The Ring of Kerry is a mesmerizing scenic drive that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Ireland. This 179-kilometer (111-mile) circular route encompasses rugged coastlines, dramatic mountains, picturesque villages and historic sites. In this comprehensive visitors guide to the ring of Kerry, we will take you on a virtual journey along the Ring of Kerry highlighting the must-see attractions, hidden gems, outdoor activities and local delights that await you along this iconic route.
Getting to Know the Ring of Kerry
Overview of the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry, located in County Kerry on the southwest coast of Ireland, is a world-renowned scenic drive that takes you on a journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes the country has to offer. This iconic circular route stretches for approximately 179 kilometers (111 miles) and provides a captivating showcase of Ireland’s natural beauty.
The route predominantly follows the N70 and takes you along the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged cliffs, pristine beaches and charming coastal villages. As you traverse the Ring of Kerry, you’ll also encounter majestic mountains, serene lakes, lush green valleys and rolling farmland, creating a diverse and awe-inspiring landscape.
One of the main highlights of the Ring of Kerry is the abundance of panoramic viewpoints along the route. These strategic locations allow you to pause, soak in the breathtaking vistas and capture stunning photographs of the surrounding scenery. Some of the notable viewpoints include Ladies View, Moll’s Gap and the Gap of Dunloe.
Apart from its natural beauty, the Ring of Kerry is steeped in history and culture. Along the route, you’ll encounter ancient ruins, prehistoric stone forts, monastic sites and remnants of Ireland’s rich Celtic heritage. Historic landmarks such as Ross Castle, Cahergall Stone Fort and Derrynane House provide glimpses into the region’s fascinating past and offer opportunities for exploration and discovery.
The Ring of Kerry is also known for its warm and welcoming communities. The picturesque villages along the route, including Killarney, Killorglin, Sneem and Kenmare offer charming accommodations, traditional pubs, local eateries and unique shops where you can immerse yourself in the authentic Irish experience.
Whether you choose to drive the Ring of Kerry independently or join a guided tour, this scenic route promises an unforgettable adventure. From its breathtaking landscapes to its rich history and vibrant culture, the Ring of Kerry showcases the very best of Ireland making it a must-visit destination for travellers from around the world.
So, get ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime as you explore the captivating beauty and timeless charm of the Ring of Kerry. Prepare to be enchanted by its landscapes, captivated by its history and embraced by its warm hospitality.
The History and Culture of the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is not only a visual feast for the eyes but also a place rich in history and culture. The region’s intriguing past and vibrant traditions add depth and significance to the stunning landscapes and charming villages that make up this iconic route.
The history of the Ring of Kerry dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation and activity from prehistoric times. The area was inhabited by early Celtic tribes and later influenced by the arrival of Christianity. Throughout the centuries, the region witnessed the rise and fall of powerful Gaelic chieftains, the arrival of Norman conquerors and the struggles for independence that shaped Ireland’s destiny.
One of the most prominent historical features along the route is Ross Castle, located just outside Killarney. This 15th-century castle stands proudly on the shores of Lough Leane and is a testament to the region’s medieval past. It was built by the O’Donoghue clan and its impressive stone walls and towers offer a glimpse into the defensive architecture of the time.
Another significant historical site is Staigue Fort, an Iron Age stone fort located near Sneem. This circular fort, believed to have been built around 300-400 BC, is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind in Ireland. Walking through its ancient walls, you can imagine the lives of the people who once called this fort home.
Monastic sites such as the Skellig Michael and Muckross Abbey also offer glimpses into Ireland’s religious history. Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an isolated island with a sixth-century monastery perched on its steep cliffs. Muckross Abbey, located near Killarney, is a well-preserved Franciscan friary dating back to the 15th century with intricately carved tombs and cloisters.
The culture of the Ring of Kerry is deeply rooted in Ireland’s heritage. Traditional Irish music and dance can be enjoyed in the local pubs and cultural centers along the route, where you can experience the lively atmosphere of a traditional Irish session. The region is also known for its vibrant festivals, including the Puck Fair in Killorglin, where a wild mountain goat is crowned as the “King of the Puck” in a centuries-old tradition.
The Gaelic language, Irish folklore and traditional crafts such as weaving and pottery are cherished and celebrated in the Ring of Kerry. Visitors have the opportunity to engage with local artisans, learn about their crafts and perhaps even take home a piece of Irish culture as a memento of their journey.
As you travel along the Ring of Kerry, take the time to delve into its captivating history and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture. The stories of ancient civilizations, the echoes of battles fought and the traditions passed down through generations all contribute to the unique character of this remarkable region.
By exploring the historical sites, engaging with the local communities and embracing the customs and traditions of the Ring of Kerry, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty that surrounds you and the rich tapestry of Ireland’s past that continues to thrive in the present.
Best Time to Visit the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a destination that can be enjoyed year-round, but choosing the best time to visit can enhance your experience and allow you to make the most of what the region has to offer. Here, we will explore the different seasons and highlight the factors to consider when planning your visit to the Ring of Kerry.
Spring (March to May)
Spring brings a burst of vibrant colors as flowers bloom and the landscapes come alive with freshness. The temperatures start to rise and the days become longer, providing ample daylight to explore the scenic route. Spring is a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling, as the trails are less crowded compared to the peak tourist season. However, it’s worth noting that the weather can be changeable during this time, so it’s advisable to pack layers and be prepared for rain showers.
Summer (June to August)
Summer is the high tourist season in the Ring of Kerry, as visitors flock to enjoy the pleasant weather and longer days. The landscapes are at their greenest and the coastal views are breathtaking. The temperatures are generally mild, ranging from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius (59 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit), making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the charming towns and villages along the route. It’s important to note that summer is also the busiest time, so popular sites and attractions may be more crowded. It’s recommended to book accommodations and plan your itinerary in advance.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn in the Ring of Kerry is a season of stunning natural beauty, as the foliage turns into vibrant shades of red, orange and gold. The crowds start to thin out, offering a more tranquil experience. The temperatures gradually cool down and the weather can be unpredictable, with a mix of sunny and rainy days. Autumn is a great time for photographers, as the landscapes provide breathtaking backdrops. It’s advisable to check for any seasonal closures of attractions or facilities, as some may have limited operating hours during this time.
Winter (December to February)
Winter is the off-peak season in the Ring of Kerry, offering a quieter and more serene experience. The landscapes take on a different charm with misty mornings and the possibility of snow-capped mountains. While the temperatures can be cold, ranging from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit), the region rarely experiences extreme weather conditions. Winter is a great time for cozying up in traditional pubs, enjoying hearty Irish cuisine and exploring indoor attractions such as museums and galleries. It’s important to note that some accommodations, restaurants and attractions may have reduced operating hours during this time, so it’s advisable to check in advance.
Overall, the best time to visit the Ring of Kerry depends on your preferences and interests. If you enjoy vibrant festivals and a bustling atmosphere, summer may be the ideal time. If you prefer fewer crowds and the opportunity to witness the changing colors of autumn, September and October can be a great choice. For a more peaceful and budget-friendly experience, winter and early spring offer a unique charm. Whatever season you choose, the Ring of Kerry’s natural beauty and cultural heritage will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your journey.
How to Get to the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is located in the southwest of Ireland and can be accessed by various means of transportation. Whether you’re arriving from within Ireland or from abroad, there are several convenient options to reach this beautiful region. Here, we will explore the different modes of transportation to help you plan your journey to the Ring of Kerry.
The nearest international airports to the Ring of Kerry are Shannon Airport (SNN) and Cork Airport (ORK). Both airports offer domestic and international flights, making them convenient entry points for travelers. From these airports, you can rent a car or take a bus or train to reach the Ring of Kerry. Kerry Airport (KIR) is also an option, located in Farranfore, just a short drive from the Ring of Kerry. However, the flight options to Kerry Airport may be more limited compared to Shannon and Cork.
Renting a car is a popular choice for exploring the Ring of Kerry, as it offers flexibility and convenience. If you’re arriving from Shannon or Cork airports, you can easily rent a car at the airport and embark on your journey. The drive to the Ring of Kerry from both airports takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and the route you choose. There are well-maintained roads that connect to the Ring of Kerry and signage is clear, making it relatively easy to navigate.
Several bus services operate routes to the Ring of Kerry, providing affordable and convenient transportation options. Bus Éireann, the national bus service, offers routes that connect major cities and towns to the Ring of Kerry. You can catch a bus from cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Killarney, among others. The journey times and frequencies may vary, so it’s advisable to check the bus schedules in advance. Additionally, there are private tour companies that offer guided bus tours of the Ring of Kerry, providing an informative and hassle-free way to explore the region.
