If you’re in search of the best things to do in Kerry, this guide will take you straight to ’em!
Located in the South-West of Ireland, County Kerry is arguably one of the most scenic counties in Ireland.
There’s endless places to visit in Kerry, from the Dingle Peninsula and Skellig Ring to the Maharees, the Black Valley and much more.
In the guide below, you’ll discover the best places to visit in Kerry in 2024, from tourist favourites to ‘hidden’ gems.
The best things to do in Kerry
The first section of this guide will give you a nice, speedy overview of the most popular things to do in Kerry, like the Ring of Kerry and the various hikes and walks.
1. 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.
The route takes in a number of different towns and an endless number of popular Kerry attractions along with lovely towns and villages like Kenmare.
Don’t have a car? There’s plenty of Ring of Kerry tours you can book (see them here – affiliate link).
2. The 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 route is a pretty straightforward drive that doesn’t need a whole load of planning.
If you follow this route, you’ll stumble upon places to visit in Kerry that many tend to miss, like Coomanaspig.
3. The Dingle Peninsula
Home to the lively Dingle Town, the Dingle Peninsula attract visitors in their droves every year.
4. Valentia Island
I’d strongly argue that a visit to Valentia Island is one of the best things to do in Kerry, especially during the off-season when it’s very quiet.
The island, which can be accessed via a bridge at Portmagee, 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.
It’s a nice little stop-off if you’re visiting the Skelligs and are wondering what to do in Kerry close by.
5. Killarney National Park
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.
The park, which is over 102.9 km², is home to endless walks, historical sites and points of interests. The best way to explore it is by renting a bike in the town and spinning around it.
Related read: See our guide to 21 of the best things to do in Killarney
6. Rossbeigh Hill
There are few things to do in Kerry that treat you to a view that rivals the one from the Rossbeigh Hill walk.
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 (you can drive it, too!).
7. Ballaghbeama Gap
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.
This is the perfect activity for those of you looking for things to do in Kerry this weekend that’ll take you away from the crowds.
8. The Kerry Cliffs
I’ve visited the Kerry Cliffs three times over the years, and on each occasions, I was one of maybe 2 or 3 other people that were there at the time.
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.
9. The Gap of Dunloe
A visit to the Gap of Dunloe should tickle the fancy of those of you looking for the top things to do in Kerry today 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).
10. Coomanaspig Pass
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.
11. The Kerry Dark-Sky Reserve
Few places to visit in Kerry offer an experience as unique as our next stop.
There’s a corner of the Kingdom 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 eye.
12. Conor Pass
A drive along the very narrow pass is one of the more unusual things to do in Kerry. It’s also something that tends to terrify some nervous drivers.
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.
13. Breath-taking beaches
If you’re in search of the best places to visit in Kerry that’ll take you away from the crowds, you’ll find peace and quiet on many of the beaches in Kerry.
Some of our favourites are:
14. Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall is a handy 7 kilometres from Killarney Town. You can park a short walk from it, but the parking can be a nightmare.
As a visit here is one of the most popular things to do in Killarney, so it gets insanely busy, and parking can be impossible.
If you can, try and get here early in the morning (and by early, I mean early).
Alternatively, you can rent a bike in Killarney and cycle through the park to Torc and chain your bike closeby.
15. Charming towns and villages
Before you decide on what to do in Kerry, it’s worth having a think about where you’d like to stay during your visit.
Some of the best places to visit in Kerry are the lovely little towns and villages that you’ll find scattered around the county.
16. Mount Brandon
For those of you visiting Kerry and looking for a decent hike that offers magnificent views of the Kerry coastline, the Mount Brandon hike will be right up your street, especially if you don’t have time for the full Dingle Way.
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.
The summit of Brandon is one of my favourite places to go in Kerry when staying in Dingle, as you dodge the crowds and the views are out of this world.
17. Coumeenoole Beach
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.
18. The Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands lie off the coast of Kerry and can be reached by ferry from Portmagee Pier. However, they are one of the trickiest tourist attractions in Kerry to reach.
There are two types of tours for those of you that want to visit Skellig Michael: The landing tour (this is the one where you’ll get onto Skellig Michael) and the Eco Tours (this is where the ferries circle the islands).
The Landing Tours need to be booked well in advance, as there is a cap on the number of people that can step onto Skellig Michael each day (180 visitors).
The Eco Tours are easier to get onto, but still need to be booked in advance. The Skelligs are one of the most sought-after places to see in Kerry for good reason!
19. 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.
20. Dun Chaoin Pier
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.
21. 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 and were completely taken by the view.
This is one of the more accessible tourist attractions in Kerry, as you can, quite literally, park right in front of it.
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.
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).
23. The Black Valley
The Black Valley is one of many places to visit 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!
24. Gleninchaquin Park
Gleninchaquin Park is special. There’s no two ways about it. This is a long narrow valley that was formed by glaciation about 70,000 years ago.
And, although quite a bit of time has passed since the valley formed, little has changed. Expect waterfalls, lush green meadows and gorgeous woodlands.
The best way to explore the park is to set off on one of the park’s many walks. They range in length and difficulty, so you can take your pick.
25. 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 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 fun 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.
26. The Puck Fair
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.
27. Torc Mountain and/or Cardiac Hill
Last but by no means least in our guide to the best things to do in Kerry are two walks/hikes right next to Killarney Town.
The first is the 1.5 hour/8km Cardiac Hill walk. As the name suggests, this is a tough but rewarding trail that offers glorious views from the top section.
The second, and the more scenic of the two, is the Torc Mountain hike. The walk to the summit, which is moderate, takes between 2 to 2.5 hours and rewards walkers with scenery throughout.
What County Kerry tourist attractions have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve missed out on plenty of Kerry attractions that need to be added to the guide above.
If you’d like to recommend and things to see in Kerry, shout away in the comments section below and we’ll check them out! Cheers!
FAQs about the top things to do in Kerry
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the best things to do in Kerry for couples?’ to ‘What to do in Kerry when it rains?’.
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 Kerry?
In our opinion, the best places to visit in Kerry are Killarney National Park, Valentia Island, the Skellig Ring, The Dingle Peninsula and Ballaghbeama Gap.
What are some unique places to visit in Kerry?
Some of the more unique and unusual things to do in Kerry are Crag Cave, Ballaghbeama Gap, the Dark Sky Reserve, Kerry’s islands and Gleninchaquin Park.
What are some unmissable tourist attractions in Kerry?
If you’re a first time visitor, the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry take in a huge number of the best places to visit in Kerry, from Muckross Abbey and Slea Head to Ross Castle and many more.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.