One of the most popular holidays or traveling locations that can be found across all of Ireland is the renowned Ring of Kerry.
Throughout your travels, you will visit some of the most popular villages and towns in the south of Kerry, where you will get a true taste of the county.
There are many guided bus tours of the Ring of Kerry which are a good option if you do not want the hassle of driving, but you do not get the same freedom or time for exploring your surroundings so you may not get to see everything that an area has to offer.
Driving yourself is the best way to go and to help you, I have created the perfect 3-day tour of the Ring of Kerry, where you can stop off at all the best places, with enough time for you to fully immerse yourself into the communities you are visiting.
The Anti-Clock Wise Route Of The Ring Of Kerry
Now, you may be wondering why I advise an anticlockwise route rather than the more popular, and mainstream, clockwise route?
Well, this is because of the particularly narrow road located between Kenmare and Killarney. It is actually such a renowned narrow road that even the buses opt to complete the anticlockwise route rather than the clockwise one.
Day 1 – Killarney to Glenbeigh
When you travel from Killarney to Glenbeigh, you will pass through the town of Killorglin.
The starting place of my anti-clockwise tour of the Ring of Kerry is Killarney, which not only has its own beautiful national park but is set to the side of the stunning Lough Leane Lake.
This truly picturesque location has a large variety of breathtaking mountains and lakes that create the perfect backdrop for the start of your exciting road trip around the Ring of Kerry.
Whilst many people travel to Killarney to explore its magnificent National Park, the town has so much more to offer.
From Killarney’s Brewing Company, Kate Kearney’s Pub with its traditional music, Escape Rooms, which is the perfect activity for those looking for a group bonding experience, to taking a ride on the Jaunting Cars, which has been around for approximately 220 years.
They provide the most unique experience when looking to take in Killarney’s most popular sites. You will be able to find something that you will enjoy during your time in Killarney. See my web page on Killarney here.
From Killarney, you are then to continue your journey towards the town of Killorglin, which will mark the halfway point of your traveling on your first day exploring the Ring of Kerry.
The town centre is absolutely beautiful with traditional buildings that really amplify the small-town atmosphere.
If you choose to explore the Ring of Kerry during the month of August, then you should plan your trip perfectly so that you are in Killorglin for Puck Fair.
This particular Irish fair is deeply intertwined with the area’s history, as it is one of the oldest fairs in all of Ireland. It runs across three days, so you have the flexibility to attend just one day.
With the crowning of a goat, traditional Irish food and drink available, and many arts and crafts stalls, it is truly a unique experience that you will get nowhere else.
Alternatively, you can visit Cappanalea which hosts a wide variety of exciting activities for everyone.
From rock climbing to canoeing, hill walking, and kayaking, no matter what outdoor activity you were hoping to try during your trip to Ireland, you can do most of them here. See my web page on Killorglin.
Traveling on the Iveragh Peninsula the last stop on day one will be the picturesque village of Glenbeigh. Its laid-back, quiet, and relaxing atmosphere makes it the perfect location to come to the end of your first day.
Once you have arrived in Glenbeigh and settled in your accommodation, be sure to head down to Rossbeigh Beach.
This stunning blue flag beach, with soft sand and deep blue waters, is the perfect relaxation spot. And why not go for a quick dip in the sea?
Or, if you want to explore Rossbeigh Beach a different way, you should definitely go to Burkes Riding School and take part in a Horse Riding Trek down the coastline.
Alternatively, Glenbeigh is also home to a stunning golf links course with Dooks Golf Links. The Irish love to play golf and the country is home to some of the highest quality golf links around the world. You cannot experience golf quite like this anywhere else. See my web page on Glenbeigh here.
Day 2 – Glenbeigh to Waterville
After having a refreshing night’s sleep in the quaint town of Glenbeigh, it is time to pack up and start the second day of your Ring of Kerry adventure.
Throughout day two, you will travel from Glenbeigh to the beautiful coastal village of Waterville.
Of course, before you reach Waterville, you will pass through Mountain Stage with its jaw-dropping cliffs, stop off at Kells, as well as the very popular Cahersiveen town.
From one stunning beach location to another, Kells is home to the beautiful Kells Bay Beach, which is a very popular summer holiday spot.
Of course, you can spend some relaxing time at Kells Bay Beach and take part in watersport activities or swimming, but the area also has so much more to offer.
Perhaps the number one attraction at Kells Bay, aside from its beach, is the magnificent Kells Bay Gardens.
Spanning a very impressive 17 hectares, the gardens are home to a large variety of rare sub-tropical plants, a collection of walking trails, and you can also book any activity from an extensive list of excursions that the gardens offer.
For its guests they offer mountaineering expeditions, horse riding, and fishing trips, the Kells Bay Gardens also offer hunting.
Or, for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, why not head to Kells Sheep Centre and watch a sheepdog trainer guide his flock using a pair of adorable border collies. See my web page on Kells Bay here.
Following on from Kells, you will then travel to the coastal town of Cahersiveen, which is set into the mountains, looking down towards the magnificent Atlantic coast.
The town has so much to offer, but if I were to choose a specific route for you to go down whilst you are visiting Cahersiveen, I would advise you to check out the historical sites and attractions that the town has to offer.
The breathtaking Ballycarbery Castle, which dates back to the 15th century, is an absolute wonder. The castle is magnificent, especially with its coastal location, Ballycarbery Castle is also located near to 2 of the 3 Cahersiveen Ring Forts.