While there is no direct train line to the Ring of Kerry, you can take a train to Killarney which is a popular base for exploring the area. Irish Rail operates train services to Killarney from major cities like Dublin, Cork and Limerick. From Killarney, you can rent a car, join a guided tour or take a local bus to access the Ring of Kerry. The train journey to Killarney offers scenic views of the Irish countryside, adding to the overall travel experience.
If you prefer a hassle-free and informative way to experience the Ring of Kerry, joining a guided tour is an excellent option. There are numerous tour operators that offer day trips or multi-day tours specifically designed to showcase the highlights of the region. These tours often include transportation, knowledgeable guides and visits to popular attractions along the Ring of Kerry. It’s recommended to research and book your tour in advance, especially during the peak tourist season.
Once you arrive in the Ring of Kerry, it’s advisable to have a reliable map or GPS navigation system to help you navigate the scenic route. Additionally, be aware of parking regulations and consider staying overnight in one of the charming towns or villages along the way to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of the region.
Remember to check the latest travel updates, schedules and availability of transportation options before your trip. With the right planning and choice of transportation, you can embark on a memorable journey to the captivating landscapes and cultural treasures of the Ring of Kerry.
Exploring the Ring of Kerry
Starting Point: Killarney
Killarney, located in County Kerry, is often considered the gateway to the Ring of Kerry. This vibrant town serves as an excellent starting point for your journey along the famous scenic route. Here, we will explore the highlights of Killarney, providing you with valuable information to enhance your experience.
Killarney National Park
Begin your exploration of Killarney by immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Killarney National Park. Spanning over 26,000 acres, the park is a haven of stunning landscapes, including lakes, mountains and woodlands. You can take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to explore the park’s numerous trails. Don’t miss the iconic Muckross House and Gardens, a magnificent mansion set amidst picturesque surroundings.
Muckross House and Gardens
One of the crown jewels of Killarney and a must-visit attraction on the Ring of Kerry is the magnificent Muckross House and Gardens. Situated within the boundaries of Killarney National Park, this grand mansion and its stunning gardens offer a captivating glimpse into Ireland’s history and natural beauty.
Built in the 19th century, Muckross House is an elegant Victorian mansion that showcases the architectural splendor of its time. It stands as a testament to the wealth and lifestyle of the Herbert family, who once resided here. As you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time, wandering through opulent rooms adorned with period furniture, intricate tapestries and exquisite artwork. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of the house and its former occupants.
Adjacent to Muckross House, you’ll find Muckross Traditional Farms, a living history museum that provides a glimpse into rural life in Ireland during the 19th century. Explore the authentic thatched cottages, farmhouses and workshops, where costumed interpreters demonstrate traditional farming practices and crafts. Get a taste of the past as you interact with the friendly farm animals and gain insight into the daily lives of Irish families of the era.
The sprawling Muckross Gardens encompass over 60 acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, making it a horticultural paradise. Take a leisurely stroll through the various garden areas, each with its own unique charm. Admire the vibrant displays of colorful flowers, meander along winding paths and marvel at the serene beauty of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Highlights include the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the enchanting Arboretum.
For nature lovers, a visit to Muckross House and Gardens would not be complete without experiencing the breathtaking Torc Waterfall. Located a short distance from the house, this picturesque waterfall cascades over moss-covered rocks, creating a mesmerizing sight and a soothing soundtrack of rushing water. Follow the well-marked trail to reach the waterfall and take in the tranquil ambiance of the surrounding woodland.
Facilities and Amenities
Muckross House and Gardens offer several amenities to enhance your visit. There is a visitor center where you can obtain information about the attraction and purchase tickets. The grounds also feature a charming tearoom where you can enjoy refreshments, light snacks and delicious homemade treats. Additionally, there is a gift shop where you can browse for unique souvenirs, books and local crafts.
Visiting Muckross House and Gardens provides a delightful blend of history, nature and beauty. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a garden lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, this iconic attraction offers something for everyone. Allow yourself ample time to explore and immerse yourself in the rich heritage and natural splendor of Muckross House and Gardens on your journey along the Ring of Kerry.
Located on the shores of Lough Leane, Ross Castle is a must-visit attraction in Killarney. This 15th-century castle offers a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history and provides breathtaking views of the lake. Take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating past, or rent a boat to explore the tranquil waters of Lough Leane.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
A visit to Killarney is incomplete without exploring St. Mary’s Cathedral, a beautiful place of worship that dates back to the 19th century. The cathedral’s stunning architecture, intricate stained glass windows and peaceful atmosphere make it a worthwhile stop during your stay in Killarney.
Traditional Music and Pubs
Killarney is known for its vibrant music scene and lively pubs. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich Irish culture by visiting one of the traditional pubs where you can enjoy live music sessions and experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals.
Shopping and Dining
Killarney offers a wide range of shopping options, from boutique stores to traditional craft shops. Take a stroll through the town’s streets and explore the local offerings, including Irish woolens, artisan crafts and souvenirs. When it comes to dining, Killarney boasts a variety of restaurants and cafes serving both traditional Irish dishes and international cuisine. Indulge in a hearty Irish meal or try some locally caught seafood for a memorable culinary experience.
Killarney offers a diverse range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you prefer a luxurious hotel, a cozy bed and breakfast or a self-catering cottage, you’ll find plenty of choices in and around the town. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to ensure availability.
Festivals and Events
Killarney hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, adding to the town’s vibrant atmosphere. From traditional music festivals to sporting events, there’s always something happening in Killarney. Check the local event calendar to see if there are any festivals or events taking place during your visit.
Killarney sets the stage for an unforgettable journey along the Ring of Kerry. With its captivating natural beauty, rich history, vibrant culture and warm hospitality, this charming town provides an ideal starting point for your exploration of one of Ireland’s most scenic regions. Take your time to savor the delights of Killarney before embarking on your adventure along the Ring of Kerry.
Killorglin and the Puck Fair
Located along the route of the Ring of Kerry, the vibrant town of Killorglin holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors for its annual Puck Fair, one of Ireland’s oldest and most unique festivals. This lively event, held in early August, attracts people from all over the country and beyond to celebrate in a three-day extravaganza of music, parades, entertainment and, of course, the crowning of the “King Puck.”
The Puck Fair
The centerpiece of Killorglin’s cultural calendar, the Puck Fair dates back over 400 years and is steeped in folklore and tradition. The festival revolves around the capturing and crowning of a wild mountain goat, known as the “King Puck.” The goat is hoisted atop a high platform in the town center, where it reigns over the festivities for the duration of the fair. The fairgrounds come alive with street vendors, amusement rides, live music performances, traditional Irish dancing and a vibrant carnival atmosphere that is enjoyed by people of all ages.
The Crowning of the King Puck
On the opening day of the fair, a group of skilled climbers known as “the Puck Fair Climbers” scale the rugged slopes of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range to capture a wild goat. The chosen goat is then paraded through the streets of Killorglin and placed on the elevated platform, where it is crowned as the “King Puck” by the “Queen of Puck.” This ceremonial crowning marks the official commencement of the fair and the town bursts into a joyous celebration.
Street Entertainment and Markets
During the Puck Fair, the streets of Killorglin come alive with a myriad of street performers, musicians, dancers and entertainers, creating an electric atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy live music sessions in the local pubs, where traditional Irish music fills the air. The streets are also lined with colorful market stalls, offering a wide range of local crafts, artisanal food products and traditional Irish goods, making it the perfect opportunity to pick up unique souvenirs.
The Puck Fair is a family-friendly event, with a dedicated children’s entertainment area featuring fun rides, games, face painting and other activities to keep the little ones entertained. The fair provides a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, ensuring that everyone can participate in the festivities and create lasting memories.
The Horse Fair
Alongside the Puck Fair, an additional attraction that takes place in Killorglin is the Horse Fair, held on the third day of the festival. Horse enthusiasts and traders gather to buy, sell and showcase their prized horses and ponies. This traditional fair provides a unique opportunity to witness the trading of horses, see impressive equestrian displays and immerse yourself in the rich equestrian culture of the region.
Killorglin and the Puck Fair offer an authentic and unforgettable experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in Irish culture and traditions. Whether you’re captivated by the crowning of the King Puck, enthralled by the lively street entertainment, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, the Puck Fair in Killorglin is a highlight of any visit to the Ring of Kerry.
