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Things To Do In County Kerry
County Kerry, situated in the south-western part of Ireland, is renowned all over the world for its spectacular scenery, it’s exciting beaches and fascinating heritage. Visitors to the county can indulge in pursuing a variety of adventurous activities here, drive through the Ring of Kerry and explore fascinating towns like Killarney and Dingle. Kerry is also packed with numerous festivals throughout the year that will keep you entertained no matter when you visit. Climb the tallest mountain in Ireland and enjoy splendid views, go hillwalking in the Dingle Peninsula and spend your nights at the many pubs here. Read on to know more about the top things to do in County Kerry.
Drive through the Ring of Kerry
Driving through the Ring of Kerry is something of a rite of passage when you visit the county. Often touted as one of the most picturesque driving routes in the entire world, the roads are frequently travelled by not just the tourists but also the locals. This 180 km circular drive consists of castles, museums, chapels, villages and parks worth exploring along the way. The route begins in Killarney, extending to Kenmare and around the Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin, before ending back in Killarney. The Kerry Way is an established walking trail here that follows the Ring of Kerry, along with an official bicycle route for cycling enthusiasts.
Bird Watching on Skellig Michael
Skelling Michael, also known as Great Skellig, is one of two rocky islands in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 10 km off the coast of County Kerry and rising up 230 metres out of the ocean. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the history associated with the island dates back to more than a thousand years. The island used to be home to monks who lived here in an ancient monastery sometime between the 6th and 8th-century. The monastery was abandoned around the 12th-century, but its remains still stand today and attract visitors to the island every year. The months between April to August are a bird watcher’s treat, with the Atlantic Puffins, in particular, making an appearance in thousands of numbers. Other birds to watch out for are the fulmars, the gannet, the Arctic tern, and the cormorant.
Go Camping in Valentia Island
While there are plenty of campsites and wild spots overlooking the ocean to explore whilst camping here, one of the best locations to do so is Valentia Island. It is connected to the mainland through the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge situated at Portmagee. At the island, campers get to sleep under the dark night sky while stargazing into infinite space and waking up to spectacular views of the Skelligs. The Valentia Island Camping & Caravan Park can be an ideal recluse for those who are sceptical of camping in the wild. You’ll also find a number of events and festivals in the area for entertainment, especially during the summers.
Visit Ireland’s Most Westerly Point
Situated in the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry, Dunmore Head is the westernmost point of mainland Ireland, and one of the most westerly points of also Europe. The location is wildly rugged yet naturally beautiful, and you can spend your time here simply admiring your surroundings, capturing memorable moments in your camera or enjoying a book to relax and read amongst nature. Hiking enthusiasts can embark on the 2.6 km trail of the Dunmore Head Loop, which is best explored between May to September, for nature walks and bird watching. A reminder of Ireland’s ancient pagan ancestry is the Ogham Stone, which was discovered in 1838 and serves as the highest point in Dunmore Head.
Attend a Local Festival
Kerry is constantly brimming with quirky festivals, especially during the summers. It is a great way to grab a taste of Irish culture and interact with the locals as you get a first-hand experience of these festivals. One of the most chaotic events takes place at the Puck Fair in Killorglin where a goat is crowned king of the festival, followed by typical Irish style mayhem. Another one is the Rose of Tralee, which is essentially a competition for girls who are rated on their skill set and personality traits instead of their appearance. The girls should be of Irish heritage and the competition is watched by the entire nation. Horse-racing is big in Kerry and can be enjoyed in a number of towns across the county. Don’t forget to check out the many food and wine festivals that take place all through the summers as well at various points across Kerry.
Spend a Night Star-Gazing
Not many people know that Kerry is one of the best places in the northern hemisphere to indulge in a night of stargazing. The sky is free from light pollution and gets so wonderfully dark in the night the stargazers can enjoy a beautiful view of countless stars in the sky. The county has even set up a special Dark Sky Reserve stretching between Caherdaniel and Kells Bay. On clear nights, the stars light up the entire sky and on occasions, you may even be able to photograph the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxy without needing any form of astronomical equipment.
Spend an Afternoon on Inch Beach
The stunning Inch Beach, contrary to its name, stretches for miles and is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon stroll. With beautiful yellow sand spread on the rugged Dingle Peninsula, it is one of the most splendid coastlines in Ireland where you can also try your hand at surfing; definitely an experience you will never forget. Even if you are new to surfing and would like to try your hand at the sport, there are surf lessons available for beginners here along with week-long surf camps offered by the local Offshore Surf School.
Climb Ireland’s Highest Mountain
Hiking and trekking are some of the best ways to spend your time in County Kerry. If you are an experienced hiker, a must-visit in Kerry is the majestic Carrauntoohil. Carrauntoohil is the highest peak in Ireland, atop which trekkers can enjoy fantastic views of the countryside along with Mt. Cahir and Mc Gillycuddy reeks. It is advised not to embark on this journey alone though. Travellers have the option of joining a tour with a local guide; a recommended one in the region is Kerry Climbing.
Swim with Fungie the Dolphin
Fungie the Dolphin can easily be described as Ireland’s friendliest and most famous dolphin. The adorable creature is the pride of Dingle harbour and has been the chief attraction for tourists in this picturesque town. Visitors can catch a trip out to the harbour by getting a tour guide or simply accompanying one of the local fishermen. Fungie the Dolphin can often be seen swimming alongside their boats, and just a single sighting of Fungie can make your entire trip to Dingle totally worth it.
Explore Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is the oldest national park in Ireland. A number of County Kerry’s top attractions are part of the national park, one of the top ones being the Muckross House. The only population of red deer in Ireland can also be found right here in the park, which has been a focus of conservation after being declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. Accommodation is available in the park and visitors can indulge in various activities on their stays here like hiking and nature walks, boating on the many lakes, riding a horse-drawn carriage and sightseeing through the numerous attractions and diverse wildlife that call the Killarney National Park home.