Ireland's best-loved destinations
...and best-kept secrets

Cork, Kerry and Ireland's South West

Ireland Travel Companion

The south-west counties of Cork and Kerry are among the most popular for tourists and, if you are visiting Ireland for the first time, you should not go home without coming here and seeing it for yourself. Rugged, rustic and wild, this picture-postcard region of Ireland perhaps best matches what first-time visitors expect Ireland to look like. Expect narrow, winding country roads, craggy coastlines and verdant landscapes aplenty.

The coastline of the South West is a meandering mix of inlets, coves and peninsulas, so there is plenty of opportunity for cliff-top walks and rambles. Inland, the landscape is scarcely less rugged: throughout the region, farmland is interspersed with rocky outcrops and bogs which break up the luscious green vistas.

On your to-do list for this part of Ireland, add Skellig Michael, the Killarney National Park, Cork City, Kinsale, and the Ring of Kerry.

Mizen Head

Visiting this stop-off on the Wild Atlantic Way, you will definitely want to bring your camera. Outdoor enthusiasts may want to bring their walking boots, too.

Cork, Kerry and the Southwest of Ireland

Beara Peninsula

The Beara Peninsula straddles the border of Cork and Kerry in South-West Ireland. It is the next peninsula south of the famous Ring of Kerry. Quieter and more relaxed than its sibling to the north, Beara offers the perfect getaway for anyone seeking total calm and relaxation away from it all. It also offers plenty of photo opportunities. If you fancy a few days in the middle of nowhere, then this is the perfect place.

Read about our own travel experiences on the Beara Peninsula

Dingle

If you look up the word 'quaint' in a dictionary, don't be surprised to find a little picture of Dingle, a fishing port full of charm and allure. Expect its narrow streets to be full of tourists during high season.

Kenmare & Sneem

Ideal for a lunchtime stop more than a full-day excursion, Kenmare and Sneem both give a great insight into the relaxed pace of life which characterises this part of Ireland. Pull up a chair and take your time over a nice coffee ... or maybe a Guinness.

Kinsale

Bring your Euros and a sense of curiosity as you explore the small, Bohemian shops which line the narrow streets. A favourite destination for international and Irish visitors, Kinsale is definitely one to add to your tour itinerary.

Killarney

The definitive Irish tourist town, Killarney has something for everyone and, after Dublin, is generally the first place name to be added to the itinterary of any Ireland tour.

Though perhaps offering fewer historical and cultural attractions than its east-coast counterparts, Killarney more than makes up for this with the welcoming bustle of the town itself and the staggering natural beauty of its neighbouring namesake, the national park just five minutes' drive away.

The town of Killarney will provide ample diversion for those looking to go shopping and those looking for a Guinness and some traditional music. For the many who choose to do both, there is no shortage of good restaurants to segue your daytime and nighttime activities in the town.

Muckross Estate

Those who are seeking a little culture during their forray into the South West should head to the heart of the Killarney National Park, where they will find the region's most impressive stately home, Muckross House. Just one mile away, you will also find Muckross Abbey, a beautiful construction which - after two hundred years of service - was burned to ruins by Cromwell's troops in 1652.

Find out more about Muckross Estate:

Killarney National Park

It is hard to imagine a more impressive or more fitting showcase of Ireland's natural beauty than the Killarney National Park; 10,236 hectares of lakes, mountains, forests and castle ruins where, even only ten minutes away from the hotel, you could easily forget that a civilization out there awaits your return.

Enchanted by the sheer scale and majesty of the setting's breathtaking skylines, it would be easy to overlook the immense diversity of nature which lies right before and beneath you. The peaty waters make for a huge array of wildlife species, great and small, gifting the park its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1982. Look out for Ireland's native red deer cavorting in the forest and swimming (yes, swimming) out to graze on the islands which punctuate the park's three lakes.

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The Ring of Kerry

Ireland's longest circular route covers some staggeringly beautiful scenery, including lakes, beaches, glens, castle ruins, off-shore islands, mountains and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

In a car or bus, the Ring of Kerry's 180 km can provide distractions enough to fill a day, but there is no shortage of places to stay overnight and, depending on your interests, you can certainly find plenty of interesting diversions to make it a trip of two or more days. The route can also be cycled or even walked. Look out for the 230km "Kerry Way", Ireland's longest waymarked trail, which passes through towns such as Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville, Sneem and Kenmare.

During the peak season the Ring of Kerry (or Iveragh Peninsula) can be quite slow moving, especially heading in the anti-clockwise direction favoured by tour buses. So sit back, relax and enjoy the mesmerizing views.

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Kerry Bog Village Museum

A living-history museum, Kerry Bog Village offers a heritage-award-winning insight into the harsh realities of life for the rural poor in famine-ravaged eighteenth-century Ireland. Thatched cottages within the village are decorated and furnished to represent with well-researched exactitude the real-life experiences of those who lived their lives in this part of Ireland during the nation's harshest times. A valuable and rewarding trip if you want to understand this chapter of Ireland's history.

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Places to Stay in South-West Ireland

Hotels in the South-West of Ireland

B&Bs and Guesthouses in South-West Ireland

YNA Dingle Cottages

Dingle, Co. Kerry

A huge selection of guesthouse located in the picturesque fishing village of Dingle, Co. Kerry and it's surrounding areas.

Abbey Court, Kenmare

Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Luxury accommodation near the shore of Kenmare Bay, just a short walk from the town itself. Here, nothing is overlooked but the sea.

Ashfield B&B, Kenmare

Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Stunning mountain views and comfortable, spacious en suites set Ashfield B&B apart. Off the road parking and WiFi available.

Beachview B&B

Allihies, Co. Cork

Located in Allihies on the Beara Peninsula, Beachview is family-run and family-friendly. Immaculate rooms and very personal service.

Cashen Course House

Ballybunion, Co. Kerry

Perfect for the passionate golfer, Cashen Course House is ideally located for visitors to the Ballybunion Old Course and others nearby.

Cill Bhreac House

Dingle, Co. Kerry

A charming and friendly B&B, Cill Bhreac House boasts an enviable location with commanding views over Dingle Bay and the surrounding hills.

Kathleen's Guesthouse

Killarney, Co. Kerry

Charming and spacious guesthouse in an ideal location for walking in the National Park, catching a round of golf or exploring Killarney town.

Sallyport House

Sallyport House B&B in Kenmare, Ireland
Kemare, Co. Kerry

A charming Edwardian house on Kenmare Bay, surrounded by trees and parkland, and abutted by Reenagross Woodland Park.

The Smugglers Inn

Waterville, Co. Kerry

Thirteen well-appointed rooms, just yards from the globally-renowned Waterville Golf Course. Enjoy seas views or mountain vistas.

Backpacker Accommodation & Hostels in the South-West of Ireland

Cottages & Holiday Homes in the South-West

My Ireland Travel Guide