Glenbeigh and the Kerry Bog Village Museum
As you continue your journey along the Ring of Kerry, the charming village of Glenbeigh awaits with its breathtaking natural beauty and a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s rural past at the Kerry Bog Village Museum. Here, you can immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions of the region while enjoying the stunning landscapes that surround you.
Nestled between the majestic Seefin Mountain and the picturesque coastline of Dingle Bay, Glenbeigh offers a tranquil and scenic setting that is sure to captivate visitors. The village is known for its sandy beaches, including Rossbeigh Beach, a long stretch of golden sand that provides the perfect backdrop for leisurely walks or water activities. With its charming cottages, traditional pubs and friendly locals, Glenbeigh exudes an authentic Irish charm that will make you feel right at home.
Kerry Bog Village Museum
Located just outside of Glenbeigh, the Kerry Bog Village Museum offers a unique and educational experience that transports you back in time to Ireland’s rural past. The museum is a recreation of a traditional 19th-century village, showcasing the harsh living conditions and way of life for the people who inhabited the bogs during that era. Here, you can explore a collection of thatched-roof cottages, complete with authentic furnishings and artifacts, providing a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the rural communities.
Guided Tours and Demonstrations
Upon arrival at the Kerry Bog Village Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to join a guided tour led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides. They will take you through each cottage, sharing stories and anecdotes about the history, traditions and challenges faced by the people who once lived here. You’ll learn about traditional crafts and skills, such as turf cutting, thatching and weaving and witness live demonstrations that bring the past to life.
Bog Walks and Nature Trails
Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, the Kerry Bog Village Museum offers the chance to explore the nearby bogs through guided walks and nature trails. These walks allow you to appreciate the unique flora and fauna of the area, as well as the important role that the bogs play in Ireland’s ecological system. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature and experience the serene beauty of the countryside.
Gift Shop and Café
Before leaving the Kerry Bog Village Museum, be sure to visit the on-site gift shop, where you can find a variety of locally-made crafts, souvenirs and traditional Irish products. You can also relax and unwind at the museum’s café, where you can indulge in delicious homemade treats and savor a cup of Irish tea or coffee.
Glenbeigh and the Kerry Bog Village Museum offer a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage and educational experiences. Whether you’re strolling along the sandy shores of Rossbeigh Beach, exploring the meticulously recreated cottages at the museum, or immersing yourself in the tranquility of the surrounding bogs, this stop along the Ring of Kerry promises to leave you with lasting memories of Ireland’s rich history and breathtaking landscapes.
Nestled on the stunning shores of Ballinskelligs Bay, Waterville is a picturesque coastal village that attracts visitors from far and wide. Renowned for its natural beauty, charming atmosphere and rich history, Waterville is a must-visit destination along the Ring of Kerry. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a golf lover, or a history buff, Waterville has something to offer for everyone.
One of the main draws of Waterville is its breathtaking coastal setting. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the rugged mountains on the other, the village boasts awe-inspiring views that will leave you mesmerized. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, breathe in the fresh sea air and soak in the serene beauty of the surroundings. The golden sandy beaches, such as Waterville Beach and Lough Currane Beach, offer the perfect spots for a relaxing picnic or a refreshing swim.
Waterville is a haven for golf enthusiasts, as it is home to one of Ireland’s most prestigious golf courses, Waterville Golf Links. This world-renowned championship course attracts golfers from around the globe who come to test their skills on its challenging fairways and greens. With its stunning coastal views and beautifully designed holes, it’s no wonder that Waterville Golf Links has earned its reputation as one of the top golfing destinations in Ireland.
Charlie Chaplin Connection
Did you know that Waterville has a special connection to the iconic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin? The village played host to Chaplin and his family during their summer vacations in the 1960s. To honor this connection, a statue of Chaplin was erected in Waterville, making it a popular spot for photo opportunities and a reminder of the village’s unique history.
Waterville is steeped in history and there are several noteworthy sites to explore. St. Michael’s Church, a beautiful stone church dating back to the 19th century, showcases impressive stained glass windows and architectural features. Nearby, you’ll find the ruins of Ballinskelligs Castle, a medieval tower house that once stood as a stronghold against invaders. Take a step back in time as you wander through these ancient sites and imagine the stories they hold.
Fishing and Water Activities
Waterville is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities, particularly in the nearby Lough Currane. Anglers flock to the area in search of salmon and sea trout and the village is known for hosting international fishing competitions. If fishing isn’t your cup of tea, you can still enjoy a variety of water activities, including kayaking, boating and sailing which allow you to experience the beauty of Ballinskelligs Bay from a different perspective.
Dining and Entertainment
Waterville offers a range of dining options, from cozy pubs serving traditional Irish fare to fine dining restaurants showcasing the best of local produce. After a day of exploring, you can relax in one of the village’s welcoming pubs, where you can enjoy live music, friendly conversation and a pint of the famous Irish Guinness.
Waterville captures the essence of Ireland’s rugged beauty and warm hospitality. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the stunning landscapes, teeing off on the renowned golf course, or delving into the village’s rich history, Waterville is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a desire to return to this coastal gem along the Ring of Kerry.
Cahersiveen and Cahergall Stone Fort
Located on the southwestern part of the Ring of Kerry, Cahersiveen is a vibrant town steeped in history and surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. With its fascinating historical sites and picturesque setting, Cahersiveen offers visitors a delightful blend of culture and natural beauty. One of the highlights of Cahersiveen is the Cahergall Stone Fort, an ancient archaeological site that takes you back in time.
Cahergall Stone Fort
One of the must-visit attractions in Cahersiveen is the Cahergall Stone Fort. This impressive stone fort is believed to have been built during the early medieval period, around the 6th century. With its circular shape and well-preserved walls, the fort offers a glimpse into Ireland’s ancient past. Explore the interior of the fort, climb the steps to the top of the walls and imagine what life might have been like for the people who once inhabited this historic site. The panoramic views from the fort are simply breathtaking, offering a sweeping vista of the surrounding countryside.
Old Barracks Heritage Centre
To delve deeper into the history and heritage of Cahersiveen, a visit to the Old Barracks Heritage Centre is a must. Housed in a beautifully restored former Royal Irish Constabulary barracks, the center provides a fascinating insight into the local history and the people who shaped the town. Explore the exhibits that showcase the town’s connections to the Irish nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell, known as “The Liberator,” and learn about the Great Irish Famine and its impact on the region.
Cahersiveen is blessed with stunning natural beauty, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The town is located on the shores of the magnificent Valentia Harbour, offering mesmerizing views of the water and the nearby Valentia Island. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings. For a more adventurous experience, embark on one of the scenic walking or cycling trails that meander through the picturesque countryside, such as the Kerry Way or the Skellig Ring.
Vibrant Town Life
Cahersiveen is a lively and welcoming town, offering a range of amenities and attractions for visitors. Explore the charming streets lined with colorful buildings, browse through unique shops and sample delicious local cuisine at the town’s restaurants and cafes. The vibrant atmosphere and warm hospitality of the locals make Cahersiveen a delightful place to spend some time during your journey along the Ring of Kerry.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Cahersiveen provides ample opportunities for adventure and exploration. The surrounding area is a playground for hikers, with trails that wind through mountains, valleys and coastal landscapes. The nearby Beentee Loop Walk and Knocknadobar Mountain are popular choices for those seeking an invigorating hike and stunning panoramic views. Additionally, water activities such as fishing, boating and kayaking can be enjoyed on Valentia Harbour and the surrounding lakes and rivers.
Cahersiveen and the Cahergall Stone Fort offer a captivating blend of history, natural beauty and vibrant town life. Immerse yourself in the ancient atmosphere of the stone fort, marvel at the breathtaking scenery and embrace the warm hospitality of the locals. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking a charming town to explore, Cahersiveen is sure to leave a lasting impression on your Ring of Kerry adventure.
Portmagee and Skellig Michael
Nestled on the rugged coastline of County Kerry, Portmagee is a picturesque village that serves as the gateway to one of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring destinations: Skellig Michael. This small fishing village exudes charm and offers visitors a delightful blend of coastal beauty, friendly atmosphere and access to the magnificent Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Begin your exploration of Portmagee by wandering through its quaint streets lined with colorful houses and charming shops. This charming village provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where you can engage with the friendly locals and learn about the area’s rich maritime heritage. Take a stroll along the harbor and admire the fishing boats bobbing in the water, or enjoy a traditional Irish meal at one of the cozy restaurants, savoring the freshest seafood caught by local fishermen.
