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The Ring of Kerry – Tours, Map & Best Views

8 min read

At Wilderness Ireland, we are asked a lot about the famous Ring of Kerry drive.

We decided to compile a list of our most requested information about The Ring of Kerry and answer them all in one place.

See below for more …

By Neil Irvine, SEO Content Editor
More by Neil

Learn more about the Ring of Kerry drive and where to find the Ring of Kerry best views.

To find an answer to your question just click on one of the links below:

What is the Ring of Kerry?
– Where to find the Ring of Kerry?
How long is the Ring of Kerry Drive?
How to visit the Ring of Kerry
How many days to visit?
Were does the Ring of Kerry start & finish?
Is the Ring of Kerry difficult?
Find the 5 best views of the Ring of Kerry

What is the Ring of Kerry?

driving the Ring of Kerry

Make a wish on the Gap of Dunloe’s famous Wishing Bridge!


In essence, the Ring of Kerry is the ring road that follows the coastal contours of Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most famous circuits and a popular holiday route to drive. Much more than a simple driving route, the Ring of Kerry is an iconic destination wrapped in a stunning visual history, with diverse wildlife scattered across Ireland’s lush green hills.

Where is Ring of Kerry located?

Valentia Island, Ireland hiking

Overlooking the Skelligs from the Geokaun Viewpoint on Valencia Island.

 

The Ring of Kerry drive is located on the Iveragh Peninsula County Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland. Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Iveragh Peninsula is the crown jewel of southwest Ireland. Kerry has three peninsulas, which are the Dingle Peninsula, the Iveragh Peninsula, and the Beara Peninsula from north to south.

How long is the Ring of Kerry drive?

Ring of kerry hiking

Hiking the best spots along the Ring of Kerry.

 

The Ring of Kerry circuit measures 179km (111 miles) in length and the route takes around 3.5 hours to drive around without stopping. However, it’s always better to take your time to experience the vast variety of nature, culture and activities in Kerry! One way to do so is to choose a self driving itinerary in the Ring of Kerry and savour every moment of the rich peninsula across multiple days.

To make the most of your experience along this scenic route, we suggest you dedicate most of your day to discovering the local culture and nature in order to shorten your driving time. Take a break from driving and visit amazing places such as the world-famous Skellig Michael, filming location of 2015 & 2017 Star Wars movies, before journeying on a relaxing boat ride through the beautiful lakes of Killarney.

 

How to visit the Ring of Kerry?

Jaunting car Gap of Dunloe - Ring of Kerry, Killarney Ireland

A jaunting car rolling through Kerry’s Gap of Dunloe.

 

A popular way to experience the Ring of Kerry is to explore the stunning scenery by car. With Wilderness Ireland’s Ring of Kerry and Dingle Self Drive adventure tour you don’t have to worry about the ‘how‘ as our specially designed itinerary will show you best insider’s highlights of places to stop, eat and explore along the way – with maps and directions to help you on your journey.


Driving the Ring of Kerry is the ‘classic’ way to visit, but for those seeking a more active experience, we also offer an alternative method – hike within the Ring of Kerry on a guided tour and scale Ireland’s best mountains including the incredible Carrantouhil – which is Ireland’s highest peak.

How many days should you take to visit the Ring of Kerry?

In theory, you could drive around the Ring of Kerry in one full day – but it seems a shame to cram such wondrous sightseeing opportunities into a small amount of time. You’ll find it far more rewarding to take the time to explore this iconic location savouring each moment and creating unforgettable lifelong memories.

With our scenic self driving tour you can dedicate a whole seven days to exploring the beauty of the Ring of Kerry. You will also have the luxury to hike some of the most beautiful areas in Ireland. Include a cultural trip to the Skellig Islands, filming locations for Star Wars Episode VII and VIII as well as home to 7th century monastic ruins, then head off to Valencia Island to walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs! On your journey, stop at castles, historic sites and ancient stone circles.

Where does the Ring of Kerry start and finish?

Ross Castle

Ross Castle, along the lake shores in Killarney National Park.

