Ring of Kerry

One of the most popular holidays or traveling locations that can be found across all of Ireland is the renowned Ring of Kerry.

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 this place 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 in the colourful towns, you are visiting.

Ring of Kerry 3 Day Itinerary

Day 1

ActivityTimeCost
Ross Castle45 Mins$
Innisfallen Island1 hr$$$
Killarney Brewing & Distilling Company45 Mins$$
Kerry Bog Museum45 Mins$
Mountain Stage Viewpoint10 MinsFree
Kells Bay Gardens1 hr$
Cahersiveen Ringforts30 MinsFree
Ballycarbury Castle10 MinsFree
Day 1 of the Ring of Kerry

Day 2

ActivityTimeCost
Transatlantic Cable Station Museum45 Mins$
Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs30 Mins$
Bray Head Loop Walk1 hrFree
Skellig Michael1 hr – 4hr$$$
Cúm an Easpaig Viewpoint15 MinsFree
Kerry Cliffs30 Mins$
Loher Stone Fort30 MinsFree
Kerry Dark Sky Reserve (star gazing)1 hrFree
Day 2 of the Ring of Kerry

Day 3

ActivityTimeCost
Com an Chiste Viewpoint10 MinsFree
Derrynane House45 Mins$$
Staigue Stone Fort30 MinsFree
The Pyramids in Sneem15 MinsFree
Kenmare Stone Circle15 Mins$
Molls Gap Viewpoint10 MinsFree
Ladies’ View Viewpoint15 MinsFree
Cardiac Hill  & Torc Waterfall2 hrFree
Muckross House & Gardens45 Mins$$
Muckross Traditional Farms30 Mins$
Muckross Abbey20 MinsFree
Day 3 of the Ring of Kerry

There are many more attractions on the Ring of Kerry but this is what I would recommend to get a true variety.

Sea fog just off Killelan Mountains
Sea fog just off Killelan Mountains near Cahersiveen

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 Molls Gap and Killarney. It is such a renowned narrow road that even the buses opt to complete the anticlockwise route rather than the clockwise one. We blew a tire trying to avoid a bus coming down from Molls Gap.

Day 1 – Killarney to Cahersiveen

Killarney

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.

A statue of 2 Red deers locking horns in Killarney
2 Red deers locking horns in Killarney

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.

Whilst many people travel to Killarney to explore its magnificent National Park, the town has so much more to offer.

Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park

From Killarney’s Brewing Company, Kate Kearney’s Pub with its traditional music and 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. See my web page on Killarney here.

Killorglin

From Killarney, you are then to continue your journey towards the town of Killorglin.

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 August, then you should plan your trip perfectly so that you are in Killorglin for the Puck Fair. I try to go every year.

Statue of the King Puck in Killorglin Kerry
King Puck

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.

Kerry Bog Village Museum
Kerry Bog Village Museum

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.

Glenbeigh

Traveling on the majestic Iveragh Peninsula the next stop will be the picturesque village of Glenbeigh.

Drone photo of Rossbeigh Beach Sandunes
Rossbeigh Beach Sandunes

Once you have arrived in Glenbeigh 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?

Drone photo of Rossbeigh Beach and Rossbeigh Hill Walk
Rossbeigh Beach

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.

Fairy village in Faha Forest
Fairy village in Faha Forest

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.

Mountain Stage near Cahersiveen
Mountain Stage

Of course, before you reach Cahersiveen, you will pass through Mountain Stage with its jaw-dropping cliffs, and stop off at Kells beach.

Kells

From one stunning beach location to another, Kells is home to the beautiful Kells Bay Beach, which is a very popular summer holiday spot.

Kells beach and pier
Kells beach and pier

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.

Rope bridge in Kells Bay Gardens
Rope bridge in Kells Bay Gardens

I was petrified going over that bridge but I did it.

Spanning a very impressive 17 hectares, the gardens are home to a large variety of rare sub-tropical plants, and a collection of walking trails, and you can also book any activity from an extensive list of excursions that the gardens offer.

Tarsus Giganteur at Kells Bay Gardens
Tarsus Giganteur at Kells Bay Gardens

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.

Day 2 – Cahersiveen to Waterville

Cahersiveen

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. Its laid-back, quiet, and relaxing atmosphere makes it the perfect location to come to the end of your first day.

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.

Ballycarbery Castle in Castlequin, Cahersiveen
Ballycarbery Castle

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 the 2 Cahersiveen Ring Forts.