Boat Trip to Skellig Michael
The main attraction near Portmagee is the iconic Skellig Michael, an ancient monastic site perched atop a steep rocky island. Accessible only by boat, a trip to Skellig Michael is an unforgettable experience that takes you back in time and immerses you in stunning natural beauty. Board a boat in Portmagee and set sail across the Atlantic Ocean, marveling at the dramatic cliffs and seabird colonies along the way. As you approach Skellig Michael, the sight of the stone beehive huts and the sheer grandeur of the island will leave you in awe.
Skellig Michael Monastery
Skellig Michael is renowned for its well-preserved monastic settlement that dates back to the 6th century. As you disembark on the island, prepare yourself for a steep climb along stone steps and pathways that lead to the monastery. Marvel at the remarkable craftsmanship of the ancient monks who constructed the stone structures, including the beehive huts, oratories and terraced gardens. The panoramic views from the top of Skellig Michael are breathtaking, offering a glimpse of the vast Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding rugged coastline.
Wildlife and Nature
Skellig Michael is not only an archaeological wonder but also a haven for wildlife. During your visit, keep an eye out for various bird species, including puffins, guillemots and gannets which nest on the cliffs and provide a captivating display of nature’s wonders. The surrounding waters are home to seals, dolphins and even the occasional whale, adding to the enchanting experience of being in this remote and unspoiled environment.
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre
Before or after your trip to Skellig Michael, consider visiting the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre in Portmagee. This interactive exhibition provides valuable insights into the history, wildlife and significance of Skellig Michael. Learn about the challenging lives of the monks who once resided on the island and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and natural importance of this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Portmagee and Skellig Michael offer a unique combination of natural beauty, ancient history and a glimpse into the lives of early Christian monks. From the charming village of Portmagee to the breathtaking journey to Skellig Michael, this is a destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Immerse yourself in the mystical atmosphere, appreciate the rich biodiversity and marvel at the sheer magnificence of Skellig Michael on your visit to this captivating part of the Ring of Kerry.
Located off the southwest coast of County Kerry, Valentia Island is a hidden gem that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, historical sites and a tranquil atmosphere. This captivating island is rich in history, boasting ancient archaeological sites, stunning coastal landscapes and a vibrant local community.
Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs
Begin your exploration of Valentia Island by visiting Geokaun Mountain and the Fogher Cliffs. As you ascend Geokaun Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the island, the Skellig Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. Take a walk along the Fogher Cliffs, which stretch along the island’s western coast and marvel at the dramatic cliffs and crashing waves below. The breathtaking scenery and rugged beauty of this area make it a must-visit spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
Valentia Island Lighthouse
Make your way to the southern tip of Valentia Island, where you’ll find the historic Valentia Island Lighthouse. This fully restored lighthouse offers visitors a glimpse into its fascinating maritime history and provides stunning views of the surrounding coastline. Take a guided tour to learn about the lighthouse’s role in maritime navigation and enjoy the panoramic vistas from the top of the tower.
Valentia Island is home to one of the world’s most significant fossil discoveries, the Tetrapod Trackway. This ancient fossilized trackway dates back 385 million years and provides valuable insight into the evolution of early land-dwelling vertebrates. Explore the site and marvel at the imprints left by these prehistoric creatures, making it a must-visit destination for paleontology enthusiasts and those interested in natural history.
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre
Adjacent to Valentia Island, the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre offers a fascinating insight into the history and wildlife of the Skellig Islands. Learn about the monks who inhabited Skellig Michael and the challenges they faced, as well as the rich biodiversity that thrives in this unique marine environment. Interactive exhibits and audio-visual presentations provide an engaging and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
Spend some time exploring Knightstown, the main village on Valentia Island. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, lined with colorful houses and charming shops. Visit the local cafes and restaurants to savor delicious seafood dishes made with the freshest ingredients sourced from the surrounding waters. Immerse yourself in the friendly atmosphere of this coastal village and enjoy the slower pace of life that Valentia Island has to offer.
Glanleam House and Subtropical Gardens
For a touch of tranquility and natural beauty, visit Glanleam House and its subtropical gardens. This enchanting garden boasts an array of exotic plants and flowers, creating a peaceful oasis that contrasts with the rugged coastal landscapes. Take a leisurely walk through the garden’s winding paths, admire the vibrant colors and enjoy the serenity that the surroundings provide.
Valentia Island offers a unique blend of stunning landscapes, fascinating history and a warm local community. Whether you’re exploring the rugged cliffs, discovering ancient fossils, or immersing yourself in the island’s cultural heritage, a visit to Valentia Island promises to be a memorable and rewarding experience on your journey through the Ring of Kerry.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane House
Nestled along the picturesque coastline of the Ring of Kerry, Caherdaniel is a charming village that offers visitors a blend of natural beauty, historical sites and outdoor activities. One of the highlights of Caherdaniel is the renowned Derrynane House, an elegant Georgian mansion surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. Explore Caherdaniel and Derrynane House to immerse yourself in the area’s rich history and stunning surroundings.
Begin your visit in Caherdaniel by exploring Derrynane House, the former residence of Daniel O’Connell, a prominent figure in Irish history. This magnificent mansion provides a glimpse into the life and legacy of O’Connell, known as “The Liberator” for his efforts in achieving Catholic emancipation. Step inside the house and discover its elegant rooms filled with period furniture, historical artifacts and informative exhibits. Learn about O’Connell’s political achievements, his love for Ireland and his impact on the country’s history.
Derrynane National Park
Adjacent to Derrynane House lies Derrynane National Park, a natural paradise teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Take a leisurely stroll through the park’s woodland trails and meandering pathways, surrounded by lush greenery and peaceful streams. Enjoy the serene atmosphere and marvel at the park’s pristine beaches, secluded coves and breathtaking coastal views. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the ancient ruins of Derrynane Abbey, adding a touch of history to your natural escape.
Caherdaniel is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities to suit all interests. Take advantage of the area’s stunning coastline and enjoy water-based activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or swimming in the crystal-clear waters. Embark on a scenic hike along the Kerry Way, a long-distance walking trail that passes through Caherdaniel, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscapes. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the nearby Derrynane Golf Course, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.
After exploring the sights, indulge in the local cuisine that Caherdaniel has to offer. Visit one of the charming restaurants or pubs and savor delicious seafood dishes made with locally caught fish and shellfish. Treat yourself to a traditional Irish meal accompanied by live music, creating an authentic and memorable dining experience.
Caherdaniel boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the region. Spend some time unwinding on the golden sands of Derrynane Beach or venture further to nearby beaches such as Abbey Strand and Kells Beach. Relax, soak up the sun and take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. The tranquil beauty of these beaches is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and at peace.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane House offer a captivating blend of history, natural beauty and outdoor activities. Whether you’re exploring the historical significance of Derrynane House, immersing yourself in the stunning landscapes of Derrynane National Park, or enjoying the coastal charm of the village, Caherdaniel is a must-visit destination on your journey through the Ring of Kerry.
Located on the Iveragh Peninsula along the Ring of Kerry, Sneem is a quaint and picturesque village that captivates visitors with its charm, natural beauty and vibrant community spirit. Nestled between the rolling hills and the tranquil waters of Kenmare Bay, Sneem offers a delightful blend of scenic landscapes, outdoor activities and cultural experiences. Explore the wonders of Sneem and discover why it is a beloved stop along the Ring of Kerry.
Start your exploration of Sneem by taking a leisurely stroll through its colorful village streets. Admire the charming houses painted in vibrant hues, adorned with floral displays and discover the friendly atmosphere that permeates the community. Stop by the local shops, boutiques and art galleries, where you can find unique crafts, souvenirs and locally made products. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Sneem Sculpture Park, showcasing an impressive collection of contemporary sculptures that add an artistic touch to the village’s ambiance.
Flowing through the heart of the village, the Sneem River offers a tranquil setting for relaxation and contemplation. Take a peaceful walk along its banks, enjoy the soothing sounds of the flowing water and immerse yourself in the serenity of nature. Keep an eye out for the charming stone bridges that span the river, adding to the village’s quaint character.
For nature lovers, a visit to the Sneem Estuary is a must. This stunning natural habitat is home to a variety of bird species and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the bay. Embark on a scenic walk along the estuary, breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the landscape. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting a diverse array of avian life, including herons, egrets and kingfishers.
Sneem offers a range of outdoor activities for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. Explore the nearby mountains and hills through hiking trails that showcase panoramic vistas of the countryside. The area is also ideal for cycling, with routes that wind through scenic landscapes and picturesque villages. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck in the pristine waters of Kenmare Bay, known for its abundance of salmon and sea trout.
