There is nowhere in Ireland that does tourism like Kerry. With some of the most beautiful scenery, a rich social and cultural history and a welcome like no other, Kerry is a very popular tourist spot, especially in the warmer months. While tourism is good for the economy and brings better resources to locals, it can become a little crowded when the weather is good. Some of the more popular spots have lost that genuine feel that we’re known for and traffic on the scenic routes can be more stressful than enjoyable. Here are some of the hidden gems of Kerry, close to our Killarney hotel, so you can enjoy a truly authentic experience.
Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve
As with major tourist spots in Ireland, Kerry has a light pollution problem. Stargazing is difficult with the presence of streetlights and glowing main streets obscuring the view. The Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve is a public access reserve area covering most of South Kerry where you are free to stargaze at your leisure. Bring a flask of your favourite warm drink and bundle yourself up in as many layers as possible before heading out for a peaceful and very unique experience. Stay away from lights as much as possible and the longer you stay out the better your eyes will adjust, and you can spot all sorts of galaxies and constellations. You can also hire a guide if you want a little background.
Grotto & Slate Quarry, Valentia Island
Did you know much of the slate and stone that was used to build London’s Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Opera House in Paris comes from Kerry? One of the most hidden of all the gems in Kerry is the Grotto & Slate Quarry, just off the Iveragh Peninsula on Valentia Island. People have used the high-quality produce from this lesser-known quarry to create countertops, roof slates and even a billiard table for the Duke of Wellington and Queen Victoria. Tourists can book a guided tour to learn more about Ireland’s oldest quarry and learn about the behind-the-scenes process of refining this beautiful slate.
Fahan Beehive Huts
While you’ll likely see pictures on postcards, it’s a little more difficult to see beehive huts in real life. Many regard the collection of cone-shaped stone huts on Sea Head in the Dingle Peninsula as the best of them all. These fascinating huts have been around for more than 1000 years and stand today as proud as they did then, a true testament to the stonemasons who created them. They are thought to have been built anywhere between the eighth and twelfth centuries and used as homes for hermit monks and pilgrims. You can walk right up to, and sometimes into, these lovely structures to admire the stonework that has weathers decades of wild weather on Ireland’s West Coast.
One of the lesser-known outdoor attractions in Kerry are the stunning Bromore Cliffs. They offer a small section of the dramatic scenery of the southern part of the county but Bromore Cliffs give you a more peaceful, authentic experience, crowd-free. Situated a little north of Ballybunion, the cliffs are accessible through local farmers’ land for a small parking fee. Michael, the landowner, is passionate about history and wildlife and is a fountain of local knowledge. The cliff walk is around one and a half kilometres of unspoilt beauty 180ft above sea level. The cliffs jut out and have picturesque bays in between which are equally as beautiful as the views from the top.
It’s the last thing you’d expect to find in the wilds of Kerry but yes, we have our own chocolate factory here. Ireland’s only fully open-plan chocolate factory is based at the remote St. Finian’s Bay in Ballinskelligs overlooking the Skelligs Rocks. Imagine the commute to work every day if you worked there! You can book tours of the factory from February to December and witness the making of their famous chocolate products from the family who established and run it. As well as the incredible scenery, you’ll also enjoy plenty of free samples from the most westerly chocolate factory in Europe. They also have an on-site café and shop so you can take a little of Ireland home with you.
Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney is not a hidden gem but you’ll feel like you’ve found treasure after a stay here. Explore the best of Kerry’s great outdoor hidden gems and return for a fantastic meal and a luxurious night’s sleep in our hotel in Kerry. Book our best available rates exclusively on our website.