Where is the Kerry Camino?
The Kerry Camino is a hiking trail located in Ireland. The 57km (35 miles) long Kerry Camino is one of 12 official Irish pilgrim routes that is listed by the Camino Society Ireland and which forms part of the larger network of ancient pilgrim routes of the Camino de Santiago. The long-distance Kerry Camino walk starts at St. John’s Church in the largest Kerry town, Tralee, before traversing through the stunning Kerry landscape until it reaches St. James’ Church in the popular tourist town of Dingle.
Why should you walk the Kerry Camino?
The Kerry Camino is part of 281 ancient pilgrim routes that stretch across many European countries such as Portugal and Spain, making up the Camino de Santiago network of trails.
This Irish pilgrim route follows the path that is believed to have been taken by many pilgrims on their way to St. James’ Church in Dingle Town. The church was originally built by Spanish merchants who dedicated the place of worship to St. James of Santiago de Compostela. It is because of this reason that Dingle became a famous departure point for Irish pilgrims setting sail for Northern Spain to follow the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrim path to visit the relic/remains of St. James, the apostle, at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
By completing this long-distance walk, you will also be following in the footsteps of an Irish Saint, St. Brendan the Navigator, a monk who is believed by many to have discovered America long before Christopher Columbus!
Walking the Kerry Camino also means you are presented with the opportunity to experience the landscape and culture of the Irish-speaking Dingle Peninsula, an area that the National Geographic Traveller Magazine bestowed the title, “the most beautiful place on Earth”. Walkers will be able to soak up a wide variety of landscapes while completing the trail, passing through rugged mountains, dramatic coastlines and quaint, picturesque Irish towns and villages.
When is the best time to walk the Kerry Camino?
When booking a hiking holiday, every season has its own charm, but indeed some months are better for hiking than others. It is always important to make yourself aware of the best times to walk any long-distance trails as weather conditions and busyness can greatly impact your overall hiking experience.
Of course, hours of sunshine, probability of rain, wind and temperature depend solely on the respective season in Ireland.
Due to the longer daylight hours and more favourable weather conditions we recommend that you visit the Kerry Camino anytime from March through to October. If you are thinking of completing the Irish trail during the other months of the year, there is a high possibility you will be met with adverse weather conditions including ice, snow, or storms, along with shorter days of daylight.
As a result of the prevailing south-westerly winds along with the warmth provided by the Gulf Stream along the west coast, Kerry’s climate is mostly mild. If it is sunshine you are looking for, then July and August are often the best months as temperatures range between 14-16C (57-61F). The coldest months in Kerry are January and February with average temperatures ranging from 4-7C (39-45F).
How long does it take to hike the Kerry Camino
The 57km (35 mile) long Kerry Camino is designed to take the average adult with reasonable fitness 3 days to complete this Irish pilgrim path.
At Hillwalk Tours, our 5-Day Moderate Tour of the Kerry Camino covers an average of 19.5km (12 miles) per day which works out as an average of 5-7 hours of walking.
While walking the Kerry Camino, walkers are given the opportunity to record their progress by storing stamps in their Pilgrim Logbook from selected stamping stations. These logbooks can be purchased on various websites online.
For those who book their Kerry Camino hiking holiday with us at Hillwalk Tours, you will receive an extensive walking pack which will include one of these unique logbooks, so you don’t have to purchase one!
In total, there are 18 stamping stations throughout the pilgrim path’s entirety where hikers can receive stamps as proof of reaching certain parts of the trail. Once the logbook is fully completed and stamped with a minimum of 8 stamps, walkers will then receive a Kerry Camino Certificate of Completion.
Types of Trails
Choosing the right hiking tour for you can be, at times, tricky. It is always important to consider your own physical capability and comfort levels.
For example, at Hillwalk Tours, we have grouped each trail route we offer into three categories depending on personal preference and fitness levels. These are – gentle, moderate, and challenging. Each of these categories, depending on the destination, will include anything from 4 to 13-day itineraries, with customers given the option to add rest days where they see fit.
Our gentle hikes are perfectly suited for those who would consider themselves as a part-time hiker who enjoys taking photos and meeting locals while taking in the spectacular scenery. Our moderate hikes will suit people who are used to regular exercise and appreciate the opportunity of covering plenty of ground each day without going beyond their limits. Finally, our challenging hikes are for hikers who look to set off early in the morning and not stop until they have reached their destination.
With regards to our Kerry Camino trail, we currently offer a 5-Day Moderate Tour.
