County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most picturesque counties. With rolling hills that rise to form some of Ireland’s highest mountains that give way to unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean, Kerry is deservedly high on the list of Ireland’s top tourist destinations.
The county motto in Kerry is “Comhar, Cabhair, Cairdeas,” which means “Cooperation, Help, and Friendship,” so no matter what you get up to, you’re sure to find friendly locals and travelers alike always willing to share their tips. For ours, scroll down and keep reading!
TAKE A TOUR ON A JAUNTING CAR
The town of Killarney is one of the few places in Ireland where you can travel like a 19th century sightseer. Known for their jaunting cars, or horse and carriages, and the jarvies who drive them, Killarney purposefully slows the pace on your travels way down. Taking a traditional jaunting car is this is one of the best ways to see the city. The drivers are tour guides, historians, anthropologists, and comedians all in one and they seem to never run out of stories to tell the eager visitor.
DRIVE THE SCENIC RING OF KERRY
One of the premier driving routes in the country, the Ring of Kerry is a 111 mile circular route through mountain passes, forests and white sand beaches on Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula. It’s one of the best ways to see the varied scenery in the county and allows for frequent pit stops, which you should absolutely make to take in the marvelous views.
SPEND A DAY LOUNGING AT THE BEACH
Inch Beach is a 3 mile long sand spit jutting into Dingle Bay offering magnificent views of both the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. A blue flag beach, it is renowned for its fine yellow sand and is popular among surfers, anglers, and swimmers.
ENTER THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE
Take a boat to the rugged Skellig Islands and you’ll be instantly transported to Luke Skywalker’s home in exile in the current trilogy. Once a remote outpost for Irish monks, the largest of the Skellig Islands, Skellig Michael, offers a vertiginous hike up what appears at first to be a sheer cliff face to the ruins of the monks’ small settlement, used as the home of the Jedi master The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
CROWN A GOAT KING
Every August, the small town of Killorglin holds the Puck Fair, a 400-year-old tradition in which a mountain goat is crowned king. The festival annually draws tens of thousands of visitors and, though only formalized in the 17th century, has its origins in the traditional harvest festival. The goat (poc in Irish, from where the festival gets its name) was a pagan symbol of fertility, and the crowning of him king was meant to augur a good harvest.
VISIT THE SOUTH POLE
One of the world’s greatest Antarctic explorers was born in Annascaul, County Kerry. Tom Crean was part of the team of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who led the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions to the South Pole in 1901 and 1910 respectively. In 1914, he was one of only three survivors of the Endurance Expedition. When he returned to his home county, he retired from exploration but not before capitalizing on his reputation by opening The South Pole Inn, which is today filled with his memorabilia.
CLIMB IRELAND’S HIGHEST PEAK
Rising to 3,409 feet above sea level, Carrauntoohil is the highest point in Ireland. Located inland in the MacGillycuddy Reeks range, on a clear day, a hike to the top can offer views all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. But even foggy days are a wonder, as the clouds drop over the mountain creating an ethereal view. The hike is less strenuous than you might expect, and can be accomplished in a day trip from one of the many wonderful inns and B&Bs around the area.
Did we leave off your favorite Kerry destination? Have more recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments below!