 

While our self drive trip of the Ring of Kerry starts at Shannon Airport for the sake of convenience, the real Ring of Kerry starts once you arrive on the ring road – often in Killarney. There’s no right or wrong way to drive the Ring of Kerry. That said, we recommend that you drive the ring road clockwise as the views are on the left hand side of the road (and we drive on the left in Ireland!), which makes it easier to pull over and stop. The buses leave early in the morning from Limerick and Shannon, and tend to drive counter-clockwise.

The route ends wherever you decide to leave the peninsula, but the most popular end is the same place you started: Killarney. The town is lively with plenty of choices for food, music and pubs, and Killarney National Park is literally right on the town’s doorstep.

Is the Ring of Kerry Drive Difficult?

Carrauntoohil

 

The Ring of Kerry is a driving route, which you can explore at your own pace. However, if you do choose to explore the wild and off the beaten path landscapes at the interior of the ring road, you’ll need to be an experienced hiker with the proper equipment, as this is where you’ll find Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, as well as the mountains of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the Gap of Dunloe and more – meaning that this is a region best explored with an experienced mountain guide.

Find the 5 Best views of the Ring of Kerry

Skellig Ring Road

Skellig Islands from Skellig Ring Road

Skellig Islands from Skellig Ring Road

 

The Skellig Ring Road was one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 rated destinations for 2017. From this little-visited 18km stretch of road, you’ll get lovely views of the Skellig islands from most of the coastal stretches on the Ring of Kerry. This small detour off the main ring follows the coast through the villages of Portmagee and Ballinskellig, providing you with great views of the Skellig Islands.

While you’re in this part of the world, visit the Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once home to monks who lived on the isolated rocks as penance between the 6th and 12th century, Skellig Michael is full of the monks’ beehive huts, chapels and more. Little Skellig, the smaller of the two islands, is home to huge colonies of gannets, puffins, seals, dolphins and basking sharks. Catch a boat to the Skelligs from Portmagee, but remember that they are 11km offshore, and therefore boat sailings are weather dependant. Also, due to their popularity and protected nature, the number of boats are limited, so book your spot early.

The Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe - Ring of kerry

Gap of Dunloe – Ring of kerry

 

Take a short detour from the road to the famous mountain pass, the Gap of Dunloe, which slices through the MacGillycuddy Reeks. The narrow road winds through the pass into the Black Valley passing five beautiful lakes. The Gap of Dunloe is approximately 11 km from north to south. You could drive it but the best way to travel the Gap of Dunloe is by bike! Take a boat ride from Ross Castle in Killarney National Park with your bike to Lord Brandon’s Cottage and cycle back through the Gap of Dunloe to Kate Kearney’s cottage.

Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap - Ring of Kerry

Molls Gap – Ring of Kerry

 

The glacial valleys of Moll’s Gap are one of the most dramatic views on the Ring of Kerry route. On the road between Killarney and Kenmare, Moll’s Gap boasts the ultimate view of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range. It derives its name from Moll Kissane who set up an illicit bar here during the 19th century. Moll’s Gap is the highest point on the Ring of Kerry with a 235 metre climb.

Ladies View

Ladies View - Ring of Kerry

Ladies View – one of the Ring of Kerry’s most famous spots!

 

Ladies View is the first viewing point you’ll meet – or the last, depending on which direction you drive the Ring of Kerry. Ladies View is named after Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who saw it in 1861 and gaped in awe at the majestic valley spreading out before them. Just 16km from Killarney, it provides a panoramic painting of the lakes and mountains of Kerry.

Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach - Co. Kerry - bird's eye view

View over the blue waves of Derrynane Beach. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

 

Once in the vibrant and fantastically-named village of Sneem, head towards Derrynane Beach for breathtaking coastal views of the Ring of Kerry. Pull in at Derrynane House and take a walk down to Derrynane Beach for unforgettable views of the rocky sea as well as the crumbling Derrynane Abbey.

Want to explore the Ring of Kerry drive?

Explore the Ring of Kerry with our self drive trip – letting you visit the Ring of Kerry at your own pace. Find more info here.

Travelling with your family? Learn more about our new Family Adventure – Legends of the Southwest.

Looking for a guided trip? Check out more below:

Meet the Author: Neil Irvine

“Neil, our Scottish Highlander, has travelled all over Ireland (and Scotland!). Though originally from the city, Neil prefers the tranquillity of the outdoors. Joining Wilderness in 2017, Neil is our SEO expert.”

View profileMore by Neil

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