Sneem’s Heritage and History
Discover the rich heritage and history of Sneem by visiting the Sneem Heritage and Visitor Centre. Explore exhibits that delve into the village’s past, showcasing its traditions, folklore and the lives of its residents throughout the years. Gain insights into Sneem’s connection to the ancient Celtic world, its role in the local economy and the stories of its people.
Sneem is renowned for its warm and welcoming hospitality. Indulge in the culinary delights of the village’s eateries, where you can sample traditional Irish dishes, fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy a pint of Guinness or a glass of whiskey in one of the charming pubs, where live music often fills the air, creating a lively and jovial atmosphere.
Sneem’s beauty, tranquility and vibrant community make it a captivating destination along the Ring of Kerry. Whether you’re seeking natural landscapes, cultural experiences, or simply a peaceful retreat, Sneem offers a delightful blend of attractions and activities to satisfy every traveler’s desires.
Situated at the southernmost tip of the Ring of Kerry, Kenmare is a charming town that effortlessly combines natural beauty, rich history and a vibrant atmosphere. Nestled between the Kenmare Bay and the majestic mountains of the Beara Peninsula, Kenmare offers visitors a truly enchanting experience. Discover the allure of Kenmare and immerse yourself in its picturesque landscapes, fascinating heritage and warm hospitality.
Start your exploration of Kenmare by wandering through its quaint town center. Admire the colorful buildings, browse the unique boutiques and explore the local craft shops, where you can find traditional Irish crafts and artisanal products. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the lively Kenmare Market, held every Wednesday, where you can discover a variety of locally grown produce, handmade crafts and delicious treats.
Kenmare Bay provides a breathtaking backdrop to the town, with its sparkling waters and rugged coastline. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, enjoying the fresh sea air and panoramic views. For a closer encounter with the bay, consider taking a boat trip or a kayaking excursion, where you can appreciate the beauty of the surrounding landscape and perhaps spot some marine wildlife.
Kenmare Stone Circle
History enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Kenmare Stone Circle, one of the largest and best-preserved stone circles in Ireland. This ancient site, dating back over 3,000 years, consists of 15 standing stones arranged in a circular pattern. Explore the mystical atmosphere of the stone circle, ponder its purpose and significance and imagine the rituals and ceremonies that took place here centuries ago.
Kenmare Heritage Centre
To delve deeper into the town’s history and heritage, visit the Kenmare Heritage Centre. Discover the stories of Kenmare’s past through interactive exhibits, displays and artifacts. Learn about the town’s connections to the Gaelic chieftains, the influence of the Victorian era and the impact of the Great Famine. Gain insights into the daily lives, traditions and cultural heritage of the people who have shaped Kenmare over the centuries.
Surrounded by captivating landscapes, Kenmare offers numerous outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the nearby mountains and valleys, where you can find scenic trails offering stunning vistas of the countryside. Golfers can enjoy a round of golf at the Kenmare Golf Club, set amidst breathtaking scenery. Anglers can try their luck in the nearby rivers and lakes, renowned for salmon and trout fishing.
Kenmare is renowned for its vibrant culinary scene, with a wide array of restaurants, cafes and gourmet food producers. Sample fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients and traditional Irish dishes at the town’s eateries, many of which pride themselves on their commitment to quality and sustainability. Don’t forget to savor a pint of Guinness or enjoy a whiskey tasting experience in one of the cozy pubs.
Kenmare’s picturesque setting, rich history and culinary delights make it a captivating stop along the Ring of Kerry. Whether you’re seeking natural beauty, cultural experiences, or delicious cuisine, Kenmare offers a delightful blend of attractions and activities to suit every traveler’s taste. Immerse yourself in the town’s charm, explore its surrounding landscapes and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Outdoor Adventures along the Ring of Kerry
Hiking and Walking Trails
The Kerry Way
The Kerry Way is a world-renowned long-distance walking trail that spans approximately 215 kilometers (134 miles) through the stunning landscapes of County Kerry. It is Ireland’s longest marked walking trail and offers hikers a captivating journey through rugged mountains, tranquil lakes, rolling hills and picturesque coastal paths. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a nature lover seeking an immersive outdoor adventure, the Kerry Way promises an unforgettable experience. Here are some highlights and tips for exploring this remarkable trail:
The Kerry Way begins and ends in the lively town of Killarney, taking you on a circular route through some of Ireland’s most scenic locations. The trail is well-marked with the distinctive yellow and black “Kerry Way” signposts, ensuring that hikers can navigate the route with ease. The trail typically takes around 9-10 days to complete, but you can choose to hike shorter sections if you prefer a more leisurely pace.
Prepare to be mesmerized by the diverse landscapes along the Kerry Way. From the majestic peaks of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to the serene beauty of the Killarney Lakes, each section of the trail offers its own unique charm. Traverse through charming villages, ancient woodlands, remote valleys and dramatic coastal cliffs, immersing yourself in the breathtaking scenery that unfolds at every turn.
Along the Kerry Way, you’ll find a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. From cozy guesthouses and traditional B&Bs to campsites and hotels, there are plenty of places to rest and rejuvenate after a day of hiking. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak hiking seasons, to secure your preferred options.
Wildlife and Nature
The Kerry Way is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Keep your eyes peeled for native Irish species such as red deer, otters, golden eagles and peregrine falcons, as well as an abundance of birdlife and wildflowers. The trail takes you through some of Kerry’s most pristine natural habitats, allowing you to connect with the region’s rich biodiversity.
Weather and Safety
As with any outdoor adventure, it’s important to be prepared and mindful of the weather conditions. The Kerry Way can be enjoyed throughout the year, but it’s essential to pack appropriate clothing and footwear for variable weather, including rain gear, sturdy hiking boots and layers for temperature fluctuations. Always check the local weather forecast before setting off and inform someone of your hiking plans for safety purposes.
Local Culture and Hospitality
The Kerry Way offers opportunities to engage with the warm hospitality and rich culture of the region. As you pass through villages and towns along the trail, take time to interact with the friendly locals, savor traditional Irish cuisine in local pubs and restaurants and discover the fascinating stories and traditions that make County Kerry so captivating.
Embarking on the Kerry Way is an adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of County Kerry. Whether you choose to hike the entire trail or explore select sections, the Kerry Way promises unforgettable moments, breathtaking views and a sense of achievement as you conquer each step of this remarkable journey. Lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack and get ready to experience the magic of the Kerry Way.
Carrauntoohil, standing proudly at a height of 1,038 meters (3,406 feet), is the highest peak in Ireland and a magnificent highlight of the Kerry landscape. Located within the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, Carrauntoohil offers a challenging and rewarding hiking experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Here’s what you need to know about tackling this iconic summit:
There are several routes to choose from when ascending Carrauntoohil, catering to different levels of experience and fitness. The most popular route is the “Devil’s Ladder,” which begins from the Cronin’s Yard car park in the Hags Glen. This route involves a steep climb up a rocky gully and requires a good level of fitness and scrambling skills. Alternatively, the “Brother O’Shea’s Gully” route offers a less challenging but longer ascent. It’s advisable to research and choose a route that matches your hiking abilities and preferences.
Preparation and Safety
Before attempting to climb Carrauntoohil, it’s essential to be well-prepared and informed. Ensure you have appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy hiking boots, layered clothing, waterproofs and a backpack with essentials such as food, water, a map and a compass. Familiarize yourself with the route, check the weather forecast and notify someone of your hiking plans. As Carrauntoohil’s weather can be unpredictable, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and turn back if conditions become challenging.
Ascending Carrauntoohil rewards hikers with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Kerry landscape. From the summit, on a clear day, you can feast your eyes on rolling green hills, glimmering lakes and the rugged coastline. The awe-inspiring vistas make the challenging hike worthwhile and provide ample opportunities for stunning photographs and memories that will last a lifetime.
If you’re new to hiking or prefer the support and guidance of an experienced local, consider joining a guided tour to climb Carrauntoohil. Local guides offer valuable insights into the area’s history, geology and flora and fauna, enhancing your overall experience. They can also ensure your safety and provide assistance during challenging sections of the hike. Booking a guided tour allows you to fully immerse yourself in the journey and make the most of your Carrauntoohil adventure.
Leave No Trace
Respecting the environment is crucial when hiking Carrauntoohil and any natural area. Practice the principles of Leave No Trace by carrying out any litter, staying on designated paths and respecting wildlife and vegetation. By minimizing your impact on the mountain, you help preserve its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.
Accommodation and Nearby Attractions
Killarney and the surrounding areas offer a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses and campsites, providing a convenient base for exploring Carrauntoohil. After conquering the summit, take time to explore other nearby attractions such as the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park, or enjoy a well-deserved meal and drink in the welcoming pubs and restaurants in the area.
