If you’re debating staying in Waterville in Kerry, you’ve landed in the right place.
A gorgeous little town located in County Kerry, Waterville has been a fixture on the Irish tourism circuit for centuries thanks to its prime waterfront location.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Waterville in Kerry to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need to knows about Waterville In Kerry
Although a visit to Waterville in Kerry is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Waterville is located on the stunning Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry. The town is located on a narrow isthmus, with Lough Currane on the east side of the town, and Ballinskelligs Bay on the west.
2. The Name
The town’s name in Irish is Coireán, which means “little cauldron” or “little whirlpool”, and it is a reference to the shape of Ballinskelligs Bay near where the town is located.
3. The Charlie Chaplin link
Charlie Chaplin visited Waterville with his family in 1959. For over ten years, the family continued to return to the town for their holiday. The local community embraced the connection to Chaplin and, with permission from the Charlie Chaplin estate, launched the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in 2011.
Things to do in Waterville (and nearby)
So, we’ve a dedicated guide to the various things to do in Waterville (as there’s plenty!), but I’ll give you a taste of our favourites.
Below, you’ll find everything from walks and hikes to incredible nearby attractions.
1. Kick start your visit with a ramble along Waterville Beach
Waterville Beach is historically known as Coirean, referring to the shape of the nearby bay. A walk along the promenade near the seafront is a fine way to kick-start your visit.
Indeed, if you would like to keep going, you can head down to Reenroe or Ballinskellig. For those wanting even more, you can then go on to walk along the cliff toward the Waterville Golf Links.
2. Keep an eye out for the statues
Waterville is home to two very well-known statues. The first and perhaps best known of the two celebrates Charlie Chaplin, the legendary comic who used to holiday in the town through the 1960s along with his family.
The second statue in Waterville celebrates Mick O’Dwyer, the man widely considered to be the greatest manager in the history of Gaelic Football.
Famous in the area, O’Dwyer is celebrated with a statue on the promenade showing the man in action ball-in-hand.
3. Plan your trip around the comedy festival
The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival is Waterville’s marquee creative arts event and takes place over four days in late August every year.
The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival includes screenings, workshops, street entertainment, a lookalike contest and a parade.
Truly a unique way to enjoy Waterville and its rich culture, the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival is a special addition to the town’s yearly calendar and attracts guests from across the nation.
4. Take a tour of the brewery
McGill’s Brewery is a beloved spot in Waterville and fans of craft beer in the town should pay this microbrewery a visit.
McGill’s Brewery was founded by Joe McGill and is located in the Gaeltacht Irish-speaking region of Murreigh, Waterville. Indeed, this is the first microbrewery on the Iveragh Peninsula.
McGill’s beers are made to the top standards and each one is special to the area of South Kerry. The beers are imbued with the spirit of local heroes, culture and history, whilst the small brewery handcrafts beers with real care.
5. Head for a hike
Situated close to both the sea shore and the stunning mountains, Waterville provides plenty of unusual routes for walking and even hill climbing.
There are walks taking in the town and its surrounds, others that spread out into the surrounding foothills and beyond.
The countryside of County Kerry is legendary and Waterville is a famously amazing spot to base oneself to explore it. With the benefits of a chic town and seaside locale, access to verdant and mountainous landscapes is also easily available.
6. Take a boat to the Skelligs
For those who want to head to the Skellig islands, the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, close to Waterville, it is worth getting up nice and early. Just 12 kms off the coast of County Kerry, the islands are only accessible using a charter boat.
Highlights of a trip here include seeing the beautiful Skellig Michael, complete with its monastic settlement.
Then there is Little Skellig, which is easily seen from the main island with its stunning birdlife including puffins, razorbills and more. For those who prefer plantlife, a visit here is unmissable with the islands’ unique, rare flora.
7. Drive the Skellig Ring
The iconic form of Skellig Michael is almost always visible from the route, with the rare birds and monastery lending it a unique character.
Another glorious place to visit is the Kerry Cliffs. There’s a car park out front and it’s a short walk to the viewing point in the photo above.
9. Head for a saunter along Derrynane Beach
Derrynane Beach is a stunning and lengthy beach located in Derrynane Bay. Situated close to Derrynane House, you can follow the directions for Derrynane House and will then see signals for Derrynane Beach.
The nearby village of Caherdaniel is situated just two miles north west of the beach and sits on the Ring of Kerry.
Shielded, and backed by soaring dunes, the beach here is soft with white sand & the ruins of a medieval church sit on Abbey Island.
Now, although we’ve a Waterville accommodation guide, I’ll take you through some of our favourite spots to stay below!
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. Butler Arms Hotel
The Butler Arms is located opposite the beach in Ballinskelligs Bay near Waterville. The hotel offers sweeping vistas of the Atlantic and provides large rooms, a quality seafood restaurant and free parking.
Rooms here are stylishly appointed, with private bathrooms with baths and showers. Rooms also offer satellite TVs and seating areas, ideal to relax after a long day.
2. The Old Cable Historic House
With views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside this special spot provides bright, spacious rooms with Wi-Fi.
Free parking is available and a delicious cooked Irish breakfast is available in addition to a continental breakfast.
3. The Smugglers Inn
The Smugglers Inn looks across the lovely beach at Ballinskelligs Bay. The majority of rooms offer sea or mountain views and the hotel includes a bar, a restaurant, free WiFi and free parking.
Rooms at The Smuggler’s Inn offer gorgeous decor, en-suite bathrooms, TVs and hairdryers. Tea and coffee making facilities are on offer for all guests in the room.
Waterville pubs and restaurants
Again, we’ve a Waterville restaurants guide if you want to see everything the town has to offer, but we’ll give you a taste of our favourite places to eat and drink below!
1. An Corcan Restaurant
if you’re after a fine bit of lunch, get yourself to An Corcan. With breakfasts, sandwiches and plates such as currys, this is a cracking spot for a light lunch.
One of the best things about a visit to An Corcan is the chance to try the delicious homemade soda bread, best taken with plenty of butter!
2. Dooley’s Seafood & Steak House
Offering luxurious fare in a large, refined restaurant, Dooley’s is the spot for a steak and lobster dinner in Waterville.
This is not the place to hold back, with the finest of the menu including a range of steaks cut from local beef, whole lobsters and crab from straight out of the Atlantic Ocean.
3. O’Dwyers the Villa
Rumoured to serve some of the finest Guinness of anywhere in town, O’Dwyers The Villa offers Irish hospitality at its finest.
With a decent menu with a variety of options and a fine pub to tuck yourself away it during the evening, this is a great spot to whittle away a night in Waterville.
4. The Lobster Bar & Restaurant
One of the top spots for food in Waterville, The Lobster Bar & Restaurant is home to some of the finest seafood in town. With chic styling and a refined approach, this is a great restaurant to enjoy a classy night out either with the family, friends or your beloved.
FAQs about visiting Waterville 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 Waterville 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.
Is Waterville worth visiting?
Are there many places to eat in Waterville?
What are the best places to stay in Waterville?
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).