A local's guide to Kerry. Kerry has something to offer to everyone, whether you’re interested in Irish pubs and music, the sea, the mountains or luxury spas. We have it all!
Highs & Lows
Sunrise hike to Carrauntoohil
The weather is very changeable and you can never guarantee a good time of the year to visit
I have grown up in Kerry but it was only after I moved away and travelled that I learnt to appreciate what we have on our doorstep. It is a very popular tourist destination but there are plenty of options to avoid the busy crowds and areas. I love a bit of an adventure so this guide will focus on getting out and about, despite the weather
illarney is a great place to base yourself for a few days in Kerry. There are plenty of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as sites such as Torc waterfall and the Ring of Kerry Drive which can be done from here. Carrauntoohil is irelands highest peak but still only 1,038m so it’s accessible to anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. You can do this walk with a guide or independently. One of my favourite experiences of this hike was an overnight camp trip for a sunrise. It’s probably best to do this during the summer or autumn when night temperatures aren’t that low and the days aren’t very short. We packed our bags and started from Lisleibane car park (Cronin’s yard car park is another option). And hiked up to the top of the Devil’s ladder where we set up camp. We got up 1-2 hrs (depending on how fast you walk) to reach the summit before sunrise. There was an amazing sunrise that was made even special by a cloud inversion! Good apps for trails are AllTrails or Outdoor Active and a good website to check the forecast is https://www.mountain-forecast.com. The easiest self guided route is up via The Devil’s ladder and down via the Zig Zags but I recommend you to do your own research of course!
The Slea Head drive beyond Dingle is one of my favourite places to go in Kerry. Start off your trip from Killarney by getting a breakfast roll from the deli in one of the shops, a very Irish food that has cured many hangovers over the years! Stop off in Inch beach to stretch your legs or go for a quick swim in the Atlantic Ocean. There’s also the chance to get a surf lesson or rent equipment if the waves are looking good. Continue on to Dingle town and spend the night here. You can enjoy some seafood and live Irish music in the pubs, Dick Mack’s is a very popular one. The next morning you can choose to go on a Dingle Sea safari to see some dolphins and whales if you’re looking or you can rent kayaks and explore the bay yourself. Continue on to slea head and take in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic. Coumeenole beach is a nice place to stop and walk out to the headland to get a great view of the Blasket islands. The Sleeping Giant (an Fear Marbh) as the name suggests, looks like a sleeping man! Wild camping is frowned upon in some places by locals but if the tides are low, you can try camping on Coumeenole beach or some of the grassy patches on the headland. If camping isn’t your thing, continue along the drive which will bring you back into Dingle town!
Q & A
What would you have changed?Started the drive around Slea Head earlier to avoid crowds and traffic
Anything go wrong during the trip?A lot of rain showers in the area but when the weather clears, it’s good to explore
Restaurant recommendations?The fish box in Dingle does really good fresh seafood
Tips you would give a friend?Bring lots of warm clothes if camping, it gets pretty cold at night
Packing tips?Travel with a tent if you can, ireland does not have a lot of budget friendly accommodation so this can not only save you money but you can wake up to amazing views and have them all to yourself before the other tourists arrive
Transportation Tips?Ideally rent a car, public transport is not well developed in Ireland yet. Especially in rural areas
Any surprises?The cloud inversion on the top of Carrauntoohil was amazing! Definitely worth camping rather than getting up and hiking in the middle of the night
Booking details?Tours tend to be fixed prices but look at reviews to see what would suit you best. If you are not a very confident hiker, use a local guide. If it’s the season for whale migration, you can see a lot of whales on the Dingle Sea Safari if you’re lucky and you will almost definitely see some dolphins