Climbing Carrauntoohil is a memorable and rewarding experience for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. By following proper preparation, safety measures and respecting the mountain’s natural environment, you can embark on a remarkable journey to the highest point in Ireland. Allow the majestic beauty of Carrauntoohil to captivate you as you conquer this iconic peak in the heart of County Kerry.
Staigue Fort Loop Walk
The Staigue Fort Loop Walk is a scenic and historically rich trail located in the stunning countryside of County Kerry. This loop walk offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the ancient past while enjoying the natural beauty of the region. Here’s what you can expect when embarking on the Staigue Fort Loop Walk:
Introduction to Staigue Fort
The highlight of this loop walk is undoubtedly the impressive Staigue Fort, an ancient stone fort believed to have been constructed during the late Iron Age, around 300-400 AD. This circular fort, built with massive dry-stone walls and standing at an impressive height of almost 4.6 meters (15 feet), is a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of its builders. As you approach the fort, you’ll be awestruck by its sheer size and the remarkable preservation of its intricate stonework.
The Loop Walk
The loop walk begins at the designated parking area near Staigue Fort. From there, you’ll follow a well-marked trail that meanders through lush green meadows, along gentle hills and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The trail is approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long and is of moderate difficulty, suitable for walkers of various fitness levels. Along the way, you’ll encounter charming stone bridges, ancient field systems and captivating vistas that showcase the beauty of rural Kerry.
As you explore the loop walk, you’ll gain insights into the rich history of the area. Staigue Fort, in particular, provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of ancient inhabitants. Take your time to soak in the atmosphere, imagine the fort in its heyday and ponder the mysteries surrounding its purpose and function. The combination of the fort’s impressive architecture and its idyllic setting creates a truly immersive experience.
One of the delights of the Staigue Fort Loop Walk is the natural beauty that surrounds you at every turn. The gentle rolling hills, meandering streams and vibrant flora create a picturesque backdrop for your journey. Depending on the time of year, you may be treated to colorful wildflowers, grazing sheep, or the golden hues of autumn foliage. This walk provides an opportunity to connect with nature, breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the tranquility of the countryside.
When embarking on the Staigue Fort Loop Walk, it’s advisable to wear sturdy footwear suitable for uneven terrain. Bring along a bottle of water, a snack and appropriate clothing, taking into account the changeable weather conditions of the region. It’s also recommended to carry a map or use a GPS device to ensure you stay on the designated trail. As always, practice responsible hiking and leave no trace by disposing of any litter properly and respecting the natural environment.
After completing the loop walk, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. The region offers a range of attractions, including the picturesque village of Sneem, the beautiful Blackwater Bridge, or the scenic shores of Kenmare Bay. You may also wish to indulge in some traditional Irish hospitality by visiting a local pub or café for a refreshing drink or a hearty meal.
The Staigue Fort Loop Walk is a captivating journey that combines history, nature and stunning landscapes. As you traverse the trail and experience the grandeur of Staigue Fort, you’ll be transported back in time and gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage of County Kerry. So lace up your hiking boots, embark on this memorable adventure and create lasting memories in the heart of Ireland’s southwest.
Ring of Kerry Cycle Route
The Ring of Kerry Cycle Route is a thrilling and scenic cycling adventure that takes you on a journey around one of Ireland’s most iconic destinations. With breathtaking coastal views, charming villages and rolling green hills, this cycling route offers a memorable and exhilarating experience for cycling enthusiasts of all levels. Here’s what you need to know about the Ring of Kerry Cycle Route:
The Ring of Kerry is a 180-kilometer (112-mile) circular route that loops around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. Starting and ending in the bustling town of Killarney, the route takes you through picturesque coastal landscapes, quaint villages and awe-inspiring natural wonders. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist seeking a challenge or a leisure rider looking to soak in the beauty of the Irish countryside, the Ring of Kerry Cycle Route has something for everyone.
As you pedal along the route, you’ll encounter a myriad of highlights that make the Ring of Kerry so special. From the stunning coastal vistas along the Wild Atlantic Way to the rugged mountains of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, every turn offers a new and breathtaking sight. Pass through charming towns and villages like Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen and Waterville, where you can take a break, sample local cuisine and soak in the welcoming Irish hospitality. Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit historic sites, ancient ruins and impressive landmarks, each with its own story to tell.
Difficulty and Fitness Level
The Ring of Kerry Cycle Route offers a varied terrain, including some challenging climbs and descents. While it is suitable for cyclists of moderate to advanced fitness levels, beginners can also enjoy the route by taking it at a slower pace and tackling sections that are more manageable. It’s important to be prepared with a well-maintained bike, proper cycling gear and sufficient fitness to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ride.
Safety and Considerations
When cycling the Ring of Kerry, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Observe traffic rules, wear a helmet and be cautious of road conditions. The route is well-signposted, but it’s advisable to carry a map or use a GPS device to ensure you stay on track. Keep an eye out for other road users, particularly during the busy tourist season. Additionally, check weather conditions before setting off and come prepared with appropriate clothing and equipment.
Services and Facilities
Throughout the route, you’ll find various services and facilities to support your cycling adventure. There are bike rental shops in Killarney and other towns along the way, making it convenient for visitors without their own bicycles. Along the route, you’ll also find accommodation options ranging from hotels to guesthouses and campgrounds, allowing you to plan your journey based on your preferred level of comfort.
Local Attractions and Experiences
The Ring of Kerry is not just about cycling; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of County Kerry. Take the time to explore the local attractions, such as the stunning Ross Castle in Killarney, the picturesque village of Sneem, or the majestic Torc Waterfall. Indulge in traditional Irish cuisine, enjoy live music in a local pub, or visit artisan shops to discover unique souvenirs.
The Ring of Kerry Cycle Route is an unforgettable adventure that combines physical activity with the splendor of Ireland’s southwest region. Whether you’re drawn to the rugged coastline, the rich history, or the warm hospitality of the locals, this cycling route will leave you with memories to treasure. So hop on your bike, breathe in the fresh Irish air and prepare to be captivated by the beauty of the Ring of Kerry.
Gap of Dunloe Cycle Route
The Gap of Dunloe is not only a scenic and picturesque destination, but it also offers a thrilling and challenging cycling experience for enthusiasts looking to explore the stunning landscapes of County Kerry. Here’s what you need to know about cycling through the Gap of Dunloe:
The cycling route through the Gap of Dunloe starts in Killarney and takes you on a memorable journey through the heart of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. The route follows the narrow road that winds through the valley, offering breathtaking views of towering mountains, sparkling lakes and cascading waterfalls. The total distance of the cycling route is approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles), but be prepared for some steep ascents and descents along the way.
Starting Point: Killarney
Begin your cycling adventure in the vibrant town of Killarney. Make sure your bike is in good condition and that you have all the necessary gear, including a helmet, water and snacks. From Killarney, follow the signs towards Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where the road to the Gap of Dunloe begins.
Cycling through the Gap
As you pedal through the Gap of Dunloe, you’ll be treated to breathtaking natural scenery at every turn. The road is narrow, winding and occasionally steep, so it’s important to maintain control and be aware of any oncoming traffic. Take your time to soak in the majestic views of the surrounding mountains and the serene beauty of the lakes.
Cycling through the Gap of Dunloe requires a reasonable level of fitness and cycling experience. The road includes some challenging climbs and descents, particularly as you approach the highest point of the pass. Be prepared to shift gears and adjust your pace accordingly. Take breaks when needed and enjoy the stunning vistas as you catch your breath.
While cycling through the Gap of Dunloe, prioritize safety at all times. Wear a helmet, use appropriate signaling and adhere to traffic rules. Be cautious of oncoming traffic, as the road can be narrow and winding. If you encounter tour buses or jaunting cars, give them ample space and signal your presence. Use hand signals and ride defensively to ensure a safe and enjoyable cycling experience.
Weather and Timing
Check the weather forecast before embarking on your cycling journey through the Gap of Dunloe. The route can be even more challenging in adverse weather conditions, so it’s best to choose a day with good visibility and minimal precipitation. Additionally, consider starting early in the morning to avoid heavier traffic and have ample time to complete the route at a comfortable pace.
Services and Facilities
There are limited services and facilities along the cycling route in the Gap of Dunloe. It’s advisable to carry sufficient water, snacks and any other necessities with you. Restrooms and refreshments can be found at Kate Kearney’s Cottage at the entrance to the Gap. Plan accordingly and be self-sufficient during your cycling adventure.
