View from halfway up Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry

Things to do in Kerry

Many call Kerry “the Kingdom” of Ireland, and for good reason. Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, lives here, as part of the McGillycuddy Reeks. These mountains look over Killarney National Park, filled with magical lakes and Ireland’s only population of indigenous red deer. Travelling along the Ring of Kerry brings you to sandy dunes and white sand beaches, which on a sunny day could rival any tropical paradise. So, what are you waiting for? Head down to the Kingdom and delight in its natural beauty.


Killarney is a quaint touristy town, and a good place to base yourself in Kerry. There’s lots to do around the town, and a range of restaurants and pubs to choose from. Reidy’s is a lively pub with a big outdoor area, which sometimes has a band or dancers performing. Pop into The Grand afterwards if you want your dose of typical Irish town “clubbing”. 

Killarney National Park

The park encompasses the stunning Killarney Lakes, as well as the Muckross Estate, Kenmare, and Torc Waterfall. Walking through the park you might stumble across some red deer quietly peering at you, before carrying on with their day. It’s a beautiful walk or cycle through Killarney National Park. Stopping off at Muckross House, you can enter the Traditional Farms which show the old way of life in Ireland. Further along, you can walk up to Torc Waterfall, through mystical moss-covered forest. Or take a short boat ride to Innisfallen, a lake with an old monastery on it, in Lough Leane. Soak up the old wisdom of the island and wander through ancient forest.

Muckross Lake (Dundag Beach)

If you’re off on an adventure through Killarney National Park, remember to pack your swimmies! Follow signs to Dundag Beach, and watch the trees open up onto a lakeside beach, nestled between mountains. It’s magic! The lake water is warm (for Ireland) in summer, and swimming amongst the mountains feels like you’re in a movie. 

Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a road route that takes you over the mountains along the Iveragh peninsula, all the way out to the south west tip of Kerry, and back around to Killarney. Passing through fields, valleys, mountainous regions, beaches, and small Irish villages, the scenery is out of this world. Head out to Ladies View to look out upon the three Killarney Lakes, carry on the journey to Kenmare and Sneem, and then to Caherdaniel. In Caherdaniel, stop at Derrynane Beach (detailed below) for an hour, maybe a day, maybe a few days! Continue on the journey to Cahersiveen, another lovely town on the Ring, for some great fish and chips. If you fancy staying for a while, check out The Old Monastery, a Slow Tourism guesthouse focusing on sustainability, and using locally sourced foods for your brekkie! Get back on the road and head through Kells and onto Rossbeigh Strand, where you can go for another swim or surf in the cold but invigorating water. Almost time to go back to Killarney now, so go on to Killorglin (which plays host to Puck Fair – celebrating the king of the goats) and then head home.

Derrynane Beach

I have been to many beaches in my life, and Derrynane Beach is still my favourite. I’m sure that’s tied into happy days as a child making sandcastles, collecting shells, and discovering the curious creatures in rockpools, but even as an adult there’s something special about it. The sound of the wind in the rushes as you walk up to the dunes, the smell of the sand and sea and sun (hopefully), and just as you arrive on the crest of the dunes, the beach spreads itself out before you. Crystal clear blue water sparkles in the bay. Set yourself up on a picnic blanket for the day and go for a cold dip. And don’t forget to check the rock pools!

Behind Derrynane Beach is Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, one of the great figures in modern Irish history. You can take tours of the home and walk through the beautifully landscaped gardens (my Dad’s friend is the head gardener there ha). There’s also a cafe in the House, which is a lovely stop for tea and cake.

Derrynane Beach is close to the village of Caherdaniel, a small but quaint place to stay or have a pint. The Blind Piper pub hosts a traditional band every so often and feels like you’re in reeeeal Ireland.

Gap of Dunloe

If you want to do a shorter circuit on the Ring of Kerry, or add on an extra stop, the Gap of Dunloe is a must. You can drive, walk, cycle, or get a horse and cart through the valley. The Gap is a narrow mountain pass, dividing two mountain ranges: the McGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountains. It is truly breathtaking. Sheep bleat at you as you walk by, the lakes reflect the mountains on either side of you, and the old bridges and walls make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Shout ‘Hello!’ and a thousand hello’s will bounce back at you in an echo (I always thought this was so fun as a kid).

Something quite unique which I recommend is to walk through the Gap of Dunloe and take a boat down through all the lakes, landing at Ross Castle. To do this, pre-book your ticket through Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours, and make sure to give yourself enough time to walk through the Gap (about 2-3 hours). Get dropped off at Kate Kearney’s Cottage (a cute restaurant and pub at one end of the Gap of Dunloe) and walk all the way up to the top. Walk through the Black Valley to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, where you can catch your pre-booked boat. The boat journey is beautiful and peaceful, gliding in between the mountains, and watching deer and other animals in their natural habitat. 


Located on a different peninsula, so not part of the Ring of Kerry, is the colourful town of Dingle. Dingle’s old claim to fame used to be Fungi, the friendly bottlenose dolphin that frequented the waters surrounding the port town. Fungi has been missing for a while… but Dingle still has lots to offer (minus the friendly dolphin). Dunquin Pier has become a popular tourist viewing spot, the winding paths looking out west to the sea. The pubs in Dingle feel like proper old-man pubs, where you can get a pint and also a hammer if you wanted. Dick Mack’s and Foxy John’s are two of the best. During one weekend in December, the town is flooded by people from all over the country for the music festival, Other Voices. Musicians perform in churches, pubs, and other venues while the revellers revel. A trip to Dingle wouldn’t be complete with a scoop or two of Murphy’s ice cream. Brown bread and sea salt are my favourite flavours!

Climb Carrauntoohil

I’ve put this last because not everyone will be up for climbing Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest mountain. It’s not very high, standing at just over 1,000 metres, but the way up is quite a scramble. The Devil’s Ladder, as it’s known, is a very steep climb up scree and rocks that I wouldn’t recommend doing when it’s wet. Other than that, the hike is not too hard. In saying that, our legs were in bits the next day… The path from the carpark is generally flat, and you pass two lakes on the way. Once you get to the Devil’s Ladder, the hard work begins. But if you can get through that, the views from the top are incredible. Going up to the summit just feels like a normal hike, but there is of course an incline and your legs are pretty tired after clambering up the rocks of the Ladder. Making your way down again may not be great if you have vertigo, but I guess you probably wouldn’t be doing the hike anyway if you did…! However, when you reach the bottom, the lake looks sooo inviting. My friend and I hopped in to refresh ourselves afterwards! In total it took me and my friends about 7 hours there and back, which apparently is longer than most, so you could probably do it in less.

Let me know if you’re planning on going to Kerry and what you love about this magnificent county!

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