Ring of Kerry | Wild rugged landscapes steeped in history

Whilst recovering from your St Patrick's Day hangover, take a moment to appreciate that Ireland is more than just pints of Guinness.

With St Patrick’s Day being little more than a hangover today, you may be thinking that Ireland is all pints of Guinness and shots of whisky. Though the Irish have a reputation for holding their liquor, the country is full of wonderful surprises from gorgeous landscapes to a rich history that has left behind iconic castles and strongholds. The county of Kerry is a rugged land with stunning coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages. Get on the Ring of Kerry, a 179km-long road for the most scenic holiday of your life.

The 7th century Christian monastery on the island of Skellig Michael was abandoned around the 12th century and has recently been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The 7th century Christian monastery on the island of Skellig Michael was abandoned around the 12th century and has recently been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Top spots for sightseeing

Perhaps the highlight of the tour, Skellig Michael, is a rocky island that is home to an abandoned 7th century monastery. The Christian monastery was continuously occupied from the time it was founded until it was abandoned some time during the 12th century. It became, together with the island itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. 12km off the west of the Iveragh Peninsula, there are ferries that cross over to the island from Portmagee during the warmer months.

Balleycarbery Castle, 3km from Cabersiveen was built in 1398 but is little more than a ruin. However just a few hundred metres away is a stone fort dating back to 600AD that is well worth a visit. Recently restored, the fort contains walls that are six metres high and three metres thick and are one of the best examples of early medieval stone forts found in Kerry.

Kenmare, between the Macgillycuddy Reeks and Caha Mountains, is small town that stands out from any other in Kerry. The reason for this is its colourfully painted houses and shop fronts. The Holy Cross Church, consecrated in 1864, has a beautiful wooden roof and 14 angel carvings, intricate mosaics and stained glass windows that hang over the alter. Check out the stalls on the town square that sell vegetables, cheese, honey, gourmet ice cream, bread, smoked salmon and other artisan produce during Kenmare's weekly farmers market.

Cycle around Valentia Island, connected to the mainland by a bridge, and discover the home of Ireland’s first transatlantic telegraph cable
Cycle around Valentia Island, connected to the mainland by a bridge, and discover the home of Ireland’s first transatlantic telegraph cable

Best adventure activity

There’s plenty to do in the way of adventure around Kerry County. Cycle around Valentia Island, connected to the mainland by a bridge, and discover the home of Ireland’s first transatlantic telegraph cable. Or take a guided walking tour around the wild, rugged landscape of Bray Head and check out the 19th century Martello tower that was built during the Napoleonic wars. However if you’re an adrenaline junkie try out the Coasteering Adventure where, equipped with a wetsuit, helmet and buoyancy aid, you’ll explore vast caves, jump in the cold Atlantic sea and swim under a spectacular archway.

For fine dining, check out Rozzers Restaurant, on the shores of Lakes Killarney
For fine dining, check out Rozzers Restaurant, on the shores of Lakes Killarney

Best spots to grab a bite to eat

Kerry is home to a variety of restaurants from gourmand venues to friendly pubs all offering meals unrivalled in both freshness and flavour. The chefs of Kerry are at an advantage as they have access to some of the freshest produce available in the area. Prime local beef, organic lamb and superb seafood are all on offer in the area. To get a taste of local produce, check out the Fair Day markets in Cahersiveen that take place every month and go back in time to the colourful bustle of the markets at the turn of the century. For fine dining, check out Rozzers Restaurant, on the shores of Lakes Killarney. Highlights on the critically acclaimed menu include fresh oysters, confit duck, pan-seared medallions of monk fish or a roasted rack of Kerry lamb. For something more local check out Bricin Restaurant. The restaurant’s traditional vibe is evident throughout the restaurant from the timber and stone décor, right down to the menu. Try their traditional potato pancakes and save room for their homemade desserts.

Best spot to wind down and enjoy nature

There is rugged natural beauty all along the Ring of Kerry. Kells, an old fishing village between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen, has been untouched by recent developments and is home to Kells Beach, one of Kerry’s Blue Flag beaches. Check out the views of Dingle Bay and the Blasket Islands. For the best views, when the weather is fine, head to an area called mountain stage.

How to get there

There are no direct flights between Malta and Kerry. Air Malta and Ryan Air offer regular flights to Dublin. From Dublin you would have to get a domestic flight into Kerry. Once in Kerry, you would be best off renting a car and travelling along the 179km road by car, stopping off where ever you fancy.

Best time to visit

The weather is best in Kerry in the summer time. Temperatures are warmer, daylight hours longer and rain showers less frequent. However this is when it is most crowded. Tour buses pack the narrow roads that are dangerously close to the cliffs’ edge and scenic view points are crowded. During the spring and autumn, roads are significantly less crowded but the weather may be less co-operative. Dramatic storms and lashing waves may be reason enough to visit when the weather is less pleasurable if you can cope with a bit of rain and wind.

Currency

Ireland is part of the European Union and uses the Euro

Visas

Maltese citizens do not need a visa to travel anywhere within the European Union, including Kerry.

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