Cycling through the Gap of Dunloe is a thrilling and rewarding experience for those seeking to explore the stunning landscapes of County Kerry. With its breathtaking views, challenging terrain and the sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering the pass, this cycling route is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Gap of Dunloe as you pedal your way through this enchanting part of Ireland.
Exploring the Ring of Kerry by boat offers a unique perspective of its stunning coastal scenery and allows you to access hidden gems that are not easily reachable by land. Here’s everything you need to know about boat tours in the Ring of Kerry:
Boat Tour Options
There are several boat tour options available along the Ring of Kerry, providing different experiences depending on your preferences. From leisurely sightseeing cruises to adventurous wildlife tours, you can choose a boat tour that suits your interests and time constraints. Some popular options include:
Booking and Timing
It’s recommended to book your boat tour in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your spot. Boat tours are typically available from spring to autumn when the weather is more favorable. Check with tour operators for their schedules and departure times, as they may vary depending on the specific tour and weather conditions.
The duration of boat tours can vary depending on the chosen route and attractions. Skelligs Boat Tours, for example, often include a visit to Skellig Michael, which can take several hours. Other tours, such as Killarney Lakes Tours or wildlife tours, can range from one to a few hours. Consider your preferences and available time when selecting a boat tour.
What to Expect
Boat tours in the Ring of Kerry offer a chance to admire the region’s coastal landscapes, marine wildlife and historical sites. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of cliffs, rock formations and secluded beaches. Depending on the tour, you may also learn about the local history, folklore and ecological significance of the area from knowledgeable guides.
Dress Code and Essentials
Be sure to dress appropriately for your boat tour, considering the weather conditions and the possibility of sea spray. It’s recommended to wear layers, including a waterproof outer layer, as the weather can change quickly. Additionally, bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a camera to capture the beautiful sights along the way. Some tours may provide binoculars or other equipment, but it’s best to check with the tour operator beforehand.
When participating in a boat tour, always follow the instructions of the crew and adhere to safety guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the location of life jackets and emergency exits on board. If you’re prone to seasickness, consider taking appropriate medication or remedies beforehand to ensure a more comfortable experience.
Embarking on a boat tour in the Ring of Kerry is an excellent way to explore its coastal wonders and appreciate the region’s natural beauty. Whether you’re captivated by the mystical Skellig Islands, fascinated by the diverse marine wildlife, or simply seeking a peaceful journey through scenic waterways, a boat tour will provide a memorable and enriching experience during your visit to the Ring of Kerry.
When it comes to water activities along the Ring of Kerry, fishing holds a special place. The region’s abundant lakes, rivers and coastline offer excellent opportunities for anglers of all levels. Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fishing, the Ring of Kerry has it all. Inland, you can cast your line into the crystal-clear lakes and rivers, renowned for their salmon, trout and pike. The flowing waters and serene surroundings create a peaceful atmosphere that enhances the fishing experience. If you’re more inclined towards the thrill of deep-sea fishing, the coastal areas provide an exciting opportunity to reel in a variety of species, including cod, mackerel and pollock. Charter a boat and venture into the Atlantic Ocean, where expert guides will lead you to the best fishing spots. Whether you’re seeking a quiet day on a tranquil lake or an exhilarating fishing adventure on the open sea, the Ring of Kerry has something to offer every angler. Grab your fishing gear, embrace the beauty of the surrounding landscapes and immerse yourself in the rich fishing heritage of this remarkable region.
For those seeking an exhilarating water adventure along the Ring of Kerry, kayaking presents a fantastic opportunity to explore the region’s stunning coastline and waterways. Glide through crystal-clear waters, navigate hidden coves and marvel at the rugged cliffs and majestic landscapes from a unique perspective. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner looking for a thrilling experience, there are options to suit everyone. Join a guided tour and paddle along the picturesque coast, discovering hidden caves and wildlife-rich areas. Feel the sense of freedom as you navigate the gentle waves and witness the beauty of the surrounding nature up close. For those seeking a more tranquil experience, opt for a peaceful paddle on the tranquil lakes and rivers that dot the landscape. Enjoy the serenity and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you. With various rental options and tour operators available, kayaking along the Ring of Kerry offers an unforgettable adventure for water enthusiasts of all levels. So grab a paddle, don a life jacket and embark on a kayaking journey that will leave you with lasting memories of this remarkable region.
Waterville Golf Links
Golfing enthusiasts visiting the Ring of Kerry are in for a treat with the renowned Waterville Golf Links. Nestled on the breathtaking Atlantic coastline, this world-class golf course is a golfer’s paradise. Offering a perfect blend of challenging holes, stunning natural landscapes and ocean views, Waterville Golf Links has earned its reputation as one of Ireland’s premier golf destinations. Designed by renowned architect Eddie Hackett, the course showcases a harmonious integration with the rugged coastal terrain, providing players with a truly unique and memorable golfing experience. The undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers and fast-paced greens will test the skills of even the most seasoned golfers. As you navigate the course, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and the dramatic coastline. Whether you’re an avid golfer looking to challenge your game or a leisure player seeking a scenic round, Waterville Golf Links delivers an unforgettable golfing experience. After your game, unwind at the clubhouse, where you can relish delicious cuisine and toast to your golfing adventures. With its idyllic setting and world-class facilities, Waterville Golf Links is a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts exploring the Ring of Kerry.
Ring of Kerry Golf Club
Located in Templenoe, just a short drive from Killarney, the Ring of Kerry Golf Club offers another fantastic golfing experience along the famous Ring of Kerry route. This picturesque course combines the beauty of the surrounding landscape with a challenging layout to create a memorable golfing outing. Designed by Eddie Hackett and opened in 1998, the Ring of Kerry Golf Club features lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers and undulating greens that provide a test for golfers of all skill levels. The course offers stunning views of the nearby mountains and the glistening waters of Kenmare Bay, adding to the overall appeal of the golfing experience. Golfers can expect a warm welcome and excellent facilities at the clubhouse, which provides panoramic views of the course and the surrounding countryside. After a round of golf, players can relax and unwind while enjoying delicious food and refreshing beverages. The Ring of Kerry Golf Club provides a memorable golfing experience that perfectly complements the natural beauty and charm of the Ring of Kerry. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a novice looking to enjoy a round amidst stunning scenery, this golf course is a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts exploring the region.
Hidden Gems and Local Delights
Off the Beaten Path: Lesser-Known Stops
When exploring the Ring of Kerry, it’s worth venturing off the main tourist trail to discover some hidden gems that showcase the region’s natural beauty. One such gem is the Kerry Cliffs, a breathtaking coastal destination that offers stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere away from the crowds. Located near Portmagee, the Kerry Cliffs provide a dramatic vantage point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Skellig Islands. As you stand atop the cliffs, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of rugged cliffs, crashing waves and soaring seabirds. The sheer cliffs reach heights of over 300 meters (1,000 feet), providing an awe-inspiring sight that is sure to leave you in awe. Take a leisurely stroll along the cliff edge, capturing the beauty of the surroundings and breathing in the fresh sea air. The Kerry Cliffs also offer guided tours and informative displays that provide insights into the local wildlife and geological formations. It’s a hidden gem that promises a memorable experience for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.
Located on the southwestern coast of Ireland, the Kerry Cliffs are a hidden gem along the Ring of Kerry that showcases the raw beauty of the Atlantic coastline. Tucked away near the charming village of Portmagee, these majestic cliffs offer a truly breathtaking experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Rising over 300 meters (1,000 feet) above the crashing waves, the Kerry Cliffs provide an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the vast ocean and the enchanting Skellig Islands in the distance.
As you stand on the cliff edge, the sheer scale and ruggedness of the landscape will leave you in awe. The sheer cliffs, sculpted by centuries of erosion, create a dramatic backdrop against the ever-changing colors of the sky and sea. Be prepared to be mesmerized by the power and beauty of nature as you witness seabirds soaring above, nesting on the cliffs and gracefully diving into the azure waters below.
To make the most of your visit, take a leisurely stroll along the well-maintained cliffside paths, allowing you to immerse yourself in the coastal serenity and capture incredible photographs of the breathtaking scenery. The Kerry Cliffs are also home to a variety of bird species, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills, offering a fantastic opportunity for birdwatching enthusiasts.
For a deeper understanding of the area, consider joining one of the guided tours available at the Kerry Cliffs. These tours provide insightful information about the local wildlife, geological formations and the fascinating history of the region. You’ll learn about the significant role the cliffs played in the lives of the local communities and the stories behind the ancient ruins that dot the landscape.