Hillwalk Tours Guide Notes
If you decide to walk the trail with Hillwalk Tours, you will receive a detailed walking pack once we have fully booked your hiking holiday. This walking pack will include detailed Ordnance Survey (OS) maps and unique route notes and walking directions written and constantly updated by our route development team. By personally walking each trail and creating our own detailed route notes, it allows us to provide more itineraries, route options and alternatives than what you will typically find across generic guidebooks. It also includes GPS tracks meaning you will never have to worry about getting lost.
Starting and Finishing Point
The Kerry Camino is traditionally walked in a linear route from St. John’s Church in Tralee to St. James’ Church in Dingle. The route primarily follows the Dingle Way (or the North Kerry Way) and following on from departing Tralee, the trail heads west along the northern slopes of the stunning Slieve Mish Mountains.
The pilgrim path then moves south from the small village of Camp before crossing the peninsula towards the blissful Inch Beach. From here, the path reaches the village of Annascaul, the home of the famous South Pole Inn (see attractions below for further information). The route briefly passes the coast once again at Minard Castle, before once again making it’s way along the slopes of the Slieve Mish Mountains but this time along its southern slopes. The final leg of the trail finishes in the popular tourist town of Dingle – the most westerly town in all of Europe.
Hillwalk Tours Kerry Camino Itinerary
The following is an example of a Hillwalk Tours Moderate itinerary of hiking the Kerry Camino:
Day 1: Arrival in Tralee
Day 2: Tralee – Camp (18km or 11 miles)
Day 3: Camp – Annascaul (18km or 11 miles)
Day 4: Annascaul – Dingle Town (22km or 13.5 miles)
Day 5: Departure from Dingle
Hillwalk Tours Kerry Camino Map
Kerry Camino Path Terrain
The Kerry Camino is well-signposted throughout its entirety. As it follows the Dingle Way, for the most part, walkers will notice a yellow hiker that will help indicate your next turn, making it difficult to get lost. Also, while walking the Kerry Camino, you will regularly see Kerry Camino Passport Stamping Stations.
If you are ever in doubt, you can also check the Hillwalk Tours turn by turn directions and route notes including GPS coordinates. We also supply all you need to know about local information and history as you pass, along with trail alternatives and other activities.
Want to learn more about how to read a map? Check out this blog post.
The majority of the Kerry Camino crosses low-lying land that looks up at mountains rather than down from them. The total aggregate ascent over this long-distance walk is approximately 810m. Although there are some short steep ascents during the trail, there are no significant steep climbs.
The beauty of the Kerry Camino is that there is a wide variety of terrain that’s covered over the course of the trail. It mainly consists of quiet tarmac roads, mountain, field and moorland walking. ‘Boreens’, the Irish word for small roads, make up part of the trail and help walkers develop a quick walking pace.
Sights & Attractions
St. John’s Church
The St. John the Baptist Church is the starting point of the Kerry Camino and a sight to behold. Found at the end of Edward St, Tralee, the church itself was built in the mid 1800’s and is quite hard to miss as it has an extremely tall spire.
Kerry County Museum
Located at the beginning of the Kerry Camino in Tralee, the Kerry County Museum is based in the Ashe Memorial Hall in the centre of the town. The museum collects, records, preserves and displays heritage material related to the county of Kerry.
Originating in 1957, Siamsa Tire is Ireland’s National Folk Theatre and is also located in Tralee town. Simsa Tire is from the Irish language and translates into English as ‘entertainment of the land’. A great place to visit if you would like to immerse yourself into Irish culture and heritage!
Situated in Ardfert, the home of St. Brendan the Navigator, is the ruins of Ardfert Cathedral. Built in the 11th century and dedicated to the village’s native Saint, it became the seat of the Diocese of Ardfert in 1117 and is an official Heritage Ireland site. Note: this attraction is found a short distance away from Tralee Town, and is not found on the Kerry Camino trail.
This gorgeous golden sandy beach is popular with walkers and swimmers alike. Boasting an impressive backdrop of the awe-inspiring Slieve Mish Mountains, this the perfect area to rest your feet while completing this pilgrim path.
South Pole Inn
The South Pole Inn is a pub that was opened by Irish explorer, Tom Crean, during the 1920s. For those unfamiliar with Crean, he is considered to be the unsung hero of the Antarctic explorations. He was part of Captain Scott’s team between 1911 and 1913 as they raced Captain Amundson’s team to the South Pole. Scott’s team lost and most of the team perished but Crean survived. He survived a further doomed exhibition before returning home to Annascaul in 1920.
Inch Beach is a well-known Irish beach that expands 5km or 3 miles. It is a perfect place to detour on your journey around the Dingle Peninsula and walk along its golden sands as the waves wash in right beside you.