These are known as Cahergal and Leacanabuaile and are extremely impressive.

Leacanabuaile Rind Fort Music in the video by SoulProdMusic from Pixabay

First built around 600AD, the forts were constructed 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.

Skellig Ring

Now, let’s take a detour from the Ring of Kerry to explore the Skellig Ring. Unlike the large buses that can’t navigate this route, you can easily turn right just outside Cahersiveen to head towards the Renard Point where you’ll catch a ferry to Knightstown in Valentia.

In Valentia, don’t miss the chance to visit attractions like the Tetrapod Trackway, Valentia Lighthouse, and the Transatlantic Cable Museum.

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael

Once you’ve explored Valentia, cross the bridge to Portmagee where you can arrange trips to the Skellig Islands, famous for being a filming location for Star Wars. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site only allowing people on Skellig Michael at certain times of the year.

If you don’t mind heights you can go up to the monastic settlement and the beehive huts. See my webpage on Skellig Michael here.

While in Portmagee, make sure to visit the Kerry Cliffs, which may not be as grand as the Cliffs of Moher but are equally breathtaking.

Boats at Portmagee Harbour
Boats at Portmagee Harbour (Skellig Ring)

For a panoramic view, drive up the steep mountain behind Portmagee.

Beautiful Scenery looking down on Cahersiveen in Kerry

On the other side, make a stop at the Skellig Chocolate Factory to witness how artisan chocolates are made right before your eyes. Enjoy a treat at the cafe while gazing out at the vast Atlantic Ocean. As you journey back from the Skellig Ring to the Ring of Kerry, your next destination awaits at Waterville.

I think the small Skellig Ring is more beautiful than the Ring of Kerry. See my web page on the Skellig Ring here.

Waterville

Your last stop on day two of your journey around the Ring of Kerry will be at Waterville, also known historically as Coirean.

Bridge going over the Currane River in Waterville
Currane River in Waterville

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.

Loher Ring Fort. Music in the video by SoulProdMusic from Pixabay

But one of the most amazing experiences available in Waterville is the unique Charlie Chaplin Comedy Festival.

During 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

You 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.

Caherdaniel

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.

Drone photo of Derrynane Beach
Derrynane Beach

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.

Derrynane Beach in Kerry
Derrynane Beach

Please note, that 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.

Abbey Island graveyard looking down at Derrynane Strand
Abbey Island Graveyard

At 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.

Sneem

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.

Outside front of Staigue Fort
Staigue Stone Fort

Believed to have been constructed over 2,500 years ago, this ancient marvel will provide you with some spectacular views of the countryside.

I had to pay a donation of €1 to get in but you can go free because there is no one at the gate.

Statue of Steve Crusher Casey in Sneem
Statue of Steve Crusher Casey in Sneem

Be sure to visit Kerry Geopark which has archaeological sites and historical items this geopark is full to the brim with incredible wonders. See my web page on Sneem here.

Kenmare

After leaving Sneem, you will travel to the last 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.

Church in the centre of Kenmare
Holy Cross Catholic Church

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.

Killarney

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.

Scenic view at Moll's Gap
Moll’s Gap

The windy road starts with a viewing point at Molls Gap where you can see the amazing mountain range, the McGillicuddy Reeks.

Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry
Ladies View

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.

Ross Castle, Killarney at dusk
Ross Castle

The last stop you should see is Ross Castle. It is free to enter (unless you are doing a tour) & 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 in Killarney that you still wish to do, now would be the perfect time to do it.

Which is better the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula?

Good question. They are really nice, but I will say one thing to you. If you only have one day, go to Dingle and do the Slea Head Drive. You can visit almost everything in one day.

If you try to do the Ring of Kerry in one day, you won’t see anything because you will be traveling all day, and then you will be tired when you return to your hotel.

I think the Ring of Kerry should be done over 3 day.

What are the best places to take a photograph on the Ring of Kerry?

  • Mountain Stage 
  • Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs
  • Kerry Cliffs
  • Com an Chiste
  • Molls Gap
  • Ladies View
  • Torc Mountain

Here are some tips for driving the Ring of Kerry route

  • Start Early: You will avoid the buses and crowds. By doing so, you can savor the picturesque views and attractions at your own pace.
  • Narrow Roads: The narrow roads in this region of Kerry, particularly along the Gap of Dunloe and Molls Gap road, can be exceptionally tight.
  • Follow Itinerary: Make sure to carefully plan your journey so that you don’t overlook any important stops during the trip.
  • Take Your Time: There is no use to the Ring of Kerry in record time

Conclusion

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.

