Ireland is an amazing, beautiful country with many cute little villages sitting between its hills or sprawled over the wild and rustic coastline. One of the most gorgeous counties in Ireland has to be Kerry. This county is known for its rocky and breath-taking coastline with dingle as an un-official capital attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world.
What villages in Kerry are worth a visit and what to do once you are in these villages? I have compiled a list of the 10 most beautiful villages in Kerry, Ireland for you to visit on your nest trip to the Emerald Isle.
Dingle is a very special village in County Kerry, mainly because the village’s most famous resident of Dingle is a dolphin. Fungie lives in the bay of Dingle and loves saying hi to the many tourists heading out on boats to see Dingle’s dolphin.
Dingle is located on the Dingle peninsula on the wild coastal route that follows the entire west coast of Ireland. Dingle is considered to be the pearl of county of Kerry and is situated about 70 kilometers from the nearest larger town of Killarney.
40 years ago, Dingle was no different from many other Irish villages where the residents were mainly concerned with fishing, farming and drinking a pint of Guiness. This was until Fungie the Dolphin turned up in the bay of Dingle and never left. This playful dolphin likes to look for boats to play in the bow waves. Every day scores of boats filled with tourists head out to catch a glimpse of this local legend.
Dingle has fewer than 2000 inhabitants but is well-known and well-loved by tourists due to the many movies and series that had filming locations in the area.
The houses in the center are painted in all colors of the rainbow and there is an old church you can visit for free. Even on a rainy day, Dingle attracts many visitors and tourists.
Another great attraction to visit in Dingle is The Dingle Distillery. This is the first newly opened whiskey distillery in decades, and what now appears to be the start of a revival of Irish whiskey culture. The whiskey is so popular that it can only be found in stores and for sale a few months a year. You can visit the working distillery and hear the remarkable story of the two men who started the distillery and of course taste the whiskey.
What to do in Dingle
- Dingle Ocean world: this is an indoor aquarium with penguins and otters. A great day out with kids and an amazing way to learn more about marine life.
- Dingle Sea Safari: meet Dingle’s most famous inhabitant Fungie and discover the beautiful islands in Dingle bay. See seals from up front and when you are lucky you can even see puffins in summer!
- Pub Crawl: the Dingle locals are very proud of their many beautiful pubs. These local Irish pubs often have live folk music and offer real Irish food!
Where to stay in Dingle
- ($) Rainbow hostel : perfect for backpackers who are in need of a warm shower and want to be in (more or less) walking distance of the Dingle pubs and city centre. Rooms are clean and cosy and some of the cheapest you can get in the Dingle area.
- ($) The Waterfront : Are you looking to stay spot on in the middle of Dingle? This cute little bed and breakfast offers views over the Dingle Marina combined with true Irish hospitality.
- ($) Dingle Benners Hotel : As Dingle’s oldest hotel, this beautiful guesthouse reflects the uniqueness and the history of this beautiful harbour town. The rooms are beautifully designed and have a lot of character. The hotel’s bar is also known for its amazing whiskeys which you can drink in the library by a roaring open fire.
Discover The coastal village of Portmagee
Portmagee is a small village on the coast of County Kerry in the far southwest of Ireland. It does not have much more than 100 inhabitants and is located on the Iveragh Peninsula, or the Ring of Kerry. This is an area with great natural beauty in the form of mountains, hills and rugged coasts. The village is very small but thousands of tourists visit this little village.
In addition to the breath-taking nature just mentioned, it is also the gateway to Valentia Island. In the past you had to go there by boat, but now there is a bridge so that you can reach the island directly by car. You can use a ferry at Reenard Point further north as well. This ferry sails to Knightstown where you can also visit the Valentia Heritage Center where you can learn more about the history of the region.
Portmagee is also the place where you can take a boat trip to the Skellig Islands. They are an important world heritage site and are actually a long way from the coast. You can make a trip along the islands but also there and then it is mainly about Skellig Michael, an extremely rocky island that is interesting in nature but also in history. The rocky islands recently became popular as they were featured in the new Star Wars trilogy as the rock on which Luke Skywalker was living on before Ren found him.
