Choose from 35 Fun Things to Do in South West Ireland
- A one-way walk along the length of the pass, from Kate Kearney’s Cottage to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, typically takes about 2.5 hours.
- Wear comfortable footwear and bring rain gear in case of showers.
- Choose to end your tour on a high note by adding an optional boat ride across the Lakes of Killarney.
- Cobh Heritage Centre is a must for history buffs and anyone with an interest in Irish emigration.
- The center houses a café that sells hot and cold drinks, hot meals, sandwiches, and more.
- Free Wi-Fi is available at the center.
- The center is wheelchair accessible.
- The English Market is a must for foodies.
- Bring along cash as not all traders accept credit cards.
- The market is wheelchair accessible via level entrances on Princes Street and Grand Parade.
- There is a sit-down café at the market, as well as several takeaway spots selling sandwiches and prepared foods.
- Derrynane House is a must-see for Irish history buffs and families, who will enjoy the trails in the surrounding parkland.
- Guided tours for groups of up to 25 people are available.
- A tearoom at the house is open from Easter through September.
- Derrynane House is wheelchair accessible.
- Charles Fort is a must for families, with lots of open space for kids to run around.
- Wear sturdy, waterproof footwear, as some surfaces are uneven and weather is always changeable.
- Restrooms and a tearoom are situated at the fort.
- The exhibition center is wheelchair-accessible, though the fort itself is only partially accessible.
- If you are afraid of heights, kissing the Blarney Stone may not be for you, as there is a long drop below it.
- The stone is located on the castle’s roofless battlements, where visitors are exposed to the elements. Bring rain gear and sunscreen so you aren’t caught off guard by the weather.
- The Blarney Stone is only accessible via a steep, spiral staircase.
The Uragh Stone Circle, a neolithic stone circle with some stones reaching almost 10 feet tall, is also located along this journey. A few islands are located just off the coast of the peninsula. One in particular is Dursey Island which is reachable by cable car. Healy Pass offers the best viewing point on the Beara Peninsula. A rock tunnel called Caha Pass connects Kenmare to Glengarriff in Cork County. There is also a 122 mile walking trail for those who would rather take it slowly and see the area on foot.
Here on Aghadoe Hill stand the ruins of the 12th century Aghadoe Church and Round Tower. There was a monastery on the site since the 7th century, however, founded by St Finian Lobhar, and no wonder as the views are sublime and perfect for a life of contemplation. There are lakes and at night the town lights of Killarney twinkle, alongside the flood lights of Ross Castle in the distance, although that is a bit more recent dating from the 15th century! To appreciate the landscape, you'll find a few benches nearby so bring a picnic.
Although ruined, there is still plenty to see of interest at Aghadoe Church. The Romanesque door is well-preserved, there is a carved crucifixion scene on another sandstone block, two ca rved faces on the eastern window, and an Ogham Stone - carved writings in the ancient Celtic language. Not much is left of the Round Tower. It is really just a small stump of the sandstone building standing in an old cemetery.
Not far north-west of Killarney (2 miles / 3.2 km), the ruined church and tower are close to the Aghadoe Heights Hotel. You can park in a carpark just before the hotel and walk across to the church.
- Cahergall Fort is a must for history buffs and those traveling with children, who will enjoy running around the open ruins.
- Bring a camera to capture images of the surrounding countryside from atop the fort’s walls.
- Wear sturdy, waterproof shoes so you can easily navigate the uneven stone steps, even in changeable weather.
Explore southern Ireland on a road trip along the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile (180-km) scenic route of narrow roads winding around the Iveragh Peninsula. As you cruise along the Atlantic Coast on this mountain road through Kells, Derrynane, and Glenbeigh, you’ll find a number of impressive sights.
Most travelers start and end the loop in Killarney and make stops all around County Kerry to see historic seaside villages, Killarney National Park, the rugged Atlantic coast, and a few Irish castles. Many tours depart from other Ring of Kerry towns such as Sneem, Parknasilla, Cahersiveen, and Killorglin, the home of the famous Puck Fair festivities, but if you need transportation to southern Ireland from elsewhere in the country, Ring of Kerry day tours are offered with starting points in Dublin, Kenmare, Cork, Limerick, and Kinsale.
Things to Know Before You Go
- As with many ring roads, there is little room to pass at some points. It’s good to note that all tour buses travel counterclockwise from Killarney and that self-driving travelers can head clockwise for less traffic.
What to See Along the Ring of Kerry
From Ross Castle and Muckross House to Torc Waterfall, Bog Village, and the glacial valley of the Gap of Dunloe, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled and your camera out. The ring also passes the golden beaches of Inch Beach, the Lakes of Killarney, the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains, Ladies View, and Dingle Bay looking out to the Dingle Peninsula. The coastal side of the loop offers a taste of the Wild Atlantic Way, and in County Kerry’s Waterville, visitors tend to stop for photos with the waterfront Charlie Chaplin statue.
How to Tour the Ring of Kerry from Dublin
The Ring of Kerry loop is one of the most popular day trips available from Dublin, as WiFi-equipped coach tours make it easy to see dozens of sights in one day. Bus tours depart from a main street in Dublin city center and head out on a four-hour drive 185 miles (300 km) southwest to then embark on the 110-mile (180-km) loop. Day trips tend to be quite long (upwards of 14 hours) due to all the driving. If a single day isn’t enough, multi-day tours include accommodation and allow you to see more at a slower pace. The ring can also be reached from Dublin on a rail tour, during which travelers take a train to Killarney and then hop on a coach bus to ride the ring.
Starting from Dingle Town, the road rises 1,500 feet as it approaches the pass. There is a parking lot at the highest point where you can stop and admire the views of the coast. Then as you continue along the road, you will pass Brandon Bay and more cliffs, waterfalls, and lakes. The road also crosses the Brandon Mountains with Ireland's second highest peak, Brandon Mountain at 3,217 feet tall. The road is usually open all year but can be closed during winter months due to weather or if the snow has not been cleared.
- Though Dingle is part of an Irish-speaking area known as a Gaeltacht, English is widely spoken.
- Like most of County Kerry and Ireland as a whole, Dingle’s weather can be unpredictable, so rain gear is a must.
- Book a boat tour from Dingle during summer and you might spot killer whales, minke whales, or even humpback whales, all in addition to several species of dolphin.
- Bring a camera; the romantic ruins make an excellent photo opportunity.
- Viewing is from the roadside; wear comfortable shoes and rain gear.
- Respect the signs on the fence barring public admission and do not attempt to cross beyond them.
- Cobh Cathedral is a must for amateur photographers, offering an excellent vantage point over Cork Harbour.
- Cobh Cathedral is still a functioning house of worship, so be respectfully quiet during your visit..
- The cathedral is wheelchair-accessible via a ramped entrance.