I hope you have an incredible trip. Enjoy

Q/A

What are some must-see attractions along the Ring of Kerry?

Along the Ring of Kerry, you simply can’t miss out on the awe-inspiring sights of Killarney National Park, Staigue Ringfort, the quaint beauty of Sneem, and a detour to see Skellig Michael.

How long does it typically take to drive the entire Ring of Kerry Loop?

It typically takes around 3 hours to drive the entire Ring of Kerry without stops. However, it’s recommended to allow 3 days to fully appreciate the scenery and attractions along the way.

Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known spots worth exploring along the route?

Venture off the beaten path to the Skellig Ring for jaw-dropping vistas of the Skellig Islands and serene roads less traveled.

Are there any traditional Irish pubs or restaurants along the route that you recommend?

Tantalize your taste buds with mouthwatering seafood, hearty Irish stews, and delectable Kerry lamb at charming pubs and restaurants scattered along the route. Be sure to check out gems like The Point, the Fisherman Bar, and The Blind Piper for an authentic culinary experience.

What’s the best time of year to visit the Ring of Kerry for optimal weather and fewer crowds?

The best time of year to visit the Ring of Kerry is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds. However, summer (July to August) offers longer daylight hours and vibrant green landscapes. The tourist season will be opening up in April and closing during September/October.

Are there any guided tours available for those who prefer not to drive themselves?

There are several guided bus tours available for those who prefer not to drive themselves. These tours leave mostly from Killarney and Kenmare. Rabbie’s tours takes in the Skellig Ring.

Are there any local festivals or events that coincide with a visit to the Ring of Kerry?

Local festivals and events that coincide with a visit to the Ring of Kerry include the Puck Fair in Killorglin (August), the Cahersiveen Celtic Music Festival (August), and the Sneem International Storytelling Festival (November).

What are some nearby attractions or day trips that visitors can consider while exploring the Ring of Kerry?

My pick would be the Skellig Ring taking in Valentia Island. Also, Caherciveen Ringfort, Kells Bay Gardens and try to plan your trip to coincide with Puck Fair (10th – 12th August)

Pros and Cons of the Ring of Kerry

Pros

  • Scenic beauty: It has breathtaking landscapes and coastal views etc 
  • Historical sites: The route has many historical sites & ancient ruins on the way 
  • Outdoor activities:  There are many outdoor attractions like golfing, hiking, cycling, kayaking, surfing and fishing
  • Photography: The scenic beauty provides ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts 
  • Warm Hospitality: Visitors to the Ring of Kerry praise the local hospitality 
  • Cultural events: Throughout the year there are festivals and local cultural events 
  • Hidden gems: If you go off the beaten track you will discover hidden gems
  • Cost: Touring the Ring of Kerry can be free if you want. Just the price of petrol.

Cons

  • Road conditions: If you are not used to country roads you might find it difficult to navigate
  • Crowds: In the summertime, there will be many people traveling on the Ring of Kerry with bus tours, etc
  • Cost: Although many attractions are free, one or two of them are expensive.
  • Limited time: If you have limited time, you may not fully experience all that the Ring of Kerry has to offer

Day 4 (Optional)

Gap of Dunloe

If you want to explore the Gap of Dunloe, I recommend going to Ross Castle and hiring a boat to take you to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. You will be getting a boat trip across the 3 Killarney Lakes.

It is a lovely trip, and as you approach the disembarkation point, if the water is low, the skipper may need to manually guide the boat through the water.

2 Small boats moored at Ross Castle
Small boats moored at Ross Castle

Once at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, you can enjoy a coffee before embarking on the Gap of Dunloe. You have the option to either take a pony and trap or hike through the Gap of Dunloe.

If you choose to walk, please do so on the right-hand side facing the traffic. It is a beautiful hike.

Keep in mind that when you reach Kearney’s Cottage (where there are traditional music sessions sometimes), you will have to get someone to collect and bring you back to Killarney where you are staying.

Kate Kearney's Cottage
Kate Kearney’s Cottage

If you are not afraid of driving through the Gap of Dunloe, you can always pull over when you see a pony and trap coming towards you. There will be plenty of spots where you can pull over so the pony can pass.

Another way to access the gap is by parking across the road from Kearneys Cottage. From there, you can either hike or take a pony trap. If you opt for the latter, make sure to agree on a price for the return journey.

Enjoy

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.