A Photo Guide to Southwest Ireland’s Best Spots

Southwest Ireland’s rolling green hills, national parks and medieval cities are filled with opportunities for sailing, wine-sipping, food-savoring, sightseeing and so much more. And all of it so photogenic!

Here’s our photo guide to our favorite travel spots in Southwest Ireland.

The Castles of Southwest Ireland

Castles abound in Southwest Ireland. Few are more gothic and imposing than Bunratty Castle, a 15 century tower house and the most authentic medieval fortress in all of Ireland. Walk behind the battlements to see the large banquet hall, kitchen, bedrooms and even the dungeon!

Why you need to see it: Bunratty’s turrets and battlements capture the quintessential look and feel of medieval Ireland. A walk through the grey stone halls is an epic fairytale moment that lasts in the heart of travelers.

Ballyseede Castle, located in the native woodlands of County Kerry, is another authentic fortress dating to the 16th century. While it once housed earls and lords, now it can house you!

You can stay overnight in this authentic castle-turned-hotel, where ivies climb over the outer walls and the rooms are filled with the feeling of Renaissance. Enjoy tea and scones during your stay!

Why you need to see it: The battlements and towers at Ballyseede are only part of the medieval appeal. Inside, this castle-hotel has been given the royal treatment: spacious drawing rooms, ornate cornices and marble fireplaces adorn the rooms in a style worthy of a king.

Plus, donkeys and friendly dogs roam the grounds. Mr. Higgins, the resident Irish wolfhound, loves to play with the kids. Einstein, his sidekick, loves to catch stones!


Killarney National Park

The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland.

Killarney National Park’s ancient forests, mountains and lakes are a famous part of the Irish landscape. Local critters include red deer, badgers, pine martens, silka deer and the red squirrel, among others. It’s a sprawling park with plenty of options for outdoor adventure.

Let’s not forget about the Gap of Dunloe, the world-famous mountain pass separating MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range from the Purple Mountain Group.

Why you need to see it: The woodlands of Killarney are a beautiful and rugged place. If you’re looking for a leisurely hike, the paths are well-maintained, and they wind past castles, lakes and ancient forests – it’s like a fairy book adventure through an enchanted land.

After dismounting, you can spend some time on a boat in the Upper Lake, then climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage to ride through the Gap of Dunloe.

This route offers a broad view of Killarney’s incredible diversity of flora, fauna and landscapes. It’s an epic adventure, and all in one afternoon!


The Dingle Peninsula

The coast of the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.


One look across the slow rise of the seaside plains on the Dingle Peninsula, and you’ll agree: this is a magical place. So much of what makes Ireland feel like Ireland can be found in these rolling green hills, colorful towns and charming coastlines.

Start on the windswept, white-sand shores of Ventry Bay to see the ruins of Dun Beag Fort, an amazing stone structure built around 500 B.C. Follow the trail to the ancient Fahan Beehive Huts, sitting below the sweeping sides of Mount Eagle.

Down in the town of Dingle are colorful art galleries, craft shops and some of Ireland’s friendliest people. Check out the waterfront to see the statue of the harbor’s longtime resident, Fungie the Dingle Dolphin.

Dingle, Ireland.

Why you need to see it: This quaint slice of Ireland is cozy, relaxed and quiet. And when the mist settles on the sailboats in the bay, a sense of tranquility settles with it.

This peaceful getaway has enough adventure to keep the kids busy, too. Families can visit a local sheep farm on Kerry Way, where sheep dogs run through the fields to show off their herding skills and families can learn about the farm’s traditional craftsmanship.


West Cork and Kinsale


No adventure in Southwest Ireland is complete without a visit to West Cork. This region’s rugged coasts, undulating hills and vibrant little towns have a quiet countryside charm to them. The opportunities for time on the water are plentiful, thanks to calm waves and secure bays.

Among the area’s most exciting spots is Kinsale, a small fishing village with buildings painted in a diverse palette of colors, including lime green, vermillion and sky blue. The Kinsale Harbor has been a favorite spot for sailors since the 16th century, owing to its gorgeous waterways. Located a short distance away is Charles Fort, known as the largest star-shaped fort in all of Europe.

If you’re looking for something that’s more off-the-beaten-path, it doesn’t get much better than Inish Beg Island. This private estate is filled with local wildlife, tranquil waterside trails, gardens and woodlands. Expect to make plenty of friends along the way: including herons, sheeps and ponies!

A lighthouse above Baltimore, Western Cork, Ireland.

Why you need to see it: 
The cliffs, coves and green fields of the West Cork coastline leave most travelers breathless, and for good reason. The grand scale of the coasts and the beauty of the rolling waves on the cliffs is unlike anything else on earth–except, maybe, Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula.

Learn more about visiting Ireland here.