Valentia Island might just be one of the best kept secrets on Skellig Coast.
It lies just off the south west coast of County Kerry and is one of Ireland’s westernmost points.
There’s plenty of things to do on Valentia Island, from hikes and cliff walks to history, food and more, as you’ll discover below.
Some quick need-to-knows about Valentia Island
Although a visit to Valentia Island in Kerry is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Valentia Island is located off the Iveragh Peninsula on the south west coast of County Kerry. It’s relatively small in size at approximately 12km by 5km and has just a couple of main settlements, with Knightstown being the main village.
2. Accessing the island from Portmagee
There’s a bridge connecting Valentia Island to the mainland from the town of Portmagee. It’s a short, minute or so drive from the village to the island.
3. The ferry from near Cahersiveen
Things to do on Valentia Island in Kerry
There’s a surprising number of things to do on Valentia Island in Kerry, from historical sites and walking trails to the best view in Ireland.
Ok… what’s arguably the best view in Ireland. Below, you’ll find some places to visit along with where to eat and stay on the island.
1. Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs
Hands down one of the best things to do in Kerry is to soak up the views from Geokaun Mountain and the Fogher Cliffs.
The cliffs here are the highest point on the island and the perfect place to enjoy a 360-degree view.
You can access the mountain and cliffs by car or on foot (note: it’s insanely steep here, and good levels of fitness are needed if you plan on walking).
There are four car parks at various viewpoints, including the summit, or you can enjoy a few short walks to take in the views at a slower pace.
One of our favourite things to do on Valentia Island is to arrive here as the sun is starting to drop. The view is out of this world.
2. The Bray Head Walk
The Bray Head Walk used to be a looped trail, however, it’s now a there-and-back job! This is a moderate 4km walk to Bray Head along the coast at the south-western edge of the island.
It includes a steady climb to the Bray Tower, which offers incredible views of Skellig Michael.
The tower itself was built by English forces in 1815 during the Napoleonic wars and it was used as a signal station by the Navy during WWII.
The roughly 1.5-hour walk is perfect for the whole family, as long as you take care of the exposed cliffs.
3. Valentia Island Beach
A visit to Glanleam Beach is one of the more unique things to do on Valentia Island and many that visit the island are blissfully unaware of its existence.
This is partly because it has no car park and can be a nightmare to drive to unless you visit during the off-season.
You’ll find it near the lighthouse (see the easily-missed route to it here) where it’s accessed via a small lane.
4. Valentia Ice Cream
Who doesn’t love a good ice cream parlour? Valentia’s is built inside the original milking parlour of the Daly farmstead and overlooks the Portmagee channel.
If you’re looking for a sugar fix and a break from exploring, you’ll have to stop and select a couple of the handmade flavours to try.
5. Valentia Transatlantic Cable Station
Valentia Island played an interesting part in the history of communications. It was the site of the very first transatlantic telegraph cable over 150 years ago, which was laid between the island and Newfoundland in Canada.
It continued to operate up until 1966, when it closed its doors for the last time when satellites proved too superior.
Today, you can visit the original Transatlantic Cable Station to learn about the incredible role the island played in the history of cross-continent communication. It’s located on the Promenade in Knightstown.
6. Valentia Lighthouse
Valentia Island Lighthouse is at Cromwell’s Point on the northern end of the island and a must visit during your trip. The lighthouse was first opened in 1841 with just a single keeper and his family on site.
Since 1947, the light has been automated with just a part-time attendant to look after it. The view from the lighthouse is spectacular overlooking the rough seas and is worth a visit.
7. The Skellig Experience Centre
If you’re wondering what to do on Valentia Island when it’s raining, get yourself to the Skellig Experience Centre.
The centre is dedicated to the Skellig monks with exhibitions on their life and times. It’s the perfect place to visit on a rainy afternoon.
Especially if you’d planned on doing one of the Skellig Boat Tours and it was cancelled. There’s also a craft shop and café with sea views at the centre to enjoy.
8. Cosy pubs in Knightstown
Knightstown is the main town on Valentia Island and one of the few “planned” villages in the country. It was built in the 1840s, with some of the original buildings from the time adding to the character of the town.