All kinds of birds live on these islands, including the typical puffin, but there is also a 6th century monastic settlement at the top. The summit is over 200 meters high, so it’s a climb along a lot of steps.
Close to Portmagee but then on the island side of the bridge, you can also first take a look at the Skellig Experience. This is a visitor attraction where you can get more information and impressions of these World Heritage Islands of Ireland. On the mainland there are also more places of interest such as Derrynane House and the Kerry Bog Village Museum where you can see beautiful ‘tatched cottages’.
What to do in Portmagee
- Take a Skellig boat tour : Go aboard a little boat to discover the islands featured in the third Star Wars Trilogy and learn everything about the 6th century monastery on top of Skellig Mikael.
- Skellig Experience: in this visitors’ center you will find out everything there is about the region’s history, the Skellig islands and the 6th century Skellig monastery that is perched high upon one of the islands.
- Shop for quaint little gifts: the little village has loads of quaint little shops offering handicrafts and typical coastal decorations.
Where to stay in Portmagee
- ($) M&D Air B&B cottage : This beautiful little cottage in the center of Portmagee is a great place to stay when travelling through Kerry. The Bed and Breakfast has clean and homely decorated rooms, a shared lounge and garden and provides free wifi for all guests.
- ($$) The Moorings Guesthouse & Seafood Restaurant : This guesthouse and seafood restaurant is located in the middle of Portmagee and offers beautiful views over the harbor. The Moorings Guesthouse offers beautiful rooms with modern marble bathrooms and the restaurant serves award-winning seafood.
- ($$$) St Brendan’s, Valentia Island : This beautiful self-catering cottage on one of the most beautiful islands of Ireland offers a tranquil escape from the mainland. Surrounded by fields, moors and water this three bedroom cottage is perfect
hike to The wee village of Caherdaniel
The village is not very much in itself, but this is a wonderful place to stop the car and take a walk. You can walk here through the dunes and the beach. An ideal place to relax and enjoy the beach. The area is also really beautiful and an ideal place to take beautiful pictures of the countryside.
This village is home to the first mines dating back to about 2000 BC in Ireland. It is located on the Iveragh peninsula on the ring of Kerry and offers some of the most beautiful views in Ireland.
What to do in Caherdaniel
- Darrynane house : this stately house was home to Daniel O’Connell, an Irish politician and statesman who brought democracy to Ireland, which has now been converted to a national monument and part of a 320-acre National Park, if you love history, this would intrigue you.
- The Darrynane beach: this white stretch of sand is the perfect place for windy beach walks. You can also visit the old ruins of the abbey overlooking the beach
- Irish Fairy Trails : The Irish Fairy Trails are a great attraction for kids. In the gardens of Darrynane house kids can discover small little houses in the trees where the faeries live.
Where to stay in Caherdaniel
- ($) The Old Cable Historic House & Seafood Restaurant : Although this Guest House is a short drive away from Caherdaniel I wanted to include it as it was one of the only choices for people on a lower budget in the area. This historic house and restaurant provides private and clean rooms. The house plays an important role in Ireland’s technological communication advances as it was where the first transatlantic telegraph cable from Ireland to the USA originated from!
- ($) Seaclusion Luxury Guest Accommadation : 8 Kilometer from Caherdaniel (yes it is far, but yet again, Caherdaniel is small and cottages in Caherdaniel are expensive) Seaclusion Luxury Guest Accomodation offers bright, modern and luxury rooms to its guests. Seaclusion has an amazing view over the sea and the hills in the distance from the shared lounge and some of the rooms. A great place to stay for people who love to hike and want to be near the sea on their trip through Kerry.
- ($$) Kevin’s Cottage : Accomodation in the heart of Caherdaniel does not come cheap. The small little village only counts a handful of houses and renting one of these cottages for a night will set you back at least $400. Sure, cottages often sleep 6 or more, but unless you are travelling with a group of friends or a big family, they might be out of a mere mortal’s reach. Kevin’s cottage in Caherdaniel is a very bright, modern and clean cottage for 6 people. Its proximity to the hills and the sea makes for a perfect hideaway for walkers and hikers.
