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Waterville In Kerry: Things To Do, Accommodation, Food + Pubs

Waterville In Kerry: Things To Do, Accommodation, Food + Pubs

Waterville in Kerry is one of my favourite towns of Ireland and it makes a great base for the Ring of Kerry.

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.

The town is a great place to base yourself from if you fancy tackling many of the best things to do in Kerry, as it’s a stone’s throw from the Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Ring.

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.

1. Location

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 nearby Ballinskelligs Bay.

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.

4. A Ring of Kerry town

Few Ring of Kerry towns are as scenic as wonderful Waterville. Although it’s a fair distance from the traditional starting point, Killarney, you can easily start and end the route in Waterville.

Things to do in Waterville (and nearby)

Derrynane Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

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’s seaside location is what has been drawing domestic and international tourists alike for many-a-year.

Grab a coffee and head for a saunter along Waterville Beach. As you watch the waves crash, you can soak up (hopefully not literally…) views of headlands, mountains and rugged coastline.

2. Keep an eye out for the statues

charlie chaplin statue

Photo by Art Ward via Ireland’s Content Pool

Waterville is home to two very well-known statues. The first and perhaps best known of the two celebrates Charlie Chaplin, the famous comic who used to holiday in the town through the 1960s with his family.

The second statue celebrates Waterville’s own Mick O’Dwyer – a 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.

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.

4. Take a tour of the brewery

McGill’s Brewery waterville

Photos via McGill’s Brewery on FB

McGill’s Brewery was founded by Joe McGill and it’s the Iveragh Peninsula’s very first micro-brewery.

Visitors to the brewery can sample the handcrafted beers, learn about the local legends, culture and history that inspire each of the beers. You’ll also get an insight into the production.

5. Head for a hike


Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re staying in/near Waterville and you want to explore the area on foot, you’re in for a treat – there’s plenty of trails awaiting your arrival.

Visit Waterville have a great resource that takes you through each of the different trails.

6. Take a boat to the Skelligs

the views when you get the boat to skellig michael

Photos via Shutterstock

If you fancy a trip to see the Skellig islands, the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll want to book well in advance.

You can visit on one of two tours – a landing tour (you’ll be dropped off at Skellig Michael) and an Eco tour (you’ll sail around both islands). 

Trips to the islands depart from Portmagee, Knightstown and Derrynane.

7. Drive the Skellig Ring


Photos by The Irish Road Trip

A stunning 18km route linking Portmagee, Valentia Island and Waterville via Ballinskelligs, the Skellig Ring is a wild, rugged and unspoiled area of natural beauty.

The now-iconic form of Skellig Michael visible from many points along the route and there’s plenty to see and do along the way.

One of the stand-out attractions are the 1,000-feet-high Kerry Cliffs.

9. Head for a saunter along Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Derrynane Beach is a beaut of a beach located in Derrynane Bay. One of the Ring of Kerry highlights, it’s situated close to Derrynane House.

When you arrive, flick off your shoes and socks and head for a saunter along the sand. As you stroll, keep an eye out for the ruins of the medieval church on Abbey Island.

Now, a warning – although the water here looks inviting, certain sections are no-swim zones, so keep an eye out for the signs.

Waterville accommodation

the butler arms

Photos via the Butler Arms

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 one of our favourite Ring of Kerry hotels. 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.

Check prices + see photos here

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.

Check prices + see photos here

3. The Smugglers Inn

The Smugglers Inn looks across the 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 are finely decked out with everything you need for a night by the sea.

Check prices + see photos here

Waterville pubs and restaurants


Photos via Dooley’s on FB

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. Dooley’s Seafood & Steak House

Offering tasty fare in a large, refined restaurant, Dooley’s is the spot for a steak and lobster dinner in Waterville.

The menu features a range of steaks from local beef, whole lobsters and crab straight from the Atlantic.

3. O’Dwyers the Villa

O’Dwyers The Villa is one of the more popular spots in the town for a bite or/and a pint.

There’s a decent menu here with a variety of dishes on offer. It’s also a fine pub to tuck yourself away it during the evening for a post-adventure pint.

3. The Lobster Bar & Restaurant

Another good spot for food in Waterville is The Lobster Bar & Restaurant, situated right across from the water.

Menu wise, expect everything from deep fried calamari and seafood chowder to cajun chicken burgers, stews and vegan options.

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?

Yes! Waterville is a fine little town to stop off in for food if you’re driving the Skellig Ring. It also makes a great base for exploring this corner of Kerry.

Are there many places to eat in Waterville?

Yes – you’ve a mix of everything from cheap and tasty eats to more formal places to grab a feed. Our favourites are the Villa and Dooley’s.

What are the best places to stay in Waterville?

The Old Cable Historic House, The Smugglers Inn, Lough Currane Holiday Homes and Butler Arms Hotel are all good options.

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