St. James’ Church
Signalling the end of the Kerry Camino is St. James’ Church, dedicated and named after St. James, the Apostle. This beautiful Anglican church is steeped in history and situated on the north east side of Main St. in Dingle Town.
The fishing town of Dingle is a culture-rich town filled with heritage, history and ‘craic’ aplenty. The most western town in Europe boasts a beautiful scenic harbour, rows of bright and colourfully painted buildings and an array of traditional Irish pubs to visit. The picture perfect place to rest or have the craic to celebrate finishing the Kerry Camino!
Wildlife is plentiful along the Kerry Camino. Walkers are given the opportunity to see a host of different types of animals from red deer, mountain goats, and stoats. There is also a high likelihood you will see an abundance of marine life while walking the trail such as basking sharks, dolphins or an array of sea birds including puffins!
It is of course great to get up close and personal with any of these animals. However, to maintain these experiences as much as possible, it is important that hikers interact as little as possible with the wild animals.
The do’s and don’ts regarding wildlife are, as always, self-explanatory. Feeding is of course out of the question, but also try not to run after animals for photos. Leave the animals alone as much as possible – after all, you are essentially visiting their “home”.
History of the Kerry Camino
The Kerry Camino was launched in 2012 as a local initiative to promote walking the footsteps of St. Brendan along a portion of the Dingle Way trail. It is believed that the Patron Saint of Kerry would walk this route on his way to spread Christianity across the seas. Many pilgrims of the past would set sail from Dingle as they embarked on their spiritual journey of walking the Camino de Santiago to visit the tomb of St. James in Spain.
Did you know?
It is widely, yet reputedly, believed by several scholars that St. Brendan was the first person to discover America before Christopher Columbus. It is argued that along with a small group of monks, they reached the shores of America between 512AD and 530AD.
Kerry Camino Pop Culture
Film and TV
The Camino Voyage (2018)
A crew made up of Irish musicians Glen Hansard and Brendan Begley, artist Liam Holden, stonemason Brendan Moriarty, and late poet Danny Sheehy travel to complete the Camino journey by sea. The five men build a traditional Irish boat (naomhog) and embark on 2,500km Celtic journey from Dingle to Northern Spain.
Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
This Oscar-winning classic offers a powerful depiction of Ireland during 1916 which is greatly complimented by the rugged coastline and the barren land around the Dingle Peninsula. The opening scene of the movie is filmed on Inch Beach showing the west coast of Ireland in all of its beauty and glory.
Far and Away (1992)
This epic romantic drama, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, used the Dingle Peninsula for its Irish coastal scenes. Cruise and Kidman play two Irish immigrants seeking their fortune in America around 1890. The movie soundtrack also features music from Irish artists, The Chieftains and Enya.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2021)
An American sitcom that follows four friends that run an Irish bar in Philadelphia. In season 15, there are episodes called “The Gang Goes To Ireland”, where you will see shots of Annascaul as well as other well-known areas in Kerry.
The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin (2005)
A brilliant and dramatic written account of author, Severin and his crews journey as they embark on a journey from Brandon’s Creek in Dingle to Newfoundland in an attempt to prove how St. Brendan beat Christopher Columbus in discovering America.
The Voyage of Saint Brendan by John O’Meara (1991)
Translated from Latin, this is a very readable version of a fascinating story which fills in the blanks of a largely forgotten period of history as it attempts to depict St. Brendan’s journey to discover America in the sixth century.
Food and Drink
Below are just some of the food and drink synonymous with the country of Ireland that should be tried while walking the Kerry Camino:
A typical Irish dinner if there ever was one. A classic Irish stew contains beef or lamb with vegetables such as potatoes, onions and carrots. This is a perfect, nutritious dish for those that hike as it will fuel you throughout the day and also keep you warm. Don’t be surprised if you see a beef stew made with Guinness!
A full-Irish breakfast is typically made up of sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and bread. Irish soda bread is used mostly (see below) and it is typically accompanied by lots of tea or coffee. If you are in a hurry, go to a local shop and get a breakfast roll – whereas many of the above ingredients are added into a fresh baguette. You really have not lived if you haven’t tried one of these!
Black and White Pudding
Yes, we knew some of you might be wondering what pudding refers to… it is popular throughout Irish cuisine. Pudding is basically sausage meat blended with oats or barley. There is a significant difference with black and white pudding as black pudding contains blood whereas white pudding doesn’t.
