How to Drive the Ring of Kerry

Ireland is a great country for a road trip. There are many iconic drives on the Emerald Isle but none as famous as the Ring of Kerry in the southwest. The 179km route winds past beautiful beaches, shimmering lakes, islands, green fields, medieval ruins and rugged mountains. It is Ireland in a nutshell. It is fabulous.

You can easily do the Ring of Kerry in a day trip. Most tourists base themselves out of Killarney. Killarney is an excellent little town and home to great accommodation choices such as the impeccable Fairview, quaint restaurants offering up fresh seafood and a pleasant place to walk around.

From Killarney, you can start your loop around the Ring of Kerry in one of two directions. You can go the way of the tour busses toward Killorglin, the home of Puck Fair or you can head through the gorgeous Killarney National Park toward Kenmare.

As I am an impatient driver, there was no way I was going to be stuck behind a ton of tour busses so we headed toward Kenmare and I 100% recommend doing the same thing. The only thing to be wary of is tour busses barreling around blind corners right at you. The roads are very narrow so be alert. How to drive the Ring of Kerry is as important as actually doing it so you enjoy best.

The ride through Killarney National Park is spectacular. There isn’t a better word to describe it. There are stunning views around every corner. Lakes and mountains meet along with wildlife and forest. The 32km windy drive is a great introduction to the Ring of Kerry.

From Kenmare, you get onto the actual ring and head toward Sneem. After Sneem the road heads to the coast as you drive to Castlecove. Around Castlecove, there is also a little side trip about 4km off the road to Staigue Fort.

Staigue Fort is OK at best but cool to see. The best part of it is the actual drive through the small narrow roads where you just pray a car doesn’t come the opposite direction.

Continuing south toward Caherdaniel is where the amazing beach views come in. These views are the jewel of the Ring of Kerry. I had no idea Ireland had such gorgeous beaches with azure water. The views from the cliffs above are all encompassing and very panoramic.

I couldn’t help but stop and stare for a while as emerald green sheep fields led down to the white beaches below. Mixed with clear blue skies which is a rarity; it was breathtaking and a real WOW moment.

From Caherdaniel we headed up to Waterville; which is a cute little town and is the gateway to the Skellig Ring. This is an 18km ring inside the ring that links Waterville and Portmagee via a Gaeltacht area or an Irish speaking area. It is little visited and there are no other cars.

After the Skellig Ring you head north and just enjoy the scenery up to Caherciveen, Kells, Glenbeigh and up to Killorglin. From Killorglin, we made our way back to Killarney and eventually on to Cork abut 100km away.

However, the Ring of Kerry was fantastic. We were fortunate to have amazing weather; which in Ireland is very unusual, as you probably already know. I didn’t know where I was half the time. The only parallel that came to mind as I was driving at times was Tasmania in Australia with rugged landscapes and beautiful beaches plus a great drive.

But make no mistake, the Ring of Kerry stands alone in Ireland and I highly recommend it. There are other area drives from Killarney including Dingle; which many people like. I have heard it’s fairly similar but for my money, the Ring of Kerry is a great way to spend a day!

Comments

  1. Very nice write-up, Lee! My wife and I would love to travel here one day and the Ring of Kerry will definitely be on our list!

  2. Wow this place looks amazing Lee. I would love to visit Ireland as I always claim to be Irish. Obviously American Irish but still…

  3. Dude, that’s awesome…looks sick!

  4. Definitely on my bucket list

  5. Always wanted to visit Ireland. This made me want to more. Beautiful pictures Lee.

  6. I’ve only been to Dublin a few times. Always too drunk to leave the city sad to say!

  7. That looks really cool. I love road trips. Just did one through Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and New Mexico. It was amazing! Have you been out there? I am sure you have!

  8. We did the ring of kerry from Cork and loved it too! Also, it was fun driving the car on the opposite side of the road, with the reverse car too! glad you had a great time.

  9. You were very lucky with the weather Lee!!!
    It is keep on rainning since you have left :(
    Glad to know that you found The Fairview nice place to stay.

    Good luck with your travels and you are most welcome in The Fariview in Killarney if you ever coming back to Ireland.
    Les

  10. I can’t wait to go to Ireland next year! So glad I found this blog! Thank you for sharing.

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