Discovering Ireland’s Ring of Kerry

If you’re planning to visit the West of Ireland and discover its beauties, you’re in the right place. We’ve been based in Ireland for a while and have traveled extensively across the island. One of our favorite destinations is the Ring of Kerry, a place we’ve visited multiple times.

The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most famous drives, a 179 km (111 miles) loop on the Iveragh Peninsula in the West of Ireland. The route offers spectacular views of beaches, lakes, waterfalls, and cliffs.

The drive takes about 3-4 hours without stopping, but we highly recommend taking a full day to explore and fully appreciate all the sights.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight some must-see attractions along the Ring of Kerry.

Most people prefer to drive around the ring and stop whenever they like. However, several bus tours with professional guides are also available. If a bus tour suits you better, check out our selection of tours below.

Discovering Ireland’s Ring of Kerry by car

While we usually prefer organized tours, we’ve also toured the Ring of Kerry in a friend’s car. Since much of the Ring is remote, we suggest using a GPS, which is available in most rental cars. Alternatively, pre-loading directions into Google Maps is a smart choice. Now, let’s look at our Ring of Kerry tour highlights.

Killarney

Like most visitors, we started our tour in Killarney. If you’re planning to spend multiple days in the West of Ireland, making Killarney your base is a wise choice. This charming town has retained its old-fashioned Irish style and offers plenty to see and do. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy an Irish music session at pubs like O’Connor’s and Jarvey’s Rest.

While in Killarney, we visited the National Park, a vast area of forests, lakes, and diverse wildlife. We entered through the main gate and drove to Ross Castle. The views of the castle and the surrounding lake are stunning. It was refreshing to walk around and relax after a long drive. We even spotted some adorable baby deer!

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Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe is a must-see gem when touring the Ring of Kerry. This scenic mountain pass offers breathtaking views and stunning scenery. While many visitors enjoy hiking or biking through the gap, we chose to drive. Despite the narrow road, it was well worth it. We were treated to beautiful vistas of mountain ranges, rivers, and lakes throughout the drive.

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Rossbeigh Beach

Rossbeigh Beach, located on the outskirts of the village of Glenbeigh and overlooking Dingle Bay, is a stunning spot. It’s a Blue Flag beach, recognized for its conservation efforts to protect local flora and fauna. Rossbeigh is also one of the best places in Ireland for water sports. We stopped there to have lunch and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

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Ballycarbery Castle

Ballycarbery Castle, a 16th-century ruin perched on a hill, is now covered in ivy. The castle is on private land, so it can only be admired from a car park about 100 meters away. While it’s a quick stop, it’s definitely worth checking out.

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Portmagee

Portmagee is a small village conveniently located near the main Ring Road, making it a popular stop for refreshments or an overnight stay. We stopped at the Fisherman Bar and enjoyed a delicious fish and chips. Notably, Portmagee is also the gateway to the Skellig Islands.

Skellig Islands

The Skellig Islands lie just off the coast of Portmagee. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit them, but we look forward to doing so on our next trip to Kerry. Skellig Michael, one of the islands, is home to the remains of a 6th-century monastery and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This impressive archaeological site was also featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As a protected area, the number of visitors each day is limited, so if you’re planning to go, be sure to sign up early.

Kerry Cliffs

What makes Ireland truly unique are its natural sceneries and breathtaking views. The Kerry Cliffs are some of the most impressive cliffs we’ve seen in Ireland. Standing over 1,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, these spectacular cliffs were formed in a desert environment 400 million years ago.

Kerry Cliffs
Kerry Cliffs

Eightercua Stones

Eightercua Stone Row is a stunning stone alignment dating back to around 1700 BC. Believed to be part of a Megalithic tomb, it is presumed to have been a ritual site. If you’re passionate about archaeology and ancient remains, you’ll love exploring this site!

Castlecove Beach

Castlecove village is a charming rural village that boasts a sandy beach. It’s an ideal spot to take a break while driving around the Ring of Kerry, allowing you to stretch your legs and admire the stunning turquoise waters. This family-favorite beach is perfect for swimming and offers a delightful respite along the journey.

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Staigue Fort

Staigue Stone Fort, located not far from the small village of Sneem, is a remarkable 5th-century circular fort constructed using dry-stone techniques. Believed to have been built as a stronghold for a local king, its construction is impressive: 27 meters in diameter, with walls reaching up to 5.5 meters in height and 4 meters in thickness. Staigue Fort stands as one of the finest examples of stone forts in Ireland and is among the top attractions of the Ring of Kerry.

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The Black Valley

The Black Valley is notable for being the last place in Ireland to be connected to the national electric grid in 1976. This wild and uninhabited valley boasts unspoiled panoramas and excellent hiking opportunities. It’s yet another fantastic place to immerse yourself in the beauty of Irish nature.

Ring of Kerry

Torc Waterfall

Torc Mountain and its waterfall stand as easily recognizable landmarks within Killarney National Park. Accessible via a pleasant 5-minute walk through picturesque woodlands, the waterfall and its surrounding peaks are natural spectacles and among the most photographed scenes in the Killarney area. A visit to Torc is an experience not to be missed.

Torc Waterfall

Where to stay in the Ring of Kerry

In Kerry, you’ll find a range of accommodation options, from charming old guesthouses to luxurious hotels. There are also campsites and caravan parks equipped with all necessary facilities. As a top tourist destination, the Ring of Kerry can get quite busy during peak seasons, so it’s wise to book accommodation well in advance. Below, we’ve compiled some of the best places to stay in the Ring of Kerry based on our own experiences and reviews.

Situated on Kells Bay, near Rossbeigh Beach, this delightful house is nestled amidst 40 acres of unique gardens featuring subtropical plants. Offering luxury suites, some with seafront views, it stands out as one of the top places to stay in the area when considering price and services. comparison.

Nestled in Killarney, the starting point of the Ring of Kerry journey, these lodges prioritize peace and relaxation. Conveniently situated near town, they offer a picturesque, natural setting surrounded by mountains and lakes.

With exceptional reviews on Booking.com, this stylish guesthouse in Kenmare village is a standout choice. Offering spacious ensuite bedrooms and delicious breakfast, it’s strategically located for convenience. Additionally, they provide a secure and sheltered outhouse to accommodate both motorcycles and bicycles.

If you’re still searching for the perfect place to stay, feel free to use the user-friendly map of the Ring of Kerry below.

Booking.com

Final Thoughts

County Kerry is one of the wildest and most enchanting counties in Ireland, offering a blend of Irish history and unspoiled nature set amidst stunning landscapes. For the adventurous traveler, there’s no shortage of activities, including water sports, horse riding, hiking, and biking. It’s no wonder that the Ring of Kerry attracts countless visitors each year.

Whether you choose to drive around the ring in a single day or spread it out over multiple days depends on your schedule and interests. Navigation is relatively straightforward, with ample road signs along the route. However, it’s wise to preload your directions into Google Maps, especially in remote areas with limited signal. And if you happen to get lost, just keep driving—it’s a ring road, after all!

Enjoyed reading this post? Be sure to check out other blog posts on our “Our Trip” page for more travel inspiration!

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