Ireland is renowned for its superb and fresh quality seafood. From fresh fish to shellfish, Ireland is a big producer and exporter of seafood. Examples of this fabulous seafood includes salmon, monkfish, pollock, hake, oysters, prawns and mussels. For all of you fish and chips lovers out there, you have not lived until you have tried an Irish fish and chips from a local ‘chipper’.
Seafood Chowder is a hearty soup made with seafood, vegetables and cream and is a popular meal throughout the pubs and restaurants of Ireland. It usually contains fish such as salmon, white fish, and prawns mixed with onions, potatoes, swede and cream. It is typically served with homemade brown bread and is another dish that will keep you full throughout the day!
Bacon and Cabbage
This dish of sliced back bacon boiled together with cabbage and served with potatoes (some form of white sauces optional) has long been a traditional dish of Ireland. This is because each of the ingredients were readily available as they grew their own cabbage and reared their own pigs. You’re trip to Ireland is incomplete until you have tried this typical Irish dish!
Possibly Ireland’s most beloved ‘comfort’ dishes, Shepherd’s Pie is made with a layer of ground beef or lamb and veggies, and is topped with creamy mashed potatoes before being baked to perfection. The dish actually originated in Scotland where crust was used in place of potatoes. However, once it arrived to Ireland, potatoes were quickly opted for instead, and the dish has become a household favourite throughout the country.
Did you even go to Ireland if you didn’t have a pint of creamy Guinness? This dark stout is made from barley, hops, roast malt extract and water. Some of the barley used is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and unique lactic acid flavour. Brewed at St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin since the late 18th century, this Irish pint is exported across the world, making approximately $2 billion annually. Any Guinness connoisseurs will tell you, you have not had a Guinness unless you have tasted one in Ireland!
No, we aren’t talking about Irish roasted coffee beans here. This is a caffeinated alcoholic drink that consists of whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar topped with cream. There are plenty rumours about how this hot beverage came to fruition but the most commonly believed story is that a head chef in the restaurant of the Foynes Airbase added whiskey to the coffee of some tired passengers who were awaiting a storm to pass. The rest is history!
Is the Kerry Camino Vegan Friendly
The vegan diet has become more and more popular throughout Europe in recent years, and you will find that there are plenty of vegan options available in most eateries. Each of the accommodation we work with at Hillwalk Tours have given us their guarantee that vegan breakfasts will be catered for once they have been informed. That being said, some of the more rural locations of the trail may have limited options so we advise bringing certain items such as plant-based milk, nut butters or protein powders if you so choose.
In addition, the following apps show restaurants which offer vegetarian and/or vegan opions:
Other Pilgrimage Trails
There are various other pilgrim path trails available to you once you have completed the Kerry Camino. Here are the other Hillwalk Tours Pilgrim Path hiking tours we offer:
Kerry Camino Tips and FAQs
Probably one of the most common questions asked when walking the Kerry Camino or any trail for that matter is – what will I pack?
Once you have fully booked your Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday, you will receive a detailed ‘recommended equipment’ list inside your Walking Pack. For those who are still unsure of what to bring, here are some of the things we advise you bring with you along the Kerry Camino:
– Waterproof Clothing
– Fleece and other warm clothing
– Base Layer
– Light, comfortable Trousers
– Wicking Socks
– Suitable Hiking Boots
– Hat and Gloves
– First Aid Kit and Foil Blanket
– Whistle and Torch
– Insect Repellent
– Mobile Phone
– Plug Adapter/Converter
For more on what to pack – check out these packing musts.
Unfortunately, dogs are not welcome on any of the walking trails in Kerry or the surrounding mountains due to the amount of farm animals such as cattle and sheep.
As most of the accommodation we work with in this area don’t accept pets of any kind, it is not possible to bring any pets, such as your dog, on a Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday.
As the trail also follows the Dingle Way, one of Ireland’s most popular trails, you will rarely be alone while walking it. You will always meet people along the way with the only exception being during the depths of winter.
As a result of this, the Kerry Camino is deemed safe for solo hikers.
Furthermore, conditions at certain points along the trail can be slippery, muddy and wet so general precautions still apply.
If you experience any difficulty or emergency of any kind, it is advised that you phone the relative emergency services on 999 or 112. It is also important to note that mobile phones in Ireland can call this number with or without mobile/cell coverage.
For those who have fully booked their Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday on the Kerry Camino, we provide 24/7 on-call support to all of our customers and you will receive a detailed description on how to remain safe during the course of your hike.
Yes, solo hikers are more than welcome to complete the Kerry Camino and the trail proves to be quite popular for solo hikers. However, due to the limited availability of single rooms along the trail, it is important to note that booking early is recommended, in addition to a single supplement charge also being applicable.