ExploreThe historical village of Kenmare
The name Kenmare originated from the Anglicized form of Ceann Mara which means head of the sea, referring to the head of Kenmare bay. It is a small town South of County Kerry, Ireland.
This village is known for its great food, colourful houses, affordable and amazing accommodation, golf courses, hiking, and scenic views of the sea and Kerry hills. It is one of the bigger villages on the ring of Kerry and thus attracts many of the tourists and hikers who take on the tour – whether on foot or by car.
What to do in Kenmare
- Visit the Kenmare Stone Circle : Just a short walk from Kenmare city centre you will find this beautiful stone circle with a large wishing tree. To enter the site you pay a small fee of 2 euro which is used to tend to the gardens, the bushes and the trees. When volunteers are present, they are more than happy to take you through the site and tell you about the history of the stone circle.
- Derreen Greens : At the Derreen Greens you can combine your love for botany and hiking as you take the winding paths through the old and exotic plants to the water. Derreen Greens is a park with paths leading up through the water. Many of the plants in the Derreen Greens were brought back by Victorian explorers from the Himalayas.
- Cromwell’s Bridge : Cromwell’s bridge – not named after good old Oliver, by the way – is a hand crafted bridge over a small creek. The bridge was built by Augustin monks in the 11th
Where to stay in Kenmare
- ($) Kenmare Failte Hostel : If you are travelling through Kerry on a budget, the Kenmare Failte Hostel is a great place to stay. This typically Irish house in the centre of Kenmare boasts a beautiful lounge with wood fire and a kitchen where you can cook your own meals. The rooms are bright and clean and some come with a private bathroom.
- ($$) The Happy Pig : Interior design lovers will LOVE staying at the Happy Pig. The rooms of this guest house are all uniquely and beautifully decorated in a modern cottage style. The Happy Pig also boasts great views and many reviews comment on the amazing breakfast.
- ($$$) Park Hotel Kenmare : If you are looking a combination of luxury, true Irish hospitality and amazing views, book a room at the Park Hotel Kenmare. This luxury hotel in Kenmare not only offers large and lavishly decorated rooms, the hotel also serves gourmet food sourced from local farmers. Also have a look at the infinity pool overlooking the valley! Absolutely to die for!
Visit Ballycarbery Castle in Cahersiveen
Cahersiveen is one of the larger towns on the Ring of Kerry. It is also the birthplace of the popular political leader Daniel O’Connell, who argued in the early 19th century for more influence for the Catholic Irish and was therefore called “The Liberator”.
Not too far from Cahersiveen you can visit his former home, Derrynane House, which now houses a museum about the life and career O’Connell.
In Cahersiveen you will find the Daniël O’Connell Memorial Church; it is said that this is the only church in Ireland that is not named after a saint!
Cahersiveen is furthermore a cozy, colorful town and a nice place to stretch your legs. Walk along the ruins of the Old Abbey or the Holy Cross, just behind the main road. Not too far from Cahersiveen you will find the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, a great place to take some panoramic and dramatic snaps of the castle and the surrounding hills. The castle was also featured in the popular romantic comedy Leap Year.
What to do in Cahersiveen
- Ballycarbery castle: Ballycarbey castle sits on a hill and looks out over the surrounding hills and lakes. The castle lies about 3 kilometres from Cahersiveen and makes for a nice and pleasant walk. You can walk between the ruins and discover the history of the McCarthy clan whose home this was. Take a picnic up and eat a sandwich taking in the breathtaking views from the hill and the castle.
- Cahergall Fort : Not too far from Ballycarbery castle you can find Cahergall Fort. This old ruin from 500 ad offers amazing views over the surrounding valleys. From the Cahergall Fort you will also be able to access Laecanabuaile Fort, a twin to Cahergall Fort. History buffs and people with a special love for great vistas should definitely make the trip up the hill!
