For many, Tralee is the gate to Kerry. As Tralee is one of the only cities in the area with a train station, Tralee is the end of the line for many Kerry travellers. But did you know that there is a lot to do in this beautiful city? I have made a list of the 15 best things to do in Tralee!
1. Kerry County Museum
Its gates first opened in 1991, so this 1,750-square-meter museum is fairly young. It exhibits the history and culture of County Kerry. You will be able to explore everything from the life of the people who lived in Kerry from the beginning to the 20th century and medieval artifacts showing off the past. The life-sized dioramas are intricately designed to depict the lifestyle of how people used to live in Kerry while the Archaeology Hall holds all the medieval artifacts collected from the excavation of Tralee’s Dominican Priory. For the littler ones, the museum organizers dress up events and activities to enable them to understand history. They will be able to stroll reconstructed streets and houses in the Medieval Experience. The silver lining of this museum being so young is that technology has allowed it also to replicate smells and sounds from the past, giving you a real time travel experience.
2. Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre
Tralee is known for its breathtaking landscapes and bright green grass fields. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre is unlike any other wetland centre you would have seen. It has walkable and cyclable paths, with even exercise equipment installed here and there. You can gawk at Irish flora and fauna as you wander around, and even head to the cafe which hosts a 20-meter-high viewing and observation tower which is sure to grant you spectacular views. To make your experience so much more pleasant, the wetland centre offers you guided nature and boat tours and other water activities such as pedalo, rowing boats, water zorbing, and a climbing wall. Its the perfect blend of physical activity with nature.
3. Aqua Dome
Aqua Dome is a treat underneath a glass canopy that will give your children an unforgettable experience. It is one of Ireland’s largest indoor water world and has something in store for everyone. You will find the River Rapids where you can get your speed game on, a Lazy River on which you can calmly float away, a High Flume Slide, Outdoor Falling Rapids, from which you can plunge right into the waters and a wave pool in which you can even learn to surf. Apart from the water activities you will find a golfing course, a gym and a vitality spa. So, make sure to treat yourself to some relaxation, whether it’s at the spa or in the water, your kids will not want you out any time soon.
4. St. John's Church
Anyone visiting Tralee is sure to pay a visit to St. John’s church, a beautiful piece of Gothic revival architecture. It dates all the way back to 1780, after which it underwent a 10 year renovation period only to be reopened in 1960. It operates as a normal church, with daily masses in the morning and evening and other various services to be followed. One of its main features is an amazing stained glass, its said to have been used in the Early Middle Ages to illustrate scriptural stories. The site was originally occupied by a chapel, of which some remnants such as the Holy Water font (Mortuary Chapel), Our Lady of the Wayside statue and the gables of the 18th century building can still be found. There is also The Great Sanctuary Window featuring St. John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles. It is said to be amongst the finest of its style in Western Europe.
5. Blennerville Windmill
This is Ireland’s largest functioning windmill. Set on a mesmerizing background, this giant white cone and its softly lulling blades usually hypnotize its visitors. It is located just 5mins southwest of Tralee and is sure to gift you unforgettable views. Visitors will also be able to witness the charming miniature replica of the Tralee Dingle narrow-gauge, the Kerry Model Railway as well as County Kerry’s main port of emigration during the Great Famine, Blennerville.
6. Ardfert Cathedral
Located 9km northwest of Tralee lay the ruins of a great cathedral dating all the way back to the 13th century with some of its walls said to have been built a good century earlier. It was built on a site that St. Brendan the Navigator is said to have constructed a 6th-century monastery. It is a must see for anyone visiting Tralee mainly for its grandiosity and its impeccable condition regardless of its age. It has a large Romanesque doorway and multiple lancet windows. You can also witness some intricately carved grave slabs, stone carvings, and gargoyles.
