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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

    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?

    Kerry has three peninsulas, which are the Dingle Peninsula, the Iveragh Peninsula, and the Beara Peninsula from north to south.

    The Ring of Kerry drive is located on the Iveragh Peninsula County Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland. Tucked along part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Iveragh Peninsula is southwest Ireland’s most popular and iconic site.

    The Ring of Kerry is actually the ring road (the N70) that circumnavigates the Iveagh Peninsula. Running from Killarney to Kenmare, along Kenmare Bay passing the villages of Sneem and Caherdaniel, then heading north along the Skellig Road and along the northern shores of the peninsula before circling back to Kilarney.

    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 drive itinerary in the Ring of Kerry and savour every moment of the rich peninsula across multiple days, or for families, a family-oriented guided adventure in Kerry and beyond.

    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 the recent Star Wars movies, before journeying on a relaxing boat ride through the beautiful lakes of Killarney.

     

    How to visit the Ring of Kerry?

    Hiking Killarney National Park

    A popular way to experience the Ring of Kerry is to explore the stunning scenery by car. With Wilderness Ireland’s Southwest Ireland and Kerry 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.

    For many people, driving the Ring of Kerry is the ‘classic’ way to visit, but for those seeking a more active and off the beaten track experience, a great alternative method is to hike the mountains of Kerry on a guided tour. Not only will you get to scale Ireland’s best mountains including the incredible Carrantouhil, Ireland’s highest peak by day, you’ll also get to relax in some of southwest Ireland’s finest deluxe accommodation. What a reward for scaling Kerry’s impressive peaks!

    Another really cool way to experience Kerry’s gems is by cycling the Kerry Peninsulas – this challenging route is full of exhilarating climbs and descents contains several of Ireland’s top bike routes.

    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. Do keep in mind that the roads can be narrow, so take care when driving around bends. If you’re not comfortable driving on Irish roads, we recommend doing a guided trip instead; there are private and small group options.

    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 Islands from Skellig Ring Road

    Skellig Islands from Skellig Ring Road

    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.

    Gap of Dunloe - Ring of kerry

    Gap of Dunloe – Ring of Kerry

    The Gap of Dunloe

    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.

    Molls Gap - Ring of Kerry

    Molls Gap – Ring of Kerry

    Moll’s Gap

    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, the predominant mountain range of the Iveragh Peninsula. 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 - Ring of Kerry

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

    Ladies View

    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 - Co. Kerry - bird's eye view

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

    Derrynane Beach

    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?

    For those who want to drive the Ring of Kerry, you might like our self drive trip – letting you visit the Ring of Kerry at your own pace. 

    Learn More

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

    Learn More

    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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