- Daniel O Connel Memorial Church and Derrynane House : If you are interested in Irish history you should definitely visit the Daniel O Connel Memorial Church and Derrynane House. The Daniel O Connel Memorial Church is the only church in Ireland not named after a saint. Daniel O Connel was a very important figure in the history of Irish Independence. He argued for greater independence from Great Britain and was written away into the history books as a liberator. Needless to say he is a bit of a hero for many (older) Irish citizens.
Where to stay in Cahersiveen
- ($) Iveragh Heights : Iveragh Heights is an amazing bed and breakfast in the centre of Cahersiveen. All rooms in the bed and breakfast have their own flatscreen TV, a kettle to make tea or coffee and a nice view over the hills or the garden.
- ($$) Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse and QCs Seafood Restaurant : Quinlan and Cooke Boutique Townhouse is a family owned hotel and restaurant on the Wild Atlantic way. The rooms are beautifully designed and the hotel has a fitness room and even a golf swing simulator. The restaurant under the hotel is known for its great seafood.
- ($$$) Royal Hotel Valentia : Royal Hotel Valentia is located 5 kilometre from Cahersiveen and provides its guests amazing views over Valentia island. The hotel itself is housed in an 18th century house. All rooms are beautifully decorated in a vintage boutique style.
Experience Irish History in Beaufort
Beaufort is a small village with only 160 inhabitants. It has a post office, three pubs and a whole lot of history.
Beaufort rests at the foot of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil. People with a keen interest in history should visit Beaufort as the region has more than 100 historical places mapped out, including the Dunloe Ogham Stones.
You can also visit two castle ruins and Donloe castle, two ancient churches and the beautiful Beaufort bridge.
What to do in Beaufort
- Carrauntoohil Mountain : Do you love hiking? Plan a day hiking up Carrauntoohil Mountain. The highest mountain in Ireland stands more than 1000 metres tall and offers you an amazing view over the area. From the aquamarine blue lakes down below in the fresh green grass to the surrounding wild hills: this hike will be worth it.
- Dunloe Ogham Stones : The Dunloe Ogham Stones were carved in the 5th and 6th century and were used as headstones or burial markers. These stones were discovered in 1838 and moved to their current site in 1945. In the past, people had ripped them from their original place and used them in the construction of their homes. The original stones were found making up the ceiling of a house in 1938. Another one was found in a church nearby.
- Dunloe Castle : Dunloe castle is not only known for its beautiful castle, but also for the magnificent gardens. These plants and flowers were planted in the 1920’s by Howard Harrington. They contain a large collection of rare exotic and local plants.
Where to stay in Beaufort
- ($) Inveraray Farmhouse B&B : The beautiful family-run bed and breakfast offers guests the peace and quiet the area is known for. With views over the Gap of Dunloe and an amazing garden (with cows as neighbours) to drink a cup of coffee in , Inveraray Farmhouse is the perfect place to stay in the area of Beaufort.
- ($$) Farmyard Lane Glamping : Farmyard Lane Glamping if you are into camping and glamping you should have a look at Farmyard Lane Glamping. This beautiful glamping pod offers unrestricted and breath-taking views over the mountains. In the morning you will be handed a basket of fresh produce and eggs to whisk up your own breakfast.
- ($$$) Beaufort Lodge B&B & Cottage : Beaufort Lodge bed and breakfast is a beautiful cottage in the middle of the Irish countryside. The rooms in the bed and breakfast are designed in a rustic cottage style, and when the sun is shining you can enjoy the beautifully kept gardens with a cup of coffee in hand.
Spot deer in Killarney
Killarney is one of the most popular villages on the Ring of Kerry. For many tourists it is the starting point and end point of their trip. This makes that Killarney is one of the biggest tourist hot spots in Ireland.
The village is located on the grounds of Killarney National Park. This national park is a beautiful park with wild roaming deer, and beautiful vistas over the hills and lakes. In the middle of Killarney National Park you can find Muckross House where Queen Victoria stayed during her visit to Kerry. Now Muckross House is a beautiful museum which is open for visitors.
