s a joke – he’s returned to the wild Kerry mountains.
30. Admire the view near Dunmore Head
This is another great stop on Slea Head. You’ll find the lookout point for Dunmore Head a short distance from Coumeenoole Beach, so make sure you keep an eye out for it while you drive or cycle.
This place tends to rock you a little bit. The crash of the waves combined with a powerful, salty breeze always leaves me itching for more.
There’s also a handy spot to pull in if you’re driving. Perfect for those of you looking for things to see in Kerry when it’s lashing rain.
31. Kick back in Caherdaniel
There’s plenty to see and do in Caherdaniel, a place that was once called home by Daniel O’Connell.
Surrounded by rugged mountains and the sandy shores of Derrynane, the village of Caherdaniel boasts character and scenery by the bucket load. One of my favourite spots here is Derrynane National Park.
It’s here that you’ll find Derrynane House, once the residence of Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell, who won Catholic representation in Parliament in 1829.
If history isn’t your thing, you’ll also find plenty to explore in the park, from natural rock pools and sandy coves to diverse landscape that offers ample walking and hiking trails.
32. Head off on the Rossbeigh Hill Loop Walk
If you like to explore by foot and you’re in search of places to visit in Kerry where you’ll be able to stretch the legs and get a mighty view, get yourself to Rossbeigh.
The Rossbeigh Hill Loop Walk takes between 3 and 4 hours depending on your fitness levels, and it offers a magnificent view out over the surrounding countryside.
The view of Rossbeigh Beach that you’ll be treated to is worth the trip alone. A perfect spot for an early morning hike.
33. Or just kick off the shoes and ramble along Rossbeigh Strand
If you don’t fancy spending 3 or 4 hours on the loop walk, you can always just saunter along the sand.
Rossbeigh Strand is one of those natural Kerry attractions that often gets missed by those visiting the area.
Which is a shame as the beach here is beautiful, and the mountainous backdrop makes it a joy to walk along.
34. Visit the Kerry Cliffs (the chances are you’ll have this place to yourself)
I’ve visited the Kerry Cliffs twice over the years, and on both occasions, I was one of maybe 2 or 3 other people that were there at the time.
Which is crazy when you think about how many people visit the Cliffs of Moher each year.
The cliffs, which are over 305 meters high, offer spectacular views of the Skellig Islands, Puffin Island, and the surrounding countryside.
This is one of those places that makes you really aware of how powerful mother nature is.
The thunderous crash as waves collide with sharp cliff face rings out in your ears constantly.
35. Grab a coffee in the iconic Kate Kearney’s Cottage
The chances are you’ll have heard of this place. You’ll find the now-iconic Kate Kearney’s Cottage nestled at the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe.
Kate’s is a 150 year old family-run business where visitors can enjoy the tradition of hospitality made famous by the legendary Kate herself.
It was originally a síbín (unlicensed premises that sold alcohol) where Kate distilled her famous poitín. The premises is now a cafe, restaurant, and pub.
36. Conquer Carrauntoohil (for experienced climbers)
Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland. It stands at a whopping at 1,038.6 metres and is the central peak of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.
There are several routes to choose from here. The most popular route is the Devil’s Ladder, as it’s the shortest route (4 to 6 hours) to the top and boasts a track that, when kept to, is easy to follow.
If you plan on climbing Carrauntoohil, be adequately prepared. The mountain range can have changeable weather, which means experience or a seasoned guide is essential.
You can find a full guide to climbing Ireland’s highest peak in our detailed guide to the Carrauntoohil hike (the Devils Ladder trail).
37. Head for a walk around Waterville (and fill yer belly!)
Waterville a little coastal village located along the Ring of Kerry. This place is a joy to stroll around and it’s home to a heap of great places to eat and drink.
If you’re visiting and in search of a feed, head into An Corcan. It’s a tiny little cafe/restaurant that I’ve been to several times over the years.
Interestingly enough, Waterville was a favourite holiday destination for Charlie Chaplin. There’s even a statue of him in the village.
38. Take a ferry to the Skellig Islands (if you’re lucky…)
I’ve tried to get on a tour to the Skellig Islands several times over the years. But, due to crap weather, crowds, and bad planning on my part, it’s yet to happen.
There are a number of different tour providers that offer a trip to or around the Skellig Islands, but be warned – you need to BOOK IN ADVANCE.
And even if you do book in advance, there’s still a chance that the tour will be cancelled due to bad weather conditions.
The Star Wars link: A visit to Skellig Michael was one of the most widely sought after tourist attractions in Kerry for a number of years after one of the Star Wars movies was shot there.
39. Munch away on lunch by the sea at Inch Beach
I had lunch in the little cafe on Inch Beach a couple of months ago. This is no exaggeration – the burger was easily the best I’ve had in about a year.
The cafe is a handy little stop-off point for food and coffee, as you can round your visit off with a ramble along the beach.
You’ll generally find groups of surfers in the sea here, so kick back, fuel up and watch as they tackle the wild Atlantic waves.
40. Say ‘Howaya’ to a very famous dolphin
You’ll see a trip out to visit Dingle’s Fungi the Dolphin regularly top guides to the best things to do in Kerry. This is a family favourite and one that kids will love!
Fungi is Dingle’s most famous resident and he’s been living in and around the mouth of the busy Dingle harbour for around 36 years. If you fancy seeing him, you can take a boat trip from Dingle.
41. Head for an early morning ramble in the Black Valley
The Black Valley is one of the many places in Kerry that makes you feel like you’re the last person left on earth. I’ve been here twice over the years.
On both occasions, I met only a handful of people. Peace, quiet and endless scenery. A combo that’ll soothe the soul.
Interestingly enough, the Black Valley was the last place in Ireland to be connected to the national electric grid way back in 1976!
42. Give glamping a lash
If you fancy staying somewhere a little bit different during your time in Kerry, give glamping a go!
In our guide to glamping in Ireland, you’ll find a tonne of different places, similar to the one above in Killarney, to glamp for a night or two!
What things to do or places to visit in Kerry, Ireland have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still.
They grow based on feedback and recommendations from readers and locals that visit and comment.
Have something to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!