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Surrounded by glorious mountain views and wooded hills and overlooking the glittering expanse of Kenmare Bay, this little heritage town makes an ideal gateway to both the Ring of Kerry and the less-well-known Beara Peninsula.

Although the name Kenmare derives from the Irish Ceann Mara (Head of the Sea), the town's Irish name Neidín (Little Nest) is a far better description of how the town is cradled by magnificent scenery. It's a tranquil but lively place with vividly painted shopfronts, gourmet restaurants and cheery pubs set along its elegant streets.

A Bronze Age stone circle and boulder dolmen sit just outside the town, while the Kenmare Heritage Centre tells the region's story and its importance as a historic lace-making site.

Most of all though, Kenmare is ideally situated close to the Ring of Kerry. Home to Ireland's highest mountains, this circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula offers coastal scenery, untouched beaches, medieval ruins and a host of traditional pubs.

The lesser-known but equally dramatic Beara Peninsula to the south of Kenmare is another rewarding circular route that brings you into contact with ancient ring forts, Neolithic stone circles, fishing villages and sweeping, panoramic views.

All this coastal and mountain scenery makes Kenmare a popular hub for sailing, kayaking, diving, surfing, cycling and hill walking. The Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountain range is a short distance from the town and contains nine of Ireland's highest mountains, the tallest being Carrauntoohil at 1,040 m (3,412 ft).

There are plenty of trails around the mountains and lakes of the region, passing glens and panoramic viewpoints on routes that suit a wide variety of fitness levels.

The long-distance Kerry Way, a 215 km (134 mile) trail that loops around the lower reaches of the Iveragh Peninsula, takes walkers through some of the most remote and rugged parts of the region. It’s generally walked in an anti-clockwise direction to ensure the best views and passes right through Kenmare, making it easy to pick up the trail for a day walk or a longer journey around its entire length.

Known as the culinary capital of Kerry, Kenmare is a great place to dine. A selection of gourmet restaurants and lively pubs serve high-quality traditional dishes. The well-stocked farmers' market trades on Wednesdays and showcases the best of local produce, including artisanal cheeses, homemade breads and cakes, and a range of fresh fish and seafood.

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Map of Kenmare

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Kenmare

    Accommodation choices for Kenmare

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Kenmare. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare

      Sheen Falls Lodge

      Deluxe

      Surrounded by beautiful countryside and offering all the welcoming charm of an elaborate country home, Sheen Falls Lodge is a luxurious retreat in an intimate setting.

    • Park Hotel Kenmare, Kenmare

      Park Hotel Kenmare

      Deluxe

      Skilfully combining period charm with contemporary comforts, the Park Hotel Kenmare offers classic luxury in an idyllic location just minutes from the heart of town. Indulge in the romance of rural Ireland while enjoying top notch service and facilities.

    Ideas for experiencing Kenmare

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Kenmare, and which use the best local guides.

    • The Beara Peninsula

      Beara Peninsula tour

      Kenmare

      Explore the little-visited Beara peninsula, a tranquil place that blends ancient history with dramatic landscapes and cosmopolitan people. Drive down winding roads to marvel at Neolithic stone circles, walk on windswept beaches and hillsides and lunch on artisan produce.