At Hillwalk Tours, we believe that the beauty of the Irish countryside should be enjoyed by everyone. With this in mind, we designed our hiking tours to cater for practically all levels of fitness. Our range of ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ and ‘Challenging’ hikes in all regions allows you to decide how far you wish to walk each day and the pace you set. So, whether you are a novice walker or an experienced hiker, we always have a tour to suit you.
Currently, we only offer a 5-Day Moderate Tour along the Kerry Camino. Our Moderate Tours will typically suit those who are used to regular exercise. This tour grading is specifically designed for those who appreciate the chance to cover plenty of ground each day without going beyond their limits. We also offer the opportunity to book extra day’s on each of the tours we offer – so if you find that this Moderate Tour along the Kerry Camino may be too strenuous, our Customer Experience team would be delighted to add extra days to your tour. For more information on this, simply check the ‘Extra Day’s / Activities’ tab on the Kerry Camino webpage.
Cycling is allowed along the Kerry Camino and is quite a popular way to take in the breathtaking scenery the trail has to offer. However, it is important to note that the Kerry Camino was predominantly designed as a long-distance walking route so you may come across terrain, underpasses and gates at several parts of the trail. It might be best to leave bike at home this time!
Generally, our tours take place between the months of March to October to hopefully allow for good, dry weather and longer days of daylight while you carry out your tour. This will hopefully ensure that you enjoy your hiking experience with us to the fullest. You can also check out the individual tour page for the Kerry Camino trail on our website.
Our 5-Day tours include 4 nights of accommodation – specifically the first 4 nights on your hiking tour. Your tour finishes on the fifth day when you check out of your last accommodation. Overall, you will have 3 walking days during a 5-Day tour.
To ensure you’re fully equipped and informed throughout your trail we provide a very informative ‘Walking Pack that you take with you on your trail. This pack has every detail you will need to successfully finish your trail without any disruption. We advise that you carefully look through this pack before embarking on your journey so that you have some sort of idea of where you’re going and what you will entail throughout the journey. Included in this pack is as follows;
– Route notes (prepared by a member the Hillwalk Tours team who has walked every step of your tour)
– Detailed hiking map(s)
– Waterproof map-case
– A sneak-peak at where you will be staying
– Our tips on the most interesting attractions to visit along the trail
– A look at fascinating local history
– A guide to the best places to eat and drink
– Mountain safety information, emergency contact details & the country code
Kerry Camino Image Gallery
Hillwalk Tours is an award-winning walking tour operator which specialise in self-guided walking holidays in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Our goal is to create happy experiences for all of our customers, suppliers & staff.
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Leave No Trace
We like to walk in nature and since you are reading this – we believe you do too! It is important to ensure that our impact on the environment is limited so that hikers can enjoy the same view after us. The rule applies: when you leave, make sure that nature looks the same as when you arrived or simply put “leave no trace.” As more and more people take to the great outdoors, our collective mark on the environment increases.
What does this mean in reality? Of course, do not leave any rubbish or waste behind. Do not collect stones, flowers, or other “souvenirs”. Don’t carve your name on a tree or break branches… I think you get the drift. It is imperative for walkers to play their part in making sure litter, damage to vegetation and all forms of pollution are limited.
Noise can also be a form of pollution. Whoever walks through a forest talking and laughing loudly, for example, ruins the peace and quiet of other walkers, who can no longer hear the birds. The same goes for cell phones that suddenly start ringing. Keep the volume down and respect your surroundings. Ultimately, the point is to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy walking through nature. So that applies to you, but also to those who tread the path after you.
Hillwalk Tours proudly supports sustainable tourism and loves the countryside as it is – wild, peaceful and clean. We are proud to support the “Leave No Trace” initiative that aims to preserve the natural beauty of each nations countryside where we offer hiking holidays. We try to create happy experiences for our accommodation too, and the restaurants, shops and taxi companies that serve our walkers. These are often small businesses located in isolated areas that have been left behind by urban migration and a lack of investment in rural regions. Their warm hospitality and friendly welcomes epitomise the magic of a Hillwalk Tour and we’re dedicated to helping keep these rural communities alive.
The Benefits of Hiking
In recent years, walking and hiking outdoors has been widely reported to have numerous physical and mental health benefits. The following are examples of some of these benefits:
Improve strength and fitness
- Weight loss
- Muscle gain
- Improve metabolism
- Improve digestion
- Better quality sleep
- Increase in Vitamin D
- Improve discipline
- Sense of achievement
- Living in the present moment
Hiking Equipment List
For a more in-depth list of recommended hiking equipment list, click here.