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Kerry, Ireland: 7 must-do outdoor activities

In south-west Ireland, County Kerry is also known as "the Kingdom". From the Iveragh peninsula to Killarney, explore the natural contrasts of the county also known as the Emerald Isle: wild landscapes, winding roads on mountainsides, sandy beaches, exceptional cliffs... Enjoy Ireland's invigorating atmosphere while contemplating breathtaking views. Here are 7 must-do outdoor activities in County Kerry.
Published on May 24, 2024

1. Stroll through Killarney Park to the impressive Torc Waterfall

After landing at Kerry airport, set off to discover south-west Ireland, starting with Killarney National Park. 10,500 hectares of woodland, mountains and lakes stretch from Killarney town to Kenmare. It's one of County Kerry's jewels. The site is famous for having been visited by Queen Victoria in the 19th century.

It's also a park that's home to a wide variety of species. The flora and fauna are preserved in their natural habitat. As such, the site has been classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.

Don't miss Torc Waterfall, an 18-meter-high waterfall in the middle of the forest at the foot of Torc Mountain, one of the Park's largest mountains.

2. Visit the Ladies View to enjoy the same panorama as Queen Victoria.

This viewpoint offers an exceptional panorama. The "Ladies' View" is nicknamed after Queen Victoria. The story goes that the Queen was so taken with the scenery during her visit to Ireland in 1861 that she stopped her carriage to admire the view with her ladies-in-waiting.

This spot has since become the most popular spot in Killarney Park. It offers views of the valley and Upper Lake, with Purple Mountain on one side and Torc Mountain on the other.

3. Ride the Gap of Dunloe in a retro horse-drawn carriage

Another must-see landscape in County Kerry, the Gap of Dunloe is a mountain pass in the heart of Killarney Park. It's the ideal place for a several-kilometre nature hike among mountains and stone bridges.

You can also book a retro horse-drawn carriage tour. This "jaunting car" pulled by an Irish-bred horse will take you back in time to discover the majestic views and magnificent lakes on a private ride.

4. Take a boat to the Skellig Islands and discover the natural setting of Star Wars

The setting for The Force Awakens, Skellig Michael is a wild island in the Skellig Islands archipelago. This Irish UNESCO World Heritage site was home to a community of monks in the 6th century.

Remnants of this medieval Irish era remain, including a monastic village that rises to a height of 218 metres. To get there, you'll have to climb some 600 steps carved out of the rock. Access is seasonal, limited and dependent on weather conditions. Be sure to book booking in advance for your chance to set foot on the ground of this galaxy that hosted the production of Star Wars. As director J. J. Abrams himself says, "I can't believe they let us shoot here - it was so grand.

If you don't want to climb the mountain, you can take a boat trip around the island.

5. Observe the starry sky from Ballinskelligs reserve

To keep your head in the stars, the Ring of Kerry offers you the chance to observe constellations and planets from one of the world's three Gold Tier International Dark Sky Res erves.

The Ballinskelligs reserve is open to the public with no conditions other than the weather. With no light pollution, just let yourself be carried away by the sound of the ocean as you look up at the sky to appreciate its twinkling lights.

6. From the beach to the mountains on the Dingle Peninsula

Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, the world's longest signposted coastal road, the Dingle Peninsula offers a spectacle of crashing waves and majestic cliffs. Drive along the Slea Head Drive, and near Dún Beag, you'll discover medieval stone huts that remind you of Star Wars.

Along this scenic route, stop off at Coumeenoole Beach. This beach mixes craggy rocks with fine sand to surprise you with its turquoise water. Walkers and surfers alike enjoy the scenery.

Go from the beach to the mountains on the Conor Pass, from the town of Dingle to Brandon Bay. The pass rises to a height of 457 metres, with a contrasting natural route around the winding road. Once at the top, it's an obvious place to pause and enjoy the scenery: rocky moors, lush green plains and deep blue lakes.

The Conor Pass route can be explored on foot, by bike or by car, but in this case, opt for a small vehicle to negotiate the twists and turns in the mountain without difficulty.

7. Discover one of Ireland's most beautiful harbours at Dunquin Harbour

It's one of the most beautiful harbours in the whole of Ireland, with its breathtaking view over Great Blasket Island. It's an atypical little harbor, with a winding, sloping entrance protected by geometrically-shaped walls.

Dunquin Harbour sits on a cliffside overlooking the ocean. The bay is exceptional, with its turquoise water and black rocks.