Killarney is a wonderfully lively center, where it’s not just about shamrock and shillelaghs (a traditional Irish walking stick). This is a place where you can order both boxty (traditional Irish potato pancake) and bruschetta in the same restaurant.
Killarney National Park borders the town of Killarney and is the first national park in Ireland. It occupies 102.89 km2 and consists of lakes; oak forests and mountains. Here you can admire the “Red Deer”. In the Killarney National Park are numerous decayed abbeys and castles. The top of the Torc Waterfall can be reached via a beautiful path, which also offers a beautiful view of the Torc Mountain. The biggest attraction is the three lakes of Killarney. Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. These lakes are connected with each other and take up almost a quarter of the park.
What to do in Killarney
- Ross Castle : Ross Castle is located in the Killarney National Park on the Lough Leane. The castle can only be visited from the inside with a tour. Boat trips across the lake leave from the castle. The various lakes take up almost a quarter of the park.
- Muckrock house, gardens and farm : Muckrock house has the appearance of a beautiful stately home, set in a beautiful ornamental garden. You can visit the house by taking a guided tour. In addition to the gardens, there is also a nice petting zoo for children with a playground.
- Torc Waterval : Torc waterfall is a beautiful waterfall that is at its best after rain, which will be no problem in Ireland. When you are in a sporty mood, climb the Torc Mountain. The route starts at the waterfall, but you can also drive a little further and then start from another parking space; the upper car park. From here it is approximately 8 km to walk (round trip) partly over a wooden platform.
Where to stay in Killarney
- ($) Neptune’s Hostel : Located in the centre of Killarney, Neptune’s Hostel offers budget accommodation to sole travellers and families. Killarney National Park is only a short walk away and the hostel offers free wifi. The hostel offers both private rooms as dormitories.
- ($$) Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa : This 4-star hotel in the centre of Killarney boasts a fully serviced spa, a sauna, a pool and a fitness room. All rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV and a marble bathroom. Guests can lounge around in their room in the bathrobes and slippers provided by the hotel. The hotel also has a gastronomical restaurant and a piano bar that serves great cocktails.
- ($$$) The Killarney Royal Hotel : The Killarney Royal Hotel lies only 200 metres from the Killarney train station. This boutique hotel offers its guests beautifully designed rooms, a boutique experience and top-notch food in their gastronomic restaurant. All rooms are decked out with a putter so you can practice your golf techniques.
Meet the Goat King of Killorglin
The next village on the list is Killorglin. If you come in August, you can experience the biggest event of the year here: the Puck Fair. At the heart of this festival, high above the heads of visitors, stands the Billy Goat. The Billy Goat is just a normal goat adorned with royal attributes on a throne. Yes, you read this right. With a crown on his head and polished hooves, he receives his subjects in a royal manner. All subjects (visitors of the city and people who live in Killorglin) will pay homage to him during the three days.
Aside from the festival, Killorglin is a great place to start exploring the area around Caragh Lake southeast of the city. Don’t forget your hiking shoes as the paths and the views are especially beautiful in this region!
What to do in Killorglin
- Cromane Beach : This beautiful stone beach is known for its amazing round polished and colourful stones. The beach is part stone beach and part sandy beach which makes it a great place to stretch your legs and go for a beach walk. The hills in the background will make your walk especially breath-taking.
- Ballykissane Pier : This old concrete and stone pier is a beautiful vantage point from where you can look out over the water and the hills. It is also where the Ballykissane drowning tragedy took place on Good Friday 1916.
- Lisleibane Loop : From Killorglin you can start the Lisleibane Loop, a beautiful trek that takes you through the mountains and Kerry hills.
Where to stay in Killorglin
- ($) The Rivers Edge Guest House : The Rivers Edge Guest House is a 3-star bed and breakfast. Guests are offered free wifi throughout the whole guest house. Guests are especially positive about the Irish breakfast and the locally smoked salmon served in the morning. The hotel also has a beautiful terrace where you can read a book or drink your coffee or tea.