Visiting the Kerry Cliffs is an escape into a world of natural wonders and tranquility, away from the bustling tourist spots. Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or simply a chance to reconnect with nature, the Kerry Cliffs offer an unforgettable experience. So, venture off the beaten path and discover this hidden gem along the Ring of Kerry, where the untamed beauty of Ireland’s coastline unfolds before your eyes.
Skellig Experience Visitor Centre
Situated near the picturesque fishing village of Portmagee, the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre is a captivating attraction that provides a fascinating insight into the renowned Skellig Islands. Nestled along the stunning coastline of County Kerry, this visitor center offers a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history, wildlife and mystique surrounding these ancient islands.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the warm hospitality of the staff, who are passionate about sharing the story of the Skelligs. Step inside the modern and informative exhibition space, where interactive displays, audiovisual presentations and artifacts bring the islands to life. Learn about the unique ecosystem and the remarkable lives of the monks who inhabited the Skelligs centuries ago.
One of the highlights of the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre is the immersive audiovisual experience, which takes you on a virtual journey to the Skellig Islands. Through high-definition footage and surround sound, you’ll feel as if you’re standing on the rocky shores, surrounded by the rugged beauty and seclusion of these iconic islands. Marvel at the dramatic landscapes, the teeming wildlife and the intriguing history that makes the Skelligs a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After exploring the exhibition, head to the café, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Skellig Islands while savoring a cup of freshly brewed coffee or indulging in a delicious meal. Take a moment to absorb the breathtaking scenery and reflect on the stories you’ve encountered throughout your visit.
For those eager to experience the real-life wonders of the Skellig Islands, the visitor center provides helpful information and assistance for boat trips to Skellig Michael, weather permitting. These boat tours offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set foot on the sacred island and witness its ancient beehive huts, monastic ruins and the awe-inspiring views from the summit.
The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre is not only a gateway to the Skellig Islands but also an educational and enjoyable experience in its own right. It serves as a hub for discovering the history, natural beauty and cultural significance of this remarkable archipelago. Whether you’re an avid history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking an enriching experience, a visit to the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre is a must on your journey along the Ring of Kerry.
Tucked away on the stunning Iveragh Peninsula, Ballinskelligs Beach is a hidden gem along the Ring of Kerry that showcases the natural beauty of the Irish coastline. This pristine sandy beach, nestled between rolling hills and crystal-clear waters, offers a tranquil and idyllic escape from the bustling tourist spots.
As you approach Ballinskelligs Beach, you’ll be greeted by its expansive shoreline, inviting you to take a leisurely stroll along the soft sand or relax on a blanket while soaking up the sun. The beach is known for its unspoiled beauty, with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before you. The calm and gentle waves make it an ideal spot for swimming, kayaking, or simply enjoying a refreshing dip in the sea.
One of the highlights of Ballinskelligs Beach is its backdrop of natural splendor. Surrounding the beach are rugged cliffs and green pastures, providing a picturesque setting that captures the essence of Ireland’s coastal charm. Take a moment to breathe in the fresh sea air and admire the breathtaking scenery that unfolds before your eyes.
For those seeking adventure, Ballinskelligs Beach is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts. The consistent Atlantic swells create excellent conditions for surfing and bodyboarding, attracting thrill-seekers looking to catch some waves. Additionally, the beach is a favorite among windsurfers and kiteboarders, who take advantage of the coastal winds for exhilarating rides across the water.
Beyond its natural allure, Ballinskelligs Beach is also steeped in history and culture. Close by, you’ll find the ruins of Ballinskelligs Abbey, an ancient monastic site that dates back to the 12th century. The abbey, with its crumbling walls and weathered stone, adds a touch of mystique and intrigue to the beach, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the area.
Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, a place to engage in water sports, or a glimpse into Ireland’s storied past, Ballinskelligs Beach offers an enchanting escape from the ordinary. Its unspoiled beauty, tranquil atmosphere and stunning surroundings make it a must-visit destination along the Ring of Kerry. Take a moment to bask in the serenity of this coastal paradise and create lasting memories amidst the awe-inspiring scenery.
Traditional Irish Pubs
No visit to Ireland is complete without experiencing the warm hospitality and lively atmosphere of traditional Irish pubs. Along the Ring of Kerry, you’ll find an array of charming establishments where you can immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of Ireland while enjoying a pint of perfectly poured Guinness or a glass of smooth Irish whiskey.
One notable pub that embodies the essence of Irish hospitality is “The Craic Inn.” Located in the heart of a quaint village, this family-owned pub welcomes visitors with open arms and invites them to join in the lively conversations and foot-tapping traditional music sessions. Sit by the crackling fireplace, share stories with the locals and savor a creamy pint of stout as you soak up the authentic Irish atmosphere.
For those seeking a pub with a historical charm, “The Old Oak” is a must-visit. Dating back several centuries, this pub has retained its traditional character, with cozy nooks, exposed wooden beams and a welcoming bar adorned with vintage memorabilia. Take a seat at the polished counter, order a pint of ale and engage in lively banter with the friendly bartenders and fellow patrons.
If you’re searching for a pub with a vibrant music scene, look no further than “The Shamrock Sessions.” This lively establishment hosts nightly traditional music sessions, where talented musicians gather to showcase their skills. Tap your feet to the rhythm of lively jigs and reels and feel the energy of the crowd as they join in the chorus of well-known Irish tunes. It’s the perfect place to experience the true spirit of Irish music and dance.
For a taste of the local craft beer scene, head to “The Kerry Brew House.” This pub prides itself on serving an impressive selection of handcrafted beers, brewed on-site using traditional methods and locally sourced ingredients. Sit at the bar and sample a flight of their unique brews, ranging from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, while chatting with the passionate brewers who are eager to share their knowledge and love for craft beer.
If you’re in the mood for a bit of storytelling and laughter, “The Storyteller’s Pub” is the place to be. This cozy pub hosts regular storytelling nights, where skilled storytellers captivate the audience with tales of ancient myths, local legends and humorous anecdotes. Grab a pint, sit back and let yourself be transported to a world of imagination and folklore.
As you traverse the Ring of Kerry, make sure to carve out some time to visit these traditional Irish pubs. Whether you’re seeking lively music sessions, hearty conversations, or simply a place to unwind and enjoy a pint, these pubs offer an authentic glimpse into the vibrant Irish pub culture. Raise your glass, join in the craic and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Exploring the local markets along the Ring of Kerry is a delightful way to experience the region’s vibrant culture, indulge in fresh local produce and discover unique handcrafted treasures. From bustling farmers’ markets to charming artisanal fairs, these markets offer a glimpse into the local way of life and provide an opportunity to connect with the talented artisans and farmers who call this beautiful region home.
One market that stands out for its charm and variety is the “Kenmare Farmers’ Market.” Held every Wednesday in the picturesque town of Kenmare, this market showcases an array of fresh produce, locally sourced meats, artisanal cheeses and homemade baked goods. Stroll through the stalls, sample the flavors of Kerry and strike up conversations with the passionate farmers and producers who take pride in their offerings. It’s a fantastic place to stock up on picnic supplies or pick up unique ingredients to create a delicious meal.
If you’re looking for a market that celebrates local craftsmanship, “The Sneem Art and Craft Market” is not to be missed. Located in the charming village of Sneem, this market showcases the work of talented local artists and artisans. Browse through a diverse range of handmade jewelry, ceramics, paintings, textiles and more, all crafted with skill and passion. Engage with the artists, learn about their creative processes and take home a one-of-a-kind piece that captures the spirit of the Ring of Kerry.
For those seeking a market with a lively atmosphere and a touch of Irish folklore, “The Cahersiveen Market” is a must-visit. This weekly market, held on Fridays, offers a mix of fresh produce, artisanal products and a treasure trove of traditional Irish crafts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as local musicians fill the air with traditional tunes and local vendors entice you with their wares. From handmade woolens to intricate lacework, this market is a haven for those seeking authentic Irish craftsmanship.
If you’re visiting during the summer months, don’t miss “The Waterville Craft Market.” Set against the backdrop of stunning coastal scenery, this market showcases the work of local artists, potters, photographers and more. Wander through the stalls, admire the creativity on display and perhaps find a unique piece of art or a handmade souvenir to take home as a memento of your journey.
As you explore the Ring of Kerry, make sure to carve out time to visit these charming local markets. Experience the warmth of the local community, sample the flavors of the region and discover hidden treasures crafted with love and skill. These markets not only offer a chance to support local artisans and farmers but also provide an authentic and memorable experience that will leave a lasting impression on your journey through the Ring of Kerry.