7. Banna Strand
Banna Strand may just be one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll see in Ireland. Walk through the dunes to find blue green water that will melt your stress away. This beach is also acclaimed as a Blue Flag beach for its cleanliness by the Foundation for Environmental Education and increased involvement in sustainable building and ensuring environmental awareness to all its visitors. Banna Strand is the perfect place to surf, body board, and windsurf and its shallow waters are perfect for the younger ones.
8. Slieve Mish Mountains
This is a hiker’s paradise, with hikes for all difficulty levels, from supremely challenging to mildly tiring, but all of them giving you incredible vistas to get lost in. The mountains are spectacular, and the highest rises nearly 561 meters above Tralee. These green valleys are an idyllic site, anyone hiking on the northern side can see Tralee Bay and the southern side shows off the blue waters of Dingle Bay. The tallest mountains rising up to 600m high are located on the east side while the west side holds the more moderately high hills.
9. Dingle Dolphin
Fungie the Dingle Dolphin is a Dingle citizen everyone is eager to meet. A custodian of the Dingle Bay since 1983, he has been the amusement of many guests and residents throughout the ages. Even though he is always welcoming and looking for human company, Fungie is one of the few dolphins in the world who prefers to live in isolation from his herd. Special tour boats are organized to visit him as all the residents care that his space is not invaded. You can hop on a large boat and socialize or hire a smaller private boat if you prefer some peace and quiet.
I have written an extensive article on how to meet Fungie the Dingle Dolphin!
10. Tralee Town Park
Tralee is known for many interesting things, amongst it, a large rose garden home to 35 varieties of roses spread across 3 acres. A famous attraction in Tralee is the Rose of Tralee International Festival, and the town park holds large glass plaques honoring each contestant since its beginning in 1959. Amongst the perfectly manicured lawns you will find biking and walking paths, a sensory garden and of course a stone sculpture of Mary O’Connor, the original Rose of Tralee.
11. Ballyseedy Wood
Ballyseedy Wood is a place out of a fairy tale. The famous wood walk trail dates all the way back to the 16th century and the whole woodland holds an impressive 22 species of native trees. You’ll be able to witness great warped trunks, massive overreaching branches and enormous tree knots. The entire place looks like it is about to come to life, and even holds remnants of stone buildings from the 9th century.
12. Rose of Tralee International Festival
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is held annually in August. It is a festival celebrated by Irish women from all over the world, with participants participating from all over the world. The winner is finally chosen from the final 32 candidates and is crowned the Rose of Tralee. The main aim of the festival is to celebrate Irish culture and diverse beauty of women.
Do you want to know more about the Rose of Tralee International Festival? Read my article on the Rose of Tralee!
13. Rattoo Round Tower
This iconic stone structure dates all the way back to the year 1100 and has a distinctive pointed cone roof. The building is thought to have been a monastery back in the day. The stone structure, made of stone native to this region, is impressively still intact and well preserved with the only restorations being done on the roof. You will find many other stone structures worth your visit nearby such as the Rattoo Abbey and other neighbouring small churches.
14. Crag Cave
The Crag Cave is thought to be over 1 million years and home to an impressive number of stalagmites and stalactites. This cave is the perfect example of the forces of nature, showcasing an ancient fossil cave system naturally formed through time. The cave was said to have been filled with water, which eroded the limestone rock into caves and tunnels. As time went by, the water continued to find new ways of seeping away, creating more tunnels and chambers and leaving behind tiny crystals which can be seen today. It was discovered by cave divers in 1983 and can be visited any time of the year.
15. Fenit Lighthouse
A 15min drive away from Tralee will get you to the village of Fenit. Fenit actually means ‘The Wild Place’ in Irish and not too far from the shore you will see Little Samphire Ireland on which rests the Fenit Lighthouse, built in 1851. You would visit this mainly for the sheer beauty of the surroundings and to get a glimpse of the harbour which functions as a sea port, freight import and export, and a 136-berth marina. It has all the charm of ancient Ireland and is also the birthplace of the famous Saint Brendan, the navigator.