- ($$) Kingston’s Townhouse : Kingston’s Townhouse us a beautiful hotel in the middle of Killorglin. The hotel offers luggage storage and babysitting to its guests and they have a great bar and a communal lounge.
- ($$$) Reeks Cottage, Killorglin : If you are looking for a cottage that can house a whole family or a group of friends, then Reeks Cottage, Killorglin is a great fit for you! This beautiful cottage in typically Irish style can house up to 9 people.
Hike in Ballingskelligs
Ballinskelligs is one of the last parts of Ireland where people still speak Gaelic as a first language.
Ballinskelligs got its name from the nearby Skellig Islands and is known for its ruined monastery and beautiful views and beaches.
The history of the village can be traced back to the monks who settled down on the Skellig Islands in the 5th and 6th century.
What to do in Ballinskelligs
- Ballinskelligs Beach : This beautiful and peaceful beach in Ballingskelligs offers beautiful views over the nearby hills and ballingskelligs castle.
- McCarthy Mor Tower House – Ballinskellig Castle : Ballingskelligs Castle is not always accessible as it is connected through a land bridge that floods during high tide. You can freely visit and climb these old ruins during low tide or take a canoo or kayak out into the sea during high tide.
- Ballinskelligs Abbey : The construction on Ballinskelligs Abbey started in the 5th century by a group of monks who wanted to live in peace and quiet. The monestary overlooks the sea and the hills on the other side of the bay. You can also visit the graveyard on the abbey grounds
Where to stay in Ballinskelligs
- ($) The Skellig Lodge and Hostel : The Skellig Lodge and Hostel is located in the middle of Ballingskelligs that offers amazing views over Ballingskelligs Bay. This hostle offers light and airy rooms and has a kitchen in which you can prepare your own meals.
- ($$) The Smugglers Inn : If you would rather not stay in a hostel you can always opt for the Smugglers Inn. This beautiful inn and restaurant has modern and clean rooms with an amazing view over the bay. In the evening you can head down for a fine meal or a pint with a view over the surrounding mountains.
- ($$$) Tigh An Droichid, Ballinskelligs : When travelling with family or a bunch of friends, you might want to rent a holiday home like Tigh An Droichid. This beautiful holiday home cottage sleeps 9 and sits purched high up on the Kerry cliffs.
Experience Irish Hospitality in sneem
Sneem is described as the Knot of the Ring of Kerry. The word Sneem itself means “knot”.
The beautiful village has two village squares. There are shops, pubs, art galleries and many places where artisan ice cream is sold. The ideal place to stop, look around and enjoy traditional Irish hospitality.
What to do in Sneem
- Blueberry Hill Farm : Blueberry Hill Farm is a petting zoo that also organizes workshops such as woodturning. The farm is very kid friendly and a great day out when travelling with kids. The farm is perched between the Kerry hills and the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous.
- The Way the Fairies Went : The way the Faeries went is a little route in Sneem where people built little Faerie houses and faery gardens. Although there is not that much to do in Sneem, The Way the Faeries Went is a beautiful little attraction.
- Sneem Sculpture Trail : Although Sneem is a very small village, there are a lot of sculptures in Sneem. There is a memorial for John Eagan, a peace Panda, the Charles de Gaulle memorial and a Risen Christ.
Where to stay in Sneem
- ($) Alaind Lodges : Alaind Lodges is located close to the church and graveyard of Sneem. Guests can enjoy a breakfast buffet and are offered free wifi and free parking on site.
- ($$) Parknasilla Resort & Spa : Parknasilla Resort and Spa offers a beautiful and breathtaking view over the Kenmare Bay. This 4 star hotel also boasts a 12-hole golf course, a spa and pool and a park of more than 200 hectares.
- ($$$) 1 Sneem Holiday Village : This holiday accommodation in the centre of Sneem can sleep up to 6 people. This cosy little cottage has a parking spot, clean and airy rooms and a fully equipped kitchen.