Explore the islands and peninsulas of Ireland's southwest side on this 7-day itinerary. Start out in the former smuggler's landing port at the village of Baltimore, then head out for hikes along the coastline, up the stone steps of the island of Skellig Michael, and out on the Blasket Islands. Meet the local puffins and basking sharks along with dairy products and musical pub traditions as you travel along the Cork and Kerry Way.

Highlights

  • Explore the southernmost tip of Ireland
  • Sail to the abandoned Blasket Islands
  • Climb the stone steps of Skellig Michael
  • Enjoy trad music in small-town pubs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Baltimore Baltimore
Day 2 Cape Clear Island Baltimore
Day 3 Sheep's Head Peninsula Kenmare
Day 4 Skellig Michael Kenmare
Day 5 The Old Kenmare Road Dingle Town
Day 6 Blasket Islands & Dingle Town Dingle Town
Day 7 Dingle Town & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Baltimore

Stone cottage
Stone cottage

Your journey begins in the fishing village of Baltimore on Ireland's southwest shores. Take a walk through the countryside of West Cork, accompanied by your guide's tales of the conquests, abductions, and pirates of Baltimore.

Wind down in the evening in your cozy accommodation or venture back out  for a walk along Baltimore's shoreline. You'll be able to see out to Carbery's Hundred Isles across Roaring Water Bay, once visited by Jonathan Swift.

Hiking time: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 3 miles (5 km)

Day 2: Cape Clear Island

Aerial view of the Cape
Aerial view of the Cape

Today's journey takes you to tiny Cape Clear Island at the ends of Ireland, the country's southernmost inhabited island and traditional last glimpse of home for Europeans sailing toward North America. This Gaeltacht community preserves the traditional Irish Gaelic language on its shores, which are also home to an extensive community of avian and marine life.

Hike down the cape's shores, watching for its many wildlife residents. Keep an eye out for roaming herds of goats, responsible for the area's savory goat cheese, along with the dramatic silhouette of the isolated Fastnet Rock Lighthouse.

Hiking time: 3 hours
Hiking distance: 5 miles (7 km)

Day 3: Sheep's Head Peninsula

Lighthouse on Sheep Head
Lighthouse on Sheep Head

Head up to the northern end of the West Cork peninsula today to visit traditional villages amid postcard-perfect farmlands and countryside. The region is known for its dairy production, which is among Ireland's best.

You'll follow the Sheep's Head Way trail along the peninsula to take in the views, then make your way to the town of Kenmare. The town is home to a Bronze Age stone circle and some of the area's best places to eat (and sample some of those dairy products).

Hiking time: 3 hours
Hiking distance: 5 miles (8 km)

Day 4: Skellig Michael

cliffside trails on Skellig Michael
cliffside trails on Skellig Michael

The jagged spires of Skellig Michael are full of stories, ranging from ancient monks to modern Jedi. This dramatic island was once home to an isolated group of medieval monks, who may have been the inspiration for its modern use as Luke Skywalker's retreat in the most recent Star Wars films.

Visit the monastic ruins still clinging to the island's slopes and see why it inspired so many stories of hermitage as you climb its 618 stone steps. You'll also see Little Skellig on your way, home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world with more than 27,000 pairs of the seabirds.

Day 5: The Old Kenmare Road

The Old Kenmare Road
The Old Kenmare Road

Enjoy a change of scenery today as you head down the Old Kenmare Road, a 17th-century military road turned long-distance trail. Enjoy the views of Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountain range and Kenmare Bay, then cross the lush native woodlands into the outer landscapes of Killarney National Park.

Hiking time: 3 hours
Hiking distance: 4 miles (6 km)

Day 6: Blasket Islands & Dingle Town

Dunmore Head and the Blasket Islands
Dunmore Head and the Blasket Islands

Set sail for the silent landscape of the Blasket Islands on today's excursion. Once home to a thriving community, the Blasket Islands were evacuated due to their harsh living conditions in the 1950s. Now you'll watch for the seabirds and marine life around the archipelago instead as you take in the scenery that inspired an Irish literary legacy devoted to the historic island life.

You'll spend the night in Dingle, a vibrant town full of bars and restaurants. Listen for the traditional Irish music coming out of venues and sounds of the native Irish Gaelic language still being spoken as you explore spots like the Dingle Distillery, Louis Mulcahy Pottery, or a traditional cheese shop. If you're torn between all the pubs on offer, try starting at Foxy John's, a combination pub and hardware store, or Dick Mac's Pub & Brewery, which shares its drinking space with a leather goods shop.

Hiking time: 3 hours
Hiking distance: 4 miles (7 km)

Day 7: Dingle Town & Depart

Dingle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula

Spend your morning exploring the local artists' shops of Dingle to pick up any souvenirs you may have forgotten before your departure. Your trip will end at the Limerick railway station to bring you home or to the next stop on your Irish adventure.

Map

Map of Hiking & Island Hopping in Cork & Kerry - 7 Days
Map of Hiking & Island Hopping in Cork & Kerry - 7 Days