These are known as Cahergal and Leacanabuaile and are extremely impressive.
First built around 600AD, the forts were constructed in order to provide the local residents of the time with an additional vantage point, which would give them more time to ready themselves against possible invaders. See my web page on Cahersiveen here.
If you want to make a 4-day scenic drive out of it I highly recommend the Skellig Ring. You start in Cahersiveen and finish in Waterville.
I think the small Skellig Ring is more beautiful than the Ring of Kerry. You take in Valentia Island, Portmagee, St Fenian’s Bay, and Ballinskelligs. You can also book a boat tour out to Skellig Micheal. See my web page on the Skellig Ring here.
Your last stop on day two of your journey around the Ring of Kerry will be at Waterville, also known historically as Coirean.
The quaint coastal village of Waterville is the perfect relaxing stop to end your day exploring. Similar to most destinations, you will have already visited up until this point, Waterville has many hiking trails, horse riding excursions, and its very own golf link courses.
In Waterville, there is a ringfort called “Loher”. If you look out to sea in the distance you can see Skellig Michael.
But one of the most amazing experiences available in Waterville is the unique Charlie Chaplin Comedy Festival.
During the month of August, the village hosts this very special festival in collaboration with Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, Josephine Chaplin, which allows young and budding filmmakers and musicians to show their films and perform their music live.
There will be a host of street performers as well as traditional Irish food and drink on sale as well. See my web page on Waterville here.
Day 3 – Waterville to Killarney
We have reached the last day of your trip around the Ring of Kerry. Throughout this day, you will visit three brand new locations, Caherdaniel, Sneem, and Kenmare, before arriving back at your starting point in Killarney.
When you set off from Waterville, you will travel to Caherdaniel. Between the two villages, the coastal views are to die for.
Now, Caherdaniel is considered to be the home of many of the most beautiful beaches that you can find across the whole of Ireland.
The one beach I must recommend to you, above all others, is the truly stunning Derrynane Beach. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Europe, the Blue Flag Derrynane Beach has crystal blue waters and a soft sandy beach.
Please note, the sea has very powerful currents, so while I recommended partaking in some of the adrenaline-inducing watersports on offer, perhaps stay away from swimming where there are no swimming signs.
Alternatively, why not try a spot of fishing? The waters surrounding County Kerry are well populated with a large variety of different fish, so many that even a complete novice is more likely to make a successful catch.
On low tide, you can walk to Abbey Island. See my web page on Derrynane Beach here. Also, Derrynane House is just beside the beach. See the artifacts that Daniel O’Connell grew up with.
Once you have left Caherdaniel, the next stop on your tour will be the quaint Irish village of Sneem. Just before you reach the village, however, be sure to stop off at Staigue Stone Fort near Castlecove.
Believed to have been constructed over 2,500 years ago, this ancient marvel will provide you with some spectacular views of the countryside and the stunning meadows that surround the structure are filled with wildflowers.
After you have visited the Staigue Stone Fort, be sure to head towards Sneem, as there are two must-visit attractions in the local area.
First, for those traveling with younger children, you must stop off at Blueberry Hill Farm. There, you will be able to take part in a large variety of activities, from candle-making and wood-turning to petting animals and basket making.
Alternatively, you can visit Kerry Geopark with archaeological sites, historical items, and a large variety of paintings on display, this geopark is full to the brim with incredible wonders. See my web page on Sneem here.
After leaving Sneem, you will travel to the last ‘new’ location on the route before you arrive back in Killarney, which is Kenmare.
Perhaps one of the most popular tourist areas in County Kerry, Kenmare, is absolutely stunning. There are plenty of beautiful locations you must visit whilst you are passing through the town.
The breathtaking Holy Cross Catholic Church has magnificent architecture, while Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and Farm will allow you to step back into the 1800s and experience how life was back then.
You can even go scuba diving in Kenmare bay! There is truly something for everyone here, including fishing, hiking, cycling, and horse riding to mention but a few. See my web page on Kenmare here.
On the trip back to Killarney there is a small and windy road. Unfortunately, there is no telephone coverage on most of the road. But don’t let that stop you.
The windy road starts with a viewing point at Molls Gap where you can see the amazing mountain range, the McGillicuddy Reeks.
Halfway down you will come across Ladies View. Ladies View is a perfect spot to get an Instagram photo.
Keep going down and Torc mountain & waterfall is on your right. The windy road finishes at the Muckross House & Gardens where you can see Muckross Lake & Farm.
The next stop is the 15th century Muckross Abbey. It will be on the next left-hand turn after Muckross House.
The last thing you should see is Ross Castle. It is free to enter & at Ross Castle, you can get a boat trip to Innisfallen Island.
And then you are back to where you started your amazing journey. Of course, depending on your arrival time, if there was anything that you did not experience at the start of your trip that you still wish to do, now would be the perfect time to do it.
And that concludes my guide to the magnificent Ring of Kerry route. Having taken these three days to enjoy this incredible trip, you will have experienced one of the most highly recommended holidays that Ireland has to offer.
And, throughout your three days, you would have got a true taste of everything that Ireland holds dear and fully immersed yourself within the culture and activities available. I hope you have an incredible trip to the Ring of Kerry. And why not make it a 4-day trip to take in the Skellig Ring. You won’t be disappointed.