I had the privilege of traveling with my husband and his parents to southwestern Ireland during the first week of August. It was the perfect escape from the hot German summer! We flew into Kerry Airport (which happens to be one of the smallest airport I’ve ever been to) and conveniently picked up our much needed rental car within 25 minutes of walking off the plane.
We spent 3 nights at the Heights Hotel in Killarney. This location was super central for the itinerary we had planned — and we loved that a full breakfast spread was included and they also had a lovely restaurant on site.
After getting checked in to our hotel we were off to explore Ireland’s oldest park, Killarney National Park — which spans 25,000 acres!
The main highlights were: Tore Waterfall (5 minute walk), Ladies View (expansive view 1 km from park’s southern exit), and the Muckross House (recommend taking a tour),
For the rest of the evening we explored downtown Killarney — and grabbed dinner at a traditional Irish pub, The Porterhouse Gastropub.
Day 2 was our longest day — tackling the Ring of Kerry. For the most part, we followed Rick Steves’ itinerary — just making a few adjustments a long the way.
We left Killarney by 8:30, driving clockwise to miss traffic. Our first stop was the quaint town of Sneem, where we did a little bit of shopping. Not long after Sneem, we stopped at Castle Cove and checked out the beautiful views of the beach.
Staigue Ring Fort was up next. This fort is the oldest in all of Ireland — thought to be constructed 300-400 AD. We had fun playing around on this historic monument!
Waterville is the next town we encountered. We originally planned to stop for tea and scones but the restaurant was closed to we decided to push on to Portmagee.
We took Skellig Ring Road to Portmagee — where we enjoyed lunch at Fisherman’s Bar. All of their fresh fish plates were delicious!
After lunch we followed the signs that read “Best View in County Kerry” to Kerry Cliffs. Once you find the parking lot, you must pay 4€/person to walk out to the edge of the cliffs — and it’s absolutely worth it!
You really will have the “best view” overlooking the Kerry Cliffs. On a clear day, you will be able to see Skellig Michael — the island where last scene of The Force Awakens was filmed. The island is 700 ft tall and a mile across and was first inhabited by 6th century monks. If you’re a big Star Wars fan you might want to take a boat out to it! (Weather permitting.)
After leaving Portmagee, we drove to Knightstown where we hoped on a ferry (8€ per car) to circle back around to Killarney. The only other stop we made was at Ballcarbery Castle, but we were disappointed to find out you can’t go on the property.
Later that evening, we found ourselves back in Killarney for dinner. This time we tried out a more modern Irish bar, Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder, and we were not disappointed! Highly recommend combination of the sliders!
Our last full day in Kerry County was probably my favorite. We started by driving through the Gap of Dunloe — which is a very narrow drive through the mountains!
Although I was 8 weeks pregnant and felt a bit car sick on these winding roads, we all really enjoyed this stunning drive. We encountered beautiful streams, bridges, and of course, lots of sheep and goats!
Once we made it to the other side of the mountain, we back tracked up to the Dingle Peninsula. If this seems inefficient — it’s because we added the Gap of Dunloe to our itinerary the night before (and had zero regrets!)
Inch Beach and Minard Castle are both popular stops on the way to Dingle. We didn’t stop at either due to the weather.
Dingle is definitely a worthwhile stop in southerwestern Ireland. We checked out the Dingle Harbour, shopped around, and had fresh fish and chips for lunch from Reel Dingle Fish Co.
FYI: Reel Dingle Fish Co. is take out only. We grabbed drinks at the grocery store next door and ate at their outdoor picnic tables.
After lunch, Murphy’s Ice Cream is a must! It’s so good that there are two locations within Dingle!
Leaving Dingle, we took Slea Head Drive back towards Killarney.
We stopped at Gallarus Oratory and took a tour of the early Christian stone church.
Our final stop of the day was Fermoyle Strand — a wide open beach towards Tralee. Although it wasn’t exactly beach weather, we had fun driving out on the beach and watching the waves crash for a little while.
After 3 full days, we were almost to the point of exhaustion and decided to grab dinner at our hotel. After spending so much time in the car, having a decent restaurant option just a couples floors away from our room felt like such a luxury!
On our last morning we finally drove south to Kenmare. Once again, this was a little bit out of our way for a town that we had been a lot closer to at other points of the trip — but sometimes the weather forces you to rearrange plans!
In Kenmare, we enjoyed a slow, rainy morning of shopping before grabbing lunch at Jam (a cafe on steroids – ha!)
Ideally, we would have spent a little bit more time exploring Kenmare … but we had an afternoon flight to catch! 😉
Kerry County, Ireland is one of the most breathtaking areas of the world I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend making this trip (and if possible, staying longer than 3 days!)! As always, let me know if you have any questions.