When you talk about the things you could do in Kerry it’s impossible not to mention the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. Although most of you probably know the Iveragh Peninsula by the tourist road that surrounds it, the Ring of Kerry. Their notoriety as tourist attractions is well-known and in my mind rightly deserved haven experienced them myself.
The Dingle Peninsula’s two big attractions outside of the town that bears the same name are Slea Head Drive and Connor Pass. Slea Head Drive is a 25-30 kilometer loop drive around the end of the peninsula that starts and ends in Dingle, just follow the R559 and you’ll find it if you miss the signs. It is one of those roads where being the driver of the car is just no fun at all so plenty of stops will be in order to take in the view. The road sweeps around the coastline passing beaches, bays and many a historic site from days long gone. When the weather plays nice the views are just phenomenal.
Connor Pass on the other hand can be found heading inland by taking the Spa Road out of Dingle. This picturesque mountain pass in my mind is best taken leaving Dingle and not coming towards it, such is the narrowness of the road. On a clear day it doesn’t seem so scary but if the wind and rain is in the air I could imagine the visibility would be poor to none and that would add a whole new dimension to the drive. Half way down the other side of the pass you’ll also find a small waterfall where you can climb up and look down across the valley below.
Between the two peninsulas you’ll are the towns of Killarney and Kenmare. Perfectly located for those looking to spend a few days exploring all the things to do in the south of Kerry. Killarney is located right next to the Killarney National Park (obviously) and marks the beginning and ending points for the Ring of Kerry. From Killarney you can visit Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle which are just a short drive away.
When you leave Killarney to undertake the first sections of the Ring of Kerry you’ll pass through the National Park and drive along a 20-25 kilometer stretch of road that is littered with places you will want to stop off at. One of those is the Ladies View lookout that offers a panoramic view of the valley and another is Torc Waterfall which is hidden under the covers of the trees some 250 meters from the road. Just be extremely careful driving the road as its very windy and busy with tour buses and other cars that were never meant to be driving a road like this.
Kenmare is a little further down the Ring of Kerry scenic drive and while it is a smaller town, I’d take some time to walk the main street of town and grab a bite to eat. There’s a bakery there that I’ve forgotten the name of but is worth your time as it makes a fine chocolate cake.
From Kenmare you’ll disappear off into the 179 kilometer loop that makes up the Ring of Kerry. While you’ll no doubt spend a full day driving and exploring the full loop if you are short on time just drive what you can. I was told the best parts of the loop are the section between Killarney and Kenmare and the Ring of Skellig at the top of the peninsula. There you can drive a narrow coastal road and enjoy views of the Skellig and Puffin Islands, rest up on a beach, take in the Kerry Cliffs and stop off at the very tasty Skellig Chocolate Factory.
While County Kerry is about more than the peninsulas it’s very hard to not focus on them when visiting the area. They are truly marvels of the country and even though I spent a good three days in the area I still missed so much of what there was to see.
One tip I was given for this part of Ireland is that if you find yourself driving the Ring Of Kerry try to be home or close to it between 3pm and 5pm as that is when all the tour buses are racing home to drop off their passengers for the day. And let me tell you getting stuck behind a tour bus on any road in Ireland is bad, but doing it on the Ring of Kerry is horrible. So save yourself some pain and be home before them.
Now that was my experience on the things to do in Kerry, what are yours? Let me know in the comments below as I’m sure I missed a few hidden gems.