Of course, an evening tucked away in a pub is never a bad idea and The Royal Hotel in Knightstown is just the place you want to be. It has a great pub atmosphere and fantastic food and drinks.
9. The Heritage Centre
For just a few euros each, you can step back in time at the island’s Heritage Centre in Knightstown.
This village museum is housed inside an old schoolhouse and includes exhibitions on the evolution of the island through time.
It specifically includes exhibitions on marine life and the Transatlantic Cable built on the island. It’s the perfect place to start your trip on the island.
This is another good option for those of you looking for things to do on Valentia Island when the weather is acting up.
10. Valentia Slate Quarry tours
The Slate Quarry has been a working quarry since it first opened in 1816. It’s most well-known for its quality slate that has found its way into the Paris Opera House, London’s House of Parliament and billiard tables for the royal family.
The quarry is also home to a beautiful grotto that has been built into the face of the quarry. It’s since become a popular stop on the tourist trail on the island.
The quarrying chambers here are an impressive sight and tours offer an insight into these old work spaces and show how the quarry functioned in the mid 19th century.
11. The Tetrapod Trackway
There’s plenty of things to do on Valentia Island for history buffs, but few compare to the Tetrapod Trackway.
The imprints here are thought to date back as far as 350 million years ago and are renowned internationally for their significance.
They are the oldest reliably dated evidence of four legged amphibians moving over land and transitioning from water to earth.
You can visit the imprints at the northern edge of the island via a pathway down to the rocks.
If you’re in search of things to do on Valentia Island with friends, this should tickle your fancy!
No matter what kind of water sport you want to try, Valentia Island has options for everyone.
During summer, Valentia Island Sea Sports in Knightstown have summer camps, sailing courses, teen adventures, kayaking, rock climbing and water trampolines to try for people of all ages.
13. The Altazamuth Walk
The Altazamuth walk takes you from the replica Altazamuth Stone on Jane Street in Knightstown to Cracow park and down to the coast adjacent to the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The story around the stone is that the original version was placed there to mark the spot where a ground-breaking experiment took place in 1862 to confirm the lines of longitude that had been measured in 1844.
While the original was battered by weather, the town created the replica so everyone could visit and learn about the important role the island played in history.
Valentia Island Hotels and Accommodation
Although we’ve a dedicated Valentia Island accommodation guide, you’ll find a quick overview of what’s on offer below.
Note: if you book a stay through one of the links below we may make a small commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
There’s only one hotel on the island, the Royal Valentia Hotel. It’s a good one though, with a great pub atmosphere and polished rooms. It’s perfectly located right in the middle of Knightstown and a three-minute walk from the ferry.
2. Guesthouses and B&Bs
There’s plenty of guesthouses and B&Bs which are great alternatives to the hotel. From cosy cabins to larger homes, there’s options for different people. If you want some suggestions, try:
You can even enjoy camping on the island. The Valentia Island Caravan and Camping Park has pitches for tents, motorhomes and caravans. They have excellent facilities with toilets and showers, laundry facilities, a kitchen area, play areas for the kids and dog-friendly policies.
Valentia Island pubs and restaurants
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 Valentia Island in Ireland is small, it packs a punch pub wise. Below, you’ll find our favourite places to eat and drink.
1. Boston’s Bar
This is a traditional Irish pub in Knightstown and one of the best places to grab a meal and a pint. From pizza to seafood, the menu has some great options and they’re known to serve one of the best pints on the island.
2. The Coffee Dock
If you’re after some coffee and a cake, you can head to this little spot on the seafront in Knightstown. You can watch as the ferry passes by and people try their hand at water sports while you sip on your morning cup. They’re open from June until to September each year.
3. The Ring Lyne
In Chapeltown, this family-run bar and restaurant is a popular place with both locals and visitors alike. You can grab a traditional Irish meal and a pint from the welcoming staff at this great spot in the middle of the island.
FAQs about what to do on Valentia Island In Kerry
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How do you reach the island?’ to ‘What is there to do?’.
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.