You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do in charming Tralee. At least according to Canadian Alissa Facchinato, who is studying Travel & Tourism Management at Tralee IT on Ireland’s beautiful Wild Atlantic Way. In her blog, she lets us in on her favourite activities in this seaside Kerry town.
The capital of County Kerry, Tralee, is a charming town with lots to do. You can enjoy all the shops, restaurants, activities, festivals and events; or experience the most beautiful beaches where you can surf or walk the strands. Since Tralee is centrally located in Kerry, it’s the perfect base to explore Ireland’s magnificent southwest.
Kerry County Museum
The Kerry County Museum displays and cares for artefacts from the history of Kerry and its people. The museum has several floors, but the Medieval Experience floor would be my favourite! The figures are awesome, and so too is the life-like city, which features market stalls, blacksmiths, etc. It really gives you a look into what life was like back then. The museum has rotating exhibits, and some permanent ones. While I was there, I was lucky enough to see the Tom Crean exhibition (Tom was a famous Antarctic explorer from Ireland). Watch the website for updates as the Tom Crean room should be re-opening soon and you can see what else they have on exhibition! The student admission fee is only €5.
Visible for miles against the greenery of Tralee Bay, the Blennerville Windmill is a whitewashed tower mill by the water. At 21.3 metres high this is one of the tallest mills of its kind in Europe. Built in 1800, the original windmill was used for grinding corn. It deteriorated after closing, but after a seven-year restoration project, it has now re-opened to the public, allowing visitors to see how the windmill works up close. The visitor centre displays the history of Blennerville. It’s a beautiful 40-minute walk from the town centre.
Tralee Town Park
Tralee Town Park is 35 acres and laid out on what used to be a country estate. In the 17th and 18th centuries this was an area for the Denny Family. Eventually in 1922 the park was sold to Tralee’s Town Council, and it became the official town park. The main reason to visit here is the Rose Garden, which has 35 varieties in formal flowerbeds, all framed by the spire of the 19th-century St John’s Church. The flowers can still be seen into the fall. In the garden area, you will find the glass memorial that names all the past and present roses from the famous Rose of Tralee festival, which takes place every year in August. This is a great place to take a walk and snap some awesome pictures.
This endless Blue Flag beach is minutes from the town of Tralee and deserves a visit in any of Ireland’s seasons. Banna Strand is on a small slant, and at low tide the beach seems to go on for miles. On the odd very warm day you can come to suntan and cool off in the chilly Atlantic waters. While the rolling waves come in you can rent a surf board. The Shorebreak Surf School is based here if you want to try surfing. In the cooler months Banna Strand has an eerie attraction, and to the southwest you can see the silhouette of the mountains on the Dingle Peninsula.
Tralee Bay Wetlands
The Tralee Bay Wetlands is an 8,000-acre reserve that stretches from Slieve Mish mountains to Tralee bay and features an amazing observation tower. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre also offers guided nature boat tours that include bird sightings, and possible wetland animals like dragonflies and frogs. There is a boardwalk to follow for bird watching. For more adventure, the watersports here include paddle boats, row boats, water walker zorbs, and even a climbing wall! They offer educational experiences through their interactive wildlife exhibit, which showcases Tralee’s native plants and animals. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Visitor Centre features a cafe, gift shop, restroom facilities, wifi and tourist information. I must admit though, it was the viewing tower that was my favourite part.
A short 15-minute drive west of Tralee will get you to the village of Fenit. There you can stop for a walk to the end of the peninsula to look back over the bay. Not far offshore is Fenit Lighthouse, built in 1851. You can take a boat ride over to the island to visit the lighthouse. There’s also a monument here to St Brendan the Navigator, born near Tralee and remembered in Irish Mythology for a voyage on the Atlantic in search of the Garden of Eden. His journey in a leather boat was re-created in the 1980s by Tim Severin, and amazingly, the crew made it all the way to the States!
Ballyseedy Wood Walk
In the backcountry of Tralee, you can go on a jog or stroll through this 80-acre wooded area that used to be part of an estate. There are 22 varieties of native Irish trees at Ballyseedy, some going back to the 18th century. There are information boards on the trails pointing out the various species, and here and there you’ll see bits of artificial ruins built in the 19th century.
If the weather isn’t great you can visit this covered water park. You can speed down the waterslide, which twists around the building, or float along the lazy river. There is an adults-only section, which has saunas, a steam room and a cool pool. Dry side there’s also an indoor games room, and if you do have some good weather you can play a round at the 18-hole mini-golf course. On Monday nights they have a special for students, an entry fee of only €2.
This arts centre is in a Medieval-style building. Siamsa Tíre is home to Ireland’s National Folk Theatre, and brings Irish folklore to life through song, music and dance. The centre has a resident group of trained performers from the town and County Kerry. Although folk is the centre’s main style, they also have live bands, art exhibitions, classical music performances, literary talks, poetry readings, and contemporary plays throughout the year.
Tralee Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday from 10am to 2.30pm at the The Brandon Carpark, various local booths are set up selling locally produced foods and crafts. It is an awesome place to pick up vegetables and fruits that are in season, and from the loveliest people. There is a fantastic selection of food products to try here. I try each Saturday to pick up my bread and any vegetables I may need for the week. It is a great event to get involved in the community and try some delicious food.
Maddens is a charming café that sits at the heart of Milk Market Lane, a building renovated in the old quarter to showcase contemporary Irish designers and local artists. It’s the best place to eat, browse, think, create and sip the perfect cup of coffee. If the weather isn’t too great outside and you need a place for cover or just want a good cup of coffee this is the place to be. The interior is so unique and cozy, and the fruit scones are to die for. The best part is the owners’ dog Maggie, who you can find padding around inside looking for a good belly rub!
Quinlan’s Seafood Bar
This is my favourite place to get fish n’ chips in Tralee. Located right in the middle of the town centre, it’s perfect for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking or are craving some fish n’ chips. It costs around €12. They offer a range of fresh fish meals and snacks as well. The freshest chips can be found here as their potatoes are freshly peeled and chipped each day. The portions are very generous and the chips are so tasty. If you want a healthier option, you can always get a salad in place of the chips with your meal. But you’d be missing out!